Episode 84 · 3 weeks ago
Voting Battles Head to Court
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
We’ve already seen record early turnout this election cycle. Our hosts have three major takeaways from the surge: 1) It means the polls are more likely to be accurate (the registered voter number is likely to reflect the actual voter number), 2) It means that we’re going to see interesting shift in how both candidates’ spend time on the campaign trail before Tuesday, 3) It means we have a record number of absentee ballots, which will lead to a concomitant surge in election litigation. In the hopper for the rest of today’s podcast: judicial oaths of office, turnout in swing states, and election litigation galore (with a close look at Wisconsin and Pennsylvania!)
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Episode 78 · 1 month ago
Supreme Court oral arguments have resumed via telephone and our podcast hosts are nerding out. The court kicked off today with an interesting denial of cert from the Supreme Court on a case out of Kentucky involving Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to certify marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 for religious reasons. “This petition provides a stark reminder of the consequences of Obergefell,” Justice Thomas wrote in a statement on Monday joined by Justice Alito. “By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix.” On today’s episode, our podcast hosts discuss the evolution of religious liberty and discrimination law, ongoing election disputes in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and the latest updates on the presidential campaign ad wars. Sarah and David wrap things up with a fun constitutional exercise by poking holes in the 25th Amendment and unpacking what happens when presidents die at different points in the cycle.
Episode 77 · 1 month ago
How will Amy Coney Barrett shake things up on the bench if she is confirmed by the Senate before November 3? “Amy Coney Barrett will not be as revolutionary as the left fears or the right wishes,” Sarah argues, “Because no justice really is, because it’s one vote.” On today’s episode, David and Sarah address the hysteria surrounding her upcoming Senate confirmation battle while breaking down what a 6-3 conservative majority would mean for the future of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Sarah and David are also joined by Ilya Shapiro—director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review—for a conversation about the politics and history of Supreme Court nominations. To a certain degree, politics has always played a role in Supreme Court nominations. What makes this era unique? “What’s different is that you have divergent interpretive theories mapping onto partisan preference at a time when the parties are more ideologically sorted than they’ve been since at least the Civil War,” Shapiro argues. When it comes to divergent legal theories, “every decade provides a new escalation.” Tune in for a conversation about the future of First and Second Amendment jurisprudence, the left’s misconceptions surrounding Roe v. Wade, and the problems associated with public hearings for judicial nominations.
Episode 76 · 1 month ago
Several new polls were released over the weekend and Donald Trump is still trailing Joe Biden by roughly 7 to 10 points, depending where you look. Despite Biden’s steady lead, bad takes abound in the journalism world. “Here’s what happens when a race is not particularly close on the numbers,” Sarah explains. “People in the media try to make it more interesting by finding tea leaves and little nuggets that no one else has found and then blowing those up into their own narrative.” Sarah says it’s not always that the methodology of a particular poll is bad per se, “it’s that the causal relationship between the question and the result is assumed and not actually there.”
For example, a series of polls from this weekend show that a majority of Americans oppose Trump’s decision to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before November 3. But as Sarah points out, this is a dumb survey question for two reasons: 1) the answers break down along party lines when you look a little closer at the survey responses, and 2) it doesn’t ask survey respondents whether it will change their vote, which is the only thing that matters at this point. That leads us to the New York Times’ on Trump’s tax returns and whether it will be of any consequence during this election. David and Sarah argue that loyal Trump supporters are simply too attached to the president at this point to care about any new scandals that emerge between now and November 3. Tune in to this episode for an update on presidential polling in battleground states, electoral litigation in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and a fun conversation about our podcast hosts’ favorite new documentaries.
Episode 75 · 1 month ago
A Louisville grand jury on Wednesday indicted one officer in connection with the March 13 police raid that took Breonna Taylor’s life. The grand jury declined to charge the two officers who fired directly at Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend that evening, instead only charging the third officer, who was outside and fired indiscriminately, with wanton endangerment. David explains the basic facts leading up to Taylor’s shooting, as well as the legality surrounding police raids and the right of self-defense under Kentucky law. “You begin to see where we’ve backslidden in our commitment to key constitutional liberties,” David explains, where “decades of bad Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has empowered violent tactics even when the stakes are low.”
On today’s episode, David and Sarah also address how much the chief justice matters to the trajectory of the Supreme Court and the democratic prudence of voluntary judicial restraint. After a requisite foray into all things SCOTUS, our podcast hosts are joined by Federal Elections Commission Chairman Trey Trainor, who explains the ins and outs of election law, foreign election interference, and why the FEC is paralyzed right now. Trainor also explains how campaign finance laws like the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act have significantly weakened the national political parties while funneling money into the state parties in the process. “What’s happened is the smoke filled room has moved from Washington, D.C. to each of the 50 states.” Stick around for an inside scoop on the rise and fall of Kanye West’s presidential campaign.