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tv   Washington Journal Brian Fallon  CSPAN  October 7, 2019 3:32pm-3:59pm EDT

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talk about syria and the impeachment inquiry. we will have live coverage from the roosevelt room when the signing begins. this afternoon, former cia director and retired general david petraeus will talk about u.s. military strategy in afghanistan. we will have that live here on c-span. canada's political leaders will take part in a debate in quebec ahead of elections in two weeks. live coverage of today's debate starts at 7:00 p.m. eastern. we will have that here on c-span. this opening day of the 2019 term of the supreme court, we discussed aggressive efforts at federal court reform. viewers might recognize you from work in the obama administer ration justice department. you have found it "demand d "demand -- founde justice."
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grassroots and awaken them to the crisis we believe is recurring in the -- occurring in the federal judiciary. probably the longest legacy that donald trump will have will be his lasting imprint that he left in terms of the judges he has nominated. he has confirmed 150 federal judges, including two supreme court justices quite famously. it is not just the number of the judges at the historic nature of how ideology clean extreme -- how ideologically extreme they seem. point is we can win at the ballot box at 2020 and defeat donald trump and win back the senate and yet all of the priorities may well be facing certain power because we have a judiciary that is hostile to the progressive ideas because trump will have any -- so many trump
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style judges that will be with us. host: how you activate the grassroots and how are you funded? lobby andtry to oppose some of trump's most extreme judicial nominees. we were highly involved in the cavanaugh fight last year. we are active right now in trying to defeat some of his more extreme lower court judicial appointees like stephen manatt she who is a lawyer -- and we are also in the democratic politics for the purposes to try to ensure there is conversation about the judiciary and the courts within the democratic natural primary -- presidential primary. linton --or hillary hillary clinton after antonin a's death where the
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republicans refused to name. we want to >> we have a civic engagement arm, and an organization that engages in grassroots lobbying. we try to get presidents to oppose some of president trump's judicial nominees. at the grassroots level, we get small dollar donations. we are funded by a lot of foundation-type organizations as well. host: this morning, we are
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talking about "demand justice." if you want to call in this (202) 748-2001 republicans. having this conversation until about 9:30 eastern time this morning. we want to hear from you on this opening day of the supreme court 2019 term. from josh, north carolina, a democrat. good morning. caller: good morning, gentlemen. how are you today? i am glad that you have someone who is as smart as you are. i love this. -- howstion i have is can mitch mcconnell pull the garbage that he pulls and he is not held accountable for what he did?
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go, canhn, before you you describe the garbage? the seat opending until trump became president so he can fill it with somebody who was -- who should not be sitting on their. and then kavanaugh got up there, and everybody just, for some man,ge reason, loved this after the things that came out of what he did. and nobody cared. nobody cared, but everybody celebrated this man. absolutely. i think there has been a complete lack of accountability on the republican side as far as the flouting of norms and the abuse of senate process when it comes to shoving these trump judicial nominees down the throat of the country. but i do think the good news is, in my view, that we are starting to see some accountability and political consequences attached
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to that. if you look at the kavanaugh vote that happened literally a year ago yesterday, you have a bunch of senate republicans that are in cycle in 2020 for whom i think their support for kavanaugh is going to be a huge political liability. chief among those is susan collins of maine. she is running in 2020 and famously gave her floor speech where she announced her support for kavanaugh, and then in the days right after that, there was about $4 million raised into an account that will go toward supporting her opponent. you saw a rally yesterday in portland, maine by local activists there, who are still upset one year later with her support for kavanaugh. that will be the issue in her race. likewise for people like cory gardner in colorado, and even mitch mcconnell in kentucky. he is in a pretty hospitable environment in kentucky. that is a pretty trumpy state. but you are seeing a lot of grassroots donations to his opponent, in large part because the country this fed up with his
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cynical approach to politics. host: how much money are you spending on television advertising the cycle? maine, we have a combined digital and television ad which features a resident, a former collins supporter, who says that post the vote for brett kavanaugh she cannot support susan collins anymore and does not think she is the moderate she once held herself out to be. one of the main reasons that susan collins has come under fire is because just a couple hostedago, in maine, she a fundraiser with leaders of the federalist society, this outsized special interest group that helps create the pipeline
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of judicial candidates that donald trump has been putting forward. leonard leo is one of the lead figures of the federalist society. he hosted a fundraiser for susan collins one year after she supported brett kavanaugh, their preferred pic for that supreme court vacancy. there is an tidiness to that that i think is not sitting well with voters in maine. this term, i suspect we are going to get to it shortly -- there is an abortion case the supreme court decided to take up last week, and susan collins, when she decided to vote for brett kavanaugh, said she was confident he would uphold roe v. wade and would not do anything to constrict abortion rights in this country. she has a lot riding on how brett kavanaugh rules in the upcoming case with the louisiana abortion law. host: is the supreme court a winning issue in national elections? donald trump wanted to put the supreme court in the ballot in 2016. he released his list of potential nominees.
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you are talking about the kavanaugh hearings, and the senate did not flip after the kavanaugh hearings. guest: no, but you did see a huge backlash among suburban college-educated women based on that hearing. it just so happens that the constituency was not well represented in the states that happened to have senate races in 2018, but in a lot of house districts, the backlash contributed to the gender groep -- gap in candidates for the house. i think you will see in 2020 that that voting constituency is going to loom large in states like colorado, where cory gardner is on the ballot, and a place like arizona, where martha mcsally is on the ballot, and in maine. in 2016, the republicans had the upper hand when it came to mobilizing voters based on the supreme court as an issue. exit polls showed that among those issues that said the supreme -- voters that said the supreme court was a top issue,
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donald trump one them -- won them by 15 points. that is the asymmetry my group hopes to correct. republicans have been mobilizing evangelical voters based on the roe v. wade decision. there has been a years-long decision to try to overtake the supreme court to get the roe v. wade ruling overturned. the left has gotten complacent. we have thought of the courts as our friend, as an institution that has advanced progressive values. the pendulum is starting to swing back. i think the concerns you will see in the 2020 cycle will reflect that. host: the supreme court is our topic. our guest is brian fallon. the group is demand justice. we are having this conversation on the opening day of the supreme court. the justices attended what is known as the red mass here in washington dc -- washington, d.c., most of them attending together. the justices will be on the
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bench today. the new term.of frank is in portland, ohio, a republican. you are on next with brian fallon. frank, are you with us? go ahead, sir. caller: yes, sir. how come california, maryland, get to dictate to the rest of the world how we live? host: brian fallon? guest: i think what the caller is referring to is there are a few cases that are some of the more prominent ones, were some lower court rulings have emanated out of the ninth circuit, the west coast and california, and the fourth circuit, which includes the mid-atlantic region. one of those cases is the daca case, which the supreme court has decided to hear this term. the president famously sought to undo the daca policy which helps
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about 700,000 dreamers in this country. there have been consistent rulings at the lower court level , saying that the president's decision to do that was arbitrary and it showed some animus toward the dreamer community, that they did not do it the right way. the supreme court is going to hear whether the trump administration's defense of the way the president tried to overturn daca. that is one of the issues i think will loom large in this term and will put the supreme court at the center of the 2020 political season. you have, we mentioned, the abortion case they just decided to hear last week. we just talked about the daca case. you have a case in the first week of the term that they are going to hear about lgbt protections in the workplace. and you have this other case involving a gun safety proposal in new york city which some
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people would say the court has no right to hear at this point because new york city has policyed to revisit that that it implemented, to basically moot the case. the conservative majority seems hell-bent on hearing the case anyway, in what a lot of people are worried will be an attempt to constrict gun safety legislation. you could have gun safety, abortion, lgbt protections, immigration policy, all front and center in the supreme court term, and we have not even gotten to the possibility that we might have a case involving the portable care act, because there is a bad faith challenge to the affordable care act emanating out of the fifth circuit. depending on the timing, that ruling could reach the court this term. host: an interesting term for court watchers and c-span viewers. michael is next in plainfield, illinois. independent. good morning. technicalhave a
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question for mr. fallon. remember thati franklin roosevelt wanted to expand the supreme court because they were blocking some of the new deal, and i am wondering what the technical approach would be to expand the supreme court. do you have to make a law? process that other situation,e this such that you could expand it to 15 or whatever you want? they have always been political anyway, so we may as well admit to it and pack the court, and then when you get in, do it. but with the democrats, one last point -- they are worrying about daca and they are worried about
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attacking gun rights. i will tell you, i am on a razors edge of voting for warren or trump again, which i voted for him in 2016. and i do not want to vote for him, but you are forcing my hand. so i would be curious about your technical analysis of this. interesting set of options to be waiting for 2020. the caller is right that historically there have been efforts undertaken -- some successful, some not -- to change the number of seats in the supreme court. there is nothing in the constitution that locks it in at nine. throughout history, the number of seats on the court has very multiple times. during the civil war, when lincoln was president, it grew to 10. when andrew johnson became president, it shrunk down to seven. it has toggled to various numbers of seats at various points in our history. it can be changed by simple act of legislation. the caller is right that in the
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1930's, fdr proposed expanding the number of seats on the supreme court. that push became moot because in the late 1930's, after many years of a conservative majority in the supreme court, upending and overturning many key portions of the new deal, there was the so-called "switch in time that saved nine," where one justice ended up voting with the more progressive justices, and started upholding instead of overturning aspects of the new deal, so roosevelt's push to expand the seats became a moot point. increasingly in the 2020 election cycle, you are seeing a lot of democratic candidates express openness to structural reforms, term limits, limiting the number of years the justice conservative perhaps 18 years. my group supports that. we think that would regularize the appointment process and eliminate the gaming of the system were justices time their
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retirements to ensure the president of their party can nominate their successor. other candidates have expressed openness to the idea of adding seats or changing the court entirely, rather it -- rather than being a fixed body of nine justices that serve for life, having it be rotating justices that take turns from the appeals court. seats.p supports adding we have been joined by a large number of prominent democrats and progressive organizations that have said the same. host: how many seats do you want on the court? guest: i think that is open to discussion, but i think one of the main reasons democrats need to be open to this is that we cannot -- to go back to the question that was asked by the earlier caller -- as democrats, we cannot let what happened in 2016 happen unchecked. that was a gross theft of a supreme court seat. sidenk that people on our need to get conscious of the fact that we could have a democratic president in 2020,
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but if the senate remains in republican hands, it is unlikely mitch mcconnell will give the confirmation process to any nominee the next democratic president would put forward. and why would he change his behavior? it worked well for him. if we want to diss incentivize the brinkmanship that mcconnell did engage in, in 2016, i think we need a process or policy that ensures that cannot happen again. host: from an op-ed in "the northeast mississippi daily journal" about this idea of adding seats -- this is what he said. rather than attempting to force the court's hand, republicans have worked within the constitutional system. emma kratz may be frustrated by republican success at confirming toges, but it is no excuse attempt to pack the supreme court. it was a bad idea then, still a bad idea today. those who believe in an independent judiciary will not let it happen. guest: this is completely
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hypocritical. in 2016, the republicans were fully willing to change the number of seats on the supreme court. they changed it to eight for a year, because republicans declined to give a hearing to merrick garland. you had rulings issued by the supreme court with only eight sitting justices hearing the cases. also during the barack obama presidency, the top republican on the judiciary committee, chairman grassley, introduced a bill to shrink the number of seats on the d.c. circuit judge considered the second most important court in the country, find only the supreme court. why did he want to do that? he wanted to prevent barack obama having the opportunity to appoint more judges to that court. at the state level, you have seen republican governors in places like arizona and west virginia undertake steps to manipulate the number of seats and the people serving on the state supreme court's in those states. so this is an issue were republicans have played by one set of rules consistently, and democrats have continued to look the other way and be complacent.
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our group exists to try to chasten democrats to get in the game and stop conceding the third branch of government to the republican party. virginia, allen, republican. good morning. caller: thanks for giving me an opportunity to speak. i have been calling with one idea, but i have been listening, and i think i would like time to respond to a bunch of things that i have heard. i was on the phone. first, you just mentioned about the democrats being blind, but as far as appointments -- you can go back to when they packed the courts, getting back toward world war ii. i am over 75 and slowed down a bit, but this gets into the deep sidesconcept, where both are probably subservient to various big corporation
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conglomerates or oligarchs owning majorities of shares in , whople corporations control and set campaign funding for a lot of these long-standing members of both democrat and republican parties. try and remember that when trump he tended to follow advice of many experienced -- which turned out to be deep state people -- in the appointments he made. host: west virginia on the deep state? i think the supreme court is a branch of government that has sort of escaped scrutiny from the public for a very long time. you have seen historically low approval levels for the current president. you see historically low approval levels of congress in some polls. congress pulls in the single digits in terms of favorability. the court for many years has remained above the fray because
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growing up we all learn about the court in our civics lessons as an apolitical body. but that is really not the case. the court has been rather political for as long as it has existed. increasingly, especially in its current composition, with a 5-4 conservative majority that currently has control over the court, we are seeing it behave more and more politically. i think we are headed toward a political reckoning where the court is going to become an issue of controversy, much like it has been at other points of our history. in the early part of the 20th century, you had politicians running against the supreme court because it continued to strike down acts of congress and state legislation that was intended to help workers and provide labor protections. you had people like teddy roosevelt running against the court. you had fdr campaigning against the court in the 1930's, as the other caller mentioned. i think we are headed for a moment like that.
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host: a text from kentucky. president obama was so stymied in his efforts to fill bench seats. trump has been so successful. he says democrats bring plastic knives to gunfights. there were things within the obama administration's ability to control, and some things were not. one thing the trump administration has been good at -- i have to give them credit, and when we regain power, we should seek to emulate the streamlined efficiency at identifying candidates for judicial vacancies and sending them to the hill as quickly as possible, creating a pipeline where we do not do there. there was a lot of criticism in the early years of the obama administration that the simple act of identifying qualified nominees for positions was slow to happen. i don't think we should repeat that mistake. but there were other things outside of the president's ability to control, that he was victimized by, that contributed to the fact that donald trump
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inherited 100 judicial vacancies on the first day of his presidency. the reason he has been able to fill so many seats is because republicans were so successful keeping those seats open during barack obama's presidency. how did they do it? they did it frustratingly with the help of a lot of democratic politicians on capitol hill. is a veryate, there jealously guarded process of how judicial nominations are considered, especially for district court judges, trial court judges at the lowest level of the federal bench. there is a process where the white house confers with home state senators, and the way the home state senators preserve their role in the process -- they have this arcane custom called the blue slip where both home state senators would turn the blue slip to indicate positive support for the nominee, and only then with the committee chairman move forward with the nomination. so in keeping with the bad faith approach to governing, senate
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republicans would make a habit of not returning their blue slips for people barack obama nominated that happened to be from red states. patrick leahy, who for six of the eight years was president of the judicial committee, had the power to look the other way and proceed with barack obama's nominations, or he could couto the republicans vetoing the nominees. he chose to couto to the likes of ted cruz and john cornyn. so for many years, all the years patrick leahy was chairman of the judiciary committee, none of barack obama's nominees from red states would even be considered. this might have been a good policy if the republicans reciprocated when they retook the majority and democrats were in a position of advising on president trump's nominees, but behold what has happened. the republicans have decided they do not care about the senate courtesy anymore. they are not honoring blue slips anymore. so people like patrick leahy that put the policy in place for six years are made to look the fool, and barack obama's legacy
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is less than it could have been in terms of judicial nominees he got confirmed. host: you used to work for chuck schumer. is he at fault in this process? guest: i was there for six years in the senate during this period, and i would include myself among the people that got complacent about the issue of judicial nominations. was in many strategy meetings we would plan out the next week's senate calendar, and i was among those who would always side with devoting floor time to what we would call show votes. if we knew that mitch mcconnell would filibuster a proposal on increasing the minimum wage or extending overtime benefits, but we felt there was media value bringing it up, showing the republicans would filibuster it, and showing the democrats were trying to get things done and republicans were trying to block it -- in retrospect, that was a waste of time, and we ought to
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have been considering judicial nominations, further than going through the motions of having show votes on these measures that would have been important if they could pass, but we knew republicans were going to block. rather than try to get some political advantage momentarily in the press by trying to make mcconnell -- [applause] pres. trump: thank you very much, everybody. i want to start by wishing my good friend, prime minister abe, from japan, a very happy birthday. he is 39 years old today. [laughter] pres. trump: please extend my good

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