Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of lever time, the show where we find new and interesting ways to absolutely loathe Ted Cruz. I'm your host, David Sirota on today's show, we're gonna be talking about whether or not Joe Biden will run for president in 2024. And if he does, will he be primary? Will the establishment line up behind him? And can his approval rating get any lower? We're going to discuss that and more, then we're going to be talking about the Supreme Court's decades long campaign to legalize corruption right here in the United States culminating in the recent decision FEC versus Ted Cruz for Senate. And finally, I'm going to be joined by the President of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson, to discuss the impact of the dobs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, as well as the organization's plan for dealing with the fallout of that decision. This week, our paid subscribers will also get to hear our new bonus segment called pod is not saving America. I'll let you guess what we do in that one. One reminder to our free subscribers, head over to lever news.com To become a supporting subscriber giving you access to our premium podcast feed and a whole lot more. And just a heads up tomorrow night. Thursday is our live streamed podcast, live or live, where we'll be having an in depth conversation about Joe Biden's chances in 2024. As well as taking questions from the audience live on the air that's exclusively on the call in app on Thursday, July 7 at 7pm. Eastern Time, as always, here at labor time. I'm joined by producer Frank, what's up Frank,
Happy Independence Day, David. It's the day after the fourth of July and I'm feeling not very patriotic, surprisingly. Yeah.
Well, I mean, things are pretty dark right now, as we've been discussing July 4, marked by some more mass shootings, which was absolutely awful. And, you know, I think we're at a very, very difficult time right now hard to celebrate the direction of the country right now, although not to sound patriotic. I'm always looking for a silver lining, you know, when one thing is is that is that our government is still changeable, I still believe it can be changed, although I think we're certainly approaching an era where it feels like nothing would fundamentally change to put it in the words of Joe Biden. But I've always said this, Frank, the idea that you can have nothing fundamentally change for the wealthy and the powerful means that everything will fundamentally change for the worse for everyone else. And I think we're now seeing that there was that story we did at the lever. Hopefully, folks saw we put it out this week, this one chart, you should go to lever news.com right now and see it. It's this one chart that shows how the rescue plans, the relief bill that passed at the beginning of Joe Biden's presidency actually helped millions and millions of people. And then they cut it off. And guess what millions and millions of people are now struggling to survive a huge increase since the cutting off of that those programs a huge increase in the number of people who are struggling to survive. So there's actually a good story and a bad story there a good story, hey, government programs that provide a direct relief to people they actually worked. Bad story is they cut it off. I mean, this seems extremely on brand for the Democrats to kind of do something that helps people and then immediately stopped doing it. I mean, doesn't that seem super on brand?
Oh, it's their it's their favorite thing to do other than other than crushing the left. Getting people's hopes up and then pulling the rug out from underneath them is? I think, I think it's the official fetish of the Democratic Party. It really
is. It's their patented move, man. It really is. It's like look, we just helped millions of people now we're gonna rip it away. It kind of reminds me of that of that scene at the beginning of Ghostbusters two, where they walk in and they're and they're, they're psychologically testing the that couple are with the big Eva girl a puppy and then they go, Alright, now let's take the puppy away. Right? And you see the girl like, you know, crumble. I feel like that's like the Democrats, right? It's like, let's show people something works. Now. Let's take it away and see what happens. Guess what happened? Four and 10. Americans now say that they're economically struggling to get by after that number had declined because the Biden's American rescue plan had actually helped them. And that's a good segue into our first story. We're going to be talking about whether or not Joe Biden will even run for reelection in 2024. According to a new Harvard poll, 71% of Americans do not want Joe Biden to run for president in 2024 So there's that's astounding. It really is. I mean, Joe mentum is just not happy. 71% is like a I don't I don't think I've frankly, I don't think I've ever seen a number like that in a poll like 71% saying, just just leave go away. We don't want you
here. I also in doing research for this segment saw another poll that said over like, somewhere around like 55% of Democratic voters do not want him to run again.
I, Joe mentum Not a thing. Apparently, he also has the lowest approval rating of any modern American president at 39% approval. Despite all of this, the Biden administration has insisted over and over again, that Joe Biden, in fact, will be running again. This is a really classic move.
That's another favorite thing of the Democrats to do is to ignore what people are obviously saying, and what is popular, unpopular and do the opposite of that. Yes, it's
a very Costanza kind of thing. There was the whole Seinfeld episode where George Costanza realized that what he should do is do the opposite of everything. Now, in George Costanza case, he was successful in doing the opposite of what he thought he should do. The Democrats are typically unsuccessful when they do the opposite of what the public actually wants. Now, Biden's insistence has garnered various reactions, Bernie Sanders has said he will not run in 2024. If Joe Biden is the nominee, Biden was apparently so relieved by that, that he invited Bernie to dinner. former Representative Joe Cunningham, a Democrat of South Carolina, who's running for governor of that state said the president should see the nomination. Here's what he said,
If President Biden were here's me right now, and he were asking my opinion, whether or not he should run for another term, or whether he should step aside and allow a new generation of leadership to emerge. I will tell him the latter
to help break down all of this and and what will happen, what should happen, what could happen. I spoke with longtime Democratic strategist Mark Longo BA, Mark had worked on Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign. So Mark comes out of the progressive wing of the party. But he's worked on campaigns all across the country. So he's been in this for a long time, Mark, and I discussed Biden's chances, as well as the long term implications of what a Biden 2024 candidacy could mean for the future of democracy, or the lack of a future of democracy. And I want to start this discussion by giving you a sense of my mood of late when I talk about these topics, if the whole world God about the only one around here, about the role. Hey, Mark, how you doing, man?
Hey, I'm good. David, good to be with you. Again. It's been a while.
Yeah, we started this segment with a sound clip that asks has the whole world gone crazy. And I think that's a good frame for this discussion about whether the whole Democratic Party has gone crazy. I wanted to talk to you a longtime democratic consultant, you've worked on campaign after campaign after campaign. You've been in this work a long, long time. There was a story in The New York Times that just kept getting more insane. Every paragraph you go into it. And the headline was Biden irked by Democrats who won't take yes for an answer on 2024. And the entire article is basically the Biden White House expressing anger and consternation and surprise, that anyone might be thinking he might not be a terrific 2024 reelection candidate. And I want to just to set the stage. I want to read a couple of excerpts of this. Earlier this month when Senator Bernie Sanders said he wouldn't challenge President Biden in 2024. Mr. Biden was so relieved, he invited his former rival to dinner at the White House. Mr. Biden has been eager for signs of loyalty, but they have been few and far between facing intensifying skepticism about his capacity to run for reelection when he will be nearly 80 to the President and his top aides had been stung by the questions about his plans. It cuts to a top White House official, a guy named Cedric Richmond, a former congressman who actually has pretty close links to the fossil fuel industry, saying, quote, too many people in our party look at the glass as half empty, as opposed to the glass as half full. So I guess to start this discussion, what do we make of the White House, saying it is surprised that amid an inflation crisis and ongoing pandemic, a judicial coup, a complete feels like a complete torching of the 20th century? What do you make of the White House sort of expressing surprise that anyone is suggesting that Joe Biden maybe shouldn't run again?
Well, I mean, one thing I You know, I think your listeners need to realize is the White House has to say, Joe Biden is running for reelection. And you have to do that, because otherwise he becomes a lame duck. And even though Biden himself talked about himself as being a bridge candidate in the 2019 and 20 election, so he himself put this on the table a long time back. The one thing that is surprising to me about the White House is that, you know, those of us who are in the business and have done national campaigns before, they recognize a White House that's gearing up for a re election campaign. And it just doesn't feel that way. You know, they can say in the stories that they're, you know, they've sent Richmond down to the DNC to bolster the DNC, and they're bringing an old colleague of mine, and Anita Dunn into the White House, very, you know, competent person who, who helped Biden right to ship the last go round. This is not if you remember the way Barack Obama geared up for the 2012 campaign at this point in his presidency, it's completely different. So I, you know, I think there's
a there's a little theater here like this is this is they're going through the motions. Yeah.
I think Joe Biden, I mean, my view is I don't talk to Joe Biden, he's never been close to Joe Biden, but just my read of politicians. I think he hasn't decided whether he's going to run again. I mean, I think he, he recognizes and his family recognizes, I mean, one interesting thing about that story that I did thought really rang true was that he would make this decision with his family. And I really do believe that's probably going to be the case, I think they made a decision as a family for him to run in 20, you know, when they made the decision in 19. So I think the reality is, is that Joe Biden has not decided whether he's going to run again. But you know, the White House has to just as a, as a political instructional matter has to say they're running.
So So then let me ask the question about the hostility to the idea of contested primaries, because I think that's actually at the root of this, that what comes out of this story is that we are now living in an age where the idea of anyone running against an incumbent president, no matter how awful their record is, or how awful just their political approval ratings are, right, even if you say I, I think Joe Biden is doing a great job as president, even if you somehow argue that I don't think there's a single person in the United States, I just don't believe there's one person who's getting up in the morning and being like, Yo, Joe Biden is totally nailing it like he is nailing being President right now. I don't think that person exists. But even if you think that, if you look at his approval ratings, and they're in the in the toilet, like, what explains the hostility to the idea of having a contested small d Democratic primary inside of the Democratic Party? Has that always been the case? Has there always been that hostility to kind of contested elections within the party?
Yeah, to be honest with you, I think there always has, I mean, if you go back and look at some of through hit through modern Electoral history at some of the those, those contests whether, you know, it was in 68, you know, what Juma girl was it was McCarthy first and then Bobby Kennedy jumped in, you know, in the chaos that ensued from that, you know, the 76 primary between, you know, take the Republican side as well, when Reagan challenged of Ford, Kennedy Carter, and at you know, I think there's, you know, even even you know, Pat Buchanan challenging HW Bush, there is always, you know, the establishment of the party, and certainly the White House is, you know, is very much opposed to the distraction of of a primary. But here, I think we have, it's just a little bit of a unique situation where we have an incumbent that I can't really think of a an example like this, who really on his own as he ran for president the first time around, put on the table, the idea that he may be a one term president. And and I think, you know, the consternation of the White House. You know, I understand how they feel about this, they've put out he's running and they just want it all to go away. But that but they gotta realize these stories are a repercussion from the way he in which he positioned himself in the first race and they're still living with that.
So my my then follow up question is, what do you think the chances are? Let's say if Joe Biden says, I'm really going to run again, what do you think the chances are? Now that there will be a real serious primary against him. Are we at a point where we can expect or there's a legit chance that a serious primary challenge will happen? Or are we at a point where the kind of anti primary sentiment inside of the Democratic Party is so built in that that which happened before is not likely to happen again?
Well, I would say two things. I want to put a caveat up front, are people going to be shooting at me like right and left? I'm not advocating a primary of the President in 23. I'm being an observer here. But I think there's a possibility that there could be a serious challenge. I think it's very likely, even if it's not a serious challenge, that that there still is some kind of challenge a pat buchanan ask, sort of, you know, from the fringes kind of kind of kind of challenge to the President. The other thing that Biden has to deal with here is that he is not in a strong political position. And, you know, when your approval ratings are, what they are, and if they're, that's where they are at the end of the year. If Democrats take it on the chin, you know, it's unclear as to how the midterm elections are going to play out. You know, it's a tough environment for us. You know, with the chaos that the Supreme Court is now injecting into the, into the political environment, I think we could see a lot of chaos at the end of the year. And I think the only way the President could knock that down as if he was in a stronger political position. He's not there.
I mean, I think I think one question is, how, what is the threshold capacity of Democrats to in the name of party loyalty, kind of march into a general election with a candidate, who is at least let's say, right now, all things, let's say of everything held right now, who is this week? I mean, I think just asking, forget about the ideological question. I mean, this New York Times story, by the way, you know, floats the idea of Joe Manchin, running as a third party candidates crazy
constituency in the party for Joe Manchin outside West Virginia.
Right. I mean, it folks, the idea of Hillary Clinton running I mean, I roll that I mean, you know, never say never, I guess. But the point is that even if you set aside with folks listening to this, set aside their own ideology, what kind of candidate they'd want in a primary? I think my question is, where and when is the breaking point where folks inside of the Democratic establishment say, Hey, listen, I may like Joe Biden, I may think he's doing a great job, but he's gonna lose to somebody like Ron DeSantis. If we don't change course, like, when does that threshold get broken?
You know, I think it's all going to play out in the spring of 2023. Because, you know, that's, that's the point at which other candidates looking at 24 are going to sit there and say, Listen, we can't wait forever. And I one notion that I personally would, you know, just my view, one idea that the Biden folk hang their hat on all the time and some in the establishment is that Joe Biden is the only person that can beat Donald Trump. I don't believe that. I mean, I just I don't I mean, he did best him, you know, not decisively, I would argue in 2020. But the idea that the position that he's in today, that he's going to be the best candidate to even beat Donald Trump. And I certainly believe, like every Democrat, that we at all costs, you have to defeat that guy.
Now there was that big story, a separate story in The New York Times about the vanishing moderate Democrat. And frankly, I can't stand the term moderate, because I don't think it means anything like these terms, like the left moderate, but they don't mean anything. And then in the in this New York Times story about the Biden challenge, or the potential for a Biden challenge. You know, you have the Biden folks worrying about, quote, they fear Biden's retirement would set off a sprint to the left. I think my question is this, knowing what you know, about campaigns, both primary campaigns and general election campaigns. What do you make of the fear of the party, quote, moving left? I mean, this is I feel like this is the story that democratic elites have been telling since the McGovern campaign. Like it all traces back to this idea that George McGovern lost the 1972 election because he was too far left. And therefore for literally now 50 fucking years is this idea that the Democrats cannot have a quote left candidate. Now I think when you look at what Barack Obama campaigned on in 2008, when you actually look at what he was saying and campaigning on, that is USC was classically of quote, the left now I'm not saying he actually governed like that. But my point is, I think it all emanates from this myth, this myth from the McGovern Euro. And I wonder whether you think it's relevant and germane to the times we're living in whether you think we should politically fear, like fear for not winning an election, the idea of a democratic primary producing a quote, left candidate, what are your thoughts on that?
Well, I mean, based basically, what I think is, there are there are, are a large number of democratic elites. And the Gaussian came came are down at Brookings. So those two are like they sort of epitomize sort of this 40 year old think, right, which is that they wrote, they wrote a bunch of neoliberal how the party had to reorient itself back in the 90s. Clinton did that succeeded, and they're still stuck back there. That's not the era we live in today. I mean, the Democratic Party has moved left the country culturally has moved to the left. And I just think that's indisputable and undeniable. When you look at public opinion research, in any poll, right, the public wants a much more activist engaged, and certainly the Democratic Party does set of a set of governing policies than we are executing today. And, and and I think that there's just as just a large number of, of democratic elites who are just stuck in the past, and they don't, somehow, they haven't gotten to 2022. And
can I ask when you say stuck in the past, sometimes I wonder if they're actually stuck in the past, and they don't understand the world we're living in. Or that it's, there's sort of a kind of a soft corruption in the sense of, it's less jarring less of a challenge to establishment power, less of a challenge to donor financial interests, to to put forward the idea of the quote, moderate who doesn't really challenge the system, the president who promised nothing would fundamentally change. In other words, that's more comfortable to the people who are currently in power to the donor class, and that they kind of don't want to acknowledge that there's a different kind of politics, that can be a winning politics, but it's a politics that challenges power. I guess what I'm asking is, how much do you think the power equation matters in the analysis of the idea of, we can't have a candidate who is too far left?
Oh, I think that's a big piece of it. I mean, I, you know, I was just looking at it from an analyst standpoint, but unquestionably, you know, you the money that's in politics, you know, the leadership in Congress is, is influenced by this tremendously. You know, you mentioned mansion at the outset. I mean, I don't think there's any better creature of that, you know, corporatized influence. I mean, you know, the guy himself. Is, is x, you know, holding up climate policies in the United States Congress with an existential global challenge here. Because it affects his pocketbook. Like, I mean, that's, that's like that. I mean, the guy sitting in the United States Senate, drawing dividends off of coal money. I mean, it doesn't get any worse than that.
Honestly, it kind of reminds me of, like, 120 110 years ago, the Gilded Age, you heard the stories of those senators who had all these financial issues. I mean, it really is like, you hear those stories, you look back and be like, I can't believe how did that happen? It was so disgusting. And you're like, wait a minute, Joe Manchin in the Senate. I mean,
we get focused on him and outraged on him, because we have a 5050. Senate. If that wasn't the dynamic wouldn't be the same. But your broader point, just in terms of, you know, I mean, one of the things that always rang true for me, and what I thought was one of the most powerful message messages of Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016, was his critique of Wall Street. And the way in which these guys, these Masters of the Universe crashed our economy. And, you know, you know, socialism for the rich, we bailed them out. We didn't bail anybody. I mean, it was just the whole critique. I don't have to go through it. But like, there's no question that, you know, the idea that you just put on the table, that there are corporate financial elites that that hold the party back from taking a more progressive position is absolutely true.
So I want to ask you one final question. Take the long view of history here. And the question is, what are you most frustrated about right now looking at what's happening, let's say in the Democratic Party, or in democratic politics, and what are you if anything most optimistic about
wow, I mean, I got a lot of things that bother me. You know, right now, I mean, I think you Gotta say, from my view, this country is about to be overtaken by five individuals on the Supreme Court. Who are, you know, two of which
I got to interrupt you. It's six individuals. I think John Roberts is the puppet master. We can debate that. Okay. I think, Okay, five or six,
just to concede that point. Let's, let's say, let's say six, it doesn't, you know, my point is still the same. You know, this is just look what they've done. I mean, they've, they've struck down Roe, they struck down, you know, this decision yesterday, and, you know, West Virginia versus the EPA is going to have profound influence across all the regulatory agencies of the government. I mean, Democrats are just like, this deference that we give to the Supreme Court, as if this is not an absolutely politicized institution. It's just, it just, I just, it's like, we need to blow up the Supreme Court. They're an undemocratic institution. They should not rule the United States of America. These people were not voted on, even though they were sort of through a backdoor democratic process, put in office, lifetime appointments, give me a break. I mean, we got to have term limits. We got to expand the court, we got to get rid of the filibuster. I mean, like, we got to move on a whole host of things. And Democrats are just like laying back like, I just don't know what they're gonna they're thinking. So that's that's one thing that burns me up. Little small thing that kind of got me irritated. And I'm not sure the whole genesis of it is the to get real small bore and political. The DNC blowing up the the the nominating process currently, right, which is I have no love for
talking about potentially shifting the state's around and deciding which states go first. And they might change it around.
Yeah, I think this there, they are messing and playing with fire, because there are a host of unintended consequences that they're going to create here. And I don't really know, I know, there's just tremendous animosity down there towards Iowa and the people who were threatened those caucuses, and they've, they've taken that personal beef, and they've like blown it up into this big thing that they're gonna blow up the whole nominating system. And what kills me about it is, I don't know what it is they're trying to fix. Right? If you look at it from an establishment standpoint, I mean, they get the nominees they want. I mean, like they got Joe Biden,
I mean, isn't isn't the argument that the Iowa and New Hampshire are not demographically representative of the larger democratic electorate, and therefore, that's
why we put Nevada and South Carolina into the process. And I mean, you can't say that those states aren't demographically. I mean, and so you know, I mean, this is the whole story of 2020. I mean, South Carolina, you know, salvage Biden's candidacy. So when I look at the process as a whole, I go, like, what are we trying to fix? Okay,
so as I said, you have to leave, we have to leave this conversation with some piece of optimism. That's a well, I guess it's not a requirement. But that's what I'm asking for anything you're optimistic for, in the long view, or even in the short term?
Well, I do think the Democratic Party has, has some young leaders coming up that that have a lot of talent and show a lot of promise towards leading the party in a better direction. And I'll just mention a couple just for the heck of it. The Democrats have nominated very interesting guy in for governor in Pennsylvania, Shapiro, who I think is going to be a I, I'm very hopeful he wins that election. And I think he's going to be a future leader of the Democratic Party. You know, Roh Khanna, I think is a very, very interesting candidate and has a lot of energy. It's got a new book out that really have some innovative ideas that I in my view, sort of advances Bernie Sanders critique on inequality in a new direction, to try and try and attack that inequality by by trying to get investment in the heartland and bring, you know, technology and some of our high tech manufacturing jobs back back to the heartland. I think a very interesting guy. So I think the party is full of some young talent that, that that I think could lead us into better places. And, and by the way, younger leaders, like you know, I say this as a 60 year old, but but we could use some young leadership. I mean, I think having a congressional leadership that's all in their 80s That's gotta go. You know, you got a president. We got all these nominees. They're just I think we just need some some younger, younger, fresher leadership in the party. And I think it's out there and I think it's common.
Mark, thanks for taking the time with us. Thanks for trying to figure out what's going on. Really appreciate it. You bet. Okay, for our next story, we're going back to the soup mean court, or as I like to call it, the corporate star chamber that's destroying America. We all know that the Supreme Court is an inherently undemocratic institution. In fact, it's cartoonishly undemocratic. It's essentially an unelected council of elders handing down judgments from on high. Most of those elders were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And three of them were people who literally worked on stealing the 2000 election. And now, they've doubled down on giving the big middle finger to democracy, issuing judgment after judgment after judgment that the majority of Americans do not agree with. While the court has received tons of media attention in the last few weeks for the assault on civil rights, predominantly when it comes to social issues. The court has received much less attention for the thing, it really does best, which is legalized corruption in the United States. That really is John Roberts real legacy. Most people have heard of Citizens United. But there was also a McCutcheon decision, a McDonald decision. And now an FEC versus Ted Cruz decision, where the court has basically pioneered a whole new attitude towards corruption and bribery law. They have essentially legalized the way money influences politics in a way that other countries just have have called corruption and bribery. We have effectively legalized it through the Supreme Court, and that Ted Cruz decision is the cherry on top of this shit Sunday being forced fed to American democracy. Today. To break it all down. We're speaking with the hosts of the five to four podcast about how we got here. And what this new decision this Ted Cruz decision means five, the four podcasts one of my favorite podcasts, I listened to it every week, I encourage you to do the same. It's all about the Supreme Court, a trigger warning for our audience. Before we get to this, this story does include a substantial amount of Ted Cruz, which can be damaging to your mental health, your physical health, and your view of life on Earth. Anyone who suffers from asshole sensitivity, please proceed cautiously. Peter, Michael, thanks for joining
us. Thanks for having us.
So you guys host one of my favorite podcasts in the world five to four Pong. Well, maybe certainly could be renamed six to three pod. It's a podcast about the Supreme Court. I've been obsessed with the Supreme Court and how much of a corporate star chamber it has become for the last while really since John Roberts was confirmed, I remember way way back. That's how old I am. I remember back then watching this guy who had been the Chamber of Commerce lawyer get nominated. And almost none of the questions being asked of him about anything having to do with corporate power, money, nothing. It was the very, very typical confirmation process where it was all about the so called hot button social issues and nothing about what what the court mostly does on a daily basis, which is, which is business cases. And I wanted to talk to you both about the way John Roberts in specific, in my view is really in many ways the puppet master of what's going on. I feel like he has gotten this, this portrayal as the kind of moderate almost victim of what's going on. And to start this conversation, I just want to ask you both your thoughts on how much you think John Roberts is more of a house of cards style figure who's actually the mastermind of what's going on here, or whether you think he is kind of he's supposedly lost control of the court. I think he's the Puppet Master. What do you think?
It's an interesting question, I do think that he certainly lost control of the public perceptions of the court, right? Something that he was very good at regulating until the arrival of Amy Coney Barrett, and maybe even until this term. And it seems pretty clear that although he is almost certainly ideologically aligned with the rest of the court on for example, abortion rights, that he is trying to steer for PR purposes, a, a more quote unquote, moderate path right and I'm really using the term moderate loosely there. You know, it does feel like he lacks control in certain regards. That said, I think that if you looked at what he is looking to accomplish jurist prudentially. He's very secure and his agenda is very secure. So I do think that he probably has these sort of Institutionalists concerns about the public's view of the court, where he is now lacking control. But I don't see that he would be concerned about the jurisprudence coming out of the court, in and of itself.
Yeah, yeah. And I'd add that the idea that he has lost control is sort of stems from the idea that there are the these other justices that are even more arch conservative than he is. And that might be the case on some issues, but in the issues, he cares about the issues that like mean the most to him, he is just as extreme, if not more so than a lot of them. And still, in the majority writing the decision or assigning the decision on all the campaign finance cases, and all the big corporate cases, all the big, you know, deregulatory cases where he's where they're taking hacks at the administrative state, he still gets to say, right, like, who writes those decisions and what they say. So even if there's a sense in which he's lost control of, you know, some of the more nutty religious shit they're doing. For what he's trying to get accomplished, the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act and free and fair elections and, you know, the regulatory state, he is very much still comfortably, you know, in charge.
So, the, it almost seems like, it's like, if you said that Mitch McConnell had lost control of the Republican Senate caucus, it like Mitch McConnell may have folks too, who are more tactically brazen than Mitch McConnell wants to be, but Mitch McConnell is constantly thinking about how to preserve and amass and expand his power. So I think that Robert sure, you know, Alito, and Thomas may behave like freaks every now and again, and their ruling and their, their their opinions may be written in in Super spastic kinds of ways. But on the policy, Roberts, as you said, is still getting what he wants. And you mentioned, the things that Robert really cares about, and this is what I really want to talk about, which is how John Roberts has pretty quietly legalized corruption in the American political system. I mean, there has been a revolution, it seems to me in the laws governing bribery, corruption, or what we used to call bribery, we used to call corruption. And now we just call campaign finance. And I want to walk through how that happened. I think people know about Citizens United, they've heard that mentioned, but I don't I'm not quite sure. A lot of folks fully understand what what the concepts were laid out in that case, beyond just, you know, donors can spend unlimited amounts of money on independent expenditures. So let's start there seems to me there are four cases and I want to walk through these four cases, it starts with Citizens United, in which he basically he spearheaded this, I mean, he wrote, he wrote the opinion. And he says, that, basically, there is no such thing as corruption, I'll let you take it from there and tell us like, like how you saw that ruling, what you think the most radical parts of that ruling are?
So you know, so that the listeners understand Citizens United is essentially about money being spent outside of the realm of campaigns themselves, right. So there are caps on what you can donate as an individual to a campaign. But if you're a billionaire who wants to just start a pack and run your own ads, saying whatever you feel, you know, the question is, how much can you spend there? Can that be kept and in Citizens United? The Court essentially said no, that that's sort of its its own thing. It's and people can relatively freely spend their own money outside of the campaign's sphere on ads, or whatever. And the result of that has been the amount of money being spent in campaign, you know, I shouldn't say in campaigns, because it's not exactly in campaigns, but during campaign season on political messaging, is now something like tenfold what it was a decade ago. So and in the sort of in Citizens United, they sort of kicked off this rhetorical this rhetorical strategy where they really center this around free speech rights and say that this is all about free expression. And, you know, isn't this such a great country where everyone can sort of voice their own opinion. And rapping, you know, wrapping the rhetoric of free speech and first amendment rights around billionaires who are trying to spend as much money as possible to influence our politics,
slight correction, Kennedy wrote,
I'm sorry, right, Kennedy wrote Kennedy.
But I mean, like the story behind Citizens United also was like, I think one of sort of court corruption and overreach itself like the, the, you know, Citizens United wasn't even asking for this ruling. They were asking for something much smaller. And and the Republicans on the court, were just like, we're going to decide this instead. And a reuse was an opportunity. Yeah, exactly. They saw an opportunity. And you know, and this is under the supposedly moderate John Roberts, going far more aggressive than the hackish partisan citizens united group itself in terms of like what they're going to do with this case.
And I want to read a quote from this case, because I, I always come back to it because it just is so mind boggling. They say that they're talking about donors or other people, quote, donors may have influence over or access to elected officials, does not mean that these officials are corrupt, then they say, independent expenditures, including those made by corporations do not give rise to corruption, or the appearance of corruption. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy, ingratiation and access in any event, are not corruption. So this is the I mean, it's beyond the Free Speech argument, right? There's the sort of extrapolation of Buckley versus Vallejo, which says, you know, money is speech into not only is is that a spenders free speech, right, but it's not actually corrupt. I mean, they're like redefining the entire concept of what corruption actually is. That's the part that blows my mind. I don't know the history leading up to Citizens United. But I'm not asking you on the spot to tell me, you know, all 200 years of history of the Supreme Court, but is there any analog to the Supreme Court sort of saying something like that in the past, like, like, literally bankrolling politicians campaign from the outside is, and getting access and influence is not corrupt at all? It's an unbelievable,
not not really, it's, it's a very aggressive extrapolation from the money is speech line of cases, right, where previously, the court had basically said, you have these two competing interests. One is we want people to be able to express themselves with their pocketbooks a little bit, but on the other hand, you have corruption and access concerns, and we need to balance those things. And this in Citizens United, I believe it's really the first time where you start to see the court say, you know, the corruption and access to access stuff, maybe that doesn't really matter at all. Maybe that's not a problem. Maybe that's just a feature of democracy, which is something that they officially held just a month or two ago, when FEC V. Cruz, which you know, is sort of, we're gonna get to the most recent piece, I imagine we'll get there. But they've been sort of building this case that yeah, all those things we were concerned about, and that campaigns, campaign finance laws have been concerned about are not really a concern, and they're really just an integral part of speech in this country.
So from Citizens United four years later, there's this decision called McCutcheon, which strikes down aggregate election cycle limits on the total amount of cash that individuals can funnel to candidates and political parties and the like, once again, the basis of the ruling was this insane idea that corruption is only explicit quid pro quo favors rather than the perpetual purchase of access and influence. And and that sort of is just an extrapolation of Citizens United. But then you get a year after that, and I had kind of forgotten how insane this ruling was. And this ruling was unanimous. This ruling about Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, Republican governor of Virginia one time, who gets basically nailed for accepting all sorts of really nice, insane levels of gifts like personal gifts, $175,000 in loans, gifts and other benefits, stipulated that's in the case stipulated he gets this He sets up meetings for the donor. It was like a nutrition supplement guy who wanted to essentially get helps validating his product. And Roberts writing in the unanimous decision essentially says that doesn't that doesn't exemplify or embody illegal corruption. What do you like? I guess my question is, what do you make of this being a unanimous opinion because the Citizens United was divided. This was unanimous. are we laughing? are we crying?
Yeah, I don't know what I don't know what to say. It's a we live in an era of leet unaccountability. Right. And that is very much a bipartisan phenomena. And I don't know how anybody who's been alive for the last six years can kick in, you know, take issue with that.
I mean, let's get to this ruling. I mean, they're talking about Ferraris in this ruling. It's insane. Right, like I mean, this quote is not, quote, setting up a meeting, calling another public official or hosting an event. Does not standing alone qualify as an official act. Robert writes, In this opinion, basically saying that the governor may have gotten the gifts, but but in setting up these meetings for the donor and essentially help using his office to help the donor that's not quote, an official act. And then he goes and says, Our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes and ballgowns, it is instead with the broader legal implications of the government's boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute. So in other words, there's stipulating that Ferraris Rolexes ballgowns, that may have all happened that like we're not even challenging whether that happened. It's it's we're concerned, mostly with making sure the government doesn't what over aggressively enforce straight up bribery statutes. I mean, is that the way to read this, that that's what they think their job is? Yes.
I mean, I think that they, they get the LIBS here by sort of portraying it as a rote statutory interpretation case, right? We're just trying to figure out what the definition of official act is. And this isn't about politics, or whatever. But you can see in the majority, the ideology trickling through and these concerns about government, you know, quote, unquote, overreach in these cases. And it's, in a way, because it's not really a First Amendment case, per se. It's outside of the, you know, you mentioned Citizens United and McCutcheon, and then FEC V. cruisers are all sort of First Amendment cases. And this is sort of not really part of that line of cases. And yet, it's part of this effort to define corruption so narrowly, that not only would it almost never happen, but you would never catch it. If it did, right, it would be almost impossible to ever to ever smoke out. This is where That's where this case, fits in perfectly to the broader line of Roberts cases.
Yeah, I was gonna say earlier, you're asking about historical precedents for this. And they're in the terms of like, bribery and things like that. I can't, I certainly can't think of any, but it does remind me of this, the sort of like, up is down and like, you know, everything you know, is wrong. flavor to these. It reminds me of the way the court in the early 1900s talked about economic regulation and the freedom to contract and, you know, the importance of like, 13 year old kids to be able to sign contracts to work 90 hours a week in a bakery or whatever, right? Because, because that's their liberty at stake if we prevent them from signing those contracts, right. And that is like only slightly an exaggeration.
Okay, so now let's get to FEC versus Ted Cruz. I have to say, let's just into this to start this discussion. At one level, I don't want to I don't like I'm not gonna say the word kudos to Ted Cruz. But his sort of, like, epic level of trolling here is so egregious. I don't respect it, but I like marvel at it. Because like, it's so what game do I mean, the guy really does have game. So why don't you lay out this case for us? And explain to folks who don't know this case? Like how deliberate it was from Ted Cruz.
So there are laws that limits Well, let me put it this way a candidate can make a loan to their campaign, and then the campaign can pay that loan back. But there was a cap $250,000 cap on how much money you can pay back a candidate with donations received after An election. Right? That's an important point key point, right. And the point being that after an election is one, people can still donate to your campaign. But it looks a little more like bribery, right? Because you're no longer trying to help the candidate win, you're now just trying to sort of curry favor with a candidate who probably has one,
right and who is entering office to have official power to write laws, etc, etc.
Right. So Ted Cruz decides to challenge this law by don't by loaning his campaign a little more than the cap. And basically says this infringes on my ability to get my loan repaid by my campaign and therefore infringes upon my ability to sort of facilitate my own campaign, which is part of my free speech,
right? We can tell that it was deliberate, in part because he pulled the sort of prices right move, you know, when the price is right, when they like, they bid like $1 over like he lent himself $260,000. Right. He didn't loan himself some random larger amount of money that he actually needed. He like deliberately did this to set the case up. That's exactly right. Yeah. And so. So the the Court essentially rules that the cap is a violation, they go back to this free speech rule, rubber argument, and they say, you know, the, the lending, the restriction on the lending of this money is a violation of the donors, the donors speech, is that basically right? Or is there something more
it was actually well, so the donor speech is not totally irrelevant, but it was actually a violation of the candidate speech, the candidates ability to loan their campaign money and then get repayment on that loan was being impacted. And so you're, you're hurting Ted Cruz's speech? That's that was the courts argument, right?
Loading yourself. You loaning your campaign money is an expressive act. And if you're worried about getting it repaid, you might limit the amount of expressive money you're lending your campaign, and therefore, your your speech is being restricted.
Okay, so a total Rube Goldberg machine argument about speech. But But now, some people may be listening to me like, look, it's like esoteric, like loaning your campaign money, and you get paid back? And like, why is this corrupt? Like, like, explain the process by which this becomes, arguably, the most corrupt form of corruption possible in the sense of donor money can now effectively flow into a politician's personal bank account, like through their campaign into their personal bank account? Explain how that would work? Yeah.
So there's a bunch of ways. And we were sort of on the podcast, talking through all the different creative schemes we could think of here. But the most obvious thing is you loan your campaign, a large loan, and you charge your own campaign interest. There are cases that are known of candidates charging things like 18% interest to their own campaigns. So you're totally
legit, I mean, totally on board.
And then once you win the election, a bunch of donors donate a bunch of money to your campaign, which then gets paid back out to you with interest, just after you've already won the election, right money straight into your pocket. out and out fraud and corruption. I don't know how else to describe
your as a from a donors perspective, you can put money directly into the pocket of a soon to be sitting or currently sitting politician, right, someone who just won an election, and you can literally put money in their in their pocket and not just repaying the loan, but because with interest you are, that's money they didn't have before you are giving them directly.
And the thing is, by the way, Ted Cruz, I don't know if you saw this. Ted Cruz is now in the process of likely reaping himself a personal $545,000 windfall from past self loans, that his big donors can now apparently recoup for himself for him that's in the Dallas Morning News. It's like I feel like people don't fully understand this, these four rulings and the way John Roberts has been a driving force behind them. And I feel like that this architecture of corruption actually explains so much of what's going on. In other words, I feel like that once you build an architecture of corruption like this, then you you create a permanent process of getting extremist laws, extremist court rulings going on because you can you know, Leonard Leo This dark network group can groups can buy Supreme Court seats. I mean, it feels like this doesn't get the attention that it deserves. And I would just ask you both. Why do you think that is? Well, so
I do. I mean, you know, I'm no, some I'm not like some political scientist or anything like that. But my intuition at least, is that a lot of people take their cues from the national parties. And for better or worse, I mean, for worse, right? Like the Democrats have to exist in this environment, which means they need to find their own big donors, and they need to have their own networks, which creates a disincentive for them to write they become captured by these structures as well. Right. Like, even if it's a structure that in general favors one party over the other.
I think it's worth noting that when politicians have made this an issue, it's been successful. It was it was a big part of Bernie's success in 2016, that he started talking about Citizens United. And there was a lot of appeal there a lot of people saying, yes, you know, of course, it's a it's a winning issue for politicians who choose to really grab it by the horns. But you have this, you have all this whole incentive structure, and you have the Democrats who are either too captured or too scared, or just too politically stupid to to navigate it and bring it up and make it an issue. Right. And I think those things working together, have allowed elites, the ability to ignore it, right. And it has it has been ignored. By I mean, it was barely an issue in 2020, even though Bernie had made it a relatively big one in 2016. And it's hard to imagine that it's going to become more of an issue. Now, when we're, you know, over a decade, past Citizens United.
So I want to ask one last question about how dark this could actually become, because I think there is you it could be taken even further by this court, and I want you to tell me, if I'm insane. Hopefully, you're gonna tell me I'm crazy. This is too much. It won't go this far. Or maybe you're going to tell me? Yeah, I think it could go this this far. There's this argument that is now being made in a sort of separate part of legal disputes about so called compelled speech. The conservatives, conservative activists and lower courts are sort of signaling that on some climate disclosure cases, they're starting to make this argument that requiring companies the SEC, for instance, requiring companies to disclose their climate risks to investors is an unconstitutional act of compelled speech that the First Amendment, if you will, one interpretation is it can't have the government force speech. Now, when I think of this, I think okay, so if they're going to use that argument to say that companies can't be compelled to speak and disclose, you know, their risks for climate change, and tell their investors about those risks. I wonder if the if that argument, if we imagine a world in which John Roberts applies that argument to campaign finance, that you can't compel a an independent expenditure committee, or a candidate or a political party, to, to you can't compel their speech, their disclosure of who's giving them money? Is that insane to think that that that might be where we're going? Or is there some evidence that we
think that it's, it's inevitable, and we've seen it starting to trickle up? And I would say that it's more of a concern in the campaign finance sphere than it is in for example, sec declared disclosure, oh, God, why? Why? Because? Well, first of all, because you have this network of cases, and maybe more importantly, and more practically, you have six votes. And it's this is not a this is not an area where Roberts has been prone to moderation in any regard. Right. This isn't this isn't something one of those issues where we've seen him sort of edge towards the center strategically at all. So I would say that, that sort of argument is the next one of the next logical steps. If you're a big if you're a billionaire who is looking to put their money to work and wants to bring cases to the Supreme Court. It makes sense to go there next, and I don't see where the five votes for the liberal side come from. Although I'm i We often say we're not prognosticators so I could be wrong. I mean,
it's it's so dark and I always like to try to end with a little bit of optimism. I mean, I guess I would ask you both. Is there anything when it comes to this Supreme Court generally, that we can be optimistic about I can I can say one thing. I do think the recent polls showing that the public is starting to truly load the Supreme Court and finally catch on to how evil the Supreme Court is. I actually think that's good. That's That's what I'll offer anything else to be optimistic about?
Well, I think that is the silver lining that really people are starting to wake up and understand the court as a political body. On this stuff, in particular, on campaign finance, in particular, I will also say that what the court is doing is extremely unpopular. And there is a lot of room for a savvy politician to really take the reigns here and do some damage to what the court has wrought, and, you know, lead the charge to roll these back. And I think I think someone could be successful doing it, you know, not in the not in the short term. Of course, it's I don't think we're there yet. But over the medium to long term, I think there's reasons to think that this is an area where we could we could start to see winds over time.
Listen, thank you to both of you, Peter. And Michael, thank you for your podcast. I encourage everybody who's listening to this to go subscribe to the five to four podcast, I listen to it as much as I can usually every week. It does make me somewhat depressed. But it also makes me feel like I'm informed about this, like third branch of government that gets very little attention. Usually, that is actually a formative and driving so much of the world that we live in. Thanks to you both for your work. Thanks for taking time with
us. Absolutely, for having thanks for having us.
All right, we're gonna take a quick break, but we'll be right back with my interview with Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson. Welcome back to lever time. For our final segment. Today, we're going to be continuing our discussion of how the Supreme Court is destroying America. Specifically, we're going to be talking about that dobs decision, which overturned the 50 year old precedent established in Roe v. Wade affirming a constitutional right to an abortion. We're not going to be going to my interview with the President of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson, Alexis was generous enough to sit down with us and talk about the broad impact of that dogs decision as well as Planned Parenthood's role in a post roe America. Hey, Alexis, how you doing?
I don't know. How's everybody doing at the end of democracy, David?
Yeah, it's not. It's it's dark times right now. It's really, really dark times, and especially in the work that you do. It's particularly dark times. So I want to start with a very basic question, which is, what does the dobs ruling mean, practically in real time, for abortion rights, abortion access across the country, and particularly in states that are run by Republicans who have been trying to restrict abortion? What does this mean in real time for people right now?
Well, I mean, practically, we are one week into a post real world. The stories that we have been hearing for months now in Texas, and, and, you know, Oklahoma, is now spreading across the nation, people are waking up pregnant in states that just lost abortion access, they don't know what to do. Clinicians are having to tell patient after patient that they can't help them in that state. They are worried they are scared and confused. And there's a lot of chaos, right? Because each state has a different kind of restriction. They don't know whether or not the trigger laws have taken effect. And some of the some of the restrictions. Other things that they have been that have been introduced in some of these states are so egregious and extreme that people are worried. They're worried about even asking for help, because they don't want to implicate other people in their decision. So you know, it's real time is devastating.
The question of old laws that are on the books from pre Roe, this has started to come up you have the Arizona Attorney General saying that a territorial law from the 1800s that outlawed abortion is now in effect. You have I think a similar situation in West Virginia, where they're saying old laws before Roe was put into effect in the in the early 1970s. These abortion restrictions and bans are now in effect I bring up those two those two states because you've got KEARSON cinema and Joe mansions nonetheless, saying they will they're gonna they will not accept a An end to the filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade in federal statute. I guess my question is, how many states? Or roughly how many states? Or or how much of a real fear? Is it that there are these old laws on the books that now come into effect, and that people in those states might not even know about those old laws that are on the books that are now in effect?
Yeah, again, I think this is part of the chaos and the confusion right now, you know, when when you look at the maps, in the paper that show what what will happen now with abortion, access being, you know, restricted, because roe has been overturned, you see upwards of 26 states that are, you know, essentially in process some point to, to restrict access to care. So 20, more than half of the country will no longer have access to abortion within let's say, the next few weeks to the next few months, that will impact roughly 36 million women, non binary and trans folks who might need access to abortion care in their state, that 26 number we come to because there are, you know, about a dozen states that have these trigger bands, these bands, some some laws that harken back to the early 1930s. To the you know, 1800s, as you said, that, you know, when roe became the law of the land, that federal protection superseded, you know, created that that promise of equal care across the country. So in losing this, and losing the protections of Roe, it means these decisions are now returned to the States under, you know, essentially a states rights argument. And that means that the court has taken away the, you know, the the ability for everyone to be, you know, reasonably free and equal in each state and return that power to state lawmakers. That's the scariest part, right? They basically said, you had this decision to decide what to do with your body. And now we're going to give that power to state lawmakers. And so that's that's really the horror of what's happening right now.
What does this mean, in practice for Planned Parenthood facilities across the country? If someone lives in a state that outlaws abortion, or has one of these old laws on the books that in theory is now back in effect? Does it mean their local Planned Parenthood is immediately shut down? What are you hearing from folks in your organization?
Yeah, no, I mean, look, what it means for Planned Parenthood, you know, is that, you know, our health centers, we have been thinking about this, obviously, for quite some time, you know, we had some time to prepare around what this decision would mean for us, you know, not just in the last 10 months when SB eight went to effect that essentially rendered row meaningless or hearing even hearing the oral arguments that in December when we knew this was eminent, but really, for the last few years as a federation, our affiliates have been in preparation for this moment, it means supporting the states that are going to experience a lot of surge, right, a state like Colorado, that is already seeing a significant amount of surge because of Texas, it means building regional logistics centers that can help coordinate the care and the appointment and the travel and the funds that patients need in order to get access to care. It means continuing to double down on on, you know, the the majority of work that we do as the health care organization, which is provide a broad range of sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning, and STI testing, and, you know, education. But even more importantly, it means that we also have to double down on our advocacy in the States, it means that we have to make sure that people understand at, you know, in each state where these abortion bans have have taken place, that they know who put them there, right? Because if the lawmakers are the ones who are now saying we have, we have a better idea of what you should do with your body, then they need to hold them accountable. And so you know, our health center work is going to continue, we're 105 years old. We are you know, we have been taking care of patients will continue to do that. You know, but it really means that we have to double down differently in the state. The question of
again, what women should do to try to protect their own rights right now. I guess the question is, what steps if any, should women in red states try to take to protect their privacy? Is there a legal danger for women traveling to another state for reproductive services and the like? I guess you But I guess how should people if somebody if a woman in Texas is listening to this, and they're trying to practically think about should I use signal and not text message? If I go to Colorado to a Planned Parenthood, I'm gonna get in trouble, like, how should people be thinking about that those kinds of things?
No, it's a great question. And I think in real time, we are all trying to understand what this means and how these bands will be enforced. There is a lot in it also, in real time helps us understand why federal protections are so important because of the arbitrariness of what a state can do to enforce these bans, and that's the question I think we have to ask, right? How are they going to enforce these bans? Are they going to investigate every miscarriage? Are they going to? Do you have to take a pregnancy test before you leave the state? Like, what does that actually look like? We don't know. We don't know the implications, and we don't we believe that is actually part of their tactics. So we are working to evaluate the risk to patients and providers to ensure that they are as low as possible based on the states that they're in, you know, part of our care provision model includes patient navigation. So having one one on one conversations with people to explain the risks and, you know, share with them, what, what, what we believe our best advices on on how to comply with the laws in their state so that we can continue to care for the patients in the long term. But I think these are, these are part of the scary tactics. You know, if someone is waking up today, in, in a state like Texas, or Oklahoma, you know, we are directing them to abortion finder.org. It is a website that has the, you know, up to date information on it around kind of what is happening and also helps you access the appointment care. But these questions around privacy are real. And you know, and that should also be something that that people take, you know, take rage to right, because no one's healthcare should be, you know, should be factored in in that way.
Oh, what's this? I want to look back a little bit for one second here. A lot of these justices who voted to overturn Roe, have told the Senate in their confirmation hearings, that they didn't necessarily believe that roe needed to be overturned. There's this quote going around from Clarence Thomas, in which he says this,
I believe the Constitution protects the right to privacy. And I have no reason or agenda to prejudge the issue or to predisposed to rule one way or the other on the issue of abortion, which is a difficult issue.
Alexis, I want to ask you, how surprised Do you think anybody should be that these right wing justices didn't respect what they had told the Senate in their confirmation hearings? I mean, I presume you weren't surprised. But what do you make of this? This sort of somewhat, somewhat seems feigned surprise that these people did what they did, despite what they said and what they promised to do.
I mean, honestly, David, no, we, we've been shouting the top of our lungs, through every confirmation hearing, they are lying. And this decision is proof, right, that they, they lied about their respect for precedent, they lied about their respect for privacy. And that is how you end up with a decision like this. their end goal was to overturn Roe, their end goal is to you know, is to prioritize state rights for any number of issues. Right. I mean, we saw that obviously, yesterday with the EPA decision, like this is the this is the reality of, of what happens when, when, when you see these justices decide that they are not going to engage in a truthful process denomination process. I think a lot of people are surprised. And you know, look, even even having seen, you know, the oral arguments, even having seen the draft opinion, I was prepared for the decision. But I was still surprised, right? I was still shocked and hurt because I think we all wanted to hold out hope because we've been relying on a court to as our backstop for 49 years, right. I'm 49 you know now. So the surprise isn't just feigning surprise, it's really the fact that we just couldn't believe that the court could be so cool and that people would actually lie in order to get to this place. That's the alarming part of
the question of now moving forward codifying roe The Barack Obama promised that it would be the first thing he did as president. He then soon after said, it's not his top legislative priority. That history is upsetting when the Democrats had large majorities in the Congress back then. Joe Biden has promised to push for that. But it's still just saying all we have to do is just, you know, vote more Democrats into office. We can have that political discussion, but But the question I want to ask is kind of a legal question. What danger if any, do you see in trying to codify roe? In the sense, is there a chance? Is there a likelihood that the anti choice movement would then use a federal codification of Roe to try to bring to the courts, an attempt to get the courts to not just say it's a state issue, but for the courts to federally ban abortion, and maybe that maybe the codification of Roe, they don't even need that maybe they could take a state a state law and try to do that. So I guess what I'm asking is, are there any dangers to trying to federally codify roe that folks haven't thought about? And is there regardless of that a larger danger that that the court could could federally banned constitutionally ban abortion in America?
So I think that what was missed in all of the drama of the leak that evening, that Monday evening was that Monday morning, the opposition announced that it would be pursuing a nationwide six week ban. And that Mitch McConnell said he would consider taking it up if he became majority leader, again. I think in that moment, forecasting their playbook with just such Umbridge Volden, you know, understanding their their levers of power, I think suggests to us all, that their goal is not only to, you know, push for an effective abortion ban across the country, but also to pursue a constitutional amendment for personhood. And we should be all alarmed because of the way the systems and the structural, I'd say disadvantage that we are experiencing right now and in the States, because of gerrymandering. And to your point, our inability to, you know, essentially use the power mechanisms that we have, because we are hamstrung by the filibuster. So, I believe that is where they are trying to go. And I think that we have to be really clear eyed in this moment, that, that we need the administration and we need Congress to, to really, you know, do all they can to codify in this moment, because we have to continue to force them to take it away, in order to get people to understand that that their participation in democracy matters now more than ever.
One final question for you on this is what is there if anything, to be hopeful about optimistic about I mean, it's it's it's so dark right now, I think, in the whole political system feels super dark, it feels super dystopian. Would you get up in the morning every day? And do the work you're doing for Planned Parenthood? Like? Is there anything you hold on to as like, I'm feeling actually good about things or I'm feeling hopeful about things? Is it this this is an inflection point, it's a tipping point people have finally are far and finally starting to wake up a little bit more anything like I'm I'm desperate here.
You know, I think I don't have hope in the court. And I don't you know, I don't have hope in many of these state legislatures, but I do actually have hope in the people. Every poll that's come out since the decision shows that people disapprove what's goes to done. People are more energized now, to vote for reproductive health champions. We have seen such incredible support. We've seen rallies, you know, we we even after the leak, we had been building up for days of action, because we knew it was going to come. And we had planned, I don't know maybe 20,000 people to turn out on on May 14, and a million people showed up after the leak at more than 500 rallies across the country. And that was organized in like 11 days, just hours after the decision. We saw another 500 rallies pop up because people took to the street. You know, just yesterday, as the President of the Action Fund, I was arrested with hundreds of people at the Supreme Court in a civil disobedience action. So I this is going to be the summer of defiance. This is going to be the summer of dissent. This is going to be the opportunity for us to really mobilize this is energy that people are feeling on behalf of the, you know, millions of people who now can't get access to care in their state. And so that actually does give me hope it gives me purpose or I should say I, sometimes I don't have hope, but I do have purpose. And that purpose is going to be to drive all of this energy into, you know, into November and beyond, right and to make sure that no one can stay neutral on this. Not a single state rep. Not a single lawmaker, not a single governor, not a single senator, that a single corporation that a single university, right, these are all the people have to understand the impact and the weight of this decision. And we're going to make sure they eat this decision for breakfast if they don't step up and do the right thing.
I mean, I've played this clip before on this show, but there's that clip from our our movie don't look up where it's towards the end of the movie where Leonardo DiCaprio finally points up, he gets out of his car, he points up at the at the comic Cummings says we've been trying to tell you, we've been trying to tell you, and I feel like you and Planned Parenthood have been trying to tell everybody. And now the comment is here. And I'm sure it gives, you know, great pleasure to have been right and to have been warning about this. But it is absolutely essential. And I really appreciate the work that you're doing. And I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Thanks, Alexis.
Thank you so much.
Okay, that's it for today's show. As a reminder, our paid subscribers who get lever time premium get to hear our bonus segment, pod is not saving America,
if they're gonna fully buy in to the two party system, and the Democrats are the only party that can save us, then you need to be more critical. Like, if that's your party, you need to push your audience to be more critical because talking about how this isn't really their fault is disingenuous, and it perpetuates more of the same kind of inaction that they literally just described at this clip,
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