The 9th Circuit recently heard an appeal from a challenge to the state of California’s ban on large capacity magazines (in this case, any magazine that holds 10 or more rounds). California didn’t just ban the sale of these magazines, it banned their transfer, importation, and outright possession in the state. The 9th Circuit ended up striking down this law and departing from its sister circuits on the question of scrutiny. The precise contours of the Second Amendment remain up in the air in the post-D.C. v. Heller era, but our podcast hosts are armed with a war chest of constitutional history that helps break down gun rights precedent for our listeners. In today’s episode, Sarah and David also dive into the John Durham probe into former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s falsified surveillance warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

In keeping with August’s Monday nerdery trend, our hosts are joined today by Rob Daviau, a professional legacy board game creator. Daviau has worked on more than 80 published games—including Risk 2210 AD, Axis & Allies Pacific, Star Wars Epic Duels, and Clue Harry Potter—and has been a professor of game design at Hampshire College and NYU. Tune in to today’s episode to learn the ins and outs behind legacy board game creation and to learn why a game with bad math doesn’t work.

When Politico reported on Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Greene’s racist and bigoted comments in June, several top GOP officials—including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—condemned her campaign. But after she beat her Republican opponent Dr. John Cowan in Tuesday’s primary race, McCarthy immediately switched gears. A spokesman for McCarthy’s office told Declan that the GOP leader “looks forward” to her win this November. Why on Earth is the House minority leader welcoming a racist conspiracy mongering candidate into the GOP with open arms? Our Dispatch Podcast hosts have some thoughts. It’s also worth exploring how she was able to win her primary in the first place, especially with all the negative media attention she’s gotten in recent months. A source close to her opponent’s campaign has a theory: “The most consistent thing we heard [about why voters were supporting Greene over Cowan] was that, ‘Well, she’s gonna go and she’s gonna fight, she’s gonna fight, she’s gonna fight.’ When you prodded a little bit deeper and asked, ‘Well what does that fight look like?’ They couldn’t tell you, but they just know she’s going to fight.” Tune in for some insights into what the future of the Republican Party will look like with a QAnon supporter in its ranks.

Show Notes:

In 2017, an anonymous individual named “Q” began posting on a public messaging board called 4chan about “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory alleging that a restaurant called Comet Ping Pong was really an underground child sex trafficking ring run by deep state political elites. Q quickly gained acclaim online after he continued posting unsubstantiated clues—what QAnon followers call “bread crumbs”—about a prophetic “Great Awakening” that is in store, when deep state Democrats will supposedly be held accountable for their “crimes.” On Tuesday, avowed QAnon sympathizer Marjorie Taylor Greene won a Republican congressional primary in Georgia. Beyond her avowal of QAnon, she is a 9/11 truther, has called black people “slaves” to the Democratic Party, and has characterized the 2018 House midterms “an Islamic invasion of our government.” What’s worse, the president congratulated her win on Twitter after her victory. Given Georgia’s 14th District is a reliably red district, she’s almost certainly headed toward Congress. What does this mean for the future of the GOP? David and Sarah have some thoughts.

Be sure to listen to today’s episode to hear our podcast hosts discuss the new police officer body camera footage leading up to George Floyd’s killing, as well as the constitutional underpinnings of John Eastman’s Newsweek piece questioning Kamala Harris’ eligibility for office on birtherist grounds.

On Tuesday, Joe Biden tapped Kamala Harris as his running mate. But let’s be honest—we all saw this coming. As we wrote in The Morning Dispatch today, “D.C. conventional wisdom had Sen. Kamala Harris pegged as Joe Biden’s likeliest choice for months.” Despite Harris’ numerous attacks on Biden over his busing record and relationship with segregationist senators —not to mention her dicey criminal record as a prosecutor in California—she checks a lot of boxes. She’s a senator in one of the country’s biggest states, she’s the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, and she has experience running her own presidential campaign (albeit a failed one).

“When she was running for president, it was pretty obvious she didn’t know what she was running for,” David says on today’s episode. “But now as a good lawyer she sort of has a client, and the client is the guy at the top of the ticket and the Democratic platform, and that will unleash some of her better skills.” Today, Declan joins The Dispatch Podcast for some punditry on what Biden’s VP pick means for the future of the Democratic Party, a deep dive into foreign election meddling, and a much-needed update on the status of sports during the pandemic.

How realistic is the SpaceX dream to get to Mars? What does the latest scientific literature have to say about supernovae? Is there intelligent life in the universe? Today, Sarah and David are joined by Atlantic staff writer Marina Koren for a deep dive into all things space. Hear everything there is to know about the space race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, colliding black holes, and other crazy interstellar phenomena.

But today’s episode would be incomplete without its requisite dose of legal nerdery. Tune in to hear David and Sarah break down the legality of Trump’s latest executive actions and offer some insights on the D.C. circuit’s decision regarding the House Judiciary Committee and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

People who watch and comment on politics do so very differently than campaign operatives do. Campaigns use voter scores and voter modeling—which is essentially “Moneyball” for politics—to gauge which voters are worth spending money on. As Sarah explains: “It’s a quadrant: on the y axis you have who you’re going to vote for, and on the x axis, you have your likelihood to vote. So you may be the most Trump-y Trump person ever.” But here’s the kicker: “If I go and look back and you haven’t voted since Jimmy Carter, your propensity to vote is so low, that how much money we’re going to spend on reaching you as a voter is going to actually be pretty low.” Be sure to listen to this episode so our podcast hosts can get more into the weeds about how those voter scores are being used behind the scenes in future episodes.

The country is still mourning the death of Breonna Taylor, an African American woman who was shot and killed by police officers in her Kentucky home during a no-knock raid in March. For years, no-knock warrants have withstood the test of time, given their alleged capacity to protect police and preserve evidence. But as David says, “there’s evidence that no-knock warrants are constitutionally deficient,” and “as a practical matter, castle doctrine and no-knock warrants are incompatible.” Sarah, on the other hand, doesn’t believe the castle doctrine should apply to police. Are no knock raids worth preserving? Why are they so broadly granted to police officers? Sarah and David have answers. Catch up on the latest episode for an update on the Michael Flynn case, subpoenas for Trump’s financial records, and the Hatch Act.

Last week, President Trump experienced one of the most challenging interviews of his presidency when he sat down with Jonathan Swan from Axios. Swan asked some tough follow-up questions, and Trump’s responses demonstrated that he is not used to this level of pushback. What’s more, the interview highlighted the fact that the White House’s media strategy revolves around reassuring the president rather than getting the facts straight.

The gang breaks down the interview and Trump’s answers on the latest podcast. According to Jonah, the videography of the interview was also damning for Trump: “It was sort of like one of these twenty-something consultants from McKinsey going and interviewing the paper mill owner who still uses the fax machine.” If he knew what he was walking into, why did Trump agree to this interview in the first place? Our hosts have some theories.

Rewind millions of years and a dinosaur-killing asteroid is racing toward Earth at breakneck speed. But what exactly happened in the immediate aftermath of this event? Which species survived and which ones were met with instantaneous extinction? In a much-needed break from today’s partisan political climate, David and Sarah are joined by Steve Brusatte, a professor of paleontology and evolution at the University of Edinburgh, for some in-the-field expertise on the dinosaur age. “When the dinosaurs died,” Steve Brusatte explains on today’s podcast, “they died literally because a six-mile wide rock fell out of the sky, traveling faster than a speeding bullet.”

Fast forward to 2020, and paleontology is in high demand. “We’re in this golden age right now,” Brusatte tells David and Sarah. “There’s fifty-something new species of dinosaurs being found every single year.” But realistically speaking, most people have a limited knowledge base about dinosaurs. Was the Tyrannosaurus rex an intelligent dinosaur? Are pterodactyls birds? What are the personality traits that make a good paleontologist? Steve Brusatte has answers. Tune in for some fun facts about pinocchio dinosaurs, banana-sized T-rex teeth, and birds (which are dinosaurs, by the way). For all you Jurassic Park fans out there, you won’t want to miss this one (especially since Brusatte is now a science consultant for the series.)

As our colleague Jonah Goldberg always says, the parties have never been weaker than they are right now. Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi joins Sarah and Steve today on The Dispatch Podcast to discuss how parties no longer have the power to push out irrelevant, personality driven candidates from the establishment. According to Trippi, this phenomenon is here to stay: “You’re going to have 20 or 30 people in both parties running from now on,” he tells Steve and Sarah. Political outsiders now see throwing their hat in the ring as a win-win situation, because “the worst thing that happens to you if you lose is you get a TV show or you can sell books.”

As we approach November 3rd, Joe Trippi believes that Trump allows Democrats to speak to both sides of the aisle, meaning unenthused progressives and politically homeless Republicans. Speaking for progressives, Trippi tells Sarah and Steve “He both inflames our base to turn out and he’s making it possible to reach Republican voters that we could never have hoped to reach.” Check out today’s podcast to hear Joe, Steve and Sarah discuss campaign mechanics, including the Biden veepstakes and both presidential candidates’ fundraising efforts.

The D.C. Circuit has decided to hear the Michael Flynn debacle en banc. For the meantime, as Sarah reminds us on today’s episode, “Michael Flynn seems to be getting some extra justice that a lot of criminal defendants would be really happy to get.” If it goes back to the district court, would Trump pardon him? Our podcasters weigh in.

On Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted that we should consider delaying the election over mail in ballot concerns, which of course he can’t do without congressional approval. Based on data collected from states that regularly use mail-in voting in elections, election fraud isn’t a real concern. But it’s also worth noting that these states were able to plan for their elections years in advance, whereas the pandemic is forcing states into preparing for mail-in voting on a mass scale on very short notice. Are states ready for the legal discrepancies and inevitable ballot invalidations that will ensue? Beyond some election punditry, our podcast hosts also touch on the Supreme Court conference leaks to CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic, the latest updates with DACA, and some hot takes on the importance of the bar exam.

This morning, Trump told Jonathan Swan from Axios that he has never confronted Vladimir Putin about Russian bounties that were paid to the Taliban to kill American troops, partly because the president doesn’t believe it happened in the first place. But we know from several credible intelligence reports that the president was briefed on the Russian bounties months ago. On today’s episode, Steve reminds us, “It’s been weeks since this was first reported, it’s been months since this was first briefed, and the president of the United States is officially silent on the fact that Russians are trying to kill our troops in Afghanistan.”

In other news, a fledgling theory has taken hold among Trump’s staunchest acolytes: that the president is falling behind in the polls because cancel culture has made MAGA supporters afraid to publicly profess their support for the president. But are there enough SMAGA supporters to sufficiently account for Biden’s double digit lead in the polls? Jonah suggests that this “silent majority” rhetoric has simply become a coping mechanism for the GOP to keep Trump from losing his mind. Tune in to today’s episode to hear our Dispatch podcasters discuss the Burn It All Down Wars, Biden’s veepstakes, and what they’re all reading at the moment.

Our esteemed podcast host Sarah Isgur launched her new Dispatch newsletter called “The Sweep” today, in which she broke down the effectiveness of the new presidential campaigns ads. Conclusion? Biden’s new ads are strategically boring to offset his opponent’s predictable unpredictability, whereas Trump’s play up the anarchy of the radical left. As Sarah reminds us, persuasion ads don’t work. This leaves candidates with two options: 1) Run up their existing base in enthusiasm and support, or 2) Get their opponent’s base not to vote.

Justice Roberts trended on Twitter Friday night after joining the four liberal justices in denying a Nevada church’s application for injunctive relief over coronavirus restrictions. Religious liberty lovers sounded the alarm for First Amendment violations. But our podcast hosts are less concerned about this case’s long-term effect on religious liberty case law, given the state’s interest in restricting mass gatherings will soon be subverted to transcendent religious liberty concerns once the pandemic subsides. As David says, “The real enemy is not Justice Roberts, the real enemy is the coronavirus.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had some blunt criticism for the incumbent president of his own political party on the latest Dispatch Podcast, and all but ruled out supporting Donald Trump in November.

“This week the president said he was going to cut funding for testing,” said Hogan, in conversation with Sarah Isgur and Steve Hayes. “That was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.” Hogan continued: “My biggest criticism was at the beginning the president didn’t take it seriously enough, and was downplaying the severity of the crisis.”

A federal judge ordered the release of Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen from prison on Thursday. On July 9, Cohen and his lawyer went into the U.S. Probation Office in Manhattan to transition from furlough to home confinement. But instead Cohen was arrested by three U.S. Marshals and brought back to prison. Why did this happen? David and Sarah explain.

Check out today’s episode to hear our podcasters discuss the presence of federal police in Portland, the defamation lawsuit against MSNBC host Joy Reid, and Trump’s latest executive order excluding illegal aliens from the 2020 census for apportionment purposes. David and Sarah wrap up the episode with a fiery debate over their favorite legal tv shows.

During Tuesday’s press briefing, a reporter asked the president about Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and confidante of Jeffrey Epstein who is facing charges for grooming and sexually abusing minors. When pressed on whether Maxwell will turn in other powerful people, the president said, “I just wish her well, frankly.” This took many by surprise, but as Steve reminds us in today’s episode, “it’s not as if this is the first time he has had kind words or well wishes for a moral bottom-dweller.”

Tuesday also saw a fiery showdown in the Republican House Freedom Caucus, when members bullied Liz Cheney for being insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump. In today’s episode, Sarah, Steve, Jonah, and David talk about how the biggest fault line in the conservative movement ultimately boils down to unswerving fealty to the president. Tune in to hear our podcast hosts also discuss the long-term relevance of the Lincoln Project, the Chinese government’s human rights abuses against the Uighur people, and end with a lighthearted discussion on their favorite concert memories.

The 2019-2020 Supreme Court term was quite the spectacle: the court canceled its March and April argument sessions, held oral arguments by telephone for the first time in May, and stretched its opinion announcements into July for the first time in many years. The term was packed with several blockbuster cases and ended with an announcement from Justice Ginsburg about a pancreatic cancer recurrence. And in the haze of it all, many Americans are still puzzled by some of the rulings. Our podcast hosts are here to help.

Has the conservative legal movement failed? Will disputes over mail-in ballot counting turn November into a Bush vs. Gore 2.0? And the million-dollar question: What’s up with Chief Justice John Roberts? On today’s episode, David and Sarah are joined by SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe to field some questions about recent cases and tie a bow on what became a rather unprecedented year for the justices. Tune in for an exclusive look into the origins of SCOTUS Blog and some punditry on the cases that are on the docket for next term.

What is happening on the ground in Afghanistan and why are we still there? The Trump administration has closed five bases, reduced the number of American troops to 9,ooo, and signed a peace deal with the Taliban. But as Thomas Joscelyn points out in today’s podcast, the peace deal is really nothing more than a “pretext for justifying withdrawal.”

While the United States reckons with its military presence in the Middle East, other foreign threats are lurking behind the scenes. From the Russian bounties intelligence leak to recent cyberattacks on coronavirus vaccine-related targets on American soil, Russia is engaging in shadow wars against the United States. And as Thomas reminds us, China’s deep-seated anti-Americanism is also cause for concern. On this week’s foreign policy episode, Sarah, Steve, and Thomas dive into these issues and address Israel’s sabotage efforts in Iran, Trump’s reflexive isolationism and business-minded foreign affairs strategy, and the implications of a Biden presidency for American interests abroad.

After a momentous term at the Supreme Court, what are we to make of it all? Josh Blackman, associate professor of law at the South Texas College of Law Houston, joins David and Sarah to help us all understand: Roberts’ role at the center of the Court, Gorsuch and textualism, and Kagan’s growing influence. David, Sarah, and Josh cover it all.

Show Notes:

Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy for the Trump administration, published a scathing hit piece against top epidemiologist Anthony Fauci in USA Today this morning. “Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” Navarro writes. For months now, Fauci has bickered with White House officials and pleaded with reporters to not turn his interview sound bites into a personality contest between him and Donald Trump. Sarah, Steve, and David are joined by Andrew to discuss Navarro’s op-ed and why our public health crisis has become subsumed into the culture war.

On the topic of cancel culture, opinion columnist Bari Weiss resigned from the New York Times yesterday, citing the paper’s toxic culture and her editors’ acquiescence to persistent bullying from her colleagues. Many journalists in the Twitterverse came to her defense, but others pushed back, arguing that she was not really canceled, but simply unwilling to take criticism from her colleagues. After all, isn’t disagreement with one’s colleagues a perfect exercise of free speech? But as David points out, “If you are using your words not to debate a human being but to try to inflict pain on them in the hopes that they shut up, that’s different.” Sarah and the guys take on these questions and address the Trump administration’s aggressive stance on school reopenings, the Goya boycott, presidential election polls, and a very serious debate over French fries.

With Joe Biden’s popularity rising in battleground states (according to several recent polls), Democratic lobbyists and party officials are urging the presidential candidate to try and win over purple and even conservative-leaning states like Georgia and Texas. But most of his advisors are urging a more conservative path, encouraging him to focus on states he knows he can win. David and Sarah discuss these opposing strategies and offer their insights on what a winning 2020 presidential campaign should keep in mind.

In today’s episode, they also discuss the president’s pardoning power, theological and constitutional arguments related to the death penalty, and Trump’s tweet about re-examining the tax-exempt status of academic institutions that “are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education.” They wrap the podcast by responding to a listener’s question about what to include in an intro philosophy course.