Still shocked by the grand polling meltdown of 2016, many Americans on both sides of the aisle are convinced that Biden’s double digit national polling lead is inaccurate and that Trump will somehow win the election in a landslide. This theory has three main hypotheses: 1) Trump is such a uniquely divisive candidate that his supporters lie to pollsters and say they plan to vote for Biden, 2) the likely electorate problem, and 3) Republicans are less likely to talk to pollsters in the first place. Sarah and David break down these theories and explain why they’re overblown given the data we have at this point in the race. Stay tuned for a legal breakdown of the Supreme Court’s latest cert grants related to deer jacking, the hot pursuit doctrine, asylum seekers, and the southern border wall.

Show Notes:

It’s October 15, 2020, and 12.4 percent of the votes that were cast in the 2016 election have already been cast this election cycle. Sarah and David try to discern through the tea leaves what this means for voter turnout this year. “There’s two different schools of thought here,” Sarah says. “One is that we’re on pace to have record turnout and one is that we’re simply banking Election Day votes early this time.” On today’s episode, our podcast hosts also discuss the journalistic, political, legal implications of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story before breaking down the key ingredients to a successful marriage.

Show Notes:

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off its confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett today with a predictably partisan spin. There were dog whistles from Republicans about religious tests and procedural complaints from Democrats in defense of the Affordable Care Act and against advancing Barrett’s nomination before November 3. But all things considered, the first day of the hearings was relatively uneventful, which may have come as a shock to those who watched the rather lively Brett Kavanaugh hearings in 2018.

Our podcast hosts argue that boredom is a win for the Biden campaign’s Do No Harm strategy, as any sound bite attacking Barrett’s religion or character could depress the Democratic candidate’s current 10-point lead over Trump. David argues that if Democrats want to preserve Biden’s steady lead, they will do everything to avoid even “a single viral moment that puts them in the villain role” during these hearings. Check out our latest episode to hear David and Sarah discuss the Affordable Care Act’s lifespan, partisan judicial elections on the state level, and the Capitol Hill Baptist Church lawsuit.

Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence faced off Wednesday evening for their first and only vice presidential debate. But analysis of the candidates’ performance was disrupted by Trump’s announcement Thursday morning that he will not participate in the October 15 virtual debate against Joe Biden. Is the president bluffing? Or is he simply trying to hide his COVID-19 symptoms from the American public? The president has released a series of videos via Twitter this week in which he assures the American public of his recovery. But these videos are produced by the White House, meaning they can do multiple takes and edit out any evidence of the president’s lingering symptoms. “You can’t do that when in a debate,” Sarah points out, reminding us that any of the president’s coughs or bouts of heavy breathing would instantly go viral if caught on-screen. After some punditry about what this means for the Trump campaign’s reelection strategy, tune in for Sarah and David’s thoughts on the forthcoming Amy Coney Barrett Senate confirmation hearings, the strategic ambiguity of Biden’s court packing comments, and the criminal allegations against Texas attorney general Ken Paxton.

Show Notes:

Supreme Court oral arguments have resumed via telephone and our podcast hosts are nerding out. The court kicked off today with an interesting denial of cert from the Supreme Court on a case out of Kentucky involving Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to certify marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 for religious reasons. “This petition provides a stark reminder of the consequences of Obergefell,” Justice Thomas wrote in a statement on Monday joined by Justice Alito. “By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix.” On today’s episode, our podcast hosts discuss the evolution of religious liberty and discrimination law, ongoing election disputes in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and the latest updates on the presidential campaign ad wars. Sarah and David wrap things up with a fun constitutional exercise by poking holes in the 25th Amendment and unpacking what happens when presidents die at different points in the cycle.

Show Notes:

How will Amy Coney Barrett shake things up on the bench if she is confirmed by the Senate before November 3? “Amy Coney Barrett will not be as revolutionary as the left fears or the right wishes,” Sarah argues, “Because no justice really is, because it’s one vote.” On today’s episode, David and Sarah address the hysteria surrounding her upcoming Senate confirmation battle while breaking down what a 6-3 conservative majority would mean for the future of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Sarah and David are also joined by Ilya Shapiro—director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review—for a conversation about the politics and history of Supreme Court nominations. To a certain degree, politics has always played a role in Supreme Court nominations. What makes this era unique? “What’s different is that you have divergent interpretive theories mapping onto partisan preference at a time when the parties are more ideologically sorted than they’ve been since at least the Civil War,” Shapiro argues. When it comes to divergent legal theories, “every decade provides a new escalation.” Tune in for a conversation about the future of First and Second Amendment jurisprudence, the left’s misconceptions surrounding Roe v. Wade, and the problems associated with public hearings for judicial nominations.

Show Notes:

Several new polls were released over the weekend and Donald Trump is still trailing Joe Biden by roughly 7 to 10 points, depending where you look. Despite Biden’s steady lead, bad takes abound in the journalism world. “Here’s what happens when a race is not particularly close on the numbers,” Sarah explains. “People in the media try to make it more interesting by finding tea leaves and little nuggets that no one else has found and then blowing those up into their own narrative.” Sarah says it’s not always that the methodology of a particular poll is bad per se, “it’s that the causal relationship between the question and the result is assumed and not actually there.”

For example, a series of polls from this weekend show that a majority of Americans oppose Trump’s decision to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before November 3. But as Sarah points out, this is a dumb survey question for two reasons: 1) the answers break down along party lines when you look a little closer at the survey responses, and 2) it doesn’t ask survey respondents whether it will change their vote, which is the only thing that matters at this point. That leads us to the New York Timesbombshell report on Trump’s tax returns and whether it will be of any consequence during this election. David and Sarah argue that loyal Trump supporters are simply too attached to the president at this point to care about any new scandals that emerge between now and November 3. Tune in to this episode for an update on presidential polling in battleground states, electoral litigation in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and a fun conversation about our podcast hosts’ favorite new documentaries.

A Louisville grand jury on Wednesday indicted one officer in connection with the March 13 police raid that took Breonna Taylor’s life. The grand jury declined to charge the two officers who fired directly at Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend that evening, instead only charging the third officer, who was outside and fired indiscriminately, with wanton endangerment. David explains the basic facts leading up to Taylor’s shooting, as well as the legality surrounding police raids and the right of self-defense under Kentucky law. “You begin to see where we’ve backslidden in our commitment to key constitutional liberties,” David explains, where “decades of bad Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has empowered violent tactics even when the stakes are low.”

On today’s episode, David and Sarah also address how much the chief justice matters to the trajectory of the Supreme Court and the democratic prudence of voluntary judicial restraint. After a requisite foray into all things SCOTUS, our podcast hosts are joined by Federal Elections Commission Chairman Trey Trainor, who explains the ins and outs of election law, foreign election interference, and why the FEC is paralyzed right now. Trainor also explains how campaign finance laws like the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act have significantly weakened the national political parties while funneling money into the state parties in the process. “What’s happened is the smoke filled room has moved from Washington, D.C. to each of the 50 states.” Stick around for an inside scoop on the rise and fall of Kanye West’s presidential campaign.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, rocking the nation and setting the stage for a blistering Senate confirmation fight should the Senate Judiciary Committee go through with the hearing process before the election. Today, our podcast hosts walk us through the history of SCOTUS vacancies, reflect on the legendary friendship between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia, and offer some rank punditry about what this SCOTUS vacancy means for the future of our republic. The question on everyone’s mind is: What happens next? Will Senate Republicans go through with the Supreme Court nomination process? Should they? Sarah and David have some thoughts. What’s clear is that Trump will fight tooth and nail to get a nominee through as a last ditch effort to energize his base. “The more the Democrats threaten him, his brand is that he cannot give in to threats,” explains Sarah. “It’s the ultimate ‘owns the libs’ move to fill the Ginsburg seat and enrage the left.” But who will president Trump nominate? Judge Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit is in the running, but 7th Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett’s cult of personality on the right—especially within the pro-life community—will likely give her the winning ticket. “If RBG is Michael Jordan,” Sarah explains, “ACB is Lebron James.” Stick around for a deep dive into the filibuster’s life expectancy, the possibility of a Democratic court packing scheme, and the likelihood of an Electoral College split this November.

Show Notes:

After reflecting on the best and worst parts of our country’s founding document for Constitution Day, David and Sarah dive into Attorney General Bill Barr’s Constitution Day address at Hillsdale College yesterday, in which he defended political judgment in bringing prosecutions and railed against federal prosecutors’ propensity to punish as much misconduct as possible. Our podcast hosts agree with Barr that there is an effort by federal prosecutors to expand federal criminal law to an unreasonable degree. But David reminds us that federal prosecutors are not just the instrument to be wielded by the attorney general, they are charged with carrying out laws that have been passed by Congress. “Perhaps we have gone too far with civil service protections,” Sarah explains, “and that we are unable to remove anyone who is part of the permanent federal bureaucracy even for misconduct at this point really.”

Most of the news headlines referencing Barr’s speech highlighted his comparison between career federal prosecutors and preschoolers, as well as his rather distasteful comparison between coronavirus lockdowns and … slavery. “You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest,” Barr said yesterday in response to a question about the constitutionality of stay at home orders. “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.” Sarah suggests a new legal truism on today’s episode: If you compare anything to slavery, you’ve already lost your argument.

For the month of August, the Biden campaign outraised the Trump campaign by a whopping $150 million. (Biden raked in $360 million last month compared to Trump’s $210 million). As stark as this fundraising difference may be, is there any reason to believe it will be meaningful in the long run?A lot of this money will go toward television ads at this point, but campaign money starts diminishing in value once people start voting by mail. In other words … now. Not to mention that the fundraising difference doesn’t matter so long as each candidate meets a certain threshold. On today’s campaign update episode, our podcast hosts discuss these fundraising efforts while dissecting Trump’s surprising lead with Hispanic voters as well as the usefulness of yard signs, door knocking, and phone banking to a campaign’s overall success. Rather than waste time putting up yard signs or trying to persuade voters to vote with ideologically charged Facebook posts, Sarah argues that the most important—and statistically effective—thing you can do to boost voter turnout is text your closest friends and remind them to vote. As David points out, “It fits in with the sort of general reality that we have a large amount of influence over a small amount of people and a small amount of influence over a large number of people.” Stick around for a discussion about the newest additions to Trump’s Supreme Court list—also known as Sarah’s close friends list—as well as David’s latest Sunday French Press newsletter on the use and abuse of critical race theory.

Show Notes:

Last week, President Trump encouraged North Carolina voters to test their state’s election security. David and Sarah discuss how, exactly, someone commits voter fraud, and what voters need to know as we close in on this November’s election. But that’s not all: Sarah gives us the latest on the state of the race and how the Trump campaign lost its cash advantage. Plus, David has some thoughts on Tenet.

Show Notes:

There’s a bit of post-2016 election PTSD among American political strategists, where any slight uptick in Trump’s polling numbers is perceived as an emergency situation for the Biden campaign. But despite the almost constant news cycle turbulence in American politics that would have caused big swings in a normal presidential election, the polls have remained relatively stable over the past few months. Biden remains in a clear and comfortable lead over Trump on practically every policy issue except for the economy. Why? According to Sarah, “It’s because of the referendum effect, and it’s because of the wild partisanship moment we’re in right now.” How stable are these divisions that have emerged? Hyper-partisanship isn’t going anywhere as we approach the presidential election, and as David reminds us in today’s episode, “these identities are cementing at the state level as well.” After going deep into the weeds on the latest presidential polls, our podcast hosts delve into the temperamental differences between city life and suburbia, the president’s memorandum on combating lawlessness in America’s cities, and a primer on time, place, and manner restrictions on the First Amendment.

Show Notes:

Ever since its humble beginnings in March 2016, The Babylon Bee—a Christian, conservative version of The Onion—has been a godsend for Americans who have become worn out by news outlets that take themselves too seriously. From its theological inside jokes about the prosperity gospel to its long-standing feuds with Snopes and CNN, the Bee has made its mark in the world of satire. On today’s episode, David and Sarah are joined by the Babylon Bee’s editor-in-chief, Kyle Mann, who tells us about the challenges of satire writing in a cultural moment when it’s not always easy to determine fact from fiction. “There is an element where it’s not that our articles are too close to reality, it’s that reality is too close to satire,” Mann explains. “It’s what makes it so hard to write because you write something that you think is so goofy and over the top and then people believe it because reality is so crazy.” Listen to today’s episode for a conversation about C.S. Lewis’ best books, Kyle’s joke-writing process, and a tell-all about why Twitter’s decision to temporarily deplatform and demonetize the Babylon Bee was ironically “the best thing that could happen” to the team. Today’s episode would be incomplete without its requisite dose of legal nerdery. Tune in to hear David and Sarah discuss the never-ending saga with Michael Flynn, the McGahn case, and Sarah Palin’s defamation case against the New York Times.

Show Notes:

Violent riots escalated quicky in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. . On Wednesday, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree homicide for the shooting deaths of two people in Kenosha on Tuesday evening. Sarah and David break down what we know and don’t know about the Jacob Blake shooting on today’s episode of Advisory Opinions and talk through the legality of vigilante justice during times of unrest. “These really traumatic events are playing out in front of all of us,” David says on today’s episode. In one sense they’re playing out in a way that’s quite transparent because you can see the actual shootings on tape. “But there’s still a disturbing amount of fog around all of the incidents,” he adds. As Sarah explains, “We’re never talking about black and white cases but then everyone treats them like they’re black and white cases.” From a legal standpoint, law enforcement officials will have to fill in those gaps before they can render a clear legal judgment in all of these shootings. Sarah and David also take a walk down memory lane by revisiting Bush v. Gore, while also diving into the recent TikTok lawsuit and a fun conversation about our podcast hosts’ favorite parts of adulthood.

Show Notes:

Today our hosts are joined by Phill Drobnick, head coach of the Olympic curling team, for some hot takes about the sport that inspired Sarah’s new campaign newsletter The Sweep. Listeners who are unfamiliar with this sport, which gets even passing national coverage only during Winter Olympics years, might be wondering about curling’s origins. “It started in Scotland, like every goofy sport that involves beer,” explains Drobnick on today’s episode. The sport then took off in Canada and then around the world. When people watch curling during the Olympics, they become armchair referees who don’t realize how much strategy is at play behind the scenes. How similar is curling to golf and hockey? Do sweepers make or break the game? Is there a culture of collegiality or trash talk in the professional curling universe? Coach Drobnick has got answers. Tune in to today’s show to hear Sarah and David also discuss the partisan skew in absentee voting, the increasing likelihood of another Bush v. Gore-style debacle over mail-in voting, and the RNC’s nonexistent platform moving into this week’s convention.

Show Notes:

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was arrested Thursday—along with Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea—after federal prosecutors discovered they defrauded donors involved with the “We Build the Wall” campaign, a GoFundMe that shored up $25 million in donations since its inception in 2018. The unsealed federal indictment is damning, and even shows evidence of the grifters’ amusement with scamming their donors and misappropriating the funds for personal use. The grift looks a lot like what happened recently with the NRA with Wayne LaPierre, and reminds us that scamming donors is an ever-present problem on the Right. As David says on today’s pod, “Right-wing institutions are bilking from angry grandpas and grandmas—their extra dollars—to fight for the people, when they’re really conning the people.” Catch the latest episode for some highlights (and lowlights) of the Democratic Convention, a primer on employment law in relation to the Goodyear diversity slideshow, Facebook’s strike against QAnon and Antifa, and an answer to a listener question from about the citizenship of a tv show character.

Show Notes:

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.

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.

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.