Democrats Debate, Gerrymandering, Census Citizenship Question, Administrative Authority, Border Crisis Funding

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Jay and Mike open the show with a discussion of the first two Democratic presidential debates. Instead of looking at the debates in terms of ‘winners and losers’ they step back and talk about the nature of the debate format and the sort of qualities it rewards and punishes. Mike lets loose on his general disgust with these multi-person debates, and while Jay isn’t quite as impassioned he agrees that they’re far more spectacle than substance.

Next, they look at a trio of major end-of-term Supreme Court decisions, starting with gerrymandering. Jay feels that the majority got it right and that gerrymandering, while a potential danger to democracy, isn’t something that the Court can fix. Mike disagrees but feels it’s a tough question and understands why some may not be able to accept the social science view of how much partisan gerrymandering is too much.

After that they turn to the Court’s decision on the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the Census. Mike thinks that Chief Justice Roberts and the Court’s four liberals got it exactly right – while the administration can add a citizenship question, they have to provide a reasonable explanation for why they’re doing so, as opposed to the after-the-fact rationale the administration provided. Jay is somewhat disappointed with the outcome, but joins Mike in his respect for Chief Justice Roberts.

The final Supreme Court ruling they examine received less coverage than the others, but is on a topic – administrative discretion – that’s near and dear to both Mike and Jay’s hearts. Jay feels that the Court’s ruling to keep in place a narrowed doctrine of deference to administrative agencies’ interpretations of their own rules is reasonable, though he argues that the narrowing of that deference is part of a larger project to restrain the administrative state – something he’s very much in favor of. Mike agrees with the outcome and argues that the four dissenters seem to want to replace agency discretion with judicial discretion, which he views as unacceptable judicial activism.

They close the show with a look at the humanitarian crisis on the Mexican border. Mike & Jay agree that the system is currently overwhelmed, and that Congress did the right thing in putting aside at least some partisan differences and approving some desperately needed emergency funding.

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