October Surprise! PPFA Returns for Midterms Coverage

I’m back, and I can’t apologize enough for that. There might legitimately be something wrong with my brain. Do I get paid for this? No. Does it take time to write? Obviously. So why do I do it? I honestly don’t know anymore. But with an election looming, I just can’t stay away.

When we were last here, I wrote a summer preview of key statistics and primaries that midterm followers should monitor between June and September. Now that it’s October, we can use those benchmarked statistics to see what’s changed, identify any shifts, and then look ahead to the last month of the election.

Americans are again defining November 8’s midterms as the Most. Important. Ever. Depending on what partisan media you primarily consume, if the Republicans take Congress from the Democrats, either inflation will be solved and babies’ lives will be saved or traitors will ensure Donald Trump returns to the White House and uteri will be controlled by men forever. The suspense is palpable and, for some, anxiety-producing. Perhaps it’ll help to know what America’s Most Accurate Pundit thinks will happen.

Let me know if you find out who that is. In the meantime, I’ll offer my Roughly One Month Out predictions for the fate of each chamber — the House today and the Senate some time after today. (Make sure to sign up for updates to know when the Senate post drops!)

Midterms 2022: The House of Representatives

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The 2022 Midterms Summer Calendar

Welcome to mid-June! Summer is here. You know what that means: not only is the weather about to heat up, but so are the 2022 midterms! (And more importantly for all of us, at the end of this week, my two-month break from school begins. I wish all professions knew the blissful feeling of recharging depleted batteries.)

Fewer than 150 days remain between us and the November 8 midterm elections, where the entire House and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election. I’m still convinced, as I was in January and May (to say nothing of last August), that a red wave will drench the House of Representatives. The Senate, too, is likely to go Republican, although we’ll see if the dramatic overturning of Roe, or some bad Republican nominees, help the Democrats hold the chamber.

Unless it’s a presidential year, summers are typically lazy for electoral politics, but perhaps hyperpartisanship keeps people’s attention between now and the fall. If you are one such mindful American, I thought a political calendar for the next three months might be useful.

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It’s Not Just about January 6

I’m not breaking news when I say that at any given time, half the country doesn’t want to talk about important things we have to deal with. These days, for example, Democrats don’t want to talk about the effects of their myopic fiscal policy on inflation. They don’t want to talk about progressive policies leading to rising crime and homelessness. They don’t want to talk about their culpability in the threatened lives of Supreme Court justices. These things should be talked about, and voters should hold respective Democrats accountable.

Republicans, meanwhile, seem to think those are the only things we should talk about. Most notably, as we saw last week, they criticize the January 6 committee and its prime time event last Thursday, mostly saying that either the committee is illegitimate or that Democrats are focusing on the wrong problems facing our country. Fox News, during Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity’s two hours, was the only major news channel that didn’t air the committee’s evidence. Carlson argued that Fox News wouldn’t show it because it was all a lie. So fearful was he that people would accidentally hear the lies of the damning January 6 committee summary, his show didn’t even air commercials for his hour, a viewer-holding strategy almost without precedent. They so badly didn’t want to risk their viewers giving Congress three minutes of their time that they ignored the people who pay the network’s bills.

So while Democrats try to explain away the important day-to-day problems facing America, Republicans are seemingly ignoring something more existential to the country. Inflation rises and falls. So do gas prices and crime. Perhaps a Republican with ideas to fix these problems should be elected. However, I will not allow Democrats’ arguably bad policy to overshadow the most important political development of my lifetime — a President who acted the role of tyrant.

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Critical Race Theory, Part III: Should CRT Be Taught in School?

Now that we’ve looked at what Critical Race Theory is and why many people resist it, it’s time to tackle a question my lawyers have advised me not to answer.

Part III: Should Critical Race Theory be taught in school?

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Critical Race Theory, Part II: Why the Pushback?

(For the visually-challenged and auditorally-inclined, I had two podcasts over the weekend. The first marked Memorial Day by commemorating the 82nd anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation, and the second was the podcast version of last week’s opening post on Critical Race Theory. I’ll record Part II this week when I have some free time, which occurs, as all parents know, during our children’s hour of karate.)

In Part I of this series, I risked career suicide just to enlighten a handful of readers about Critical Race Theory. If you haven’t read it yet, please do so. I risked my job for you. FOR YOU!

If I had to boil Part I’s 3500 words down to just one hundred, it identified CRT as one of many critical theories that asks us to re-think something about society that we assumed to be true. In CRT’s case, it challenges the notion that systemic racism died with Jim Crow back in the Fifties and Sixties. Instead, Critical Race Theory posits that we’re still living with the effects of slavery and Jim Crow, effects that are actually sustained by our supposedly color-blind legal system, housing practices, and more. CRT identifies white people — the US’s “dominant group” — as partakers in this systemic racism, especially if we’re not doing anything to remedy the problem. In other words, we don’t need to behave racist on the individual level to still be part of a systemically racist society. CRT, like other critical theories, proposes that since it’s in the dominant group’s interest to continue the prevailing system, little gets done to solve it, as it is the dominant group that sits at the levers of power. Because white people aren’t harmed by income inequality, discriminatory sentencing, and racist housing patterns, it behooves them to either ignore the problem or explain it away. (Okay… so that was 200 words. Not bad by PPFA standards!)

So that’s what Critical Race Theory is, more or less. It’s a framework to re-analyze American society, particularly for people studying law but also as food for thought for the rest of us less intelligent people. And like any critical theory, it builds into itself a prediction that there will be pushback from dominant groups who benefit from prevailing paradigms and therefore frame the theory in negative ways.

I think we’d agree that prediction was 100% correct. The negative reaction has been palpable. Might it also have been justified?

Perhaps so.

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PPFA Does CRT, Part I: What IS Critical Race Theory?

I’m an amateur writer, a mediocre historian, a bothersome pundit, a lousy podcaster, and a tenured, periodically effective high school history teacher who works neither in Florida nor Texas. Does anyone else like this exist?

If not, there might not be anyone who’s as barely qualified, considerably eager, and hopefully free to tackle the reputationally dangerous topic of Critical Race Theory.

Buckle up.

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From Roe to Obergefell, Part II: Protecting Marriage Equality

In my last post, I considered the possibility that Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked Dobbs v. Jackson draft might signal a threat to other judicial precedents when future cases arrive at the Court. Focusing on Obergefell v. Hodges‘s protection of same-sex marriage, I answered the first three of five related questions:

  • 1. What was Obergefell v. Hodges?
  • 2. How might Justice Alito’s leaked Dobbs reasoning relate to Obergefell?
  • 3. Would this Supreme Court actually act on this reasoning if a case challenged Obergefell?

I concluded that federally protected same-sex marriage is indeed vulnerable to a strong challenge by conservatives who want to use Dobbs as a turning point. I’d like to now pivot to how liberals might react to the loss of Roe and potential challenge to Obergefell. My final two questions are:

  • 4. What are the best pro-Roe and –Obergefell legal arguments?
  • 5. And what are the political implications of a threatened Obergefell?

So let’s get to it. (A lot of what follows will lack context without Part I, so go read that first.)

4. What are the best pro-Roe and –Obergefell legal arguments?

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First Roe, Next Obergefell?

Last week’s emergency post on the Dobbs v. Jackson leaked draft gave PPFA is highest weekly readership of the year, so I’m here to give the people more of what they want.

As I noted in that post, both the ruling itself and the fact that there was a leak are each really big deals and deserve attention from the media and our lawmakers, although depending on one’s partisanship they’ve chosen to emphasize one or the other. I also discussed the potential political implications of Roe v. Wade getting overturned, including, perhaps, a badly needed adrenaline boost into the arm of Democratic Senate candidates.

Today, however, I want to speculate about where else this conservative-leaning Supreme Court might make itself felt. There’s one prior SCOTUS case in particular that might be in its crosshairs: 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage coast to coast.

If the Court applies the same logic to Obergefell as it did Roe, I’m not sure how long the precedent will last. To best understand why, today I want to answer the following questions:

  1. What was Obergefell v. Hodges?
  2. How might Justice Alito’s leaked Dobbs reasoning relate to Obergefell?
  3. Would this Supreme Court actually act on this reasoning if a case challenged Obergefell?
  4. What are the best pro-Roe and –Obergefell legal arguments?
  5. And what are the political implications of a threatened Obergefell?
Continue reading “First Roe, Next Obergefell?”

Six Months Out: The Race for the Senate

(Here’s what I was hoping to post on Tuesday before a leaker at the Supreme Court forced me to write about that instead.)

On Monday, I reaffirmed my longstanding position that the Democrats’ House majority is doomed. This November, Republicans will re-take the House of Representatives.

But what of the Senate? The Dobbs v. Jackson leaked draft offered a reminder of the Senate’s impact on the Supreme Court. Since they have the “advice and consent” power over the President’s judicial appointments, Senate elections are the most direct way voters can send a message that the Court is marching at a different pace than the American people. Toward the end of today’s post, I have some state-by-state polling that shows legal abortion is popular in some of the midterms’ key battleground states, which could make the difference.

Might Democrats now rally enough troops to save the upper chamber? Let’s take a look.

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