In This Episode
- It’s only been five weeks since Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but state Republicans are hell-bent on getting her kicked off the court before she even hears her first case. In their latest effort, Republicans in the state are floating the idea of impeaching Protasiewicz for statements she made about legislative maps.
- The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it will ban drilling in 13 million acres of wilderness in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Plus, the administration said that it will also cancel the drilling leases that were issued under former President Donald Trump.
- And in headlines: a federal judge ordered Texas to remove its floating barrier in the Rio Grande and banned it from building a new one, Spanish soccer player Jenni Hermoso formally accused Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales of sexual assault, and Air Canada kicked two passengers off of a flight for refusing to sit in vomit-stained seats.
- Defend Justice – https://www.defendjustice.com/
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, September 7th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day. The podcast that is not your source for news about Joe Jonas’s and Sophie Turner’s divorce.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we are not your source for news, but we could be your source for gossip, [laughter] because listen, we know a lot of it.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m trying to mind my business. I’m reformed. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Juanita is reformed. I am not quite yet. [music break] On today’s show, President Biden ends drilling in millions of acres of Alaska’s wilderness. Plus, a judge ruled that Donald Trump is liable for defaming E. Jean Carroll once again.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, it’s only been five weeks since Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and state Republicans are hell bent on getting her kicked off the court before she even hears her first case, y’all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Unfortunately, par for the course for these people. They will not allow us to have just one nice thing.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: No. That that would be too much for them. So tell us what’s happening here.
Juanita Tolliver: Definitely a moment when our mothers are like, this is why we can’t have nice things. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Precisely.
Juanita Tolliver: Thankfully, Republicans previous complaints against Justice Protasiewicz and statements she made during the campaign were dismissed by the state Judicial Commission back in May. But now Republicans are threatening to escalate things by soft launching the idea of impeaching Protasiewicz for statements she made about legislative maps.
Priyanka Aribindi: So what are Republicans claiming that she said?
Juanita Tolliver: During the campaign she referred to the maps as, quote, “unfair and rigged,” though she never stated how she would rule on a case about the maps. Honestly, the Republican complaints here are completely ridiculous and they’re definitely grasping at straws while attempting to literally overturn the will of Wisconsin voters who turned out and voted for Justice Protasiewicz.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So is it safe to assume that this impeachment push is about this shift towards a liberal majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court? Is this actually like rooted in anything [laugh] real or is it just about that?
Juanita Tolliver: 100%. It’s just about that. Like, this is entirely about the liberal shift in the state court and the reality that in the near future, the panel of justices could hear and rule on cases related to legislative maps and abortion access. Two massive issues in Wisconsin that state Republicans are used to having control over. And let’s be real. The threat to impeach Protasiewicz started even before the election happened. They were afraid of her then and they’re afraid of her now, especially since the control they enjoyed for the past 15 years is gone.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: Here’s what Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democrats and friend of WAD, said about the impeachment push yesterday to local TV station WISN:
[clip of Ben Wikler] An attempt to impeach Janet Protasiewicz would be an absolute political, moral and constitutional disaster. The gravest mistake that they could make that would backfire on Republicans and engulf them in election to election to come.
Priyanka Aribindi: I love Ben Wikler. I respect that man so much. But I have to say that is every single thing these people do every single day is just a disgrace.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s tough to say, but I mean, yes, this is patently disgraceful.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. And on top of Wisconsin Republicans arguing that Protasiewicz has already prejudged these cases. They claim that because she received millions in campaign donations from the Wisconsin Democratic Party, that she must recuse herself from these cases. Okay y’all, there are three critical notes here, though. First of all, the justice hasn’t prejudged anything. I mean, the judicial commission already dismissed those complaints. Second, the court hasn’t even decided whether or not they will hear the cases about the legislative maps that are pending. And third, the state Democrats are not a part of either of those cases anyway. So campaign donations have nothing to do with any of this. And if I was being really an asshole, I would have went and found the campaign contributions to the conservative justices on the bench. But I don’t have time for all of that digging. I’m sure it’s there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, yes, I’m sure it’s hiding in plain sight. Not too hard to find. But I love when you lay out things for us just one, two, three. Real simple here. Thank you for that. What is at stake here if they end up going through with it and she is impeached?
Juanita Tolliver: So just to level set here, the only grounds for impeaching an officeholder in Wisconsin are corrupt conduct in office or committing a crime or misdemeanor, neither of which are part of why Republicans think she’s impeachable. Okay, now that that part is clear, if the justice is impeached, she will be barred from any duties as a justice, including voting on cases until the Senate acted. That would split the court three to three conservative liberal judges. Now, if they impeached her and the state Senate convicted her before December 1st, Democratic Governor Tony Evers would name a replacement who would then have another election next April when the Republican presidential primary will be on the ballot, meaning that conservative voters would be highly energized and engaged. And when you pause and think about each of these steps, it makes it abundantly clear that this impeachment push is all about undermining the will of the voters, plain and simple.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right as they are doing in so many places around the country and attempting to do. So how are allies and activists working to back up Justice Protasiewicz right now? What’s going on?
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, the state Democratic Party is taking this threat of impeachment very seriously. And yesterday they launched a $4 million dollar campaign to effectively deter the state Republicans from going down the route of impeachment. The campaign will include, quote, “digital and TV ads, in person voter outreach, and a website tracking where every Republican lawmaker stands on impeachment.” It’s giving name and shame, and I am definitely into it. It’s called Defend Justice, and we’ll put it in our show notes so you can take a look at it.
Priyanka Aribindi: I love a live tracker like that.
Juanita Tolliver: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s put everything right out there, make it real easy. I appreciate it. But now we’re going to switch gears to some positive environmental developments for perhaps the first time in the history of the show. Very exciting news. Yesterday, the Biden administration announced that it will ban drilling in 13 million acres of wilderness in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and that it will cancel the drilling leases that were issued under President Trump in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a statement, President Biden said that the protections would, quote, “help preserve our Arctic lands and wildlife while honoring the culture, history and enduring wisdom of Alaska natives who have lived on these lands since time immemorial.”
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, I love to see every bit of this. Tell us more about the details of this announcement and about this area?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So let’s start with the drilling ban component. The ban explicitly prohibits new oil and gas leasing in 10.6 million acres of the petroleum reserve and adds strict requirements and safeguards to another 2.4 million acres. So that is 30 million in total. According to the Biden administration, these are the maximum protections and would apply to nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. And for that second component. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will cancel all seven of the leases that the Trump administration issued within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For context, the area is the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States. It is roughly the size of South Carolina, so not insignificant–
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –areas of land that we are talking about. And it’s home to all sorts of wildlife that depend on that land and water to survive. When the Trump administration issued these leases back in 2021. It undid six decades of protections for the area. And reversing that decision was a campaign pledge by President Biden that he is now seeing through.
Juanita Tolliver: Ooh, I love a uno reverse. So [laughter] how has this been received so far? [laugh]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So it’s a positive development. But these policies do nothing to stop the $8 billion dollar Willow oil drilling project in Alaska that Biden came under fire for approving earlier this year, which very, very important caveat. When that happened, climate activists and other voters thought Biden went back on his promises and they were angry about it. Deirdre Shelly of the Sunrise Movement told The New York Times that while the new Arctic protections were exciting, they don’t make up for the Willow decision. Of course, there are other detractors as well. The oil industry insists that these are some of the richest oil reserves in the country. Republicans use that to fearmonger a bit, and the decision will likely be challenged in court by the fossil fuel industry. We’ll be sure to keep track of what comes of this though, our fingers are crossed that President Biden will be able to see this one through. More on all of this very soon. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Juanita Tolliver: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Juanita Tolliver: We’ll start with some good news out of Texas, which is rare so let’s savor this y’all. Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the Lone Star State to remove its floating barrier in the Rio Grande and banned it from building a new one, at least for now. This comes nearly three months after Republican Governor Greg Abbott first deployed the 1000 foot long string of buoys and razor wire under Operation Lone Star, a long standing initiative aimed at keeping immigrants from crossing the southern border. The move was met with heavy backlash from immigration advocates, along with the Mexican government. And you’ll remember that a dead body was found caught in the barrier last month while another was found just a few miles upstream. Mexican officials identified one of those bodies as a child from Honduras. And this is completely tragic.
Priyanka Aribindi: Horrific.
Juanita Tolliver: That this is something that Greg Abbott really wants to keep doing and dig in to. The Biden administration sued the state of Texas, arguing that Abbott did not have its permission to install the barrier. And yesterday a federal judge agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction to get the barrier removed. Abbott’s office has already appealed Wednesday’s ruling, saying that the governor is, quote, “prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.” You know, just like he’s prepared to keep harming and doing the most to abuse people who are just trying to seek a safe haven.
Priyanka Aribindi: It really is alarming. It really seems like he is actively searching for ways to inflict harm on these people and in doing so, probably actively neglecting concerns in his state.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God, 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think he really cares about that all that much. Some more good news from the courts. A federal judge ruled yesterday that former President Donald Trump is liable for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll back in 2019 after she first publicly claimed that Trump raped her at a New York Department store in 1996. As part of that ruling. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said that an upcoming trial will only be focused on how much Trump will have to pay up in damages to Carroll. Wednesday’s decision comes after a jury just four months ago found that Trump sexually abused Carroll in the nineties and later defamed Carroll in 2022. He was ordered to pay her $5 million dollars in damages. In Judge Kaplan’s opinion issued yesterday, he wrote that the, quote, “substantive content of Trump’s 2019 and 2022 statements were identical.” And so the jury’s findings earlier this year effectively established that Trump’s 2019 statements were also false and defamatory. A trial to determine how much more Trump owes Carroll is set to begin January 15th. Just add it to the list of things this man is facing.
Juanita Tolliver: Pay up.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: Now for some bad court news. A federal judge in Georgia ruled Tuesday that a state ban on transgender care for minors can resume. The decision comes after the same judge, Judge Sarah Geraghty, just last month temporarily blocked part of the Georgia ban from going into effect, saying that the ban was, quote, “substantially likely to violate the equal protection clause.” So what happened? Well, just a day after Judge Geraghty’s initial ruling, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Georgia, ruled that a similar ban in Alabama could take effect. Attorneys for the state then asked the judge to reconsider her block and to completely vacate her injunction. She declined to do the latter, but she did put it on hold because of a possible rehearing of the Alabama case. We’ll be sure to follow any developments there. But in better news for LGBTQ youth, a California judge yesterday issued a temporary restraining order against a Chino Valley Unified School District policy requiring schools to alert parents if students change their gender identification or pronouns. The decision comes after California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the district last month over it’s new policy and asked for a temporary injunction to immediately stop the policy, as well as a permanent order blocking it altogether. That policy would also require district staff to notify parents if students use a bathroom that doesn’t match the gender listed on their official paperwork. The AG’s lawsuit will continue in court while the policy remains halted. The next hearing is set for October 13th.
Priyanka Aribindi: Spanish soccer player and women’s World Cup champ Jenni Hermoso has formally accused Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales of sexual assault for kissing her on the lips without her consent after Spain’s victory. Last Thursday prosecutors opened an investigation into whether Rubiales could be charged with committing sexual assault. As part of that investigation, they invited Hermoso to formalize the complaint within 15 days so that they could officially open a case. And that day is here. In Spain, sexual assault is a crime that can result in 1 to 4 years in prison, which Rubiales could face if found guilty. He has vehemently insisted that the kiss was consensual and has refused to resign even after international pressure to do so. Rubiales has, however, been suspended from all soccer related activity for 90 days by FIFA. In our opinion, that doesn’t go nearly far enough. Prosecutors said that that first phase of the sexual assault case against Rubiales will come in the next few days.
Juanita Tolliver: Some storm news from around the world. Let’s start with the Caribbean. Hurricane Lee strengthened into a Category one hurricane on Wednesday, putting it on track to become a major hurricane by the end of the week as it heads toward the Atlantic region. No coastal warnings are currently in effect, but forecasters say that the storm could cause swells in the Lesser Antilles on Friday before hitting the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday. Meanwhile, in Europe, Storm Daniel killed at least 14 people across three countries as of our record time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night, three in Greece, seven in Turkey and four in Bulgaria. Greece in particular saw record rainfall with two feet of rain falling over the course of two days. All three countries endured severe flooding, prompting mass evacuations. And finally down in Brazil, a cyclone killed at least 22 people and displaced 3000 others in the country’s southern region late Tuesday night. According to forecasters, more rainfall is on the way and some areas could see nearly a foot of rain by the end of the week.
Priyanka Aribindi: All right. This next headline is nasty. So buckle up or maybe don’t. Air Canada kicked two passengers off of a flight from Las Vegas to Montreal on August 26th for refusing to sit in wet vomit stained seats.
Juanita Tolliver: Ugh.
Priyanka Aribindi: Susan Benson, one of those two passengers, recounted her experience on social media. She said that she stepped onto the plane and smelled vomit. Then when she reached her seat, residue of the throw up was visible and the seatbelt was still wet. So she called the flight attendant. Here is Susan explaining to global news what the attendant had to say.
[clip of Susan Benson] She said, yes, we’re aware that there has been an incident. Um. That’s why we put the coffee grounds and sprayed some perfume.
Juanita Tolliver: You way too casual. With your coffee grounds and your perfume flight attendant. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Literal jaw drop from us. In case you’re wondering, the coffee grounds were stuffed in the pockets of the seat to try and hide the smell. Also, I think, you know, contributing to making the experience even worse like you want to reach into your seat back pocket and just there are going to be coffee grounds? Anyways, airline staff said that the passengers could not switch seats because the flight was full. One of the pilots then gave the passengers an ultimatum to either get off the plane or be put on a no fly list if they kept complaining.
Juanita Tolliver: All right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: And so the passengers left the plane. Air Canada said that they have apologized to the pair and that they, quote, “clearly did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled to.”
Juanita Tolliver: I’m sick. I’m so sick. I’m so sick.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly sick. Between this and uh the plane that had to, I think was flying overseas and had to turn around because someone had diarrhea everywhere. Not a good week for air travel.
Juanita Tolliver: So they expected her to reach and touch a vomit soaked seat belt to strap herself in. Thus, the vomit is on her clothing.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: And saturating her pants the entire. Okay. But seriously, Priyanka, what are you choosing, diarrhea up the aisle or puke on your chair? You got to pick one. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: It is easily puke on the chair because I would do exactly what these people did. Normally try to be pretty nice on a flight because, you know, it’s a high stress situation, don’t need to be contributing to that. No, this is a situation to throw a fit over it, be reimbursed, obviously, the value of your flight, then milk this for what it’s worth, get diamond status on Air Canada. Like you need to be milking this. Diarrhea on the flight, you’re stuck there. You’re stuck in the flight that had to turn around and had to fly for God knows how long with diarrhea everywhere. Absolutely no.
Juanita Tolliver: Well, in both situations, I feel like I would have cried like I’m not even a public crier, but I would have fucking shed some tears, like out of disgust. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s stuff like this. Like I don’t want to be sympathizing with the billionaires but then I’m like, Oh, shit, [laughter] you know what? Flying private, that sounds lit. [laugh] Anyways, this headline has turned me into a billionaire sympathizer. [laughter] That’s so sad for me, but that is just what Air Canada has to live with. Thank you so much for that. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like this show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Hope you never fly in puke and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m still frowning over the puke, but if you’re into reading [laugh] and not just counting up the lawsuits Trump has lost like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And chill out cheese heads.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, Wisconsin. I was like, wait, who? [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. Leave her alone.
Juanita Tolliver: Well, Janet has some reinforcements coming and shout out to this program defend justice. We need more of that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: More of that energy.
Priyanka Aribindi: More. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break].