Read - Reading: Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer (W. W. Norton & Company)
When did America become polarized? For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974 with the Watergate crisis, the OPEC oil embargo, desegregation busing riots in Boston, and the winding down of the Vietnam War.
I’m 31% done with Fault Lines. Finished chapter 8 to page 220.

This last section covered the turmoil of the Supreme Court during the late 80’s Reagan era. 

Listened to Body of Law: Beyond Roe from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Justice Ginsburg says she wishes it had been another case, not Roe v. Wade, that SCOTUS heard as the first reproductive rights case. On the Media and The Guardian take a closer look.

A majority of Americans polled by CSPAN last year couldn't name a Supreme Court case. Of those who could, Roe v. Wade was by far the most familiar, with 40 percent able to name it. (Only five percent could name Brown v. Board of Education.) And since it was decided in 1973, a majority — roughly 70 percent — have consistently said they want Roe upheld, albeit with some restrictions on legal abortion.

But what do we really know about Roe? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said she wishes it had been another case that the Supreme Court heard as the first reproductive freedom case instead. It was Susan Struck v. Secretary of Defense, and it came to the high court during the same term as Roe

The year was 1970, and the Air Force (like the other branches of the military) had a regulation banning female service members from having a family. If a servicewoman got pregnant, she would get discharged. Captain Susan Struck was a nurse serving in Vietnam, and she challenged the decision in court with Ginsburg as her lawyer. However, the court never heard the case because the Air Force changed their policy first. For this week's show, we partnered with The Guardian (read their story here) to learn more about Susan Struck’s fight and its bigger lessons for reproductive freedom and for women in the workplace. 

Our producer Alana Casanova-Burgess and The Guardian's health reporter Jessica Glenza spoke to Struck about the difficult decision she made to give her baby up for adoption in order to fight the regulation. Plus, we hear why legal scholars think this case "deserves to be honored by collective memory," and how Ginsburg's arguments to the Supreme Court differed from what the justices decided in Roe

Then:

- Slate's Dahlia Lithwick explains the threats to reproductive rights in the court right now;

Neil Siegel of Duke Law School puts the Struck case in context and discusses what better questions we could be asking about women's equality;

- activist and scholar Loretta Ross explains the tenets of reproductive justice and how they expand the frame beyond Roe and abortion;

- and Reva Siegel of Yale Law School tells the story of how abortion was discussed before 1973, including during the Women's Strike of 1970. And she describes the framework of ProChoiceLife, which expands the idea of what pro-life policy is. She is also the co-editor of Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories

Read The Guardian’s print version here, and share your story with Jessica Glenza if you were a woman serving in the military before 1976.

Music by Nicola Cruz, Kronos Quartet, and Mark Henry Phillips

Bookmarked The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin (Metropolitan Books)

Most people can tell you two things about Clarence Thomas: Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment, and he almost never speaks from the bench. Here are some things they don’t know: Thomas is a black nationalist. In college he memorized the speeches of Malcolm X. He believes white people are incurably racist.

In the first examination of its kind, Corey Robin – one of the foremost analysts of the right – delves deeply into both Thomas’s biography and his jurisprudence, masterfully reading his Supreme Court opinions against the backdrop of his autobiographical and political writings and speeches. The hidden source of Thomas’s conservative views, Robin shows, is a profound skepticism that racism can be overcome. Thomas is convinced that any government action on behalf of African-Americans will be tainted by racism; the most African-Americans can hope for is that white people will get out of their way.

There’s a reason, Robin concludes, why liberals often complain that Thomas doesn’t speak but seldom pay attention when he does. Were they to listen, they’d hear a racial pessimism that often sounds similar to their own. Cutting across the ideological spectrum, this unacknowledged consensus about the impossibility of progress is key to understanding today’s political stalemate.

Bookcover of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin

On The Media Curiouser and Curiouser ()(#)
Listened to The Daily: ‘Because of Sex’ from New York Times
Aimee Stephens was fired for disclosing her gender identity to her boss. This year, the Supreme Court may make a surprising ruling in her favor.

Watched Supreme Revenge from FRONTLINE | PBS
Inside the no-holds-barred war for control of the Supreme Court. From Brett Kavanaugh to Robert Bork, an investigation of how a 30-year-old grievance transformed the court and turned confirmations into bitter, partisan conflicts.
Oh, if only politicians played with the perspective of a veil of ignorance just a bit more…

🎧 Empire State of Mind | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to Empire State of Mind by Brooke GladstoneBrooke Gladstone from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Recently, a member of the Trump administration called Puerto Rico “that country,” obscuring once more the relationship between the island colony and the American mainland. In a special hour this week, On the Media examines the history of US imperialism — and why the familiar US map hides the true story of our country. Brooke spends the hour with Northwestern University historian Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.

A stunning 50 minutes of American History here! Folks who enjoyed John Biewen and Scene on Radio’s Seeing White series are sure to love some additional layers and texture that this view on our history brings.

I’d read it in my youth and knew of it more generally, but I didn’t know that Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” was written as advice to the United States about what to do in the Philippines where there was a long and bloody US war. Then the episode has a gut-punch of a quote I’d never heard from Mark Twain, who was friends with Kipling:

‘there must be two Americas. One that sets the captive free and one that takes a once captive’s new freedom away from him, picks a quarrel with him with nothing founded on and then kills him to get his land. For that second America,’ he proposed adding a few words to the Declaration of Independence, ‘governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed White men.’

If asked before today what the bloodiest war fought on US soil was, I’d have said “The Civil War” as I suspect that most would. Interestingly it turns out that it was the Japanese conquest of the Philippines during World War II that claimed 1.5 million people–or the equivalent of two civil wars. Why don’t most students know this fact? Likely because 1 million of that number were not white. They were Filipinos who were also considered U.S. nationals at the time.

Another surprising thing I hadn’t considered before, and mentioned here, is that a large portion of the “British Invasion” of music in the 1960’s–including that of The Beatles–can be likely be put down to the fact that there’s a major U.S. military base put into Liverpool just after World War II. The increased trade and exposure of local youth to American rock-and-roll music as well as instruments sourced from the base had a tremendous influence on the city and the music that would result.

These are just of a few of my favorite portions of this incredible show.

This episode is Part 2 of their series, “On American Expansion.” I can’t wait to hear the rest.

👓 Trump's pardon power doesn't come up in Supreme Court argument that could affect Mueller probe | CNBC

Read Trump's pardon power doesn't come up in Supreme Court argument that could affect Mueller probe by Tucker Higgins (CNBC)
The case concerns the so-called "dual sovereignty" exception to the Constitution's Double Jeopardy clause.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: A 30-Year Plan to Transform the Courts | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: A 30-Year Plan to Transform the Courts from New York Times

Republicans have created a pipeline of conservative lawyers to help carry out a sweeping reconfiguration of the federal judiciary.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Brett Kavanaugh’s Change of Heart | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Brett Kavanaugh’s Change of Heart from New York Times

President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee once made the case for impeaching a president. He now says that was a mistake.

There’s some interesting philosophical question here about whether a sitting president should be “distracted” by lawsuits. I can maybe see the case for knucklehead misdemeanors, but for higher level crimes like collusion with foreign countries or crimes that helped get them into office in the first place? Definitely not. If we have to err on the side of caution, then prosecute, prosecute, prosecute. The president is not above the law, they’re bound to execute on it and this doesn’t get them away from prosecuting themselves.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Trump Picks Brett Kavanaugh | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Trump Picks Brett Kavanaugh from New York Times

Given Judge Kavanaugh’s conservative record and the political math in the Senate, what happens now?

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Trump’s Supreme Court Finalists | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Trump’s Supreme Court Finalists from New York Times

With the president expected to announce his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, we look at the top candidates.

👓 In rare rebuke, Chief Justice Roberts slams Trump for comment about 'Obama judge' | NBC News

Read In rare rebuke, Chief Justice Roberts slams Trump for comment about 'Obama judge' (NBC News)
The president later responded on Twitter, defending his attacks on the Ninth Circuit for ruling against him in an asylum case.

👓 Opinion | Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional | New York Times

Read Opinion | Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional (nytimes.com)
The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation.

🎧 “The Daily”: The Accusation Against Brett Kavanaugh | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": The Accusation Against Brett Kavanaugh by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

The Supreme Court nominee faces sexual assault allegations that throw his confirmation, once seen as inevitable, into turmoil.

👓 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized After Falling, Fracturing 3 Ribs | NPR

Read Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized After Falling, Fracturing 3 Ribs (NPR.org)
The 85-year-old justice fell in her office at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday evening. She has been hospitalized for "observation and treatment."
After the last few days, this is the type of news that could give a person a heart attack. Democrats should have done far more to swing back the Senate.