Passing Judgment

By Jessica Levinson

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Is the constitution in crisis? This podcast is for people who are curious about politics and the law and how the biggest political and legal issues of the moment affect you. Pull up a chair and join host Jessica Levinson, a professor at LMU’s Loyola Law School, and a rotating cast of experts. Jessica will be joined by journalists, politicians, political scientists, lawyers, and many others. Listen to Jessica and her guests for a wry, and sometimes irreverent take on the most pressing issues of our time. What are the laws of our democracy? How are they changing? And what does that mean for your daily life?

Episode Date
Texas' abortion law heads to the SCOTUS, Trump is deposed, Bannon is held in contempt

It is our semi-regular weekly legal roundup!

We're going to explain the breaking legal news out of the Supreme Court. It agreed to hear a challenge to Texas' abortion law, but it may not be exactly what you think.

We explain what is next for Steven Bannon, now that the House voted to hold him in contempt.

We also walk through former President Trump's suit against the national archives, talk about why voting rights reform has failed to gain traction in the Senate, and why Trump recently sat for a deposition.

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Oct 23, 2021
Is President Biden really plummeting in the polls? - Guest: Dr. Peter Hanson

In today's episode, Jessica talks with Dr. Peter Hanson - the National Poll Director at Grinnell College. Hanson walks us through brand-new polling data about Biden, the politicization of the Supreme Court, the future of democracy, and how what liberty means to Democrats is not the same thing as what liberty means to Republicans. The results will surprise you.  

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Oct 20, 2021
Will Steve Bannon face criminal penalties for defying a congressional subpoena? Will the Supreme Court be reformed?

Its our legal roundup!

Will Steve Bannon face criminal penalties for defying a congressional subpoena? (For more, here is Jessica's MSNBC column).

Will the Supreme Court be reformed?

Will former President Trump sit for a deposition in a civil suit?

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Oct 16, 2021
Do Trump and Steven Bannon have to comply with Congressional subpoenas?

A House Select Committee is investigating the events of January 6th.

It is vital that the American public know what exactly happened leading up to, and during, the insurrection at the Capitol.

But now some people who were subpoenaed by that committee, namely former President Trump, and former White House counselor Steve Bannon, are contending they do not have to comply with those subpoenas.

We will break down the law and talk about the politics of what is really happening here.

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Oct 12, 2021
Are religious exemptions for vaccine mandates required?

Vaccine mandates, they're everywhere. Public and private institutions are requiring that workers, students, and customers be vaccinated. But are religious exemptions to these vaccine mandates legally required?

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Oct 10, 2021
Was Texas' abortion law just overturned?

Not exactly. A federal judge just pushed pause in the implementation of Texas' restrictive abortion law. But that ruling is already being appealed.

We talk about what happened and why and what comes next.

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Oct 07, 2021
Abortion? Gun control? Religious rights? Freedom of speech? It's our SCOTUS preview!

Jessica previews and explains the big cases the Supreme Court will be hearing this term.

What's on the docket for the term that begins on October 4th? Abortion, gun control, religious rights, the freedom of speech, and much more.

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Oct 02, 2021
Will Texas' abortion law be put on hold? What happened in court today?
There was a big hearing in federal district court today in the case of U.S. v Texas. We break down all of the legal arguments made by the Department of Justice, the State of Texas, and what is likely to happen next.
Oct 01, 2021
Audit-Mania! Why are AZ, TX & PA Recounting the 2020 Election?

Cyber Ninjas, along with three other contractors, completed the Arizona ballot audit this week, spending millions to prove once again that Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 presidential election. But Arizona isn't alone in doing so - a number of states are engaging in audits of ballot tallies from the 2020 election; Pennsylvania's is ongoing, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott this week announced that an audit will be performed in four Texas counties despite the fact that Donald Trump won Texas in the last election. With no demonstrable evidence of fraud, what is the GOP strategy here? Is this about the last election or the next election?

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Sep 25, 2021
Did the architect of Texas' abortion law really just tell women to have less sex?

Kind of.

It's a new week and a new episode.

Jessica breaks down the arguments in favor of Texas and Mississippi's restrictive abortion laws, why the people supporting those laws are may soon try to undermine protections for LGBTQ Americans, and why Supreme Court justices keep telling us they're neutral.

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Sep 21, 2021
What are your top legislative priorities? (Guest - Congressman Ro Khanna)
While we all think through our top legislative priorities, we talk with Congressman Ro Khanna (D) about this. Rep. Khanna shares his thoughts about climate change, infrastructure, the economy, and when kids will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sep 18, 2021
Recalling the Failed Attempt to Recall California Governor Gavin Newsom

Let's recall the failed recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Why and how did he resoundingly defeat an effort to end his term before it, well, ends?

What does this recall mean for California? Gavin Newsom? The future of recall elections?

We address all of this on the latest episode of Passing Judgment.

And here is Jessica's piece on MSNBC about the recall.

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Sep 16, 2021
"The Rise and Fall of Osama Bin Laden" (Author and Guest - Peter Bergen)

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are joined by Peter Bergen, author of the new book, "The Rise and Fall of Osama Bin Laden."

Peter is the vice president for global studies & fellows at New America, a CNN national security analyst, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University where he co-directs the Center on the Future of War.

He is the author or editor of nine books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers and four of which were named among the best non-fiction books of the year by The Washington Post

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Sep 10, 2021
The latest on Texas' abortion and voting laws and a Texas death row inmate

Lots of legal news from the Lone Star State.

We will give you the latest legal news on Texas' abortion and voting laws and a challenge by an inmate on death row in Texas.

Here are Jessica's latest columns (mentioned in the episode) on MSNBC.

Texas abortion law should be fought at state court level

Texas abortion ban is devastating testament to Trump's Supreme Court

Also, did an Ohio judge really force a hospital to tread a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin?

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Sep 08, 2021
Texas’ Abortion Law - The Supreme Court Functionally Overturns Roe v Wade
The Supreme Court just silently let its most controversial case in decades - Roe v Wade - slip away by taking no action on an emergency appeal on a restrictive new Texas abortion law. By letting that law - SB 8 - go into effect, abortion is presently illegal after six weeks in the state of Texas. Jessica and Joe discuss the implications of SB 8 at the state and federal levels, as well as how the conservative majority on the Court said a lot by saying nothing at all.
Sep 01, 2021
How Should the Biden Administration Face Its Current Challenges - Foreign and Domestic? (Guest: Dr. Aaron David Miller)
Dr. Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and he has advised Secretaries of State from multiple presidential administrations on both sides of the aisle. With an ongoing international pandemic and a bollixed pullout of U.S. forces from a twenty year war in Afghanistan, what would someone with decades of foreign policy experience tell the Biden Administration about how to best face multiple challenges at home and abroad?
Aug 31, 2021
Legal Update re the Insurrection at the Capitol (Guest - Zoe Tillman)

Senior reporter for Buzzfeed News, Zoe Tillman, stops by Passing Judgment to update us on the cases against those involved in the insurrection at the Capitol.

We talked about who has been charged, what charges are being brought, and what to look for in upcoming cases.

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Aug 28, 2021
Is it safe for kids to go back to school? When will kids under 12 be eligible for a vaccine? (Guest - Dr. Lauren Crosby)

We ask Dr. Lauren Crosby, a nationally-recognized parenting expert and pediatrician, all of your questions about kids and COVID-19.

Can kids safely go back to school? What safety protocols should schools be putting in place? Are playdates safe? After school sports?

Should every eligible child get the vaccine? And when will kids under 12 be eligible for the vaccine?

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Aug 25, 2021
Everything you need to know about Afghanistan (and were afraid to ask) (Guest - Dr. Sinno)

The news out of Afghanistan is gutting.

We call on Dr. Abdulkader Sinno, professor of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University, to walk us through how we got here, whether it was avoidable, who is to blame for what is currently happening in Afghanistan, and were we go from here.

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Aug 18, 2021
What is (and isn't) in the infrastructure bill? And when will we have self-driving cars? (Guest - Tanya Snyder of Politico)

Wondering what is in the big infrastructure bill? So were we. We called Politico reporter Tanya Synder for help. Tanya walks us through what is and isn't in the infrastructure bill and what that means for you.

We also talk about Tanya's area of expertise -- self-driving cars. Ready to let a machine take the wheel? We are.

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Aug 13, 2021
Cuomo Resigns and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is Temporarily Kicked Off Twitter (Again)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo steps aside. What does it mean for impeachment hearings, criminal investigations, and civil cases?

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is temporarily kicked off Twitter (again). Spoiler alert - mandatory vaccinations are typically legal. We will tell you why. And for more, here is Jessica's piece on MSNBC.

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Aug 11, 2021
Is Cuomo on his way out (Part II)? Is your employer about to mandate vaccinations?
We round out the week with a look back at the legal and political problems facing Gov. Cuomo and the new round of employers requiring vaccine mandates.
Aug 07, 2021
Will Gov. Cuomo face criminal prosecution? Will we ever see Trump's tax returns?

Welcome back! We have a lot of politics and law packed into this episode.

First up, what is NY Gov Andrew Cuomo's political future? Will he face impeachment proceedings? Civil litigation? Criminal prosecution?

Next, what about the latest developments in Rep. Eric Swalwell's case against former President Donald Trump, Rep. Mo Brooks and others? Is Brooks immune from liability? What about Trump?

And finally ... will we ever see Trump's tax returns? It looks like Congress might see them. When will we?

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Aug 04, 2021
How to have an informed public in an age of disinformation (Prof. Kate Starbird)

Kate Starbird stops by Passing Judgment to discuss how to create an informed public and strengthen democratic discourse. She also talks about how to fight misinformation and disinformation.

Kate is the co-founder the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public.

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Jul 31, 2021
So what exactly is covered under HIPAA?

We have you covered on all of your HIPAA FAQs.

What can employers, business owners, and journalists ask you about your health and vaccine status?

And a bonus new segment -- that's not how it works.

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Jul 27, 2021
Mississippi vs. Roe v. Wade, Tom Barrack's Indictment, & NFL Coach Rick Dennison's Firing

It is Mississippi versus Roe v. Wade. Jessica and Joe talk through the state's assault on Roe. Jessica discusses the case law leading up to the Roe decision and whether the case is not vulnerable to being overturned.

Joe gives an update on the indictment of Tom Barrack, the chair of former President Trump's 2017 inauguration committee.

And Joe and Jessica talk through the implications of the firing of NFL Coach Rick Dennison for his failure to get vaccinated.

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Jul 24, 2021
The latest on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, DACA, and the CA Recall

Is the DACA program itself now illegal? We breakdown all of the legal ins and outs and tell you what is likely become of this immigration program.

Will CA Governor Gavin Newsom be recalled? Probably not. But there are plenty of fun legal topics surrounding the recall to discuss.

Also, we have decided to add a new segment on called Passing Judgment called - THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS! (Say it with me listeners). And for our first installment of this segment, here is looking at you Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

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Jul 21, 2021
Welcome to Season 3, Year 2 of Passing Judgment!

Welcome to our second year and third season of Passing Judgment.

In this episode we look back on the biggest legal and political issues we covered in the first year of Passing Judgment and preview some of the most pressing questions we are sure to address in the coming weeks and months.

We look back on the election, the insurrection, and the impeachment. Then we turn to talking about whether there will be meaningful legislative reform in the areas of health care, immigration, gun control, and more. We also talk about the past SCOTUS term and discuss what is ahead for the October 2021 term.

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Jul 17, 2021
Will Texas Democrats Save Voting Rights?

Some Texas lawmakers have literally left town, why? Texas democrats are leaving their state to deny republicans of the quorum needed to vote on a another bill that would restrict voting rights.

Will this be successful? Will it put pressure on federal lawmakers to implement new voting rights protections on the federal level?

Jessica and Joe discuss on the latest episode.

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Jul 14, 2021
Trump v Facebook; Swalwell v Trump, Mo Brooks, & Guiliani; Nike v Avenatti

Another big week of legal news.

We cover Trump v. Facebook; Congressman Swalwell v. Trump, Trump Jr., Guiliani, & Congressman Mo Brooks; Nike v. Avenatti, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's next gig.

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Jul 09, 2021
What is disinformation? And who should combat it? (Guest - Renee Diresta)

Our guest, Renee DirResta, is the Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

We talk through what disinformation is, why it is harmful, how we can combat it, and who should be in charge of combatting it.

Our conversation with Renee occurred during Loyola Law School's Journalist Law School.

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Jul 07, 2021
Our mega legal roundup -- Trump Org indicted, Cosby freed, SCOTUS unleashed

This episode is overflowing with legal news.

What do the Trump Org indictments mean, and will the former president himself be indicted?

Is the Supreme Court acting to subvert our democracy? We talk about the last two blockbuster cases of the term -- one dealing with voting rights and the other with First Amendment rights.

And finally -- Cosby is freed. Is this actually a win for the rule of law?

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Jul 03, 2021
Are bathroom bans for transgender students legal? (SCOTUS update)

The Supreme Court left in place a lower court decision that requires that transgender students in public high schools be able to use the bathroom of their choosing.

We talk about the legal and psychological implications of the case with Felicia Ortiz, who has a JD from UC Berkeley and is a therapist who works with transgender youth and adults.

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Jun 30, 2021
Inside the sentencing of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd (Guest - Tami Abdollah)
USA Today national correspondent Tami Abdollah brings us inside the courtroom for the sentencing of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
Jun 26, 2021
Swearing cheerleaders, union organizers, loud drivers, and more (SCOTUS roundup!)

The Supreme Court handed down three big decisions today.

The Court answered the following questions:

Can schools punish students for certain off campus speech?

Can union organizers enter employers' property?

Can the police enter a suspects house without a warrant if they suspect a violation of a noise ordinance?

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Jun 23, 2021
Will college athletes start being paid? (SCOTUS update)

As the end of the current Supreme Court term draws near, today the Court issued a narrow ruling on compensation for college athletes. In this episode of Passing Judgment, Jessica and Joe talk about how the court applied anti-trust statues to the NCAA's claim that their rules should continue to prevent additional academic and other compensation for college athletes, and how justice Kavanaugh - a former coach - issued a fiery retort to the NCAA's position.

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Jun 22, 2021
SCOTUS issues end-of-term decisions on the ACA (aka Obamacare) & religious rights

It's playoff season for Supreme Court aficionados! This morning the Court issued three decisions, the first of which both retained the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land at the same time that it punted a bit, leaving the door open to future challenges. The second decision ruled that the First Amendment can be interpreted to mean that the City of Philadelphia cannot prevent a Catholic organization from discriminating against same-sex couples when it comes to fostering children. And as horrific as it sounds, the third decision states that Nestle and other cocoa bean producers are not culpable for child slavery practices in Africa's Ivory Coast. Jessica and Joe break down how the court voted and give some insight how these changes may affect American society.

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Jun 17, 2021
Is the Supreme Court doomed? (Guest - Prof. Dan Epps)

Jessica talks with Dan Epps of Washington University about the current state of the court and the pros and cons of proposed reforms.

This episode was recorded during a panel of Loyola Law School's Journalist Law School program.

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Jun 15, 2021
Will former President Trump face prison or jail time? Will he be found civilly liable? (Guest - Glenn Kirschner)

In this episode of Passing Judgment we speak with NBC and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirshner. Glenn is a former federal prosecutor and he shares his insights into whether Trump will face prison or jail time. Glenn also touches on issues of potential civil liability.

Jessica's conversation with Glenn took part during Loyola Law School's Journalist Law School.

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Jun 11, 2021
The DOJ seeks to defend Trump against E. Jean Carroll, a federal judge strikes down CA's ban on assault weapons, and the Supreme Court term heats up

It’s June! That means a bunch of big, controversial Supreme Court decisions are coming your way. Jessica and Joe preview the biggest cases pending on the Court's end-of-term docket. They also talk about a case that might be destined for the Supreme Court down the road - a federal judge’s recent decision to strike down California's ban on assault weapons. And they wrap up by talking about the Department of Justice’s decision to seek to defend former president Donald Trump in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case.

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Jun 09, 2021
"My Life After Hate" (Guest - Arno Michaelis)

Hear from former white supremacist and the author of My Life After Hate, Arno Michaelis.

Arno talks to Jessica about how he moved from being a white supremacist to working with people to prevent radicalization, violence, and extremism.

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Jun 05, 2021
Where are the biggest fault lines in American society? (Guest-Colin Woodard)

Colin Woodard stops by Passing Judgment to talk about American regionalism and what truly causes the fissures in our political ideology.

Colin is author of numerous books, including Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood.

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Jun 03, 2021
The 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre (Guest-Tim Madigan)

Journalist and author Tim Madigan stops by Passing Judgment to talk about the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, an vitally important but somewhat forgotten tragedy in our nation's history. He wrote the critically acclaimed and best-selling book The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.

Tim talks about the Jim Crow era and whether we are living through "Jim Crow 2.0."

His discussion is an important reminder of how much the past informs the present.

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May 30, 2021
Roe v. Wade and beyond: The past and future of abortion rights in America (Guest-Prof. Mary Zeigler)

How did the court come to its decision in Roe v. Wade? Is that decision now under attack?

We talk with Prof. Mary Zeigler author of_Abortion in America: A Legal History, Roe v. Wade to the PresentAfter Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate, and  Beyond Abortion: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Privacy._

Note: This episode was recorded before the Supreme Court decided to weigh in on a Mississippi abortion law that could overturn Roe v. Wade. We have a special episode on that case which dropped on 5.18.21.

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May 27, 2021
Trump org is under criminal investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office, President Biden is poised sign an anti-Asian hate crimes bill, & more

The New York Attorney General’s office just announced that it’s investigation into the Trump organization is criminal as well as civil. We will tell you what that means. 

President Biden is about to sign a new anti-Asian hate crimes bill. We will talk about what it does. 

The Supreme Court clarifies that when it comes to the 4th Amendment, your home is your castle. 

And finally … Space junk. Who is responsible if it lands on you? 

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May 19, 2021
The future of abortion rights in America: Is the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade?
The Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on a Mississippi law that could threaten its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Jessica and Joe will talk through whether this current conservative Supreme Court could rule that the right to obtain access to an abortion is no longer protected under the Constitution.
May 18, 2021
Is Matt Gaetz facing a federal indictment? Is Liz Cheney the past or the future of the GOP?

Let's talk about two members of Congress in the news this week -- Reps. Liz Cheney and Matt Gaetz. Liz Cheney lost her leadership position for speaking truth to power. Gaetz could be closer to facing federal charges. 

Also, are you ready to go maskless in light of the new CDC guidance?

And, perhaps our most pressing topic ever, will we get year round daylight saving time? 

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May 14, 2021
Will Trump get back on Facebook? Will Florida's voting law be overturned?

Want to go beyond the legal and political headlines? We have you covered.

In this episode Jessica and Joe talk about the federal grand jury indictments of the four former officers involved in the death of George Floyd, Florida's new voting law, whether former President Trump will be permanently banned from Facebook, fake vaccination cards, and the recall election facing CA Governor Gavin Newsom..

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May 11, 2021
Is it legal to mandate vaccinations? (Guest - Kevin Troutman)

We talk with one of the nation's leading labor and employment attorneys to get the real answers about mandating vaccination.

Can any employer require that their employees get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Can schools require that teachers, parents, and / or employees get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Can you be required to show proof of vaccination before entering a restaurant, plane, train, or stadium?

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May 08, 2021
AG Merrick Garland remakes the DOJ, Newsmax apologizes to Dominion, Idaho's transgender sports ban gets a hearing

We have a legal and political roundup!

Is Merrick Garland putting the "justice" back in the Department of Justice?

Why did Newsmax apologize to Dominion Voting Systems?

Will Idaho's transgender sports ban survive a court challenge?

What will Florida's new voting bill do to voter turnout?

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May 04, 2021
Biden's First 100 Days, Rudy Giuliani's Legal Woes, and Federal Hate Crimes

Welcome to another legal and political roundup.

Is Rudy Giuliani in serious legal trouble?

Were President Biden's first 100 days a success?

What do the federal hate crimes charges against those who are accused of being involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery mean?

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May 01, 2021
Gun Control, Free Speech, & Dark Money

It is already a big week for legal and political news.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Supreme Court just decided to take a big gun control case. The Court heard arguments in a case that could have big implications for the rise of so-called "dark money." And the Court will hear arguments about free speech protections for public school students.

We also preview the new census numbers and talk about California Governor Gavin Newsom's recall election.

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Apr 27, 2021
What was it like inside the courtroom during the Chauvin trial? (Guest - Tami Abdollah)

After less than 12 hours of deliberation, the jury concluded that Derek Chauvin is guilty of second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.

USA Today criminal justice reporter Tami Abdollah has been covering the trial from the beginning. She stops by Passing Judgment to walk us through the trial; we talk jury selection, opening arguments, witnesses, and much more.

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Apr 21, 2021
Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial; The Mike Lindell/MyPillow/Dominion Voting Systems saga; The legal end of the 2020 election

It is legal-roundup time.

We talk about closing arguments in the Chauvin trial, a new suit by MyPillow against Dominion Voting Systems, the legal end (finally? hopefully?) of the 2020 election, and calls to reform the Supreme Court.

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Apr 20, 2021
Legal roundup-Will Roe v. Wade be overturned? Will Chauvin be convicted?

It is your weekly legal roundup with Jessica and Joe.

We update you on the trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. We talk about the prosecution's and the defense's strategies.

We discuss the big ruling regarding abortion rights out of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and what it could mean for the future of abortion rights in our country.

We also talk about the Supreme Court's "shadow docket" decision in a case that pitted COVID-19 restrictions against the freedom of religion.

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Apr 15, 2021
How do reporters decide which stories to cover? (Guest - Tom Wait)

Tom (T.J.) Wait, CBSLA / KCLA political reporter visits Passing Judgment to talk about how the press can engender more trust in their work.

Tom talks about how he helps to decide what to cover and how to cover it, what it is like to cover protests, whether reporters have an obligation to tell people they interview that they are members of the media, and more.

Join us for a fun and topical conversation about the role of the media.

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Apr 13, 2021
Legal & political round-up - Biden, Gaetz, Hill & Chauvin

We've got all your legal and political updates.

Jessica and Joe talk about President Biden's executive order on gun control, the murder trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, the continuing investigation of Congressman Matt Gaetz, and the "revenge porn" case filed by former Congresswoman Katie Hill.

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Apr 09, 2021
The beginning of a trend? MLB pulls the All-Star Game out of GA in response to its new voting laws (Guest-Dave Zirin)

This week the worlds of politics, the law, and sports collide. We are talking about MLB's decision to pull the all-star game out of GA after GA passed new, restrictive, voting laws.

We have separate episodes on the politics behind GA's new law with Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal Constitutional and the legal challenges GA's law faces with me and Joe.

On this episode with talk with Dave Zirin, the Sports Editor for the Nation, about the history of professional sports organizations acting like, well, political actors. We also talk about whether these organizations will increasingly become key political players.

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Apr 05, 2021
Gaetz under investigation? Trump sued for defamation? Chauvin trial continues?

Rep. Matt Gaetz is allegedly under federal investigation for sex trafficking. He has denied the charges and said he’s the victim of an extortion plot.

Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’ defamation case against former President Trump continues.

The prosecution makes its case against former officer Derek Chauvin.

And there’s breaking SCOTUS news!

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Apr 02, 2021
Chauvin Trial Update + Georgia Voting Laws Analysis

PJ host Jessica Levinson is joined by co-host Joe Armstrong to recap day 1 of the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing Georgia Floyd, and analyze Georgia's new (restrictive) voting laws.

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Mar 30, 2021
Is Georgia's New Voting Law "Jim Crow in the 21st Century"? (Guest - Greg Bluestein)

President Joe Biden described Georgia's new voting law as "un-American" and "Jim Crow in the 21st Century."

We dive into what this new law says, what consequences it will have for voters in Georgia, what motivated the law, and the legal challenges the law will face with Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter Greg Bluestein.

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Mar 27, 2021
Gun Control, Hate Crimes, Katie Hill's Revenge Porn Suit, & the Defamation Case Against Sidney Powell

It is time to get you caught up on all of the legal news of the week.

We talk about the possibility of federal gun control legislation, how hate crimes prosecutions work, whether former Congresswoman Katie Hill will succeed in her revenge porn case, and the defamation case against Sidney Powell, one of former President Trump's attorneys.

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Mar 25, 2021
"Kamala's Way: An American Life" (Guest - Dan Morain)

Curious about how Kamala Harris became the first female vice president of color? Veteran political journalist has written the book on Harris' historic rise -- Kamala's Way: An America Life.

Dan stops by Passing Judgment to provide insight into our current Vice President.

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Mar 20, 2021
Are we in a race between vaccines and variants? (Guest - Dr. Peter Hotez)
Yes, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, we are. Dr. Hotez shares his thoughts on where we are in the pandemic, what to expect next, and what we can do to fight disinformation. 
Mar 19, 2021
Abortion Bans, the Chauvin trial, and more.

Arkansas banned almost all abortions. Is that legal?

Former Officer Chauvin, the man accused of killing George Floyd, goes to trial.

Andrea Sahouri, a reporter from Iowa who covered the George Floyd protests, is acquitted.

Merrick Garland has a new title -- Attorney General.

And President Joe Biden addresses the nation.

Join us and we roundup the biggest stories of the week.

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Mar 12, 2021
Will We Protect Voting Rights? And Will Trump be Held Accountable for the Insurrection?

Just last week, almost exactly 56 years after Bloody Sunday, the House passed a sweeping set of electoral and political reforms. What exactly is included in these reforms? And will they pass? (Spoiler alert - probably not because of the filibuster). 

Also, what is the latest news out of Georgia and Iowa when it comes to proposed changes to voting laws?

And finally, there's another suit against Trump related to the insurrection at the Capitol. Will he be held liable? 

Join us as we talk through these topics. 

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Mar 09, 2021
Is freedom of the press enough if we lose faith in the press? (Guest - David McCraw)

Is there a typical day for David McCraw, the Deputy General Counsel at the New York Times and the author of “Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts”? Answer, not really.

David stops by Passing Judgment to talk about what it is like to be the New York Times' top newsroom lawyer at a time when public trust in the media is at an all-time low, how he supports the work of reporters, and why faith in the press may matter as much as the freedom of the press.  

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Mar 05, 2021
Will the Supreme Court reduce protections for voters? 

Against the backdrop of a slew of new proposals that could restrict the right to vote, this week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a big election law case out of Arizona. The case could determine the level of protection that voters have under the Voting Rights Act. 

Jessica talks through the case and what is at issue for voters across the country. 

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Mar 03, 2021
What does it take to successfully run for Congress? (Guest Congresswoman Nanette Barragan)

Congresswoman Barragan visits Passing Judgment to talk about three "Is" -- immigration, insurrection, and impeachment. Congresswoman Barragan also shares her experience running for local and federal office and talks about what it takes to be a political candidate.

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Feb 25, 2021
It's our 100th episode! Who is Merrick Garland? And will we ever see Trump's taxes?

Happy 100 episodes to the Passing Judgment podcast.

We are so deeply grateful to our listeners for being along for this ride.

In this episode we talk about how future Attorney General Merrick Garland is likely to change the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Trump tax returns case (and whether we will ever see those returns), the next big abortion case before the Court, and whether the 2020 election litigation has finally come to an end.

Pull up a chair and join us.

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Feb 23, 2021
Will Trump Face Criminal and/or Civil Exposure?

Former President Trump is now a private citizen and faces significant criminal or civil legal exposure.

Jessica and Joe talk through the federal and state criminal and civil cases and investigations pending against Trump.

Jessica brings you up to date on the potential claims related to the insurrection, the Trump Organization's financial dealings, obstruction of justice, campaign finance, and more.

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Feb 20, 2021
What Is The Cyber Weapon Arms Race? (Guest - Nicole Perlroth)

The New York Times' cybersecurity reporter and author of the new book, 'This is How They Tell Me The World Ends,' Nicole Perlroth visits Passing Judgment.

Nicole explains how the U.S. has possibly fallen behind in the cyber arms race, what that means for our lives, and what we might be able to do to stop it.

We also talk Moneyball, Dessa, Yoshimi, Nora Ephron, and Sam Sifton.

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Feb 16, 2021
The Senate Votes to Acquit Donald Trump, Again

The historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is now over. The U.S. Senate voted 57-43 to convict Trump, failing to reach the needed threshold by 10 votes.

In less than 20 minutes we answer all your legal questions about the trial.

1) What exactly was Trump accused of? 2) What did the house managers (the prosecution) argue? 3) What was Trump's defense? 4) What is the standard for impeachable conduct? 4) What did the Senators who voted to acquit give as their rationale?

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Feb 14, 2021
How Should We Prioritize Who Gets the Vaccines? (Guest - Dr. Anne Rimoin)

Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Infectious Disease Division of the Geffen School of Medicine, stops by Passing Judgment.

Dr. Rimoin talks about how to prioritize who should get the vaccine, how to distribute the vaccine, how to safely re-open schools, and what a new normal looks like.

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Feb 10, 2021
The Church, the State, the Pandemic, and the Supreme Court

In a late-night decision, the Supreme Court has again weighed in on the battle between religious freedom and public safety.

California churches recently challenged some of the state's health and safety restrictions. Specifically, the churches argued that restrictions on indoor services, capacity restrictions, and bans on indoor singing and chanting violated their First Amendment rights.

What did the Supreme Court say? And what do the justices' decisions say about religious freedoms moving forward?

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Feb 06, 2021
Inside the insurrection: A Congresswoman runs for her life (Guest Rep. Norma Torres)

Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA), forced to shelter-in-place in the House gallery, shares the harrowing details of January 6th, 2021.

As the Capitol was under siege, Congresswoman Torres donned a gas mask and crawled on hands and knees to safety. She spent hours worried her life was at risk. When one of her sons called, she picked up the phone only to tell him that she was safe but running for her life.

This is not merely an academic discussion about disinformation and security breaches. This is a personal conversation about one representative's fight to stay safe amid real danger.

This podcast is powered by Pinecast.

Feb 05, 2021
The Filibuster, Explained (Guest - Dr. Molly Reynolds)

Do Senate rules and procedures sound boring and arcane? Brookings Institution fellow Dr. Molly Reynolds stops by Passing Judgment to demystify practices like the filibuster and explain how they affect our daily lives. Surprise - it's a lot more complicated than depicted in the Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington! 

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Feb 03, 2021
Get Your Latest SCOTUS News on Abortion, Emoluments, Term Limits & More.

SCOTUS news! Get your latest SCOTUS news right here.

We talk about calls to reform the federal judiciary, the latest news in the Emoluments cases, abortion rights, and President Biden's ability to fire the directors of federal agencies.

Jan 29, 2021
Will Trump face criminal charges? What is the point of impeachment? (Guest - Asha Rangappa)
Former F.B.I. Special Agent, Yale faculty member, and CNN legal analyst Asha Rangappa stops by Passing Judgment to talk about the impeachment trial, whether former President Trump will ever face criminal charges, and threats of disinformation.
Jan 28, 2021
Will the inauguration of Biden and Harris mark a new day in America?
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were officially sworn into office today. Jessica and Joe unpack the inauguration, the new executive orders, the structural reforms we will need to tackle in the next administration, and the outgoing president's pardons.
Jan 21, 2021
What Are the Biggest Security Threats Facing America? (Guest - Dave Benson)

Security expert and former State Department Special Agent Dave Benson joins Jessica to talk about the unique security concerns at the Biden inauguration ceremony in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, and how social media, self-radicalization, and individual responsibility play into being an active and alert member of society.

Jan 19, 2021
Making Sense of Trump and the American Presidency (Guest - Dr. Jack Pitney)
Dr. Jack Pitney, an expert on the American presidency, public policy, and politics, stops by Passing Judgment. Jack talks to Jessica about how to make sense of Trump and Trumpism. Jack discusses the rise of Trumpism, institutional weaknesses in our government, and what the next few years might look like.
Jan 18, 2021
What ails America's healthcare system? (Guest - Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal)
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, bestselling author of "An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back," visits Passing Judgment to talk about our some of the systemic problems of America's healthcare system, our dismal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what we can do moving forward.
Jan 17, 2021
President Trump is impeached for the second time. What does it mean?

Episode Notes

President Trump is the first president in our nation’s history to be impeached twice. The House of Representatives voted, along a bipartisan basis, to impeach Trump for inciting a riot in the Capitol. 

What will happen next during the Senate trial? And what does this all mean for the Biden administration?

Jan 15, 2021
Will President Trump be impeached for a second time, removed from office under the 25th Amendment, and/or charged with federal crimes?

The House of Representatives is moving forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump and a resolution asking Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. There is also talk of using a little-discussed provision of the 14th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. And of course, there is the looming question of whether President Trump will attempt to pardon himself for crimes related to the insurrection and beyond. 

Jessica and Joe talk through these issues give you answers to all of these questions.

Jan 11, 2021
How did Democrats win in Georgia? (Guest - Nse Ufot)
Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, joins Jessica Levinson to talk about how Democrats won both U.S. Senate races in Georgia, and how the New Georgia Project worked to register new voters and plan to create a new class of super voters.
Jan 08, 2021
Insurrection in the Capitol. Impeachment? The 25th Amendment?
Wednesday 1/6/2021 was a surreal day for our country. A violent mob stormed the Capitol building and our federal representatives, their staff, and members of the press sheltered in place. Jessica and Joe walk through the legal and political implications of what just happened. They talk about whether we just saw an attempted coup d'etat, whether the Vice President and members of the cabinet will invoke the 25th Amendment, and whether impeachment proceedings will begin again.
Jan 07, 2021
What is at stake in the Georgia runoff elections? (Guest - Greg Bluestein)

Why are all eyes on Georgia? On 1/5/2021, Georgia voters will head to the polls to pick their two U.S. Senators. If both democrats win, the Senate will be split 50-50 and with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote, will in fact be controlled by Democrats. This has enormous implications for the Biden administration.

Greg Bluestein, of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, stops by to tell us everything we need to know about these races.

Jan 04, 2021
Did President Trump just commit federal and state crimes? 
President Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and spent just over an hour trying to convince him to overturn the results of the election in Georgia in favor of Trump. Jessica and Joe will walk you through the legal and political implications of the call.
Jan 04, 2021
Can President Trump obtain a second term? What is going to happen when Congress counts the Electoral College votes?

President Trump cannot obtain a second term. However, some Republicans will engage in Trump-supporting, country-degrading political theatre to try to claim that he can.

Jessica and Joe break down what is going to happen on Wednesday 1/6/2021 when Vice President Mike Pence presides over Congress' counting of the Electoral College votes. The 12th Amendment and the Electoral College Act of 1887 both dictate what will happen. And while Republicans will object, in the end, President-elect Joe Biden will receive 306 votes and will be inaugurated on 1/20/2021.

Jan 02, 2021
What does the Brexit trade deal mean for us? (Guest - Dr. Nick Cull)

USC Professor Nick Cull stops by Passing Judgment. He answers Jessica's questions: What is Brexit? What is the new trade deal? And what does this mean for Americans?

Dec 31, 2020
Our special holiday episode. Looking back on the first 6 months of Passing Judgment.

This is a different kind of episode for us.

Join Jessica and Joe for an end-of-the-year look back on the first 6 months of Passing Judgment. We talk the guests that surprised us the most, the episodes that hit us the hardest, and how the podcast came to be. We also chat about how we celebrated the holidays, the first thing we will do post-vaccination, and what is ahead in the new year for the podcast.

Please join us, and as always, tweet Jessica @LevinsonJessica

Dec 29, 2020
Are we facing a recovery or a recession? (Guest - Dr. Chris Thornberg)
Economist Christopher Thornberg stops by Passing Judgment to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has and will affect the American economy. Chris talks with Jessica about what Congress and the President should do to help Americans recover from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and how systemic inequality affects our economy.
Dec 26, 2020
When and how will the COVID-19 pandemic end? (Guest - Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding)
Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, one of the nation’s leading epidemiologists, stops by Passing Judgment to answer all of your pressing COVID-19 questions. Are the vaccines safe? When can we safely go back to work? When will our kids go back to school? What did the Trump administration do wrong? What can the future Biden administration do right?
Dec 23, 2020
It Is Pardon Time for President Trump and Musical Chairs Time for Politicians in California (Guest - Carla Marinucci) 
Senior political reporter for Politico, Carla Marinucci, stops by to talk about all the breaking political news. President Trump issued twenty controversial pardons. Governor Newsom named Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate seat and Assemblywoman Shirly Weber to be the next Secretary of State. Carla, who has covered Kamala Harris since the beginning of her career, also tells us what else Americans should know about the future Vice President. Come for the political chat, stay for the immigrant success stories. 
Dec 23, 2020
Can Trump Declare Martial Law?
Join Jessica and Joe to talk about whether President Trump can declare martial law, Sidney Powell will become the special counsel to look into election fraud, and Attorney General Barr will appoint a special counsel to look into Hunter Biden. 
Dec 22, 2020
How to Analyze Political News (Guest Amber Phillips)

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post stops by Passing Judgment for a short talk about what it is like to analyze political news during the Trump administration.

Jessica and Amber talk about Trump's post-election litigation strategy and whether anything could stop President-Elect Joe Biden from being inaugurated on January 20th, 2021.

Dec 19, 2020
A Cyber Attack and a Census Decision
Join Jessica Levinson and Joe Armstrong as they discuss the biggest political and legal news of the week. Jessica walks through the latest census news and why it matters to you, Joe talks about the latest on the cyber attacks, and then Jessica and Joe discuss whether the Biden transition team will get security briefings over the holidays. 
Dec 19, 2020
A view from inside the House of Representatives (Guest Congresswoman Karen Bass)
Join Congresswoman Karen Bass and host Jessica Levinson for a discussion about diversity in government, why Republicans have continued to support President Trump throughout his presidency and in the post-election period, how we can increase trust in government, and how California Governor Gavin Newsom could re-shape California with his ability to appoint Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's senate seat.
Dec 16, 2020
President-Elect Biden is in, Attorney General Bill Barr is out

Happy voting day! Yes, again. Members of the Electoral College just voted in every state throughout the country and, no surprise, Joe Biden received 306 votes. This is more than the 270 needed to win the presidency. This is a day that typically passes unnoticed, but in the topsy-turvy 2020 election, many eyes were on this typically pro forma event. Could anything else happen before inauguration day? 

And because why would we ever have a slow news day, Attorney General Bill Barr resigned. We re-live Barr's greatest hits and talk about the timing of his resignation. 

Thank you for listening and please do provide us with feedback. You can tweet Jessica

Dec 15, 2020
Let’s talk SCOTUS, election lawsuits, & the Biden administration (Guest - Kimberly Atkins)
Join senior Boston Globe columnist and MSNBC contributor Kimberly Atkins and host Jessica Levinson for a wide-ranging discussion about the Supreme Court, post-election litigation, and President-elect Biden's next steps.
Dec 12, 2020
What is it like to be in the House of Representatives in 2020? (Guest - Congressman Eric Swalwell)
Congressman Eric Swalwell stops by Passing Judgment to talk about what it is like to serve in the House of Representatives, what he would do to reform the institution, how President-Elect Biden can bring together our country, and more!
Dec 10, 2020
Happy Safe Harbor Day! Is the 2020 Election Over Yet?

So, is election 2020 finally over?

Host Jessica Levinson and co-host Joe Armstrong walk through the biggest legal and political developments of the week.

Jessica and Joe explain where we are in the post-election litigation, what is happening with DACA, why Xavier Becerra was tapped to become part of the Biden administration, and what Trump's executive order about vaccines really means.

For more on Safe Harbor Day, read Jessica's piece on NBC News here:

Dec 09, 2020
Can President Trump pardon himself? His children?

Get caught up on all your legal news of the week.

Big stories so far -- Can President Trump pardon himself? What about his adult children?

Why did AG Bill Barr admit there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections but then appoint a special counsel to investigate the 2016 election investigators?

And what is happening in the Supreme Court these days regarding COVID-19 restrictions and religious freedoms?

Join Jessica and Joe.

Dec 05, 2020
How can the Biden administration begin to address racial inequality? (Guest - Areva Martin)
Host Jessica Levinson is joined by civil rights attorney, author, host, and CNN legal analyst Areva Martin for a discussion of racial inequality, what the Biden administration's top priorities should be, the electoral college, and more.
Dec 03, 2020
What is (and is not) happening in the Supreme Court? (An update on the election, the census, & religious freedoms)

There is a lot of legal and political news to catch up on this week!

The Supreme Court made a big decision regarding religious freedom and coronavirus restrictions, they heard a big case dealing with the census and immigrants, and they may be avoiding a big post-election litigation case.

Dec 01, 2020
The Biden-Harris Transition Officially Begins

Surprise! The man who won the 2020 election (both the national popular vote and the Electoral College vote) will be the next president.

Why did the Trump administration finally agree to let the Biden transition team officially begin? What is happening with all of the post-election litigation? And what can we expect between now and inauguration day?

Nov 24, 2020
The Art of Being Barbara Boxer (Guest - former Senator Barbara Boxer)

Former Senator Barbara Boxer joins host Jessica Levinson to talk about women in politics, her book, "The Art of Tough," how to improve the Senate, why she ran for office, "the year of the woman," and much more.

Nov 19, 2020
The 2020 elections are over. Now what? (Guest - Congressman Ted Lieu)
Congressman Ted Lieu stops by Passing Judgment to share his thoughts on the 2020 election and how we move forward from our current state of polarization. Congressman Lieu talks about whether voters repudiated Trump, Trumpism, or the GOP. Congressman Lieu also discusses some of the biggest challenges our country faces in the future and how to solve them.
Nov 16, 2020
What is the fate of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)?

The Supreme Court could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

This week the high court heard arguments in a case addressing whether the individual mandate is legally valid and whether, if it is not, the entire ACA must be declared invalid.

This is one of the first blockbuster cases the court has heard this term. And its decision could affect how and whether tens of millions of Americans obtain health insurance.

Nov 13, 2020
Will there be a peaceful transfer of power?

Happy post-election week.

We're back to discuss the most pressing political and legal issues.

What is happening with all of this post-election litigation? Will any of these cases end up before the Supreme Court?

What about the Department of Justice investigation into voter fraud?

Will the GOP continue to support President Trump's efforts to claim the election was rigged?

And are there any other election nightmares we should be thinking about?

Nov 12, 2020
Joe Biden & Kamala Harris win! What is next?

Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!

What happens next? Will there be civil unrest?

When will the pre-election litigation be resolved?

What if Donald Trump does not concede?

What can Trump do during his lame duck session? Can he pardon himself?

Jessica Levinson and Joe Armstrong discuss and explain.

Nov 07, 2020
The day after Election Day - just who is going to win this thing?
We all watched yesterday's election results tumble in, and it was a long night for everyone. In this episode, Jessica Levinson and Joe Armstrong talk about riding the final waves of the 2020 election storm. There was no blue wave, and although President Trump prematurely declared victory, the show's not over. Ballots are still being counted as Election Day bleeds into Election Days. Which candidate has a clearer path to be inaugurated on January 20th, 2021? What voting blocs broke for which candidate? How is the electoral map different from 2016? And did you sleep last night?
Nov 04, 2020
Election Day special episode number two - doom scrolling to oblivion!

Our second election day special episode!

What are the latest results?

Can we trust the polls?

Will we know the result on election night?

How did you spend election day?

What did Joe buy to get himself through the week?

Nov 04, 2020
Our first Election Day special episode!

Will Trump declare victory on election night?

Will Trump concede? What if he loses and refuses to leave?

Where does the pre-election litigation stand?

Where were you on Election Day 2016?

Nov 03, 2020
Will the country reject Trump and Trumpism? Guest - Sarah Longwell

Hear from Sarah Longwell, a Republican political strategist and founder of Republican Voters Against Trump.   Sarah and host Jessica Levinson talk about who will win the 2020 presidential election and why, who undecided voters are, how you can persuade voters that certain information is false, and the future of the Republican Party.

Nov 02, 2020
Is Trump a Traitor? Guest - David Rothkopf

David Rothkopf is out with a new book - Traitor: A History of Betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump.

David is the host of "Deep State Radio" and CEO of the Rothkopf Group media and podcasting company. He is also the former CEO and editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

David joins host Jessica Levinson to discuss what makes President Donald Trump a traitor and how he compares to other historical figures.

Nov 01, 2020
Election Nightmares! Also, Boo.
What to expect when you're expecting the 2020 elections. We have got you covered, from the likely to the improbable. We talk post-election litigation, DOJ investigations, Electoral College breakdowns, and contested elections. And of course, we discuss Joe's love of Halloween.
Oct 30, 2020
What can we do about the Electoral College? Guest - Jesse Wegman

Jesse Wegman, New York Times editorial board member and author of Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College joins host Jessica Levinson.

Jesse discusses the fascinating history behind the Electoral College, how it has affected presidential elections, and proposals to reform it.

Oct 29, 2020
Will Trump draw another royal flush? Guest - Bob Shrum
Veteran Democratic campaign strategist Bob Shrum joins host Jessica Levinson to talk about the 2020 election. Bob gives his advice for the candidates, explains what makes a good presidential candidate, and helps us to sort out current presidential election.
Oct 28, 2020
When are we likely to know the outcome of the election? Guest - Sam Levine
Host Jessica Levinson is joined by Sam Levine, a reporter for the Guardian who covers voting rights. Jessica and Sam talk about the biggest voting rights issues of the day, the current state of pre-election litigation, and which suits are likely to be filed post-election.
Oct 27, 2020
Did anyone win the 2020 debates? Guest - Dr. Todd Graham
America's debate coach, Dr. Todd Graham, is back with host Jessica Levinson to unpack the presidential debates and town halls and the vice presidential debate. Hear from an expert about how the candidates and moderators performed and whether anything that happened will move the electoral needle.
Oct 23, 2020
What is it like to cover the Trump administration? Guest - Brian Karem.
Brian Karem, senior White House correspondent for Playboy, CNN contributor, and author, joins Passing Judgment to talk about covering the Trump administration. Brian talks about what it is like to be in the White House briefing room, the role of the press when covering this administration, why he was once jailed, and much more.
Oct 22, 2020
The Supreme Court term heats up with three new immigration-related cases
The Supreme Court just agreed to hear three big immigration cases. The first deals with President Trump's use of money to build the border wall and more broadly a president's power to declare a national emergency and use funds that Congress appropriated for other purposes. The second deals with the Trump administration's policy to make asylum seekers from South and Central America wait in Mexico while their cases are processed. The third centers around whether undocumented immigrants need to be counted as part of the census.
Oct 20, 2020
Did we learn anything from Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings?

What, if anything, did we learn from the four days of hearings about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court? Is Judge Coney Barrett's refusal to answer questions typical of U.S. Supreme Court nominees? Did her lack of answers actually speak volumes?

Join Jessica Levinson and Joe Armstrong for the discussion.

Oct 16, 2020
Are the CA GOP's unofficial ballot drop boxes illegal?

The CA GOP has put up ballot drop boxes throughout the state. The CA GOP has defended this practice as legal "ballot harvesting." But that explanation may obscure what is really going on both legally and politically. The CA Secretary of State has said, "[u]nauthorized ballot drop boxes are illegal."

What can voters do now?

Oct 13, 2020
VP Debate Recap

Did the vice presidential debate change the election? Will people remember anything other than the fly seen round the world?

Host Jessica Levinson and co-host Joe Armstrong review the debate.

Oct 08, 2020
Can the Constitution Save Us? What Will the Supreme Court Do Next? Guest-Erwin Chemerinsky

Host and Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson is joined by Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the nation's leading lawyers, legal educators, and legal scholars, and the Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law.

Join Jessica and Erwin for a smart and accessible discussion of the most pressing issues before the Supreme Court. Erwin also talks about how Judge Amy Coney Barrett could change the Supreme Court if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Oct 08, 2020
Welcome to Season 2 of Passing Judgment! A preview of the new Supreme Court term.

Host Jessica Levinson and co-host Joe Armstrong preview the legal and political issues 2020-2021 Supreme Court term. There are big cases related to healthcare, religious rights, and voting rights on the court's docket.

Tune in and let us know what you think!

Oct 06, 2020
A conversation with Loyola Law School Dean Michael Waterstone
Michael Waterstone, the Dean of Loyola Law School, joins host Jessica Levinson for a discussion about leadership and legal education. Michael talks about what it takes to be a good leader and a lawyer. Michael also shares insights about what it is like to be a law school dean.
Oct 05, 2020
What are the political and legal implications of President Trump having COVID-19?
Host Jessica Levinson and co-host Joe Armstrong talk through the breaking news that President Trump has contracted COVID-19. Because President Trump is both a sitting president and a candidate for the  presidency, there are a myriad of hypothetical legal questions to discuss. 
Oct 02, 2020
What just happened? A conversation with Leslie Marshall about the debates, tax returns, and the Supreme Court
Join host Jessica Levinson and guest Leslie Marshall for a lively conversation about what is happening in the political world this week. Jessica and Leslie discuss the first presidential debate, the latest news regarding Trump's financial records, and how the Supreme Court is likely to factor into the presidential election.
Oct 01, 2020
Debate time! What should Trump and/or Biden do to win the debates?
Welcome to presidential and vice presidential debate season! Join host and Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson and debate expert Dr. Todd Graham to talk about why debates matter, what each of the candidates should do to win, and what they should each avoid.
Sep 28, 2020
How would Judge Amy Coney Barrett change American law and society as a member of the Supreme Court?
President Trump has officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacancy on the Supreme Court. Host Jessica Levinson and regular co-host Joe Armstrong talk about what is likely to happen next, and how Judge Barrett could change the shape of American law and society if she is confirmed by the Senate.
Sep 27, 2020
Will Democrats pack the Supreme Court?
Host Jessica Levinson and producer Joe Armstrong talk about the biggest legal and political news of the week — Court packing and peaceful transfers of power.
Sep 25, 2020
How can you combat campaign disinformation and misinformation?

Hear from a reporter and fact-checker from the Associated Press about what campaign misinformation and disinformation is and how to combat it.

Host Jessica Levinson and guest Amanda Seitz talk about why we are all so susceptible to campaign misinformation and disinformation and how we can be on alert to "fake news."

Sep 22, 2020
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Passes Away

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away. Our country has lost a champion of gender equality.

What does her death mean for the future of our country both legally and politically?

With only weeks to go before the election, will President Trump nominate someone to fill the seat and will Senator Mitch McConnell hold confirmation hearings?

Sep 19, 2020
The Curious Case of Attorney General William Barr

What happened to AG Bill Barr?

He compared COVID-19 restrictions to slavery.

He has talked about protecting protesters under the Sedition Act.

The DOJ has intervened to get favorable treatment for friends of President Trump -- think Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.

Is Bill Barr acting to protect the American president or the American people?

Sep 17, 2020
Are you consuming fake news?

Join host and Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson as she talks with New York Times reporter Matt Stevens about what it is like to be a political reporter in 2020.  Matt explains why journalists don't just make up stories or sources, why they can't just be stenographers and what goes into writing headlines.

Sep 15, 2020
Our Top Election Nightmares?

A cyber attack? A contingent election decided by the House of Representatives? Law enforcement at the polls? The closing of polling places? The invocation of the Presidential Succession Act?

Join host and Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson and producer Joe Armstrong for a rundown of the top election 2020 nightmares.

Sep 11, 2020
Did the Trump administration start a war against masks (and science)?
Host Jessica Levinson is joined by Dr. Julie Cantor, physician, attorney, and entrepreneur. Jessica and Julie talk about everything from why California Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks was forced to bring her infant to the state capitol to cast in person votes to why wearing masks has become a proxy for partisan affiliation.
Sep 10, 2020
What are the laws surrounding the gig economy?

Happy Labor Day everyone.

On this special Labor Day episode, host and Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson and producer Joe Armstrong talk about a issue near and dear to many workers -- whether they are independent contractors or employees. Jessica and Joe unpack the current legal wrangling surrounding rules for gig economy workers. Starting January 1, 2020, California changed the law to categorize many gig economy workers as employees, not independent contractors.

But the law, known as AB 5, cast a wide net and covered some freelancers who lost jobs as a result. Joe shares his story of work that he lost. In addition, one of those famous freelancers is former San Francisco Mayor and Speaker of the Assembly, Willie Brown. As Politico's Carla Marinucci wrote, just this week his regular Sunday op-ed column for the San Francisco Chronicle was temporarily put on hold as a result of the law.

A few days ago, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that narrows AB 5, and exempts many freelance workers, like Willie Brown.

But wait, there's more. There is a measure on the ballot, sponsored by companies like Uber and Lyft, to undo the California law which treats most gig workers as employees.

Where does the law stand and what could happen next?

Sep 07, 2020
Should members of the media be real-time fact checkers?

Join host and Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson and guest Elex Michaelson, anchor and host of the only statewide political show in California -- The Issue Is.

Jessica and Elex talk about how social media has changed news consumption and coverage, whether reporters have an obligation to be real-time fact checkers, why we are so polarized, how to deal with campaigns of disinformation and misinformation, why we should all be taking media literacy classes, and the importance of cookies in a greenroom.

Sep 03, 2020
Can President Trump send federal or state law enforcement officers to polling places?

Host Jessica Levinson explains whether the president has the power to send law enforcement officers to polling places on Election Day. She is joined by producer Joe Armstrong to walk through the legal and political limits on the president.

Jessica and Joe discuss who typically observes a polling place, whether Trump can send federal or state law enforcement, what power states have over their polling places, and what recourse voters have if they feel intimidated at the polls.

Aug 31, 2020
What is the media's role during the Trump era? Are we more polarized than ever?

Host and Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson is joined by television and radio legend Steve Edwards. Steve has been a member of the media for more than four decades, covering every major news event in that time.

Steve talks with us about the changing role of the media and why we are more polarized than ever.

Aug 28, 2020
Did members of the Trump administration just violate the Hatch Act?

What is the Hatch Act? A law that prohibits certain government employees from engaging in political activities. The purpose is to ensure that civil servants are serving the public and not working as political operatives while engaging in official duties or using public facilities or vehicles.

Have members of the Trump administration violated this federal law in front of our eyes? Probably! Let's talk about what is happening the Republican National Convention.

What recourse is there for violations of the Hatch Act? It looks like not much right now. This is arguably an existential crisis in our democracy -- we have a federal law that looks like it is being violated but ignored.

Join host Jessica Levinson and producer Joe Armstrong to walk through these issues.

Aug 26, 2020
Priority # 1 in the 2020 Election? Make Sure Your Vote Counts

Host and Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson takes a quick tour through the nuts and bolts of what it takes to make sure your vote counts in the 2020 election. 

Elections in America are decentralized. The U.S. Constitution gives states the power to run elections and so it is important to know the laws in your state. 

Jessica walks you through what is different about voting this election, spoiler alert -- a pandemic and a president who is actively trying to undermine our election process. Jessica talks about everything from registering to vote, to getting a vote by mail ballot, to returning that ballot. 

For more information, read Amber Phillips' great piece in the Washington Post.  

Sound engineer - Andrei Padilla

Aug 23, 2020
What is it like to be a State Senator?

What is it like to be a state lawmaker?

Join host Jessica Levinson and California State Senator Ben Allen for a wide-ranging discussion about being a lawmaker in 2020. Senator Allen talks about why he ran, what most surprises him about the job, his favorite part of being an elected official, the power of lobbyists, the influence of money and politics, mandatory vaccinations, and much more.

Aug 19, 2020
What does it take to be an effective presidential candidate?
Join host Jessica Levinson and Los Angeles Times political reporter Melanie Mason, for a discussion about political reporting during a pandemic. Melanie chats about how Senator Kamala Harris changed as a candidate, covering presidential candidates, what it takes to be an effective presidential candidate, what makes President Trump a good or bad presidential candidate, the influence of money on our presidential campaigns, and more. 
Aug 17, 2020
What is it like to cover a presidential campaign during a pandemic? 

Host Jessica Levinson talks with Los Angeles Times political reporter Seema Metha about the 2020 presidential campaign. 

Jessica and Seema chat about these questions and more.

Are voters more polarized than ever before? Are social media and cable television to blame? 

Do Republicans have a choice between following President Trump or following public health experts? 

Why do evangelical voters continue to support President Trump? 

Will the Supreme Court become a focal point of the 2020 election? 

Who is Biden likely to pick as his VP candidate?

How has Pres. Trump changed what is means to be a journalist?

Aug 11, 2020
Are President Trump's Recent Executive Actions Legal?

President Trump signed four executive actions in the wake of Congress' failure to come to a resolution regarding COVID-19 relief for Americans.

President Trump's actions are both much more narrow than he alleged and likely stand on legally shaky grounds. Specifically, Trump's actions may violate the separation of powers and invade Congress' power to tax and spend.

Host Jessica Levinson walks through the political and legal implications of Trump's actions on unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium, student loan deferrals, and payroll tax deduction deferrals.

Sound engineer - Andrei Padilla

Aug 10, 2020
Election Nightmares. What happens if President Trump loses but won't leave office? 

Join host Jessica Levinson as she details which potential election catastrophes keep her up at night.  Jessica talks about the possible problems associated with voting in a pandemic, President Trump's efforts to undermine the integrity of our elections, whether Nancy Pelosi could become president, and much more. 

Sound engineer extraordinaire - Andrei Padilla

Aug 08, 2020
Is the Supreme Court Really a Court?

Join host Jessica Levinson and guest Eric Segall. Eric is a professor at Georgia State University College of Law and an expert on the Supreme Court.

How does the Supreme Court make its decisions? Does the Court function as intended?

In this episode, Eric makes the provocative argument that the Supreme Court is not really a court, and that judges make their decisions on little more than their ideological views.

Aug 04, 2020
Which Vice Presidential Contender Will Help Biden Beat Trump? 

Vice President Joe Biden is about to choose his running mate. He has pledged that he will pick a woman. But who? 

Host Jessica Levinson talks about whether or not a presidential candidate's running mate makes any real difference in a presidential campaign and who Biden might pick as his running mate. 

Jessica runs down the top contenders including Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Tammy Duckworth, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Congresswomen Karen Bass and Val Demings.

Sound engineer-Andrei Padilla.

Aug 02, 2020
Is Pres. Trump's Census Order Unconstitutional?

President Trump just signed an executive order directing the Department of Commerce not to count undocumented immigrants for the purposes of drawing congressional district lines.   Is Trump's executive order? What are the political consequences of this order?

Host Jessica Levinson walks you through everything you need to know about Trump's decision to weaponize the census.

For more, read Jessica's recent pieces on

Jul 30, 2020
The Supreme Court as "the Solicitor General's Idiot Intern?"

Chief Justice John Roberts as a junior woodchuck?

When does a judge go "Christopher Walken" on you?

Come for the My Cousin Vinny references, stay for an in-depth look at the most powerful court in the land - the Supreme Court - with Professor Garrett Epps.

Jul 28, 2020
Rep. AOC v Rep. Yoho?

What happened between Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Yoho?

Rep. AOC made a speech on the floor of the House to discuss Yoho's comments and what they say about gender dynamics more generally.

Women are underrepresented in the public and private sphere. Why does that matter?

Host Jessica Levinson and producer Joe Armstrong discuss Rep. AOC's speech and the great gender divide in rooms of power throughout the country.

Jul 24, 2020
Will it take Republicans to defeat Pres. Trump and Trumpism?
The Lincoln Project co-founder Mike Madrid joins host Jessica Levinson to talk about the rise of President Trump and Trumpism. Mike discusses the biggest issues surrounding the 2020 election and what The Lincoln Project is doing to try to defeat President Trump and protect our democracy.
Jul 21, 2020
Did Pres. Trump or Ivanka Trump violate ethics laws by promoting Goya products?

President Trump and his daughter, senior advisor Ivanka Trump, went to social media to promote Goya products. They did this in the wake of the CEO of Goya's praising of President Trump and the ensuing backlash against that praise. Is the White House for sale? Did President Trump or his daughter, Ivanka Trump, violate any federal ethics laws?

Join host Jessica Levinson and producer Joe Armstrong for a quick analysis.

Jul 17, 2020
Supreme Court Wrap Up!

In this special episode of Passing Judgment host Jessica Levinson tells you everything you need to know about the last Supreme Court term. Jessica explains the biggest decisions of the year and how they affect you. Jessica covers abortion rights, religious rights, LGBTQ rights, executive authority, Congressional power, and more.

Producer Joe Armstrong is back by popular demand to ask the questions you want answered.

Jul 17, 2020
Confederate Statues, Cancel Culture, Defunding the Police, and More with Mr. Mo'Kelly
Guest Mr. Mo'Kelly joins host Jessica Levinson for a frank discussion about race relations, racism, and more. Mr. Mo'Kelly talks about confederate statutes, calls to defund the police, and the so-called cancel culture. 
Jul 14, 2020
President Trump Commutes Roger Stone's Sentence
Host Jessica Levinson walks you through the breaking news of President Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's sentence. Jessica discusses why and how presidents have the power to commute and pardon people, what Roger Stone was convicted of doing, what the Stone case means for the independence of the Department of Justice, how this is another example of President Trump's norm-breaking behavior, and where we go from here. Jessica is joined by producer Joe Armstrong.
Jul 11, 2020
Will the public ever see President Trump's financial information? 

Today, on the last day of the Supreme Court term, the court handed down two cases that will define the contours of congressional power and presidential immunity. 

In one case, congressional committees subpoenaed the president’s personal financialrecords, claiming that they needed this information to analyze government ethics laws and foreign influence into domestic elections. In the other case, a New York prosecutor, on behalf of a grand jury, issued  subpoenas for Trump’s accountant and banks as part of an investigation into hush money payments made to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. What did the Supreme Court say?

Join host Jessica Levinson as she walks you through these blockbuster decisions and explains what they mean for future presidents. 

The bottom line? Unless President Trump decides to release his financial records(which he won’t), the public will still not see that information before the 2020 election.

Jul 09, 2020
Two Big Victories for Religious Employers in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court handed down two decisions with big implications for religious employers and their employees. In one case the court ruled that employers with religious or moral objections may opt out of a part of the Affordable Care Act which requires insurance plans sponsored by certain employers to provide free access to contraception. In another case, the court concluded that some employees of religious schools are not protected from anti-discrimination laws. 

Host Jessica Levinson tells you everything you need to know about the decisions.

Jul 09, 2020
Did the Supreme Court just help to determine the winner of the next presidential election?

The Supreme Court just upheld the right of states to punish electors, members of the Electoral College, who go rogue and vote for a candidate other than the presidential candidate chosen by the popular vote of the state they represent. The court unanimously concluded that the Constitution allows states to fine or remove electors who fail to vote for the candidate chosen by a majority of the voters in their state. 

Host Jessica Levinson explains what this decision means for the next presidential election and the future of the Electoral College. Producer Joe Armstrong is back to ask the questions.

Jul 07, 2020
The Supreme Court, Congressional Power, and Executive Authority

A deeply divided Supreme Court just upheld the legality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but struck a blow to its independence. The court's decision could threaten the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and also undermine Congress' ability to create executive agencies relatively free of presidential influence.

Jessica unpacks what could turn out to be the biggest case of this Supreme Court term.

Jul 02, 2020
Journalism in the Trump Era and the political rise of Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Kamala Harris with Carla Marinucci
Carla Marinucci, a senior reporter for Politico, joins Jessica to talk about what it is like to be a journalist during the Trump administration, what it takes to be a good journalist, and the political prospects of California Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Kamala Harris.
Jun 30, 2020
Will President Trump be re-elected? How did he get elected in the first place?

LMU Professor Michael Genovese joins Jessica to chat about how President Trump governs, and whether or not he will win re-election. They talk about what makes a good presidential candidate, the skills a president needs, and how the Trump presidency has exposed the cracks in our political system.

Jun 30, 2020
Fake News, Twitter Trolls, and Mask Shaming with Jane Wells

CNBC reporter Jane Wells and Jessica tackle some of the biggest political stories of the moment. They discuss everything from the polarization of American voters during the Trump administration, to “fake news,” to mask shaming, to the pitfalls of social media.

Jun 30, 2020
Welcome to Passing Judgment!

Episode Notes

This podcast is for you, people who are curious about politics and the law and how the biggest political and legal issues of the moment affect you. Pull up a chair and join host Jessica Levinson, a professor at LMU Loyola Law School, and a rotating cast of experts. Jessica will be joined by journalists, politicians, politician scientists, lawyers, and many others.

Join Jessica and her guests for a wry, and sometimes irreverent take on the most pressing issues of our time. Is the Constitution in crisis? What are the laws of our democracy? How are they changing? And what does that mean for your daily life?

Jun 30, 2020