SCOTUS Ends A Low Term On A Low Note | Crooked Media
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June 29, 2022
What A Day
SCOTUS Ends A Low Term On A Low Note

In This Episode

  • The Supreme Court issued more rulings on Wednesday — one of which dramatically increased the power that states have over Native American tribes and tribal lands. We walk through what was decided yesterday and what’s still to come as the court finishes up its term.
  • In headlines: Ukrainian and Russian officials agreed to the largest prisoner exchange since the war began, R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Britney Griner’s detention in Russia was extended for the fourth time.
  • And Gideon bids farewell to the WAD Squad for his last episode on the show.


Show Notes:



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Gideon Resnick: It’s Thursday, June 30th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Priyanka Aribindi: I am Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, and our final podcast before the minions meet Gru and everything changes.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, if you thought you heard lightning just now, you didn’t. It’s the minions.


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s the minions, meeting Gru, And everything, as I said, is changing.


Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, we wrap up primary election results from New York, Illinois, and more. Plus, the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants are now the dominant COVID strains in the U.S..


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we received more rulings by the Supreme Court on a variety of cases yesterday. So we want to run you through what was decided and what you need to know.


Gideon Resnick: Yes. So there were a few key ones here, most of which were sort of along the same lines as the opinions that we’ve been getting throughout this term. So give us the SparkNotes here.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, not great. So the biggest change is likely to come from the decision that the court made in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, where they sided with the state of Oklahoma, and in doing so, they dramatically increased the power that states have over Native American tribes and tribal lands. So Oklahoma wanted to prosecute a non-Native man who was convicted of child neglect against a Native American child that took place on Cherokee land. And basically, up until now, states did not have this kind of jurisdiction over crimes on tribal land–those were left to tribal courts or the federal government. But this decision is a huge change to that policy. It also undermines a decision that the court made back in 2020 when they determined that nearly half of Oklahoma was Native American reservation land that was beyond the jurisdiction of state authorities. The makeup of the court has changed for the worse since then, so this is what we have now. In the majority opinion, beer-lover Brett Kavanaugh wrote, quote, “To be clear, the court today holds that Indian country within a state’s territory is part of a state, not separate from a state.” That is completely at odds with what they decided in 2020, and the precedent in this country.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, a lot of non-precedented things going on with this court at the moment.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.


Gideon Resnick: So, what else did they decide yesterday?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. The court also said that states can be sued for discriminating against veterans. That came from a 5-4 decision. Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh join the court’s liberals in the majority there. And in another case, they allowed Louisiana to use a Republican-drawn congressional map for this November’s midterm elections that lower courts say likely violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters. Black people make up one third of Louisiana’s voters, but only one of the state’s six congressional districts is majority Black. Their Democratic governor vetoed this map, didn’t think it was fair, but the GOP-led legislature overrode that. The high court didn’t give any reason for granting the state’s request–they normally don’t in cases like this–but the court has accepted a similar case from Alabama that raises questions about whether or not states need to create districts like this under the Voting Rights Act, for their term that starts in the fall.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s so much. Truly all the time. And as we go to record this on Wednesday night, we’re still waiting on the Supreme Court to decide a few more cases, two of which are especially really consequential. So can you tell us a little bit more about those?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So those two cases involve immigration and the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA. The first will determine whether or not the Biden administration can get rid of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” border policy. So back in 2019, this program basically started sending non-Mexican citizens who came to the U.S. seeking asylum at the southern border, to Mexico, instead of detaining them or releasing them in the U.S. while their immigration proceedings happened. Critics said that the policy was inhumane and left asylum seekers in dangerous conditions, but so far, lower courts have blocked Biden from ending this policy. The other case will determine if the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. The court’s decision in this case could affect more than just power plants, though, if it rules against the EPA, that means the federal government could be limited when it tries to regulate emissions in other industries, like with carmakers. It would be a huge blow to the fight against climate change and several other things.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it seems like there’s a possibility of any sort of like regulatory power potentially being stripped from agencies.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, people are watching it really closely for that reason.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And so the court is set to release these decisions this morning–they very well could have by the time you’re listening to this episode. But something else is happening today in the court as well.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So Justice Stephen Breyer will officially retire today at noon Eastern Time after these decisions are released–that is the end of the Supreme Court’s term. He announced his retirement back in January, so not a surprise. We already know his replacement, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. She will be sworn in later today as the court’s newest justice by Breyer himself immediately following his departure.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and so for all the latest from the court, remember to follow cricket on all of our socials. Plus, subscribe to Crooked’s pod “Hot Take” so you can get their reaction specifically to that EPA decision, as well as “Strict Scrutiny” for all things about the Supreme Court. More on all of that very soon, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Ukrainian and Russian officials agreed to the largest prisoner exchange since the war began in February. Yesterday, 144 soldiers returned to Ukraine, while the same number of Russian and pro-Russian troops were released as well. Out of the Ukrainian soldiers, 95 of them defended the steel plant in the city of Mariupol, where they were forced to surrender back in May. According to Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, the majority of released Ukrainian soldiers suffer from serious injuries, including, quote, “fire and fragment wounds, explosive injuries, burns, fractures, and limb amputations.”


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this war has gone on for too long.


Gideon Resnick: Yes.


Priyanka Aribindi: Disgraced former R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced by a federal court to 30 years in prison yesterday for recruiting women and underage girls for sex. Many of Kelly’s victims appeared in court on Wednesday for the ruling. And Gloria Allred, their attorney, had this to say about her clients:


[clip of Gloria Allred] Together, they were able to fight his power by becoming empowered young women themselves.


Priyanka Aribindi: But Kelly’s legal woes aren’t over yet. He still faces another trial in Chicago on more federal charges. These ones are for producing child pornography, and additional counts of grooming minors for sex. That trial is scheduled for August 15th.


Gideon Resnick: It has been over four months since WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained by Russian authorities, and there are still no signs that she will be released any time soon. On Monday, a Russian court extended her detention for the fourth time, ordering that she remain in custody for at least six more months to coincide with her upcoming criminal trial. She’s accused of possessing vape cartridges containing hashish oil while traveling through Moscow’s airport. The White House reaffirmed its commitment to getting Griner released earlier this week, but the basketball star’s wife, Cherelle Griner, spoke out on Thursday, asking the public to put pressure on federal officials to fulfill their promise. In a radio interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton, she said this:


[clip of Cherelle Griner] You know, until my wife is home, you know, there is a huge piece of me that is missing.


Gideon Resnick: Griner is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow, where she’ll face charges of, quote, “large scale transportation of drugs.” And if she’s convicted, Griner could face up to ten years in prison–oof.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We will join Cherelle Griner in that public pressure. I feel like we have been wondering why this hasn’t been happening, why there hasn’t been more calls for Brittney Griner’s release and return to the U.S. for quite a long time. So we are right there with you.


Gideon Resnick: Seriously.


Priyanka Aribindi: Our little COVID variants grow up so quickly. It seems like just yesterday, BA.4 and BA.5 were just taking their first steps, right into our respiratory system.


Gideon Resnick: Oh, no.


Priyanka Aribindi: But now they are likely to be the dominant strains in the US. It really is crazy watching them grow. The CDC currently estimates that these strains account for more than half of the new cases around the country, but experts warn that that number could rise in the coming weeks–oh, no, please no–that is because BA.4 and BA.5 can occasionally evade prior immunity from vaccines and infection by earlier Omicron sub-variants. So if you are like me, the other people on this show who have gotten COVID several times–


Gideon Resnick: Hello!


Priyanka Aribindi: Thinking you were in the clear, maybe were not. And I don’t like the sounds of that. That being said, there is little to no evidence that suggests that they cause more severe illness.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I have never learned to count past five and I’m not going to start now.


Priyanka Aribindi: No.


Gideon Resnick: So there you go, BA.4 and 5. Some updates from this week’s primary election, starting with New York State: incumbent Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul easily secured her party’s nomination in her race. And on the GOP side, Congressman Lee Zeldin ran away with it, even in spite of Rudy Giuliani’s noble sacrifice of his one fragile back for his son, Andrew’s campaign.


Priyanka Aribindi: Pour one out.


Gideon Resnick: Over in Colorado, Republican voters largely rejected election deniers that aligned themselves with Trump, and opted for more moderate picks. In the GOP Secretary of State Primary Big Lie booster Tina Peters lost to Pam Anderson–no relation. This Pam is a former county clerk who has long defended the integrity of Colorado’s vote-by-mail system. In Illinois, GOP voters largely embraced Trump’s picks. Conservative state Senator Darren Bailey won the GOP primary for governor after being endorsed by Trump, and incumbent House Representative Mary Miller of the state’s 15th District won her race, bringing her one step closer to being reelected. If Miller’s name happens to sound familiar, she appeared with Trump at a campaign rally over the weekend and described the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a, quote, “victory for white life.” Oof.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m from Illinois. This is so incredibly embarrassing. If you are feeling it with me, your listening to this show, get on VoteSaveAmerica dot com. Let’s make phone calls. We cannot have these people anywhere near any office of power. Like so many parents of fussy toddlers, Taco Bell is shoving Cheez-Its in our mouths to calm us down. For these next two weeks, and only at one restaurant in Southern California, the chain is testing out what they call the Big Cheez-It Tostada and Big Cheez-It Crunch Wrap Supreme–


Gideon Resnick: Hell yeah.


Priyanka Aribindi: –very much like something a skateboarding third grader would eat in a cartoon, each item is bright orange and is built around a giant, 16 times-scaled Cheez-It.


Gideon Resnick: That’s right.


Priyanka Aribindi: They are wild to look at. You must look at the pictures. Taco Bell described it as, quote, “abundantly cheesy and nostalgic, yet magically modern.” Which you could also say about a giant string cheese on a Subway Footlong bread roll–no, I wouldn’t, I would never say that. Taco Bell, they’re the only innovators in this game.


Gideon Resnick: They really are major innovators. And I think it’s, you know, I’m just going to say, I don’t think this is going to stay at that one restaurant. I think we’re going to be seeing Big Cheez-It’s spreading around our lovely country of ours.


Priyanka Aribindi: WAD called it.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. One hopefully in front of my face, soon.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.


Gideon Resnick: I think it looks good. Everybody is disgusted by the fact that I think it looks good. I think looks good.


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know if it looks good per se, but I am intrigued by it. I just want to know, like, when you blow up a cheese to 16 times the size of what it should be, is the structural integrity still there? Does it still have the flavor? I don’t know. I’m watching a lot of Top Chef lately. I got a lot of questions.


Gideon Resnick: It would be very funny if it was remarkably soggy, like right in the middle. Really defeat the point of the entire enterprise. But we’ll find out. Those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with 100% pure, uncut sentimentality about my last episode here.


Priyanka Aribindi: Aw.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: All right, everybody, as I mentioned last week, I am wrapping up my time with the show and I just want to say a few things. I’m going to try to keep this brief because we have more important stuff to attend to, and this is a short show–I’m not going to succeed in this endeavor. Anyway. It would be really an enormous understatement to say that the world has significantly challenged us for as long as What A Day has existed. We started in 2019 thinking that much of our focus would be on the upcoming election. We were almost immediately thrust into the pandemic and all the difficulties that created, from how we were going to continue doing this new show, to how to cover it, to how to keep our head screwed on through it, you know, like in our work and our personal lives. We are not exactly on the other side of it, of course, but looking back, I think that is really indicative of how our personal and professional lives have been over the last three years: careening from one unforeseen challenge to the next, thinking the moment that you have a grip on the story for your own personal sanity and for the sake of planning, reporting, recording, and living your life, some other calamity arises and it feels like you’re being swallowed up by all of it. Now, maybe I’m just speaking for myself there–I don’t think that that’s true–but my point is, in this churn, in these chaotic, doom-filled moments, it’s often difficult to take stock of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, to not completely give in to despair, and to really recognize the enormous miracle of all of you pulling this off every day–something I’m very confident that no one else could do the same way. So as I wrap up here and the Oscar speech music starts to play because I have talked more than I said I would–I called that one–I just really wanted to say thanks again for making that possible. To everyone here at WAD, your creativity, humor and compassion has made this possible and will continue to make this show possible–every person who has been a part of this team, and everyone who is right now at this very second should never lose sight of this tremendous thing that you build every day, and never forget as we face more difficult days ahead that this is important and it matters. I know it’s hard to always see that. To everyone on the outside who is downloaded or listened or sent stories suggestions or kind words or criticisms, even, or just reacted to things that we’ve done, it means more than you will ever know, even if I responded or not, even if I saw it or not. Thank you. Thank you to my girlfriend who let me turn our bedroom into a studio, for years! I am really just immensely proud of the show we created and so, so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it. I’m sad to go, but I’m thrilled about what WAD can be in the future. And I can’t wait to see and hear what all of you do next . . . including how long Bad Sound sticks around. I think forever. That’s it.


Priyanka Aribindi: Gideon. Oh, my God. I’m tearing up over here. That was beautiful. But, you know, it wouldn’t be a WAD send off if we didn’t have a little surprise for you.


Gideon Resnick: No. No.


Priyanka Aribindi: We refused to let you have the last word on your last episode. We have a little message from our team from the bottom of our hearts. Let’s take a listen.


[Tre’vell Anderson] You know what, Gideon? We all are going to miss you. I’m particularly going to miss that signature way that you say your name at the beginning of every episode: Iiiiii’m Gideon Resnick.


[speaker] Gideon, I’m going to miss smiling and nodding without a thought in my brain whenever you tell us about a movie you love that was made before I was born.


[Josie Duffy Rice] Honestly, there’s so many things I’m going to miss about Gideon. I’m going to miss his deadpan jokes, which only sometimes veer into joke territory.


[speaker] Gideon, I’m going to miss how listeners never got a chance to see how much you gesture while you talk over the Zooms, like you’re swatting away so many different flies in the middle of reading some of the most terrible or greatest stories out there.


[speaker] Gideon, I’m really going to miss how you always offer to help in anything and everything in production. You even offer to do some of my work for me sometimes.


[Jon Millstein] Gideon I’m going to miss the gorgeous print of an astronaut that was on the wall behind you for the entire time we recorded from home. Never hung up, just leaning there. But I’m sure it’ll be hung up soon. And it’s going to look so good.


[Priyanka Aribindi] Gideon, you are a gem of a human, a coworker. And I feel very lucky to call you a friend. You are so, so welcoming to me and to everybody else when they join the show. You have been the longest-standing, you know, mainstay of the show from day one.


[speaker] Gideon, I will miss my favorite part of editing every episode, which is when I get up to your response to the line, “and if you enjoy reading and not just [blank] like me.” Whether the joke is good or bad, you always have a vaguely similar, but very supportive chuckle that always makes me smile.


[Tommy Vietor] I mean, I will say that Gideon has been a rock on that show during a pandemic, racial reckoning, fires.


[Jon Favreau] Gideon did that show, every day, all week, for how many years?


[Jon Lovett] A lot of years.


[Jon Favreau] He crushed that show.


[Tommy Vietor] So professional, so thoughtful.


[Jon Lovett] Gideon, we’re going to miss you.


[Jon Favreau] Brings a journalist sensibility to our morning news show.


[Jon Lovett] Journalist ethics.


[Jon Favreau] And he’s just a pleasure.


[Jon Lovett] A delight.


[Jon Favreau] We’re going to miss you, Gideon.


[Tommy Vietor] He’s a great guy. He works his ass off.


[Jon Lovett] Gideon, we think you should reconsider.


[Jon Favreau] Yeah, what are we doing? Let’s go convince Gideon to stay.


[Jon Lovett] Let’s put the screws to him.


Priyanka Aribindi: Well, we hope it worked.


Gideon Resnick: All right. Yeah. I mean, maybe. I’ve got to make some calls. Let me, let me get off here. Wow. That was deeply touching. The second we get off this call, I’m going to go cry for a little while, but not going to do it in front of you. Not giving you that final piece. Anyway, thank you. I, it means a lot to me.


Priyanka Aribindi: Well, thank you, Gideon, for being you. And I said it in my little segment. It got cut out. But when you listen to a podcast, it feels like you become friends with a person, and I feel sorry for the WAD squad who has not met, you because you in person and being your actual friend is 10 to 15 times better than hearing you on the show! You’re a gem, and we’re going to miss you so, so much. One more thing before we go: WAD is taking a break for the July 4th weekend, where we’ll be probably crying over Gideon’s departure. We’ll be back with a new episode one week from now, and five days after the release of Minions: Rise of GRU, on Thursday, July 7th.


Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like this show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, watch over this podcast like it was your own child, and tell your friends to listen.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just new Taco Bell menu items created by the devil to test us like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And back to you, Gru!


Gideon Resnick: It’s funny. He’s actually my replacement. Surprise.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, he’s coming. He’s bringing some minions


Gideon Resnick: He’s very good with all of this. You wouldn’t know it based on the films, but he has a lot of skills. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.