Episode

11/15 The SCOTUS Fixer & SAG-AFTRA Dissent w/ Andy Kroll, Shaan Sharma

November 15, 2023

It’s Hump Day! Sam and Emma speak with Andy Kroll, reporter at ProPublica, to discuss his recent reporting on Leonard Leo and the new Supreme Court judicial ethics code. Then, they’re joined by actor Shaan Sharma, member of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee, to discuss the tentative agreement reached between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). First, Sam and Emma run through updates on Israel’s raid of Al-Shifa hospital, the pro- and anti-war movements regarding Israel, a government shutdown, the UAW’s contract, Starbucks’ labor action, New York politics, and Paul Pelosi’s attacker, also checking in on the large pro-war rally in D.C. that played host to Van Jones, myriad US Congresspeople, and noted antisemitic Pastor John Hagee. Andy Kroll then joins, first running through some quick background on Leonard Leo, and how he came to completely reshape the Federalist Society into perhaps the most influential legal institution in US politics. Kroll begins with the 1992 Conservative Supreme Court affirming Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ignited an organized spark in the Republican party and saw the founding of the Federalist Society some nine years later, serving to funnel conservative lawyers into judgeships, state offices, and the Supreme Court – provided they completely adhere to the society’s strict blueprint for jurisprudence. After parsing through the central strategies of the Society (centered around networking), and how the Democrats were completely blindsided by the Society’s rise to judicial dominance in the 21st Century, Kroll, Sam, and Emma dive into Leonard Leo’s role as Supreme Court Den Mother, doting on the conservative justices to keep them happy and in line with the Society, as has come to light recently. Wrapping up, they look to the weak response from the Senate Judicial Committee to the myriad SCOTUS corruption charges, and whether the Court’s new ethics code will completely sweep this story under the rug. Shaan Sharma then walks Sam and Emma through the structure of SAG-AFTRA’s national board, and his role in the organization, before touching on the central elements of the negotiation – namely bringing wages into line with cost-of-living, getting actors residuals from streaming, and appropriate AI protections. Next, Sharma explores where he felt the contract proposal falls short, including health care, self-tape and audition protections, and wage growth, before he, Sam, and Emma wrap up the interview with an assessment of the AI policy, the SAG-AFTRA leadership, and the pressures that brought the end of the strike.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma discuss Peter Beinart and Michael A. Cohen’s conversation on the 9/11 comparison with Israel’s assault on Gaza, watch the families of Israeli hostages march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in protest of Netanyahu’s war in Gaza, and parse through the ongoing Daily Wire cat fight between Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens. Wrapping up, the MR Crew parses through the continuing drama surrounding Kevin McCarthy, as audio is released of his harrowing assault on Tim Burchett and Newsmax nearly leaks allegations against him from Nancy Mace, plus, your IMs!

Check out Andy’s reporting here: https://www.propublica.org/people/andy-kroll

Check out ProPublica’s podcast here: https://www.propublica.org/article/we-dont-talk-about-leonard-podcast

Find the names of Senate Judiciary Committee members here: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

Find out more about the SAG-AFTRA deal here: https://deadline.com/2023/11/sag-aftra-deal-summary-released-read-it-1235600852/

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