MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
When President Trump took office in 2017, he had 103 appeals court vacancies to fill and here in mid-2020, he’s just about filled them all. We’ll talk today about how this president has reshaped the American judiciary.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.
Plus, today WORLD correspondent Kim Henderson with the next installment of her story of community grief and recovery after a deadly attack.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, May 27th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now here’s Kent Covington with today’s top news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Deaths drop in N.Y. as trading floor reopens on Wall St. » In a Tuesday press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state is turning the corner in the battle against the coronavirus.
CUOMO: We’re going to turn the page on COVID-19, and we’re going to start focusing on reopening.
The governor said 73 New Yorkers died on Monday from COVID-19. That’s the lowest number recorded since his state became the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak. And he added “In this absurd new reality, that is good news.”
Cuomo spoke to reporters from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after ringing the opening bell.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF OPENING BELL]
That marked the reopening of the NYSE trading floor after a two-month shutdown.
The floor is now dotted with plexiglass barriers as masked traders remain at least 6 feet apart.
Stocks surged on Tuesday amid optimism over a rebooting economy and prospects of a coronavirus vaccine. The S&P 500 broke 3,000 for the first time since early March.
WHO warns of possible second coronavirus peak » But as optimism about a recovery swells in many countries, the World Health Organization is warning the world not to get complacent.
The WHO’s Emergency Program Director Mike Ryan spoke to reporters Tuesday in Geneva. He said just because the disease is on its way down right now does not mean it’s on its way out.
RYAN: We may get a second peak during this wave. This happened during pandemics in the past. It certainly happened in the pandemic of 1919 in the Spanish Flu. We got a second peak, not necessarily a second wave.
The WHO says social distancing and other safety measures are still critical.
According to Johns Hopkins University, so far, there have been about five-and-a-half million confirmed cases globally. And infections continue to mount in countries like Brazil and India.
Minneapolis P.D. fires officers involved in death of black man » The Minneapolis Police Department has fired four officers involved in the arrest of a black man who died in police custody.
A bystander’s video of the Monday arrest sparked outrage. The footage showed a white office pressing his knee down on the man’s neck. He repeatedly complained that he couldn’t breathe before losing consciousness.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Tuesday applauded the city’s chief of police for terminating the officers.
FREY: We’ve stated our values and ultimately, we need to live by them. It’s essential for accountability now and going forward. I appreciate it and I support you in that decision.
Police said the man matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store, and that he resisted arrest.
The FBI and state law enforcement authorities are investigating the matter.
GOP sues to stop Calif. mail-in election » The Republican Party is suing to block California’s governor from sending mail-in ballots to all voters in the Golden State for the general election. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit this week against Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla, both Democrats.
Newsom signed an executive order earlier this month stating that California will send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the state. He said that’s necessary to protect the health of voters amid the pandemic.
But the GOP called the move a “brazen power grab.” And the lawsuit states that only the Legislature has the power to determine the “time, place and manner” of the election. It also says the order “violates both the Elections Clause and Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
The White House has complained that mail-in elections are ripe for voter fraud.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
DOJ: NV church restrictions unconstitutional » Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak last night announced new guidelines for Phase Two of his state’s reopening—including revised limits on worship services.
The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division sent a letter to the Democratic governor this week warning against part of his Phase One guidelines. The rules limited in-person worship services to groups of 10 or less—a stricter limit than was placed on many secular establishments.
Sisolak, on his Twitter account late Wednesday night, said under the new rules, religious gatherings will now be limited to 50 people.
Sisolak wrote—quote—“This aligns with our new guidance on all public and private gatherings.”
However, the governor also said other indoors establishments including stores, large gyms, and museums may reopen in Phase Two at 50 percent capacity with no mention of a 50-person cap.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: reshaping the federal courts.
Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on finding renewed purpose in singing together.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 27th of May, 2020. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad you are! Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: Washington Wednesday.
Back in 2016, then-candidate Trump made a top campaign issue out of the question, who would replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court? Scalia had died unexpectedly and the question of naming his successor helped propel Trump to the White House.
More than half of those who voted Trump listed the Supreme Court as the “most important factor” in their decision. And as it turned out, the president ended up with two high court vacancies to fill in quick succession.
REICHARD: The new justices have already had an effect on American law. But the Supreme Court is only the tip of the iceberg.
When President Trump took office, he inherited 103 appellate vacancies. That was nearly double the number President Obama inherited when he took office.
But now Trump appointees make up nearly one-third of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Those are the courts directly below the Supreme Court—and the ones that decide the vast majority of cases.
EICHER: Joining us now to talk about all of this is Leonard Leo. He’s co-chairman of the Federalist Society and one of President Trump’s principal advisers on judicial nominees. Mr. Leo, good morning!
LEONARD LEO, GUEST: Good morning!
EICHER: Well, we noted a few moments ago, most people probably think of the Supreme Court when they think of what a president is capable of doing to try to shape the judiciary. But most of the time cases don’t make it that high, and lower federal courts end up with the final say. So those courts, of course, are crucial, too.
We mentioned 103 appellate vacancies when President Trump took office. How many are left at this point?
LEO: Only two. There are only two vacancies left on the appeals courts.
EICHER: Just two so let’s look at one appellate court in particular—one of them known from recent years as the most liberal in the country, the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco. Even that court is changing, and it’s made a big difference in some recent cases. Could you talk a bit about that?
LEO: Sure. President Trump hasn’t appointed a majority of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based out in California in the Pacific Northwest. But he has appointed enough judges on that court that you’re seeing a greater number of panels now that have two out of three judges who are relatively conservative in their jurisprudential outlook and that is making a difference in terms of the outcomes of a number of cases.
We’ve even had one en banc decision that reversed a liberal panel ruling below. So it’s a court that’s in a bit of flux. It’s still five or, I think, six shy of having a conservative majority, so that doesn’t exist. But certainly there are a greater number of conservative leaning panels of three judges and a greater number of dissenting opinions by conservatives that are getting noticed by members of the U.S. Supreme Court when people petition for review up there.
EICHER: Now, just to explain, when you say en banc you mean the entire bench, the whole court of judges instead of, what, a three-judge panel?
LEO: Yeah. In most circuits, en banc means the entire circuit court. In the 9th Circuit it means, I think, half or thereabouts. But, yes, a larger sort of super panel of jurists, yes.
EICHER: Let’s stay at the appellate level. Have you seen similar shifts in other circuits, not just the 9th?
LEO: Yes. You’ve seen some ideological shifts in other circuits as well. You’ve seen it in the 3rd Circuit. You’ve seen it in the 6th Circuit, the 7th Circuit, the 8th Circuit, the 11th Circuit. So, there have been a number of other circuits where you have seen a shift in the balance of the appellate courts.
EICHER: It’s really remarkable all the change in just three years. So let’s move from the appellate level, which is just one step below the Supreme Court, to the district courts. This is where cases involving federal law begin. The Senate so far has confirmed 138 Trump nominees to the district courts. 74 vacancies—if my math is right—remaining.
But I understand that it’s likely most of those will not be filled before the November election because of something known as the “blue slip process” in the Senate. Could you explain a bit about that and why it’s starting to slow the appointment process there?
LEO: Sure. First of all, the numbers are a little bit better than that. I think it’s around 50 remaining U.S. District Court judges, if you just count article three courts. But it’s in that general neighborhood.
And what you’re seeing right now is a slow down because with district courts, unlike the circuit courts we just talked about, senators have the ability to block a nominee from moving forward by basically returning what’s called a negative blue slip, saying that you’re not inclined—as senator you’re not inclined to have that individual move forward. So, what that basically means is the judicial nominee is not going to get an up or down vote in the Senate.
This is, of course, a problem in what we call double blue states. States where you have two Democrat senators and they just refuse to sign off on a nominee going forward. And so that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing that as we wend our way to a conclusion of getting judges confirmed and filling all these vacancies that existed and some new ones, what’s left over are mostly vacancies or nominees from double blue Democrat states and those are the ones that are just not moving at this point.
EICHER: Now, I understand there’s some debate about whether the time is right for some of the older conservative judges to retire so that President Trump gets a chance to replace them with younger appointees—extending his influence over the courts, potentially for decades beyond that. Anything to that?
LEO: It’s usually ill advised for White Houses and Senates to try to put pressure on judges to retire. Historically that has not worked well. It tends to get sitting judges backs up when they feel excessive pressure to retire. And so I don’t think that that’s a strategy that works particularly well. And it’s not a strategy to my knowledge that is currently being undertaken by this White House.
All of these judges know that there are opportunities for senior service and I think that they just have to independently make those determinations on their own. As the numbers show, quite a number of judges have already taken senior status or outright retired. I do think in a second term you’ll see a large number of additional judges taking senior status just because there’s a very large number of judges that are eligible for that, basically from going back to the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations and even some from the Clinton administration.
So, I do think in a new presidential term you’ll see those numbers starting to creep up again. I don’t know that you’ll see very many the remainder of this year. Normally once you get to the halfway point in an actual election—so June and later—most judges won’t go senior or retire unless there’s some dire need to do so—health reason or something like that.
EICHER: Now, before I let you go, I’d like to take a step even further down the judicial ladder, so to speak, and talk just for a minute about what effect shaping the judiciary has had, or is having, on law students and young lawyers. Are you seeing down in the law schools a little more interest in limited government and originalism?
LEO: Oh, yes, without question. When you have a sizable number of jurists or judges who embrace textualism, originalism, enforcement of the separation of powers, federalism, and other structural constitutional provisions, when you see judges who are really role models for young lawyers and law students embracing those principles with greater frequency and fervor, it has an enormous impact on those law students and young lawyers because it provides legitimacy and credibility to those ideals and principles in a way where when you have a judiciary as devoid of those it’s just a greater challenge to get people to embrace them. So, it’s had an enormous impact that started all the way back in the Reagan era, but it continues to have an enormous impact.
And this crop of judges that the president has very wisely and courageously nominated and appointed, these are young, very smart jurists and they are extremely valuable role models. So, not only has the president showed great foresight in helping to create a judiciary that for at least two generations is going to be transformative jurisprudentially, but he’s also created, I think, a culture or a climate in the law that is going to help to cultivate a whole new generation or two of law students and young lawyers who are going to embrace these principles. That’s a great side benefit to the president’s very thoughtful and strategic agenda.
EICHER: Leonard Leo is an adviser to President Trump and co-chairman of the Federalist Society. It’s an organization dedicated to the philosophy of limited government and an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Mr. Leo, thank you so much for joining us today!
LEO: Thank you very much.
NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Burundi holds presidential election—We start today here in Africa.
People in Burundi headed to the polls last week to vote in a contentious presidential election. The vote was hailed as the first democratic transfer of power in almost 60 years. But the election has been marked by violence and allegations of fraud.
AUDIO: We’ve seen reports of killings, arrests, even disappearances of opposition members in the last few weeks in the run up to the election.
But the government denied claims of problems.
AUDIO: We are so happy to see how the election will be done today. Because…everybody go to votes without problem.
The current president is expected to step down after 15 years in power. But he will retain some influence in a new position he created. It’s called the “supreme guide of patriotism.” And the new president must consult him on issues of national security and unity.
Libyan forces retake airbase—Next, we go to Libya.
AUDIO: [MEN TALKING]
Libya’s military seized a strategic airbase near Tripoli earlier this month. The move is a blow to the Libyan National Army, the rival group trying to claim the capital for more than a year.
Libya has been in chaos since an uprising in 2011. Froeign military influence has exacerbated the conflict. Turkey backs the unity government, while Russia supplies the opposition.
In January, world leaders committed to stop meddling in the conflict, but both sides have continued to receive arms and fighters. A Russian private military contractor sent about 1,200 mercenaries to Libya earlier this year.
The battle for Tripoli has left hundreds dead and displaced more than 200,000 people.
Pakistan plane crash—Next, we go to the Middle East.
AUDIO: [SURVIVOR DESCRIBING CRASH]
A passenger plane crashed in Pakistan last week, killing 97 people. Two passengers survived the crash. The plane was trying to land at an airport in Karachi when its engines failed. The pilot issued a mayday call before the plane crashed into a residential area, damaging 18 homes. Eight people on the ground were injured.
One civil aviation official said the plane may have been unable to lower its landing gear, but the cause of the crash is still unknown. The aircraft had just passed inspection in November.
The crash came just days after Pakistan began allowing commercial flights following the coronavirus lockdown.
Australian researchers test fastest internet ever—Finally, we end today in Australia.
Researchers from two universities say they’ve logged the fastest internet speeds ever recorded. The team replaced about 80 lasers found in existing hardware with a single piece of tech known as a micro-comb. When tested, the data speed hit 44 terabits per second. At that speed, users could download more than 1,000 high-definition movies in less than a second.
Researchers say the new tech could transform self-driving cars, medicine, education, and finance.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
MARY REICHARD: I love going to the movies, don’t you?
But almost all indoor movie theaters are still closed. The good news is an old standby is staging a comeback: the drive-in! Oh, yeah!
Sixty years ago the United States had more than 4,000 of them. It’s now around 300.
But that number is on the rise once again, thanks to new pop-up drive-in theaters…
New Jersey moviegoer Rachel Rose said it’s a fun and safe night out with the family.
ROSE: I am so in support of this. I love social distancing. This is my first drive-in movie.
One pop-up put up a 40-foot screen and moviegoers hear the movie on their radios.
And management says it’s totally safe.
RODIO: When guests arrive on site, what we’ll do is we have a staff member direct them where to park, since we’ve measured out each and every spot. That way they have the ability to, you know, open the tailgate, roll down the windows and enjoy the evening.
Sierra Klotz is a patron who couldn’t be happier to take in a movie and a little fresh air.
KLOTZ: We’ve just been stuck in the house, and then we get this opportunity to actually like get out.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, May 27th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Today, the third in a four-part serial about a small Mississippi town coming to grips with unimaginable loss.
Today marks the third anniversary of a killing spree that took eight lives over Memorial Day weekend 2017. The killer was related to nearly all of the victims. WORLD correspondent Kim Henderson continues with their story—this time: the trial.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF RAIN FALLING]
KIM HENDERSON, CORRESPONDENT: The morning jury selection began in the capital murder trial of Cory Godbolt, the sky thundered. Rain fell in sheets. It was like two-and-a-half years of tears bottled up, coming down all at once.
The families of Godbolt’s eight victims had waited a long time for justice.
NEWSCASTER: Willie Corey Godbolt’s alleged rampage ended here…
Attorneys took five days to settle on jurors. Because of pretrial publicity, all this was done in North Mississippi. The trial took place in a county in the south part of the state, and since jurors were sequestered, every moment counted. Opening arguments started on a Saturday. Court convened on a Sunday. Locals couldn’t recall any other time that had happened.
Daisy Moore attended the trial. She knew Cory Godbolt because he hung out at her grandmother’s house. But that was before he murdered her nephew.
MOORE: It’s been an emotional roller coaster. This is a family member, this is someone we grew up with. But then on the other side of it, it’s like, who really is this person? Like, how could you do those things?
Reporter Therese Apel said the families of victims and witnesses like herself couldn’t wait to get the trial behind them.
APEL: I think there was this big anticipation of getting this trial over with, but you didn’t realize what the trial was going to mean as far as what you’re going to learn, what you’re going to see, who you’re going to see, you know, that kind of thing…
Apel was the first to take the stand. Her video of Godbolt’s confession had become primary evidence. The Clarion-Ledger even sent a lawyer down to protect her source from being named—the one that called her during the night.
Jurors studied the footage of Godbolt and Apel as it played on a screen at the front of the courtroom. Audio here is courtesy of Apel and The Clarion-Ledger.
GODBOLT: My intentions was to have y’all to kill me. But I ran out of bullets. (APEL: It’s a good thing they showed mercy.) Suicide by cop was my intention. I ain’t fit to live, not after what I done. Not in y’all’s eyes or anybody else’s eyes. But God, you know, He forgives you for everything…
Godbolt watched the video, too, surrounded by a trio of defense attorneys. Instead of prison orange, he got to wear a coat and tie to court each day, as well as a distinguished pair of wide-framed glasses. Shayla Edwards found it difficult to be near him.
EDWARDS: When you see sitting in front of you, the man that killed your children, it’s kind of hard…
Judge David Strong warned that it would be an emotional trial, and he was right. Those in the courtroom couldn’t help but react to the frantic 911 calls and gruesome details they heard. Other moments were understated but equally unforgettable, like Sheena Godbolt’s reaction to what the defense called a “happy family photo” of her and her husband with their children.
“Just because it’s on Facebook doesn’t make it real,” came Sheena’s curt reply.
She said she suffered for years at her husband’s hands, leaving when he abused her but coming back because he swore he’d change. Once he even choked her and beat her so badly she required treatment at the hospital.
There was testimony of abuse from the Godbolts’ 12-year-old daughter as well. She took the stand just days after an unnerving incident at the trial. During a lunch break, Godbolt somehow managed to beat on the window of a car where his child was seated.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF TALKING]
Myrtis May has health problems, but she made it to the trial anyway. She’s Sheena’s aunt, and she had experienced trouble of her own with Cory. A year before the shootings, the Lincoln County Justice Court convicted him of “simple assault to create fear” against Myrtis May.
But May wasn’t at the trial because of all that. Or maybe in a way she was. Myrtis May’s daughter, Sheila Burage, was one of the shooting victims.
Six months after the tragedy, she did a deep dive into Scripture. God became her comfort.
MAY: And knowing who He is and how He died for sinners like us. You can’t help but love a God like that. I learned to depend on Him more and more each day. He said: “Lean not to your own understanding, but all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path…”
Still, she misses taking rides with her daughter and the meals she cooked. May also mourns the loss of her son-in-law, another one of the eight victims.
MAY: I miss both of them real, real bad.
May has grieved before, but she says this time has been different.
MAY: I can’t even explain it to you. It’s a hurt that, that only God can bring you back from.
(KH: You feel like He’s doing that?)
I feel like he’s already done that for me.
May, like many others, hoped the trial would bring closure. But after all this time, some in the community were beginning to wonder: Would a conviction be enough to end the bitterness?
NICK EICHER: Kim Henderson returns tomorrow with the last installment in our serial: “A Community Grief.” If you missed any of the previous segments, you can find them all at worldandeverything.org.
Next time: a guilty verdict and healing begins.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, May 27th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney says even in these times, everybody sing!
JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Aside from the convenience of attending church in pajamas, I don’t know of anyone who enjoys online worship services. Excellent teaching can be heard all over the internet, but there’s no substitute for congregational singing.
Early in March, inspiring videos of quarantined Italians serenading each other from their balconies made the rounds. Viva Italia! How fitting for such a musical culture to respond in song!
But all cultures are musical by nature. Music is one of God’s gifts to man, and back when most of it was homemade, every nation had its songs and styles. Two hundred years ago, frontier congregations and community choirs learned a cappella sight-singing through shape notes. Work crews, plantation slaves, and street vendors sang. Everyone participated in music.
Then the phonograph and radio brought Carnegie Hall into every American home. At a twist of the dial, families could listen to the world’s best orchestras, composers, and singers. Over time, amateurs surrendered to the pros: with your favorite music available at Tower Records, why bother to make it yourself? And once iPods and phones delivered the whole spectrum right to our ears, every man became his own concert curator.
But a funny thing happened. The easy access to recorded music has made the general public less musically literate. Check out a YouTube video called “Why Is Modern Music So Awful?” It details how ubiquity bred mediocrity in the pop-music scene. And, some would say, in the church-music scene.
I grew up in a denomination that practiced a cappella singing. Not only did we hear each other’s voices; we heard four-part harmony. Just about everyone participated, even those voices that were mediocre at best, and in a large-enough congregation the effect could be inspiring. In memory I can still hear those basses punching out a counterpoint and altos embroidering the melody line.
The “I’m just not musical” excuse won’t wash. Everyone—except perhaps the tone-deaf few—is musical. You may never have played an instrument, but you possess one, created by God himself. The human voice travels easily and needs only routine maintenance. Which do you think God would rather hear: the worship band, or the voices he made? Could one song per worship service, for instance, be sung without instruments? And could one evening service per quarter be devoted, not just to singing, but learning to sing better? In harmony?
God himself sings, and the universe joins in. The reference in Job 38:7 about morning stars singing together for joy is not just a metaphor; musical frequencies occur in space. The “music of the spheres” accompanies our voices raised in praise. Rather than leaving it to the worship team or choir, every Christian is commanded to sing. Once we’re together again, couldn’t we become a bit more intentional about it?
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Zoos are starting to reopen in some parts of the country. But the months-long stay-at-home orders have hit their budgets hard.
And museums are also ready to welcome back visitors. But smaller-than-normal crowds mean the shutdown pain isn’t over yet.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The psalmist says, “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Go now in grace and peace.