The “Is The Major Questions Doctrine Bogus?” Edition

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: This Ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. Enjoy.

David Plotz: Hello and welcome to the Slate Political Gabfest.

David Plotz: For July seven, 2022. It’s the is the major questions doctrine Bogus Edition. I’m David Plotz of City Cast. I’m in Vermont. Not my usual haunt of Washington, D.C.. I mean. Green and beautiful Vermont. I’m joined, as ever, by Emily Bazelon of The New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School in New Haven. Hello, Emily.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Hey, David.

David Plotz: And by John DICKERSON of CBS News. Everything at CBS of all possible roles at CBS in New York City. Hello, John.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Even a Kaiser.

David Plotz: Roll. Oh, my gosh. You’re representing World War One German interests on CBS. I knew that CBS journalists were compromised. I didn’t realize how compromised they were. Well, this week on the Gabfest a Supreme Court carousel. First, how ginormous is the Supreme Court’s decision to bar the EPA from regulating CO2 emissions in the way that they wanted to regulate CO2 emissions? Then also, how ginormous is the Supreme Court taking a case that could overturn free and fair presidential elections? And then how will the Highland Park shooting affect thinking about guns and vulnerable young people?

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David Plotz: Plus, of course, we will have cocktail chatter this week. It’s going to be all about newly minted and basically made up legal doctrines. And the next topic we’re going to talk about something called the independent state legislature doctrine. But first, something that sounds so flimsy that maybe somebody just made it up to win a middle school debate. The Major Questions Doctrine Emily Bazelon. What is the major questions? Doctrine How is it confected out of nowhere? And how does it signal a massive reordering of the power of the federal government?

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: The Major Questions Doctrine has very recently appeared on the horizons of the Supreme Court. It’s a function of this new court since Justice Barrett joined it. It claims to have precedents that go back further. But this doctrine was never called this before, and it didn’t function in this way. Basically, what Chief Justice John Roberts is saying in his majority opinion striking down this EPA rule that is from the Obama era, never actually went into effect.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Side note, why is the court deciding this case at all? No answer to that question. Anyway, the idea is that there are just cases in which an agency like the EPA is just doing too much. They are, quote, making extraordinary new decisions that have economic and political significance. This seems extremely squishy and subjective. It’s not textualist, which would seem like a problem for the conservatives in the majority, since they have made a big deal of textualism in the past.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And in this particular instance, what the EPA was doing was based on part of the Clean Air Act that said that the EPA is supposed to come up with the best system for pollution reduction. But to the majority, that’s just not good enough because this was a big deal or would have been a big deal if it had ever gone into effect. And so they said, sorry, EPA, you can’t do this. And now we have this whole new doctrine to roll out, you know, maybe whenever we don’t like an agency action.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: So weren’t they saying that basically the EPA had overstepped the legislative authority granted to it by Congress that could that that they interpreted the EPA’s mandate to be limited to specific actions related to specific plants and that it couldn’t do make a broad judgment about certain kinds of plants, which seemed like more garden variety. I mean, I get that everybody says this is and I’m just confused about why why that’s not. I mean, they may be wrong. They may be wrong about how limited the agency abilities are. But that seemed more what they were ruling on.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Well, I guess I’m not sure how what you just said contradicts what I just said. So I’m just confused by the question as well.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: I guess one is just interpreting a specific set of facts and the other is like they made up this whole thing. I mean, isn’t their job to decide whether agencies have overstepped the authority given to them by Congress that that seems within the keeping with what the Supreme Court does? And then you can say, well, it’s within keeping with what they do, but then they just did it poorly. The other is they made up this whole new thing that doesn’t exist at all, but it seems like it does exist that the Supreme Court is there to rule on whether an agency has abided by the instructions given to it by Congress.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah, the second thing is totally right. Yes, the Supreme Court does exist to have some oversight of or it has taken some oversight over the actions of federal agencies. But previously there’s been a lot of deference. So, you know, we have this rule. It’s called Chevron deference. So if the statute is ambiguous, then the courts usually defer to the agency interpretation. And the idea is that the agencies are the experts and the judges are not, and they’re going to stay out of it.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: This isn’t even necessarily, though, an ambiguous like text in the statute, because what the statute says is there’s the Clean Air Act. The EPA is supposed to create numerical, quote, standards of performance for certain kinds of pollution and then come up with the, quote, best system for reducing emissions. And the issue here was that for the first time, the EPA was talking about making what were called like generational shifts in the way power plants operating. So instead of saying the power plants had to reduce emissions, like they had to put in a whole new system. So the EPA was taking a new big step.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: But the issue that I was highlighting is what’s the Supreme Court’s basis for saying the EPA can’t do that? It wasn’t, oh, the text doesn’t give you permission or we’re going to show deference because we think it’s ambiguous. It was well, yeah, the Texas based system, but we think this is a, quote, extraordinary new action. And now we’re going to roll out this new major questions, justification for saying you can’t do it. Does that make.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Sense? And the major questions, justification essentially says when it’s a really big deal that the founders never intended to hand over that much power from the legislature.

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David Plotz: Congress didn’t intend to hand over that much power to the EPA. But then it puts the decision about what is a major question in the hands of a judge who’s saying, well, that’s a really big question. I think that’s a really big question, guys. So I think that’s a major question. And therefore, you should have been deferred to Congress, whereas it appears to me that the answer to this is, is if Congress thinks it’s a really big deal and Congress doesn’t like what the EPA is doing, then Congress can presumably say EPA do not regulate power plants in this way over Congress’s authority.

David Plotz: To be ambiguous is not for a judge to say, I read it this way. It’s for Congress to say, If we don’t like what this agency is doing, we’re going to stop the agency from doing it. We have 50 different ways to do it through appropriations, through new legislation, through, you know, getting rid of old legislation. There’s all kinds of mechanisms that Congress has. But I think what’s weird about this is that that the court imagines I mean, the Congress the court is protecting these rights of Congress, which Congress can vindicate itself.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Going back to the where they find justification for this Emily. So there’s the question of what’s major and what’s minor. But then they argue basically that the framers never wanted to hand over that much power, that the legislature was never supposed to hand over that much power to the executive. And that and that that’s where they tried to that’s where they try to locate this in their originalism framework. And then there’s a lot of scholarship arguing that that’s crazy because there are all of these instances contemporaneous to the creation of the Constitution that showed it was the framers intent to have Congress. Basically, when Congress decides to hand over authority, that’s the way it’s supposed to work so that that’s where their originalism falls apart. So there’s both the question of whether this original reading of the Constitution and then this question of who determines what is and what isn’t a major question.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah. So all of that that you just said, John, is true. It’s sort of in the background of this decision because what you just laid out is more formally called the. Nondelegation doctrine. And it’s something that Justice Neil Gorsuch has been pushing really hard. But you’re right, the originalist justification for that whole idea has really, really fallen apart. Thanks to some work by Julia morgenstern and Nicholas Bagley at the University of Michigan Law School. They’ve really shredded that. And so what I see happening in this opinion is Roberts kind of moving on from that.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: The impetus is similar, but now we’re going to talk about this other thing called the Major Questions Doctrine, which is not originalist. I mean, the first precedent they cite is from the early 2000. That has to do with the FDA’s power to regulate tobacco. And the court at the time did not say there was something called the Major Questions Doctrine, and they weren’t doing what the new majority kind of says they were doing in any clear way.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And so what’s at issue here to take a step back is like the Clean Power Act, the Clean Air Act. These are major pieces of legislation from the 1970s, and they were written arguably to be far seeing. Congress talked about regulating pollution into the future and they charged agencies with coming up with the best system. Now we’re having this problem of carbon emissions, which is different from the pollution issues that the EPA and Congress were confronting in the seventies. But the law is written in what Justice Kagan, in her dissent, calls this capacious manner that allows the EPA and presumably is charging the EPA with addressing this problem.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And essentially, the court is saying, we think this is too big a deal and it’s new. And so we don’t think this is what Congress meant and we’re going to stop this. And that’s where I think David’s correct that you’re talking about the court really abrogating itself a lot of power here, when, in fact, the legislature could totally say, oh, EPA, you’re doing it wrong. We’re going to, you know, in a in these different ways, rein you in. And Congress has not said that.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And the Congress has done that plenty of times before. I mean, where this comes in to me is that there was this, of course, huge struggle in during FDR, his administration, where he said basically all the things that the administrative state has to do, the president is too constrained and can’t do. So the presidency is impossible. So you have to outfit the presidency for modern life. But he wasn’t the first one to do that. When Teddy Roosevelt tried to do the same thing, Congress actually passed a law, the Tawney amendment, which prohibited federal funds being spent on trying to do anything to improve presidential administration.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: So Congress did exactly what David saying, but it did it in this hugely blanket way, which was not only can you not address issues X, Y and Z, you can’t even do the study to figure out whether issue X, Y and Z needs to be addressed. And it’s it’s this conflict between modern society which moves faster than Congress and the executive branch’s job, which is to basically carry out what Congress asked to do.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And if you take the power away from the executive branch where the experts are and try to put it back into the legislature, a if you look at what’s happened to Congress, you’ve they’ve handed over all the power from the committees basically to the leadership. So to the extent that there are experts in Congress who can handle these big questions, they’ve had a lot of their power reduced because committees don’t have the role they used to have. Committees are where the experts said in Congress, but now much of it is driven by the leadership of the party, which is making more political decisions. And secondly, when you do that, you hand it over basically to the lobbyists and who have a greater influence over Congress. So it has these all these other messed up effects with the way modern lawmaking is made.

David Plotz: I also want to note that the major questions, Doctor, I think, is something we’re going to hear a lot about with a conservative court and a Democratic president. Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to hear a lot about it when we have a. Republican president, a conservative court. I suspect we’re gonna hear a lot about the unitary executive and the need for the executive to act an unfettered way and the need for the executive not to be constrained. Because this is this is a doctrine which can be rolled out at your convenience and then and rolled back in and put under the tarp when you don’t want to.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Is there a policy issue where the conservatives. So unitary executive You’re exactly right. But is that I’m trying to think of a policy issue where where immigration.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: The census.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Right. So on some things like the Affordable Care Act, basically when Congress couldn’t answer any thorny issues, they basically said it’ll be figured out by the agencies and there is a way in which. So if we accept for the moment that the only way you can keep pace with modernity is to have experts who pay attention to the issue area and can can anticipate future challenges and put policy in place to meet them. And that’s a benefit of having a strong administrative state. There is the downside, which is that it encourages Congress to not answer some difficult questions and basically say this will be figured out in rulemaking by the agencies, and that is a way in which the agencies go on and do things that that separate from what the original intent of the legislators were. That’s just a laziness on the part of of the legislature to answer hard questions.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yes, absolutely. I mean, one way of thinking about this is, in an ideal world, you would have Congress get in there and work out more of the details and have its own expertise and give really clear direction. We live in a world of enormous regulatory complexity in which Congress often fails to do that. So would you rather have the agency experts figuring this stuff out? That’s like door number one. Would you rather have judges saying, we think the agency got this wrong, we’re not elected, but like, no.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And if you pick door number two, then I think you have to recognize the point you made earlier, John, that truly the people who will be writing the rules are the corporate lobbyists, because congressional staffs, for the reasons that you just laid out, are not equipped to do this. And the sort of structure of how Congress functions with the leadership taking more of a role doesn’t really allow for that. So in some ways, this is all about the dysfunction of Congress, right? I mean, in an ideal world, the Clean Power and Clean Air Act from the 1970s would not be our tools for fighting climate change and carbon emissions. We would have some new laws that were super clear. But we don’t live in that world.

David Plotz: I want to make three very quick points to get us out of here. Number one, just Emily you threw at this at the very beginning. It is really weird that the Supreme Court took this case. There is no live controversy. The policy goals that the Clean Power Plan was supposed to meet have already been met. There is no policy that the Biden administration has or is considering that has anything to do with what is being litigated here. And it seems that it’s entirely speculative. And the court essentially said, oh, it’s speculative that this could affect anyone. And I thought that went to the very heart of what the Supreme Court, which was supposed to do. It’s only supposed to resolve life controversies. That’s number one.

David Plotz: Number two, this, I think, is another step towards degrading the quality of people who work in the federal government. If you think you are going to go work somewhere and the policies you’re going to work on are not going to be able to take effect or you’re not going to be able to work on big issues. You’re going to be less likely to want to go work on a big energy policy issue for the federal government. And I suspect that they will get worse employees and thus make worse policy in the future because of things like this. This is part of the general conservative assault on the federal government and on the bureaucracy to make it work worse. And that’s a bummer.

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David Plotz: And then finally, this was not one of those cases where John Roberts was standing outside the door telling, you know, Neal and Sam and Clarence, stop it. Like, don’t do it, guys. Don’t do it. The teachers coming back, it was him driving the getaway car. This is like if Roberts is part of the team on this, this is not him being separate. So these are just three small point slate plus members. You get bonus segments on the Gabfest and other Slate podcasts and member exclusive episodes on shows like Slow Burn, an Amicus and no ads on any podcasts.

David Plotz: And you will get a Slate Plus bonus segment this week. What chores do you need to master for a happy life where you are respected by your loved ones and by the people around you? What are the chores you need to master? What chores do not need to bother to master. I was thinking about this as I am with my children and thinking about what they need to know how to do.

David Plotz: So go to Slate.com, slash Gabfest plus. Okay. Now we move on from. The Major questions doctrine two The Independent State Legislature Theory or doctrine? What is it? Where does it come from? What is the case that the Supreme Court is hearing that could legitimize it? Again, we turn to our Supreme Court legal scholar, John DICKERSON. Now Emily Bazelon.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Know, John wants to talk all about this case. The Supreme Court decided to hear a case in its next term called More versus Harper, which is the case a lot of election law experts have been watching with a lot of foreboding because it opens up this question of what’s called the independent state legislature theory. This is the idea that when the Constitution says in its election clause, quote, the times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof. That it only meant the legislature divorced from the state courts, state agencies and the governor’s office. That is not how the Supreme Court has previously interpreted the elections cause. Previously the idea was okay, sure, the legislature makes the rules for federal elections, but all these other parts of the state government play a role in interpreting and enforcing those rules.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And so what happened in this particular case was that there was a partisan gerrymander in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Supreme Court sent the map back and then the legislature said, no, no, no, there basically should be no judicial review of this map. That would really change how we decide fairness questions and questions for administering election.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: So one previous example of this was in the 2020 election, there was this question of mail in ballots in Pennsylvania. And when they had to come in and the law wasn’t totally clear and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court basically gave voters a little more grace time to get their ballots in. Well, if there is no state court supervision of the legislature’s rules, then you don’t have any kind of wiggle room like that. And so that’s the sort of immediate question in this case, which is already big and important.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: But there’s a secondary question, which is another part of the Constitution has a similar statement about the legislature in terms of choosing electors for the Electoral College. And so if you imagine a world in which the Supreme Court says for the first time legislature only means the legislature, not the rest of the state government. Then you imagine state legislatures being able to change how electors are chosen in a way that could take that power from the voters and give it to the legislature itself without any kind of independent state constitutional review or role for a governor, etc.. And that is like really a huge, huge deal for American democracy.

David Plotz: One of the things that I found interesting about this was that in the case of North Carolina, in this case, that issue, the state legislature itself had delegated responsibilities to the courts. The state had said the court should review these things. And so this would be the Supreme Court coming in and saying to truly protect state legislatures, we have to stop state legislatures from doing the thing that they did, which was to delegate it. It’s kind of like the state legislature did it. It said, we’re going to regulate the time, place and manner of our elections by having the state Supreme Court have a role here. And and the Supreme Court is then saying, well, by letting anybody else do any of the work, you have made it unconstitutional, which seems crazy.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I know there’s a small part of me that thinks that those facts are such poor facts for launching this independent state legislature doctrine onto the country that like, maybe there aren’t five votes for doing it because it just seems like you would want to pick a state in which there hadn’t been that delegation of authority. It would just be like easier to get there.

David Plotz: Why do you guys think the Supreme Court seems really unconcerned with the outcome of its decisions on democracy itself? We’re looking at this in a very rigorous constitutional way. And money is free speech and and corporations have the right to free speech in elections, and that can spend infinitely in the election and consequences be damned. Or the extreme partisan gerrymandering is. It’s just the legislature doing its part. Its effects on democracy are not for us to worry about.

David Plotz: Like at some point, I think of the people on the Supreme Court is really being idealistic and wanting America to work well and wanting democracy to work well. And it’s odd that they are so uninterested in outcomes that are clearly bad for democracy. I don’t think there’s anyone that thinks partisan gerrymandering is great for democracy, but they don’t want to think about outcomes. This Court And this would be another example like allowing state legislatures this vast sweeping power over election seems like manifestly a stupid idea. And yet there they go.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Maybe the gerrymandering definitely does this. You could imagine somebody believing that decisions just as a basic premise, that decisions are always better made by legislatures. The reason gerrymandering runs afoul of that is that it locks in supremacy and retards the refreshing of the popular will that’s supposed to happen through elections. But if you believe that the popular will is refreshed through elections where ideas are, you know, debated in good faith and resolutions are sanctified by the smart voters, then you could imagine, you know, leave as many decisions in the hands of those people as possible. If you did believe that, it seems hard to then support something that basically locks out voters based on your ability to draw geographical lines.

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David Plotz: I say this in the nicest possible way John retards. The refreshing of the popular will is a phrase that I feel like it’s some 1950s political scientist came up with and it’s like made his career. It’s like he I think you just coined that on the spot. It’s a it’s a phrase that Rick.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And I did.

David Plotz: Rings of having the kind of certainty of a century worth of political thinking behind it. Congratulations.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Well, if I had a more clearly thought out argument, I would have used it.

David Plotz: I thought it was a beautiful phrase.

David Plotz: Anyway, sorry, Emily.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I mean, I think there’s a few ways of thinking about your question. One is the just cynical one, which is that the Supreme Court conservatives are interested in keeping their own party in power, and they’ll find a way to do that. And you can go back to Bush versus Gore for that kind of realist example. Another way of thinking about this is that the idea of thinking about purpose and consequences, the sort of pragmatic take on law, is dimming at the Supreme Court. I mean, this is what Justice Breyer believed in and stood for and wrote about a ton. And I mean, Justice Kagan is a big proponent of it as well.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And sometimes you see other liberal justices get interested in this, but it’s just not originalist. It’s not a kind of wooden faithfulness to the text, although we’re seeing, you know, as our previous segment described, a great selectivity about when the conservatives decide to invoke that. But that idea, that part of the role of the judge is to think about the consequences, like what is going to happen if we do. This is just not how the conservative justices see their role. And they’re also sometimes very bad empiricists.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: So, you know, you were talking about campaign finance reform, David, which is a great example of what you’re talking about. And when you go back to Justice Kennedy’s opinion, striking down the McCain-Feingold Act, which was like this big blow to campaign finance reform, he was like, oh, don’t worry, this kind of corruption is just not really a problem. And we’re not going to see money have this, like, huge influence in politics and it’s just wrong. Like, he was just empirically incorrect. There’s been lots of work since then to show how wrong he was, but somehow it doesn’t matter. That doesn’t change the court’s thinking. They don’t necessarily, at least not as a body, not all of them. They don’t respond to evidence. They don’t course. Correct because of evidence. And, you know, to me, that’s just very deeply frustrating to watch.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: The entire idea of trying to go back as somebody who has tried and found unending complexity in trying to figure out what the framers thought, what they not just what they said, but what they actually thought. Because often, like all people, what they say to reach a certain goal is different from what they actually believe and what they say. To reach a goal that they can get consensus and agreement on is different than what they would believe and want for the country.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And so to untangle all of that and try to come up with these rulings seems to me to be incredibly impossible. So you have a misreading of the empirical data in the moment and also an incredibly difficult task which obviously has the benefit because it’s so difficult of allowing you to stitch any quote you want to get what you want. So I recognize the utility in originalism for that purpose, but it seems that there’s also some ignoring of new scholarship about what the prevailing thinking was at the time. What I don’t get is legislatures are created by state constitutions. So it seems like that’s a foundational complexity here. And secondly, it does seem like the founding generation would have been and was skeptical of legislatures that could pick their own rules for how to put themselves and others in office, that this would have been a place where they would want some separation of power. Otherwise, you have the people making the rules of the game who benefit from the rules of the game.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah, 100%. I mean, the reason the court has not interpreted the elections and Electoral College clauses of the Constitution to mean just the legislature stripped away from all the other parts of the state government is like there are some pretty good indications from the evidence at the founding that that is not at all what the founders intended. So, you know, the history, the text, looking at what the meaning of the words were at the time, like that should be part of the calculus. But what I find so honestly bizarre about this sort of new set of Supreme Court ways. The thinking is you end up with these deeply intricate, complicated discussions of the 18th century with nothing about the present. Like, I’m okay with some section of the opinion that’s about the meaning of the founding. But I would also like to have some sense that the Constitution has some contemporary meaning and relevance and import, and we’ve just like lost that part and it’s really striking.

David Plotz: Yeah, I was so struck, Emily, by your comment of the live show, which I know I’m sure is not original to you, but I’d never really thought about the fact that when you interpret the Constitution and you say, we have to look back at how these people thought in the 18th century, you’re saying we look back to a time when black Americans were enslaved and had literally no role, when women were chattel and had no role and were not voting, when huge swathes of the population, the white population, were not allowed to vote, and that we should assume that all the thinking that was done by this group, without the inclusion of all these other folks who were Americans at the time, that should carry weight all the way into the 22nd century. Seems nuts.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah, it’s a big problem, that’s for sure. It’s not getting us to good outcomes either, to just be very means and ends thinking.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And also, let’s imagine you believe the outcome is good, the explanation for it, and the durability of those outcomes when the reasoning behind them seems like let’s imagine a can opener. You don’t have people going, Oh, I see that reasoning that makes sense for the way we should run this railroad so that even if you believed in where the train is headed, you have no idea why it’s going in that direction.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Totally. And they’re also at odds with, you know, a whole other strand of conservative judicial thinking, which is that it’s the role of the courts to be more modest, that, you know, you are very careful about the democracy and protecting it. And you understand that you’re unelected and you don’t impose this kind of maximalist judicial supremacy on the country like we’ve really, really left that behind. And there’s something very radical about that. It’s not conservative at all in the sense of preserving the status quo and moving slowly and not breaking things all that way of thinking it’s gone.

David Plotz: The Highland Park shooting is the latest horror in a year that has seen an obscene number of mass shootings and and sort of mass shootings in quite symbolic and profound ways in Buffalo. There was a racist massacre at a supermarket in Uvalde. There was the slaughter of schoolchildren abetted by police incompetence in Highland Park, an attack on the kind of most American of institutions. The Independence Day parade. The Highland Park attack came just a few days after Congress passed the first meaningful and put meaningful in quotes gun legislation years and after the Supreme Court yet again struck down a blue state gun law. So, I mean, it’s really hard to have these conversations. It’s very it’s just like painful. And the stories from these shootings are so terrible and the frustration that certainly I feel about how willfully ignorant and incompetent we are about dealing with it.

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David Plotz: And this goes back to, Emily, your point about the Supreme Court. They’re bad empiricists. We’re all bad empiricists. We all know that like every other country in the world also has unstable young men, also has young men who are having mental problems, also of young men who want weapons. And every other country in the world has an idea for how to deal with it, which is just make it harder for people to get guns, make the guns that you can get fired less and have more roadblocks in the way in between a young, unstable man who has a propensity to violence and getting his hands on an extremely powerful weapon that can cause immense amounts of violence and damage and tragedy.

David Plotz: So just to repeat this, the Highland Park suspect is another example of a type we’re seeing over and over again the mentally unstable young man who is indicated more than once that he’s a threat to his families and others, who’s then legally buying weapons with the support of a close relative. And will the new law, John, do anything to make this less likely?

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: I don’t believe it will I the portion of the law that I think is the most relevant and check me if I’m wrong here. But the other part of the new bill that would matter is that it delays the purchase period or background check period for anybody under 21 for a purchase. And you could imagine and you have to do some pretty heavy imaginary work here that a ten day waiting period might have surfaced, these two past run ins with the law, but the run ins with the law ended up showing the weakness of the red flag laws.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And the experts who say the reason it’s so hard to to ferret out some of these killers is that though there is, you know. The phone line and things they say. And certainly there was a shooting that was appears to have been thwarted in Richmond by someone who overheard someone threatening to go on a mass shooting spree. They reported it and they found out the guy had weaponry and 234 rounds of ammunition or something. And so the plot seems to have been foiled.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: So there are ways in which these killers can be identified. Half of them have made threats before. But when the switch gets thrown and they move from ideation to action, that can be really hard to to grab them in that moment. And in this case, it shows these two incidents where authorities once when the shooter was threatening to kill everyone, the authorities came and took away 19 knives. The dad basically said they were his or something. Anyway, that was the end of that. Then there was another instance where state police received a clear and present danger report. They didn’t have enough to do anything. And then when the shooter went and applied for the firearms in 2020 and 2021, those weren’t a part of denying him because nothing had been brought up at the time.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: So what it all makes me feel like is you can try to design red flag laws as all day long and you’re just never going to be able to get, you know, without having a surveillance state. And so I don’t understand why that doesn’t drive people to the conclusion, hey, maybe we shouldn’t have so much easily available high firepower machinery around for people who are so hard to grab when they go from ideation to snapping. And the idea that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun seems that obviously wasn’t the case in Highland Park. So and it’s not the case a lot of times.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: So you’re right. I find this desperately depressing. And I don’t know whether the longer waiting period would have mattered in in his case because he had his father vouch for him. So in that case, you know, when somebody appears otherwise to have met the thresholds for federal background checks, how do you stop them?

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I mean, I think the distinction you’re making is such an important one. Like we can try to set up background checks, but they’re just going to fail sometimes, like, right. These red flag laws are not nothing. Like I’m all for it. I’m glad that there’s some, you know, greater background checks for people under the age of 21 in this law. And I also think it’s important that the provisions for if you have a history of domestic violence have been toughened in terms of not being able to get weapons. And there are some provisions about trying to do more to stop straw purchases, which are also a big problem. Okay, all fine. But those are all kind of these like second order measures we could be taking as opposed to just saying that most people in almost all circumstances should not have machine guns. These things where you can’t just kill multiple people, like that’s the first order thing that you do.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Except not ensuring for the purposes of reducing mass shootings. Because if more if the majority of gun deaths are from suicide, then that’s a whole other kettle of fish. But for the kind of massacre we’re talking about, there is empirical evidence that red flag laws have had some, as you say, benefit, but they’re just doesn’t seem like you can.

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David Plotz: I would take it further. I’m sure Emily would take it further, too, which is that it’s not simply it is absolutely the case that you should regulate the amount of, you know, the size of magazines and make it very hard for these extremely powerful weapons to people to buy them. I mean, no, essentially, no one should be allowed to buy this. I mean, your point about the good guys with guns, the good guys with guns are outgunned because cops are not carrying a AR 15 around and they would be hideously unsafe if they were carrying teens around. There’s also the part which is the Supreme Court is now making it harder and harder for states just to regulate that run of the mill guns and run of the mill guns. The more run of the mill guns there are in the society and in a state, in a town, in a country, the more suicide there is, the more those guns get in the hands of the wrong people, the more kids get their hands on them and they’re accidental deaths.

David Plotz: So it’s not simply like, let’s regulate. It’s there’s so many obvious things, as we’ve all pointed out, and the obvious things we have just chosen as a society, as we’ve said 100 times, we’ve chosen this perverse, grotesque idea of liberty. People have the perception of they are more free, they have more liberty when they can carry the gun to protect themselves. And when, in fact, what about my liberty, my freedom from fear, my freedom from the fear of death, my freedom for my child to move around safely in the world? And we have this absolutely perverse sense of what liberty is. And the Supreme Court has confounded it with its rulings. And the it’s just makes me sick.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: You know, that point about guns just sloshing around in the non AR 15 style rifles is a great point. Lots and lots of gun deaths happen as a result of interpersonal just somebody losing it. And like this, not in Georgia who was pissed at another driver. He tried to pass them and just open fire on the other car. That that’s there’s a lot more of that going on, even though these massacres are so horrific and that the more guns that are around, the more of those kinds of snapping, you know, interpersonal relationship is going to is going to be possible.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Can I say one other thing about this new bill? All the money for school safety. When I interviewed Dr. Jillian Peterson and James Densely, who are the rich at research who started the violence project, they said school security, that’s fine. But what ends up happening in most of these school shootings is they’ve gone back and studied all of the massacres since the sixties. The perpetrators usually go to the school, so they get in because they’re allowed in their students. And so, you know, all the hardening of doors is of limited utility. When somebody can walk in because they go to school there and are allowed to come in the doors. And the second thing is the having armed guards at schools, which is also one of the responses here distinct obviously from what happened in Highland Park. But they said most of these shooters are anxious to commit suicide, that these are just should be considered really suicide attempts. They’re just that and that what happens is if you have an armed guard, if your intention is suicide, that’s not a real impediment.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And and finally, a lot of these laws and I think this is squishier, so I don’t want to attribute this to them, but for a lot of the one of the things they do argue is that the problem with young white men in America, which manifests itself in a lot of different ways, some of it is in suicides in general and opioid addiction. And then these these 18, you know, average age 18 year old white male shooters comes from these sense, this alienation.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And in fact, like the shooter in Highland Park getting past all of the roadblocks and the locked doors and the security officer actually gives them purpose in their life. And so it becomes a kind of a meaning making exercise that they can then and in this final explosion. And so there is the possibility that some of the roadblocks that are added actually create a kind of appeal, not to mention the larger appeal of the media in the way these are treated. But I think all of those perverse effects don’t really get to talk too much about either.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah, that is so haunting. And I just it really lines up with this dread I’ve been feeling with every media report, which is you just feel like I had this kind of idea that sometimes these public massacres came in twos or threes, but now it just seems like we’re having a steady drumbeat of them almost. And that there’s this way in which like one leads to the next, that the attention, no matter how careful the media is like, to not sensationalize the killer or try to, you know, put their name and picture all over the place, like there is this burst of attention, even if it’s completely inglorious. And I really, really worry about the pattern we’re creating. And everything you’re saying really fits with that just sense of dread that I feel.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And one other piece of data they have from their study is that is that even if you don’t mention the name of the shooter, which I have no idea who it was who did the shooting in Buffalo, thankfully. But what happened afterwards was all of that discussion about replacement theory. Yeah. And so that that creates the environment you’re talking about so that somebody who is unstable, you know, they, they say, oh, suddenly everybody’s talking about the ideas behind this shooting and that that even when the media is trying not to mention the name, nevertheless creates kind of an attraction by covering the story, even in its side elements.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah, I was wondering about that. You know, Highland Park is heavily Jewish and there were some reports that this shooter had tried to enter a synagogue at some point before this massacre took place. And, you know, we don’t have, I don’t think, any proof that this was driven by anti-Semitism. But and then it becomes like, well, it’s important to mention this as a possibility, or is that actually counterproductive? Because then you’re sort of adding this toxic hate strain to the discussion of this? I don’t know. It’s so just so bad. All of it.

David Plotz: Let’s go to cocktail chatter, which hopefully will be more jolly and heartening. Emily, when you are contemplating the yawning chasm of human existence, what will you be chattering about with your loved ones?

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I am really interested in a Title nine case that is taking place in Oregon. The plaintiff’s name is Nicole Gilliland, and she was a student at a community college in southwestern Oregon. She was a nursing student. And her allegation is that it came out at school that she had a history of being an actress in adult films years earlier, and that basically they tried to like drum her out of the school and make it really hard for her to be a student because they found out about this history that she had as an adult actress and that someone said to. Her like you have to be a classy woman to be a nurse. And the administration started holding that against her. And it’s a Title nine claim.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: So the idea is that this is a form of sex discrimination that, you know, a past involved in some way in the sex industry should not tarnish you so that you can pursue your nursing goals. And I just think it’s really impressive that Nikole Jill Land is bringing this case instead of running away from her past, is really trying to make the point that she should be able to go on with her life in whatever way she chooses and, you know, trying to protect other people from this kind of discrimination. So the case is currently having a trial. It’s not resolved. I’m just watching it with a lot of interest.

David Plotz: I mean, I do not think someone should be discriminated against because of their background working in adult films, pornography, whatever, you know, whatever it is. I absolutely don’t. But I don’t. Why is that a form of sex discrimination?

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: If you’re being told that you have to be a classy woman to be a nurse, that’s like a sex stereotype.

David Plotz: Well, if you’re being told you have to be a classy woman, okay? If you’re being told you have to be a classy woman. Yes, but not if you are saying, oh, you. Because lots of men act in these films as well.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And Oh, I don’t mean that you can’t you could be a man and bring this kind of claim to. Right. It’s not like that. You would have to be a woman to invoke Title nine here. But in this particular set of facts, I think that we’re talking about a form of sex discrimination. It’s like has to do with there is a whole line of Supreme Court cases. There has been about sex stereotypes being a problem. And I think this fits pretty well.

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David Plotz: Is it legal to discriminate against someone because of the work that they’ve done?

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I mean, I guess I sort of hope not. But it would depend on whether your job or your admission was like what kind of rights you had coming in. I think in a Title nine context, for the most part, no. Unless you had like failed to disclose something. I mean, if you are guilty of fraud and you hadn’t told the school and they had asked you like then, yeah, they could kick you out for that. So I’m not sure.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Well, couldn’t you, if you were being hired to be an accountant and you’d been convicted of fraud, can they argue that your past behavior is inconsistent with the job you’re asking?

David Plotz: Yes. I think being a criminal is a form of discrimination that we accept.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: But they’re starting to be more constraints on that. Right. I mean, schools often do ask you in the admissions process to sign that you like to divulge whether you have any criminal record and explain it. And they ask you to be honest about it, what they’re allowed to do with that information. I mean, I think in some cases, like John, the one you just gave is maybe the easiest. It would be relevant. I mean, you could also argue that if you had a history of crimes of violence like the school could worry that you were going to endanger the school community. But you want to have limits on this. People should be able to move on.

David Plotz: Of course. Of course. I just I’m just imagining a public school system, discovering that one of their teachers had been an adult film performer for years and years. And what the response would be and whether there would be any right for the school to say, you know what, this is disruptive or this sets a bad role model. This is a bad role model. Oh, is that a form of discrimination? Is that a form of discrimination that is permitted or not?

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I mean, I really hope it’s not. And I hope this case leads to some good law on that, because you want people to be able to move on and you don’t want to have, you know, a kind of wooden notion of morality and really just shaming and stigma, driving important decisions like this.

David Plotz: For sure. I absolutely agree. I’m just wondering, actually, if it is legal, if that form of discrimination is legal because it’s not a protected class?

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Well, I think that move this case is trying to make, it’s trying to show that it’s a form of discrimination that has to do with sex.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: If there was some claim that acting in those films affected your ability to do the nursing job itself, but I mean to say.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: It is ridiculous. Sure, sure, sure, sure.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: I know, I know. But I’m saying that would be the test would be like I can’t even think of a previous job you could have had that would disqualify you as a nurse. I mean, I suppose if you were like a murderer, but then again, that’s not a job, that’s a crime. So that’s what’s interesting in your question, David. Forget the facts of this case, whether there’s a specific job you could have held.

David Plotz: Well, I mean, there are licensing requirements of the bar. To pass the bar, you have to meet some sort of moral standard that the legal wizard that the legal guild has set.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yes, that’s totally true. And this has been an issue for people with criminal histories. Are they admitted any way? Is that completely discretionary in terms of the state bar? Do they have some rights, too? And and, you know, that stuff gets litigated.

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David Plotz: John, what’s your chatter?

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Two chatters one quickly. The saga of Boris Johnson, who has had a rough and bumpy period as prime minister a month ago, 40% of his conservatives voted against him in a test of support. He stayed in office but lost support within his party for a variety of things, including the fact that it was turned out that he had drinks parties at his residence during COVID lockdown, which was against the policies of his administration. And then he wasn’t forthright about it. More recently, he was caught for not being forthright about a senior adviser he had appointed and whether he had been told about that adviser’s sexual assault on men or allegations of it. He said he hadn’t been told. His cabinet ministers went out and repeated that, defended Johnson, saying he hadn’t been told. He hadn’t been told. And then woops, the beginning of this week he said, well, it turns out I had been told I just forgot. Nobody believed that explanation, including many, many, many of his cabinet ministers.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: So there was an experience on Tuesday and Wednesday in which Sky News in Britain was just keeping a running counter of the members of the Prime Minister’s party who were resigning or speaking out against him. And it feels like we didn’t have a January six committee hearing this week, but it felt like there was a remote January six hearing over in England because it was an instance in which people aligned with a specific party and a specific person who was breaking with the standards of the job abandoned him based on the principle which we teach our children and used to be basically understood throughout the land, that when you lie down with a dog, you get fleas, that when you associate yourself with somebody who breaks standards, norms and proper behaviour and the law that you don’t want to be associated with them, and that when you’re a part of a collective institution, that that institution is smeared and sullied by rallying around behaviour that is antithetical to the institution. That all used to be normal. It’s not normal anymore.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: One of the the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he resigned, wrote that I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that’s why I am resigning. It wasn’t just about what Boris Johnson had done wrong, but that there were standards of public behaviour that were being destroyed by those who would seek to rally around him. And that’s why nobody did anyway. It’s a lesson for those who continue to rally around former President Trump, who broke repeatedly and continues to break the standards that are necessary to have a functioning government. My other chatter is quickly about something called Am I normal? Go to How normal am I?

David Plotz: EU That was the sex ed movie I watched as a kid.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: It was. It was. Yes, it was. And I think it was in I think it was like in schools or maybe something of a year.

David Plotz: Oh, definitely. Any one of our age. You went to school, saw. Am I normal? There was a boys one, which was. Am I Norman? There’s a girls one which I can remember the name of.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Anyway, how normal am I? Dot EU is a website that judges your face using artificial intelligence and it’s freaky what it is able to tell about you based on your face. And the whole point is to educate people about what is already known about artificial intelligence and surveillance. And it basically it correctly guessed my age exactly on my birthday, which is just among the things that it does anyway. It will also rate you on an attractiveness scale, which is not for the faint of heart anyway. It’s just a it’s a very cool way to educate you quickly about the power of artificial intelligence, which is an interesting topic on its own, but also is obviously quite an important part of our modern life.

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David Plotz: My chatter two quickies. First of all, city cast.

David Plotz: DC If you are a Washingtonian, if you live in DC, you care about DC like I do. If you’re a cool disco dan lover Dell Cali, a drive speeder, a big chair Gawker. If you’re a Nats fan, a Wizards fan, a Mystics fan, a Caps fan, DC United fan, a joyous fan, even if you are a hard to find commanders fan city kids for you. We have a daily newsletter and we have a soon to be daily podcast. Right now it’s just twice a week, but it will soon be daily. That will help make you a better Washingtonian. So please subscribe. Go to DC Dot City, cast out FM to subscribe to the newsletter and on the podcast, just go to anywhere you get a podcast at City Cast DC. Please do it. If you have any trouble finding it, email me at David Plotz at gmail.com.

David Plotz: I’ll help you do it. But if you’re Washingtonian, you’ll love the Gabfest. I hope you will give it. City Cast DC Newsletter and Podcast A Try My Other Chatter An amazing Twitter thread I saw from John Giacomo. It’s if I mispronounce your name, John, I apologize. John to Kamau. It’s who is a Harvard University professor and he is one of four people that took part in a study or created a study titled How Effective Is More Money Randomizing Unconditional Cash Transfer Amounts in the U.S. and this is a fascinating study where he and his fellow researchers gave thousands of people either nothing, thousands of poor people, I should say, either nothing or $500 or $2,000, and then watch to see what would happen and to see how their lives were changed.

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David Plotz: And what was incredible about this study is that the people who got 500 or $2,000, nothing in their lives changed. Absolutely nothing changed. And in fact, by some sort of subjective measures of personal well-being and sense of satisfaction, sense of kind of being in the world, getting the money made people more unhappy.

David Plotz: There’s lots of evidence that unconditional cash transfers work under certain circumstances. The conclusion isn’t that you shouldn’t give people money to make their lives better. You probably should. It’s just that you have to give people the right amount of money and maybe not just give it to them once. Maybe it has to be regular. Maybe people have the expectation that it’s coming. But if you just give people some money who have a lot of bills and a lot of financial distress, that you kind of make them think about their financial distress and you make them even more anxious about money in ways that they weren’t before. So it’s just a fascinating study and Twitter thread we have. Also, dear listeners are collecting your chatters. Please tweet them to us at outside Gabfest. Email them to us at Gabfest at Slate.com. Something that you were talking about when you’re having cocktails with your beloveds.

David Plotz: And we have a great one this week from a very special listener, Jocelyn Frank, our former producer is our listener chatter this week.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Hey, Gabfest, this is Jocelyn Frank from Minneapolis, Minnesota. This week, I’m chattering about a story from Maria Popova was marginally in previously known as Brain Pickings newsletter. She writes about a new collaborative project between NASA’s peace initiative and a project called Draw Together. They launched the first children’s art gallery in space. I love this story because as an audio producer and musician, I’ve always been deeply moved by that 1977 golden record. That was a literal record, launched into space in 77 with NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. The record included 90 minutes of animal calls, different greetings and multiple languages, incredible music from around the world and a lot more. It was a sonic love letter from the earth to the universe.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: This new project is an illustrated love letter. There are images of sports equipment, technology, rainbows, flowers, mountains, families, and the ways that the young artists describe their work are really wonderful. One artist in fourth grade and. Michelle. She drew a flower and she said, Dear Nessa, I chose this drawing because I like nature and it’s very pretty to look at and it calms me down.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Another artist wrote, My favorite thing about Earth is my family, my house and nature. That was from Xavier, who’s nine. Alma, 13, drew a house with a chimney in shadow and a tree with leaves that are falling and wrote. Earth isn’t the best place right now, but we can work to fix it. All the illustrations are poignant reminders of the best that both art and space exploration can offer, reminders of the ways that we’re interconnected and responsible to one another. Oh, that made me miss Jocelyn. It was great.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: That was wonderful.

David Plotz: Oh, Joss, we wish you well. Out there in Minneapolis.

David Plotz: That is our show for today. The Gabfest is produced today by Kevin Bendis. A researcher is Bridgette Dunlap. Our theme music is by They Might Be Giants. Ben Richmond is senior director for podcast operations. Ben and I still haven’t met, but we did email this week that we’re making progress and I wrote Alisha Montgomery is the vice president of Audio for Slate. Please follow us on Twitter at ad site Gabfest. Tweet chatter to us there or email. Reach out to us at Gabfest and Slate.com for Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson. I’m David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week.

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David Plotz: But. Hello, Slate. Plus, how are you? I was thinking and propose that we talk about this because I was. I’m spending a week up here in Vermont with my children and just thinking about chores and obligations to take care of a house and was asking myself, what chores should you have to master to have a better life and earn the respect of your loved ones and what chores do not have to master? What chores are pointless to master or are not that valuable? So I have some thoughts.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I have so many thoughts.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Can we define our terms here real quick? So knowing how to fix a flat tire is not a chore. No skills. So that’s not in business.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: You can include that. Really not a chore.

David Plotz: See, I want to include that one because I think that fits in a very important category, which is that it’s very infrequent. So it’s not a chore if chore or something you do it for. Yes, but it’s so awful if you don’t know how to do it and so embarrassing. The downside risk of not knowing how to do it is so high that even though it doesn’t technically count as a chore, it is a life skill that one should master. Because it is so valuable to know it.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: And then I would say that the chore then that you are engaging in is actually not so much the fixing of the tire, but it is the the maintenance of a mindset that says, I am going to be in a situation of possible difficulty when a tire blows. And so I think I’ll learn how to do this and be prepared for it because knowing how to do it on one car is not the same as knowing how to do it later in life when you may own a different car. So you have to.

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Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Say it’s impossible. You have to be able to watch a YouTube video about it, because if you’re like me and you’re extremely bad at any kind of learning that is like experiential, you don’t remember anything. And so you will only succeed in this if there is a video to watch. Okay. But remember, nothing.

David Plotz: Does that mean that you you you don’t know how to make dishes you’ve made before? You have you can do experiential learning. You just I have.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Very I have a lot I mean, this is not that interesting. I have a lot of trouble with anything infrequent that requires, like, motor skills. It’s serious.

David Plotz: Like if you have a YouTube video, can you change a tire?

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I don’t know. I’ve never had you’ve.

David Plotz: Never had to.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Do it in honestly, where I’ve had to. I did have to. Once my car battery ran out at the airport and with the YouTube video also confessed my husband on the phone. I did succeed in changing the battery but that or reached whatever me jumping it’s not changing the battery.

David Plotz: Jumping oh jumping.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Jumping.

David Plotz: Jumping is so frequent that actually it is a chore. I feel like.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Jumping. Oh.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Okay. This notion of frequency, like when we switched from recording to this morning, we are going to record on Riverside, which will be only doing for like, I don’t know, six weeks. And we had switched back to Zoom. I had to think about what to do, even though I have recorded on Zoom for the show 8 million times. Like the fact that it was like six weeks ago was hard for me. So I’m just saying be a little forgiving. And you’re thinking about this now.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: It’s it’s not forgiving. It’s that’s the reason you have to do it when you’re, you know, not in the moment. And that’s what makes it a chore.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Reject.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Refresh your learning.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I may be. I’m really privileging my own problems here. I forgive me, but I think there are people like me in the world who, if you don’t do something very regularly and it’s like a physical task, have a lot of trouble recovering that I’m like.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Oh, yeah.

David Plotz: Okay, that’s fair. All right. So, Emily, why don’t you name a chore that you think people should have to do or not have to do.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Mopping the floor. I think everybody needs to know how to mop the floor and clean the bathroom because those are like not hard to do things right. I mean, there isn’t I don’t think you really have to like follow a complicated set of instructions. But if you don’t know how to do those things, it just means that like people have been cleaning up for you for your whole life, and that’s gross and so you should know how to do those things.

David Plotz: I think there’s a category. I would put the clogged toilet and the clean, clean bathroom. You absolutely know how to do it because it’s so disgusting. Inflicted on other people. Totally clogged toilet. Inflicting the clogged toilet. And somebody else is just like. Now there are times I have to unclog the toilet for any number of people. My children, people who are not my children. I’m sure people have unclog toilets that I’ve left low. But man, just dealing with that is it’s a it’s it is it is terrible to leave that for somebody else.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Let me tell you about the fun of of New York apartment living. It is possible and perhaps this is true in other cities, but it is possible that a toilet can get clogged in the city of New York in such a condition that it seeks refuge through other places like, say, a bathtub. Yeah. And so you can have plumbing that.

David Plotz: Oh, my God.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Yeah. There you go. Bathtub full of fun.

David Plotz: I’m going to talk about a chore that I think you don’t need to master. I think you should not. You don’t need to master cooking. There’s always people who are happy to cook generally. Like you need to master as much cooking as you need for your own life. Like, for your whatever makes you happy or whatever feeds you. But to master it, to feed other people, I just don’t believe it. I think other people, lots of people get pleasure out of of cooking. And so you don’t need to master it. You need to master something which people don’t get pleasure out of, like cleaning up the kitchen. So if you are a good cleaner up at the kitchen, that is a much more valuable chore to have a mastery of than cooking. And I say this as someone who loves you, thinks.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Even that you should be able to like, you know, scramble an egg. And I.

David Plotz: Think you should.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Be able to make.

David Plotz: To do what you need for yourself.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Yeah. Yes.

David Plotz: Yes. And to to meet the basic needs of anyone you’re responsible for. So if you’re a parent, you need and you have to feed your child, you need to be able to feed your child such that they don’t starve. But but I don’t think if you’re somebody who doesn’t particularly care about cooking and that you need to bother to learn how to make a some fancy pasta sauce or how to, you know, fricassee a chicken? I don’t think so. You can do what you with valuable for you. It’s a it’s basically it’s a pleasure vehicle for so many people that let those other people have that pleasure vehicle. I think, for example, you don’t need to learn how to wash dishes. I think washing dishes is not a useful chore to have because lots of people like washing dishes. But you can always find some joy. Washing the dishes.

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Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Now you.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Can.

David Plotz: Whereas nobody likes putting the fucking dishes away bad. Oh no. Your children should learn how to wash dishes.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: Actually, you like to do. I don’t know.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: You’re just trying to make a universal. Universal whole lot of stuff you like to do.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I would not be happy if my children did not know how to wash the dishes.

David Plotz: And you would rather put dishes away than wash dishes.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: I totally would rather put dishes away the dishes 100%. You and I were a great pair. Let’s, like, team up in the kitchen. I’ll put the dishes away.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: But there’s also the benefits that come from chores that are that are about connecting with the behavior you participate in. So if you only think that food is something that is just brought to you, you have no you are you are reduce your number of chances to experience the empathy of what it takes for somebody to put together not just a single meal, but if you live in a household, what it’s like to have to plan ahead and do the shopping and all of that. And so you rob yourself of empathy, which is very hard to experience at in the abstract. And that’s true also that’s true also with dishwashing. So I think you I think you basically need to know you may not have to do them.

Donald Trump, John Dickerson: Load sharing is fine. You know, one person takes care of the finances and the checking and keeping up the budget and one person handles the dishes. That’s fine if you want to arrange things in a load sharing operation, but each needs to have experienced what the other does so that they don’t either overburdened the other person or the family or the community, or have the wrong mindset about what that chore actually entails.

Emily Bhasin, Emily Bazelon: And take for granted all the hidden labor. Which is why I especially appreciate your point about households and shopping and preparation and one’s children should understand all of those things because it might change their level of entitlement theoretically.

David Plotz: All right, Slate Plus calculator. Bye bye.