Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Misrule of Law blog creator and retired attorney Mark Pulliam to the newsmaker line to give a sneak peek of Hillsdale Professor Paul Moreno’s latest book, How the Court Became Supreme.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now by a very good friend, our favorite East Tennessee grassroots activist and retired attorney Mark Polio. Mark blogs at Misrule of Law and always has something very interesting to say about our constitutional form of government. Good morning, Mark.
Pulliam: Good morning, Michael.
Leahy: Well, we’ve asked you to take a look at this book that Paul Moreno, the Hillsdale professor of history, has written: How the Court Became Supreme: The Origins of American Juristocracy.
We’re going to talk to him at 7:15, but we want to get a sneak preview from you. Does he make the case that the courts have gone gotten out of control?
Pulliam: He does make the case, and he makes it very effectively. What is unusual is that it takes a history professor at a college rather than a law professor in legal academia to make these points.
One of the peculiar things that have happened in the last 30 years or so is that law schools have been captured by the Left in a way that even higher education generally has not. Law schools have become dominated by liberals more than almost any other academic discipline.
So what passes as constitutional law scholarship coming out of the law schools, reflected in the law reviews, et cetera, is all pretty uniform. And when I read this book and I had a hint that it would be sort of something refreshing from some of his previous work in labor law and labor history, it is a breath of fresh air.
He looks at the state of constitutional law going back to the founding. He tracks every Supreme Court – not every decision – but traces the evolution of constitutional law from John Jay, the first chief justice, to the present, and looks at stuff without the conventions and blinders that are so prevalent in legal scholarship.
And he makes the case that the court has usurped prerogatives that properly belong to either the executive, the legislature, or, in many cases, the states themselves, by undermining the concept of federalism.
This began when the progressives, with the assistance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, hijacked the Supreme Court during the New Deal. But he makes the case that it really went off the rails under Earl Warren.
And just now, with President Trump’s appointment of three so-called originalists to the Supreme Court, are things returning to center. And we saw just this past term the overruling of Roe versus Wade, which was a good sign, but much needs to be done.
And I hope that this book gets a lot of attention because it makes the case in a way that no legal scholar today does. And in my essay for Law & Liberty, I say that this book is the boldest statement of constitutional law since Robert Bork’s The Tempting of America in 1990.
And that’s sort of a sad commentary that we don’t have scholars like Paul Moreno making this case in law school, which, after all, is where constitutional law is taught and where future constitutional litigators are being trained.
And instead, you see this echo chamber exists. People like Amy Wax at the University of Pennsylvania are being harassed, being stripped of their teaching responsibilities, and even possibly losing their tenure for saying things that were not considered controversial 30 years ago, but have become heretical now.
Leahy: Tell me this. He proposes solutions. What are the solutions?
Pulliam: Given our constitutional system, the only real solution is to appoint good people to the Court and to enforce upon them, through a consensus of the discipline to interpret the Constitution in accordance with the intentions of the Founders.
One of the comments that he makes is in his last chapter, where he surveys recent developments. And he takes Neil Gorsuch to task, who is one of the Trump-appointed originalists and who wrote a controversial opinion in the case of Bostock v. Clayton, which interpreted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, the basic employment discrimination statute to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – which was the last thing that Congress had in mind when it passed this law in 1964.
And he ridicules that decision, and properly so. And so there’s only so much that the other branches can do to bring the Court into a more grounded approach. But one of them, and probably the most important technique, is to reinforce good decisions and to criticize poor decisions.
And so that is what he, as an academic, is doing. He is showing how many of the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court in the last 50 years are simply not grounded in history or in the intention of the Founders.
Leahy: To me, that doesn’t sound very powerful. That’s long-term, isn’t it?
Pulliam: There’s only so much you can do in terms of constraining the Court. The Left has come up with a number of devices that are going to pack the Court. You can propose constitutional amendments, but those are very difficult to implement.
What he points out is that one of the things that kept the Court grounded is the other branches pushing back, sometimes vocally so, like Abraham Lincoln taking on Dred Scott. And as a result of that, the Court was never able to let this go to its head. The problem that we’ve had in recent decades is that the Court has become grandiose.
Leahy: Yes, absolutely.
Pulliam: And the concept of judicial supremacy in Cooper v. Aaron in 1958, where they said – and this is something that you could look through the Federalist Papers and not find any indication of this – but the Court said that our decisions, our interpretation of the Constitution, is supreme, just like the Constitution itself is supreme.
They put themselves on a pedestal. And he makes the point – it’s really the thesis of this book, is that this notion of judicial supremacy is completely unsupported by history, is a grandiose concept, a usurpation of power, and the way that you get them to go off of that is, you basically ridicule it and you point out that it’s unfounded.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Mark Pulliam” by American Institute for Economic Research. Photo “Paul Moreno” by Hillsdale College. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by David Maiolo. CC BY-SA 3.0. Background Photo “American Flag” by Noah Wulf. CC BY-SA 4.0.
Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed retired attorney and blog creator of Misrule of Law Mark Pulliam to the newsmakers line to discuss his recent piece at American Greatness entitled Surrendering the Public Square where he sounds the alarm on churches going woke.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by our very good friend, Mark Pulliam, a California refugee and retired attorney. He moved to town in East Tennessee back in 2019.
He blogs at Law and Liberty. Mark, I am troubled as you are by the disappearance of Christian leaders from the public square. Tell us about your latest column on that.
Pulliam: Well, good morning, Michael. I’m always pleased to be here. What is going on in American churches is the same thing that’s been going on in other institutions in the United States. And that is the left is completing its long march through the institutions.
And this has been a goal of theirs since the mid 20th century. And they have managed to take over the Democratic Party, higher education, Hollywood, the media, Big Tech, and even corporate America.
But now the left is intent on taking over organized religions. And, in fact, many Protestant denominations have gotten woke. This trend has been apparent for some time, with the Episcopals, the Methodists, and the Presbyterians. Many of us in the South at least kind of look to the Southern Baptist denomination as being a refuge.
But even the Southern Baptist Church has gotten woke. And so my town has dozens of Baptist churches and we have visited many of them since we moved here looking for conventional and traditional Christian preaching.
And what we found instead is social justice being advocated and not just middle of the road social justice, but critical race theory, Marxism, left-wing politics, basically. And so I decided to write this piece.
And even as I was writing it, the Southern Baptist Convention was having its annual meeting in Nashville, a meeting that attracted 14,000 delegates. And at that meeting, literally days after this piece got posted a couple of weeks ago, they were going to pick their new President.
And they picked, in a contest between a liberal Ed Linton and a conservative, Mike Stone by a narrow margin, they picked the liberal. So even the Southern Baptist Convention seems to be headed down the wrong road, and it’s something that should be troubling to us all.
Leahy: You know, I’ve noticed the same thing. It is very difficult anywhere in America today to find a Christian Church that is not promoting the heretical critical race theory-social justice view of the world. That’s my opinion. Would you agree or disagree with my statement?
Pulliam: No. And I think many people agree with you. If you look at the numbers, the church attendance is declining, religious affiliations in America are declining. And the Southern Baptist Convention, which has been and continues to be the largest Protestant denomination, it’s declining.
And it peaked about 15 years ago at 17,000,000 members and it has lost 2,000,000 members since then and has lost a million members since 2017. Many people look to churches, that’s the way they were raised, to receive a spiritual message.
Something different than this world. If they wanted to listen to leftist propaganda, they could tune into CNN or MSNBC. And when they go to church and they hear the same table being offered up, they decide, well, either I’m going to stay home on Sunday and sleep in, or I’m going to switch over to a non-denominational mega-church or fundamentalist church.
And in fact, those congregations are growing even as the mainline churches are shrinking. So the expression is get woke, go broke. And I think some of the mainline churches are experiencing exactly that phenomenon.
Leahy: There is. And I’m going to be blunt here, there is cowardice among many Christian leaders today in the country and at the local level. That’s my view.
If you were to go into one of these mainline churches that is promoting hat is promoting critical race theory, and you said, if you tell the preacher, well, you’re a coward and you tell the elders you are cowards and you’re heretical, what kind of response do you think you’d get?
Pulliam: Well, they would deny it, but it’s undeniably true, I think. And I grew up. I’m not ancient. I’m a boomer. But what you expected to hear from faith leaders is opposition to abortion, pornography is immoral, homosexuality is immoral, and drug abuse is wrong.
And now they’re silent. Or if they’re not silent, they are fighting homelessness or racism or promoting social justice and inclusion. It’s like they’ve turned away. What I titled my piece at American Greatness, Surrendering the Public Square.
That it’s not even like the liberals have pushed them out of the public square they have abandoned it voluntarily. And not only abandon it, have taken up the mantle of the left. The faith leaders in my town who have the most prominent public role are leftists.
One of them leads the local chapter of the NAACP. The other is a diversity consultant here. And this is in a county where conservatives outnumber liberals 70 percent to 30 percent or more. So where is our voice? I think a lot of them are sensitive to peer pressure.
They don’t want to be regarded by the voices in the media as intolerant or not being inclusive. And so they have trimmed their sails accordingly. Some of it you can look at as well, the seminaries are loading up younger pastors with this stuff.
But I think a lot of it is just an unwillingness to lead or to go against the current, which is exactly why somebody would choose to be a faith leader in order to go against the current.
Leahy: You put this link in your story to a group run by a pastor called Genesis Diversity Solutions. And I’m looking at this picture of the folks there. They’re about 20 people, two Black people, 18 White people in the picture of this group. They talk about our experience.
Here’s what they talk about. Racial equity and sensitivity. Creating healthy workplace cultures. Understanding our unconscious biases. The importance of diversity in a 2021 world and restorative practices. And now they charge companies to do this it looks like, is that right?
Pulliam: Companies and even worse, local school systems. This fellow, who is a local minister, at least, that’s his part-time gig, I think he might be a diversity consultant full time.
But he works for each of the local school districts providing diversity training to staff members. And one of the school districts formed a diversity task force. And of course, they picked him to be one of the people serving on the task force.
He’s the only faith leader serving. Our county has probably 200 churches. The school district picked the most left-wing clergyman to serve on this. One of the things that he posted this fellow is during last year, during the height of the George Floyd rioting, he posted something on the Genesis Diversity Consulting Facebook page that said, you shouldn’t be objecting to the rioting. You should be objecting to what it is that’s causing the rioting.
Leahy: Nothing says law and order like that.
Pulliam: And it’s nihilistic that if a faith leader cannot even stand up and oppose anarchy, lawlessness, arson, and rioting, then what kind of moral compass is he guided by? This is very troubling. It’s nothing but left-wing politics dressed up in religious clothing. And it’s just one more form of indoctrination.
And we wonder, why do our young people follow this? Well, they’re being told this in every grade from K through 12. They’re being told this in college. And now they’re being told it from the pulpit on Sundays.
Leahy: Reverend Ben Lewis is listed at this Genesis Diversity Solutions. Partnerships with, from his website, Maryville City Schools, Blunt County Schools, and Alcoa City Schools. And they say, ‘We’re greater Nashville’s diversity professional.’
Pulliam: It’s outrageous. And I wonder, when are people going to wake up and look at what’s going on around them and start demanding answers? Why are we permitting this? It’d be one thing if this was happening in Portland or Austin or Minneapolis, but this is happening in the heart of the Bible Belt in one of the most conservative parts of America.
And it’s happening right in front of us. I’ve been accused by my liberal critics of fancying myself as the Paul Revere of East Tennessee. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: Anytime you report the truth, you are going to being criticized.
Listen to the full first hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Mark Pulliam” by Mark Pulliam and “Town Church” by Ken Gallager CC 4.0.
Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed retired attorney and blog creator of Misrule of Law Mark Pulliam to the newsmakers line to outline some aspects of his recent essay regarding nullification in dealing with the Biden-Harris administration.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmakers line now by our good friend, California refugee, retired attorney, and blogger at Lawliberty.org from East Tennessee, Mark Pulliam, Good morning, Mark.
Pulliam: Good morning Michael.
Leahy: Mark, first, before we jump into the topic at hand, which is, I think, an excellent essay that you’ve written about nullification, which some people are talking about as an option in dealing with the legal but not legitimate Biden-Harris maladministration. I just want to get your reaction to the big story over the weekend. Major League Baseball decides to punish the state of Georgia for passing a common-sense election law that will make it easy to vote but hard to cheat. They’ve moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia. What do you make of that?
Pulliam: It’s bewildering and very concerning to see what’s happening. And I think that Major League Baseball is basically acting as the surrogate for the corporate sponsors that have gotten woke. Corporate America is a result of chasing after a consumer base that they view as having been indoctrinated and therefore susceptible to a social justice message.
And also the leadership of these corporations as a result of a generation or more of affirmative action. And then the top ranks have been infiltrated by woke social justice warriors, and corporate America is no longer concerned about making a profit for shareholders or providing a quality product for consumers. They are like a lot of other echelons of the ruling class pushing an agenda. So not even baseball is free of politics. It used to be. People would go to the ballpark to escape reality. And now it is just one more aspect of this all politics all the time.
Leahy: Yes. It’s utterly detestable to me as a baseball fan my entire life to see this ignorant politicization of the exercise of the constitutional privilege of the state of Georgia to determine their own election processes.
Pulliam: And based on a false narrative. The Georgia law, even after these changes, is no worse than the law of many other states. And then the hypocrisy of it where you have these NBA and baseball and nobody says a word about China. And China is off the charts in terms of human rights violations, lack of democracy, freedom, etc. On top of everything else, it’s cowardly and hypocritical.
Leahy: So I saw this funny meme late Friday night that said, Major League Baseball has announced they’re moving the site of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2021 from Atlanta, Georgia to Wuhan, China. And I thought that’s a funny meme. Then there was an article late that night at Breitbart: “MLB Expanding Presence in China While Pulling Out of Atlanta.” It’s incredible.
Pulliam: Well, you’ve got billions of consumers in China thanks to American trade policy that now are wealthy and in a position to purchase American goods. And corporate America shows where its loyalties are when it is chasing after profits in China over the interest of the American public.
Leahy: You know, back in the early 1690s Nikita Khrushchev, who at the time was the head of the Communist Party in the old Soviet Union said, capitalists, will sell us the rope with which we hang them. I’m paraphrasing that. And we thought, oh, my goodness, that might be the Soviet Union. It’s not so much the Soviet Union now. It’s Communist China.
Pulliam: Well, and he took his shoe and pounded it on the table and said, we will bury you! And that is, in fact, what China is doing. And at least back in the Cold War, Americans became concerned with Sputnik and realized that we were falling behind and we needed to catch up. Right now, people are so complacent about what’s going on with China, they still don’t care. There’s just very little in the way of public awareness or concern about this military and economic regression by the world’s largest, most populous, and increasingly dominant country.
Leahy: See, I’m not sure if I agree with that, Mark. I think people do care. But the way it manifests itself is perhaps not as productive as many of us would like. I think to some extent the lack of participation by Republicans and Conservatives in the Georgia Senate special election races because they were so upset about all of the electoral procedures that were not lawful in that state and we’re so upset with the way that the Republican establishment didn’t stand up for the rights of the average voter.
That led to anger which led to non-participation. But you’ve actually written a very interesting article for those of us who have a bit of a history bent about a concept that some states are looking into called nullification. First, tell us what nullification is and what the historical use of the term nullification has been.
Pulliam: Well, nullification is a term that has many meanings. At first, it recently got onto my radar screen because some of the conservative circles I travel in and it’s being offered up as a panacea solution that no matter what happens in Washington at the end of the day, the states and can simply refuse to go along with it and declare whatever happens in Washington to be invalid under the Tenth Amendment on the grounds that the states have the ability to determine what’s constitutional and what’s unconstitutional and we’re not handmaidens of the federal government.
Now that’s the most extreme use of the term. It’s been used and liberals have been using it for a long time to offer sanctuary to illegal aliens and to legalize certain drugs like marijuana that are prohibited at the federal level. And if you go back far enough all the way back to the late 1700s it was used as a way for the states to express opposition to federal laws like the Alien and Sedition Acts.
And the more recent advocates of nullification are using the earlier precedents, the 1798 precedent, and then also in the 1830s when South Carolina was objecting to federal tariff laws and was threatening to refuse to comply with these federal tariff laws. They are using those precedents to show that, yes, the states can defy federal law. The problem with those arguments is that never before in American history have states actually defied federal authority with the Alien and Sedition Acts.
It was basically an elaborate protest that ultimately led to, among other things, Thomas Jefferson who became President in 1800 and who contributed to Congress repealing this objectionable Alien and Sedition Act. And in the 1830s, South Carolina ultimately rescinded its nullification ordinance where they were threatening to defy federal law, in part because President Andrew Jackson was saying that if you try that, we will use military force to crush you. And then also, some of the more recent proponents look back and find comforting words in the Federalist Papers to show that the framers agreed that the states could thumb their nose at the federal government if they disagreed with policies.
Leahy: We’ve been talking about the concept of nullification. So, Mark, we’ve talked about the history of it. Where is it now? And why do some people think this is a good idea?
Pulliam: I think people always look for easy, simple solutions, and we are facing unprecedented challenges with what’s going on in Washington. But people should focus on the long run, not the short run. There are no easy solutions. Politics is hard work, and it takes a sustained effort to turn things around. When we’ve seen the Tenth Amendment tried to be used as a magical solution, it didn’t work.
The massive resistance to integration in the 50s. The Tenth Amendment didn’t work for the South when they tried to secede. So people, instead of getting all wrapped up in nullification efforts and passing laws that somehow there will be a magical defense against federal overreaching. They need to be on the phone pushing their representatives in Congress to oppose the Biden-Harris agenda tooth and nail and to use every procedural device to obstruct and delay, just like Chuck Schumer did during four years of the Trump presidency.
And we need to exhort our state attorney’s general to challenge each and every one of these unconstitutional laws if Congress lacks the will to oppose it. And we can’t lose focus that in the long run, people need to devote their energies where they can make a difference. And that’s at the state and local level. And so citizens need to be more vigilant than ever in becoming engaged in their communities and make sure that we are electing the right people to the City Councils, to the school boards, and partisan and non-partisan offices.
People need to be getting involved in their local Republican parties and become citizen activists. And that is how we’re going to turn the ship around. Not by passing magical laws as somehow if we pass them will immunize us from the effects of what’s going on in Washington. That has historically proven to be an illusory solution.
Leahy: So let me play devil’s advocate here. Okay, so step one is to tell your representatives to oppose the agenda of Biden-Harris. Well, they are opposing it right now, but they’re not succeeding, at least in the House of Representatives, because there’s a slight majority, and every single Democrat walks in lockstep with anything Nancy Pelosi wants to do.
There’s not a single constitutionalist among any elected federal Democrat that I can see. And then in the Senate, it’s 50/50 and any tie can be broken by Kamala Harris. Look, you know what’s going to happen. The big deal right now is this Corrupt Politicians Act, otherwise called by the Democrats the Fair Practices Act, something like that. HR1, S1, which is basically going to nationalize federal elections and make it impossible if it were to pass and be implemented to elect Republicans because they’re going to codify the cheating that was done in 2020 and make it even worse.
So when we play Devil’s advocate here, I don’t think that the House is very effective at stopping the unconstitutional laws being passed by the Pelosi-led House. I think Schumer is going to pull every trick in his bag of tricks to jam through this unconstitutional HR1 and then it will be the law of the land. So when that happens, what’s your response to that?
Pulliam: Well, the House has always been a simple majority wins body. Democrats have the majority there and they can pass anything they want, and they have passed virtually anything they want. And this stuff is always stacked up where the log jam occurs in the Senate. And the Senate is not a simple majority-run institution.
We have a very powerful impediment to the majority, imposing its will in the minority with the filibuster rule where it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture to stop debate so effectively at the present time and this has been the rule for 100 years that it takes 60 votes to make anything happen in the Senate. And what we have to do is make sure that our Republican senators do not lose the resolve to vote no on all of these bills.
And there’s a whole list of them. HR1, the ProAct, the Quality Act, the statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. All these trillion-dollar stimulus bills. There’s a long laundry list of bills that would be disastrous if they were passed. In addition to the filibuster rule, there are all kinds of other procedural rules where you can extend debate. You can delay votes, et cetera. And this is why President Trump, even though he got a lot of federal judges confirmed, a lot of them weren’t confirmed because it took so long to get a vote on each one of these judges.
And we need to use those rules to our advantage, just like the Democrats did when they were in the minority. And so we need not only Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty because I think they’re pretty solid but the entire cadre of conservative Republican Senators Rand Paul, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, and the whole cast of characters know that basically, they are the line between us and progressive hegemony in Washington, and we expect them to fight and to fight hard to keep this agenda from being enacted.
Leahy: But, Mark, they’re going to fight. All 50 Republicans are going to oppose this Corrupt Politician Act that makes it easy for Democrats to cheat and nationalize the elections and gives them extra money from the federal government to cheat. That’s basically what that law does. They’re going to oppose it. I promise you that you’re gonna see some shenanigans going on on the Democratic side. They’re going to do a filibuster carve out. They’re going to do reconciliation. That bill is better than 50/50 that it’s gonna pass using those shenanigans.
Pulliam: Well, I certainly hope you’re wrong, because if the filibuster is breached, then we do have a serious problem. But in that case, these nullification arguments, some of them boil down to simple civil disobedience. How did civil disobedience work out at Ruby Ridge? How did civil disobedience work out at Waco?
It’s not a viable strategy. Look at what happened at the capital on January sixth. We cannot expect that simply by resisting this agenda, that somehow we’re going to prevail and some of these other things that are being proposed, that would pass a law that would create a sanctuary. All of the sanctuary states can up to a point, refuse to cooperate with the federal government, but you cannot prevent the federal government from enforcing federal law.
So I think patriots need to work harder than ever to fight this through legitimate means, through the political process, and through the courts. And I think that a lot of these bills that are being proposed by Biden-Harris that even if they pass, they’re going to be vulnerable to constitutional challenges. And this is why litigation will be important.
I know a lot of people have lost their confidence in the Supreme Court as a result of the election, but I think that we still have a sound originalist majority on the Supreme Court. And if some of these bills pass, they will be vulnerable to challenge. And we have to rely on our state attorney general to fight those battles in court, and in the long run, I think they will prevail.
Leahy: Yeah, but I understand what you’re arguing. I understand your nullification. I understand all of your arguments. I’m just looking at the reality. I would say the odds that the Senate will pass this Corrupt Politicians Act that federalizes all elections throughout the states, which is unconstitutional in itself.
But I think the odds that the Senate actually passes it on 50 to 50 with Kamala Harris providing the tiebreaker by some carve out of the filibuster. The odds that happens in the next 30 days, I think are better than 50/50. So let me pose this question to you. Okay, this law passes. They begin to codify the federalization of state laws.
You start filing challenges in court. That’s a bit of a toss-up it seems to me. Why don’t you think about that a little bit Mark over the break because I think that this is where we’re headed, and I don’t think that just asking senators to pretty please work hard against it is going to be sufficient. So think about that.
Listen to the full first hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.