updated 2/28/2013 10:55:37 AM ET 2013-02-28T15:55:37

THE ED SHOW with ED SCHULTZ
February 27, 2013

Guests: Elijah Cummings, James Peterson, Jonathan Turley, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Jim Moran, Rep. John Yarmuth, Brendan Ayanbadejo


ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED
SHOW, from New York.

The Supreme Court is on the verge of changing voting rights forever?

This is THE ED SHOW -- let`s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rosa Parks would have
turned 100 years old this month. We do well by placing a statue of her
here.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHULTZ (voice-over): The Rosa Parks statue is unveiled in the
Capitol as conservatives try to destroy her legacy in the Supreme Court.

Tonight, Congressman Elijah Cummings on Justice Antonin Scalia`s jaw-
dropping charge about voting and racial entitlements.

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley on today`s epic hearing and what
it means for the future of the Voting Rights Act.

Plus, Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota punches a schoolyard
bully in the mouth.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: You are the worst excuse for a
journalist I`ve ever seen.

SCHULTZ: There is major movement on guns in the House, the Senate,
and in an Illinois special election.

And in a country where equal rights for gays are more popular than
ever, are NFL teams trying to play the gay away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teams want to know whether or not Manti Te`o is
gay.

SCHULTZ: Super Bowl champion and equal rights advocate Brendon
Ayanbadejo weighs in tonight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, folks. Thanks for
watching.

A bedrock protection of civil rights in America is under attack. And
the attack is coming from the highest court in the land.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act is being challenged by those who say, you
know what? It just no longer serves a purpose. We got to get rid of it.

In reality, they want to go back to the bad old days, the days of Jim
Crow laws.

Well, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case brought
by Shelby County in Alabama. During the hearing, a key provision of the
Voting Rights Act came under attack. It`s Section 5.

Section 5 gives federal authority over voting rights in states with
histories of racial discrimination. It has been reauthorized by the
Congress, my friends, on four different occasions. We`ve been down this
road.

Recently, Section 5 was invoked to block discriminatory voter ID laws
in Texas and in South Carolina. Although conservative Supreme Court
Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the protections of the Voting Rights Act
as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement"?

It shocked a lot of Americans today.

Scalia continued, "Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it
is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political
processes." Meaning, Congress has no clue what they`re doing, we`ll take
care of it here at the court.

This man is a Supreme Court justice. To him, the constitutional right
to vote is a racial entitlement, question mark?

It sounds like Scalia is on the same side as the attorneys
representing Shelby County, Alabama.

Lead attorney Burt Rein believes the law is outdated and times have
changed. Everything is OK now. "This is an old disease, and that disease
is cured. The problem is solved."

His co-attorney agreed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK ELLIS, ATTORNEY, SHELBY COUNTY, AL: We`ve made great strides
over the years. We have minority participation at record levels. We have
minority candidates selected by 90 percent white populations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: So we should just forget about the long lines in minority
voting districts. We should ignore the voter ID laws in states with
influential voting minority blocks. We don`t need to worry one bit about
minority voters being purged from the roles. We haven`t seen that for a
long time, right?

These lawyers say racial discrimination, it`s all over, all done with.
It`s a new day dawning in America. It was gone a long time ago.

They should tell this to the men and women who marched on Selma,
Alabama, back in 1965. These peaceful demonstrators were trampled and
beaten while they made a statement about equal voting rights for all
Americans. The man seen here was beaten on the head with a billy club.
His skull was fractured and he sustained three fractures.

The man was John Lewis, the current congressman from Georgia.
Congressman Lewis fought to end the days of poll taxes and literacy tests
at the voting booth. Today, he is fighting to make sure those protections
stand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We`ve come too far. We made too much
progress to go back. The literacy test may be gone, raising questions like
how many bubbles in a bar of soap, how many jelly beans in a jar, may be
gone. The people are using other means of tactic and technique. So we
still need Section 5 and that`s why we`re here today, standing up for
voting rights of all Americans. So we must never give up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: John Lewis and every person in America who believes in equal
voting rights must continue the fight.

You have to wonder, what is the play here? What`s the big picture?
What`s the big goal?

I tell you what, folks. The ultimate goal for Republicans is to get
the federal government out of the way when it comes to voting rights in
this country.

You see, they want to control locally. They want local control over
elections so they can come up with a new set of registration laws and
control the vote. They might even come up with some kind of a panel that
would determine whether you filled out the application correctly or not,
and we`ll get back to you, and you may have to wait a while before you`re
actually registered to vote you. You never know what they could come up
with on the local level.

The rights of some citizens in this country are under attack. And
when that happens, we are all under attack. The Republican plan, take it
back to the local level, get the feds out of the way, we`ll awn our own
backyard. And do you trust what you saw in the last election cycle in
Florida and Ohio?

The Supreme Court seems to be on their side. At least if you pay
attention to the comments.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: now regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, does
discrimination still exist when it comes to voting rights? Text "A" for
yes, text "B" for no, to 67622. You can always go to our blog at
Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring you results later on in the show.

Joining me tonight, Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

Congressman, great to have you with us this evening. Appreciate your
time on this.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Nothing is more important in America than the right and the
power to vote. How disturbed, or are you disturbed by the comments made by
Justice Scalia today?

CUMMINGS: I`m extremely disturbed, Ed, but not surprised. I think
when I listen to Justice Scalia, he seems to have forgotten the very
Constitution that he is supposed uphold.

And that Constitution gives the citizens of this country the right to
vote. It`s not some type of entitlement. It`s a right to vote. And we
have a right to vote and we have a right to have our votes counted.

And clearly, when he talks that entitlement stuff, that is far, far
off to the right. And clearly, what he is trying to do is trying to figure
out a way to do away with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But I can
tell you, Ed, I don`t think that`s going to happen.

But when you listen to the questions and the discussions that happened
today in the Supreme Court, I can tell you as a lawyer, it does concern me
where the court is going, particularly when we have Justice Roberts
questioning whether the Congress should be making these decisions.

So, basically, what they were saying was, well, you know, the
Congress, although we are elected by the people, perhaps we should not be
the ones to make the decisions on the reauthorizations of the Voting Rights
Act, and perhaps nine justices who have not been elected to anything --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

CUMMINGS: -- should have that right. And it just concerns me that.

SCHULTZ: That is a very profound point. They would rather have an
appointed body make the decisions on voting rights instead of an elected
body?

CUMMINGS: Isn`t that amazing?

SCHULTZ: I find that utterly amazing. I mean, their ideology, right
on their sleeve, right out in the open.

I mean, I think it is terribly misguided to think there is no longer
any discrimination over voting rights in this country. Just look at the
last election.

CUMMINGS: Ed, let me -- yes, let me tell you something, Ed. As you
know in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I`m a ranking
member, and we`ve done quite a bit of investigating with regard to True to
Vote and some of these organizations that have tried to prevent people from
voting. Of course, what you just talked about, the efforts to do -- to
have stricter voter ID laws and then doing away with early voting and
things of that nature.

SCHULTZ: Isn`t that what it`s about, Congressman? They want to get
the feds out of the way.

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right.

SCHULTZ: They want to have their own set of voting registration laws.
They want to make it as tough as it possibly can on any individual that
they really don`t want to see vote when it comes to registration. What
else could it be?

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right, Ed. And the fact, Ed, is this. They
know that America simply is not buying their philosophy.

And so, what they do? They say to themselves, let`s make sure that
people are not able to vote.

And to be frank with you, I think it`s one of the most unpatriotic
things I`ve ever heard of. Here we are going around the world, giving our
blood, sweat, and treasure to defend democracies, to make sure people are
able to vote, sending monitors, Ed, into other countries. And in our
country, in this country, we`ve got people standing in line five, six, or
seven hours.

Matter of fact, we just are out of the forum -- our committee held a
forum in Virginia, in Congressman Connelly`s district, where we had people
telling us, testifying that they stood in line for five and six hours
trying to vote.

SCHULTZ: And they don`t want to remedy that it seems like. It is
amazing what`s unfolding in the Supreme Court.

Quickly, how do you think they`ll rule? Do you think they`ll strike
it down, Section 5?

CUMMINGS: I -- no, I don`t, I don`t think so. I don`t think so. I
think it`s too important.

Keep in mind, Ed, we just reauthorized it in 2006. It was 98-0 in the
Senate, and 390-38 in the House. You can`t just do away with that.

SCHULTZ: Scalia says it`s the name of the bill. I mean, who would
vote against that, the Voting Rights Act? I mean, that`s how simplified
it`s gotten with them.

Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. I really appreciate
your time. Thank you.

Now, let`s turn to Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and former
communications director of the DNC. And also with us tonight, Dr. James
Peterson, director of African studies, and associate professor of English
at Lehigh University.

Karen, you first. Was today just a bad sign for the future of voting
rights in America in the Voting Act?

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It was very disturbing,
because certainly what we heard from the court, there was sort of a
fundamental lack of understanding of just the practical reality of what`s
happening in this country. I mean, remember that part of the reason we had
to have these, you know, laws about preclearance is the tactics that were
used from beating people as we saw, you know, in the Edmund Pettus Bridge,
to these kinds of insidious, you know, poll taxes and tests. And now, we
know we have plenty of evidence and data from the past election and
previous elections that again the tactics have shifted.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

FINNEY: And it`s not about voter registration. I think that`s a
really important point here. It`s about the opportunity to exercise your
right to vote and what it is you have to go through.

Sure, more African-Americans turned out than ever before, but many of
them had to wait eight and nine hours to be able to vote. That is --
they`re not even considering that in part of their arguments.

SCHULTZ: Dr. Peterson, another person who fought for voting rights
was Rosa Parks. She also marched in Alabama in 1965. Today, as the
Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments, a Rosa Parks statue was unveiled
at the Capitol rotunda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s been often remarked that Rosa Parks` activism didn`t
begin on that bus. Long before she made headlines, she had stood up for
freedom, stood up for equality, fighting for voting rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Dr. Peterson, what do you make of the irony of these two
things happening today?

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: It was -- it`s an unfortunate sort
of disrespect towards Rosa Parks` legacy. Karen is right. Congressman
Cummings is right.

We`re coming out of an election where we`re seeing all kinds of
different schemes and plans to delay the vote, to remove early voting, to
ramp up voter id. There are always going to be different ways of doing
this.

And here is the real question, Ed. If all these cities, states, and
municipalities are doing what they`re supposed to be doing around the
voting process, why do they need this oversight removed? Why does this
oversight have to be removed? Unless, you`re trying to come up with
additional schemes or you anticipate undocumented folk coming into the
polls or coming to the polls on one side of the aisle, unless you`re
anticipating some kind of surge in Democratic voting, I have no idea why
this is even being challenged at this point.

SCHULTZ: Well, judged on the way they acted in the last election, it
would make for a very active Department of Justice. They would have to be
looking everywhere because there would be no federal protection.

PETERSON: We need to expand it. Right. We should be expanding it.
That`s right.

SCHULTZ: As a minority, how do you feel about this? As a black man,
how do you feel about what unfolded today?

PETERSON: Well, I think, you know, I have a lot of respect for
Congressman Cummings and the entire civil rights movement. I understand
that I`m standing on the shoulders of giants in my career and in my life.

So I want to be a part of the battle to make sure we protect those
things that they fought so hard for. But, again, why all this attention?
Where is Shelby County coming from? What is the sort of directionality of
this record?

If you`re doing what you supposed to be doing around voting rights to
access to voting, this oversight is negligible. It doesn`t mean anything.

SCHULTZ: Karen, I don`t hear any Republican elected officials saying
anything about the Supreme Court and the kind of rhetoric thrown out today
by Antonin Scalia.

FINNEY: Yes, the silence is deafening, isn`t it? I mean, it`s really
quite shocking. And particularly if you think of the tradition of the
civil rights movement, I`ve done the reenactment of the Edmund Pettus
Bridge walk with Congressman Lewis. Part of the history and the legacy was
it wasn`t just African-Americans. There were white Americans --

SCHULTZ: Sure.

FINNEY: -- who participated in this process because they understood
it was wrong. What was happening was wrong.

And that shouldn`t be something that has a partisan label.

SCHULTZ: All right.

FINNEY: It should not be that Republican members of Congress or any
Republican shouldn`t feel comfortable saying, you know, we need to keep the
Voting Rights Act in place.

Frankly, Ed, after what we saw in the last election, it should be
expanded. Think about the number of states --

SCHULTZ: Sure, it should.

PETERSON: Exactly, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: But they knew they could.

SCHULTZ: Absolutely. Karen Finney, great to have you with us.
James Peterson, the same. Appreciate it so much being on THE ED SHOW.

Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of the
screen. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and @EdShow, and on
Facebook. We want to know what you think always.

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley is here tonight on what today`s hearing
might mean for the future of voting rights in America. A lot more to talk
about. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up, the National Rifle Association suffers a huge
defeat. THE ED SHOW congressional committee is here the break it all down
for you tonight.

One month before the NFL draft, a major college prospect is asked if
he likes girls. What`s the NFL doing when it comes to gay issues? A Super
Bowl champ is here to respond.

Don`t forget, you can listen to my radio show on Sirius XM Radio
Channel 127, Monday through Friday, noon to 3:00 p.m.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter using #EdShow.
We`re coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And we are back. Thanks for watching tonight.

If the Supreme Court overturns part of the Voting Rights Act, the
impact would be absolutely enormous. We`re talking about decades of legal
protection for the voting rights of minorities in this country. What we
have told you before this break was really just the tip of the iceberg.

Justice Antonin Scalia was so vocal in his opposition to the Voting
Rights Act today, Justice Elena Kagan broke with protocol and addressed
Justice Scalia by name.

"It was clear to 98 senators," she said, "including every senator from
a covered state who decided there was a continuing need for this piece of
legislation." Scalia responded, "Or decided perhaps they better not vote
against it."

At another point, Justice Scalia said, "This is not the kind of
question you leave to Congress. Even the name is wonderful, the Voting
Rights Act. Who`s going to vote against that?"

It bears repeating, Justice Scalia also said this: "Whenever a society
adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through
the normal political process."

Let`s turn to Professor Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor
at George Washington University.

Professor, good to have you with us tonight.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Section 5, if it is struck down by the Supreme Court, what
does it mean to voting rights in this country? What does it mean to local
and state governments?

TURLEY: Well, it`s a fundamental blow, because Section 5 is the
really point of the spear for the entire act. It focuses on so-called
covered states that have had the worst history, the worst legacy of the
denial of votes.

And that`s what is so tragically ironic about Justice Scalia`s
comments when he talks about entitlement. The entitlement is the right to
vote in the Constitution. And that has been denied.

So this was -- he was talking about a provision that deals with the
disenfranchisement of people, the denial of something they`re entitled to.

But if he does have with him four other justices, the section could be
struck, but the act would survive. And what that means is that it would
apply to all 50 states. But the most active component of the act, Section
5 would be nullified.

And you also have to keep in mind, Ed, the importance of the comments
today may also have significance for an opinion that we`re all waiting for,
which is the Fisher case. And that deals with the ability to use race in
college admissions.

And many of the comments today really left folks worrying about the
court making this an extraordinary term of a sea change when it comes to
race laws. Not just voting, but also possibly the use of race through
admissions processes.

SCHULTZ: OK. Back to Section 5 for a moment. To be very clear here,
as you are, I want our viewers to know that if Section 5 is knocked down,
this takes away any kind of federal oversight.

And I think the point here that needs to be made and clarified, what
latitude legally does that give state governments to start running
elections? Could they not come up with laws that would make it very
cumbersome to disenfranchise people, disincentivize people to go out and
even register? What about that?

TURLEY: Well, basically the reason we have Section 5 is that these
states were gaming the system. They would impose unconstitutional laws.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

TURLEY: They would infringe voting. And when they were struck down,
they`d just immediately pass another one.

So the laws were all reactive. This made it proactive. It made the
states come to the federal government to look at these types of plans. If
you get rid of it, you return to that past system where you can have the
sort of Monte card game going on where you`re not too sure where the laws
are going to end up on voting on the day of voting.

And we have seen a lot of these encumbrances in just the last election
across the country.

SCHULTZ: Are you troubled by Scalia`s comments about the Congress
making these decisions instead of the Supreme Court? That maybe they
should be doing it?

TURLEY: I was -- it was a breathtaking comment. It was also pretty
ill-conceived. I mean not only is he getting the entitlement wrong as to
whose entitlement should really be worried about here, I thought it was
somewhat humorous. You know, it has such a nice name whom. Who would vote
against it?

He didn`t seem bothered by the Patriot Act that had a pretty nice name
too, but he didn`t question that one.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

TURLEY: But, you know, what`s really amazing is he was articulating
what we call a super legislature system where the judges sit as the super
legislature. Many conservatives use that as a way of describing judicial
activism.

SCHULTZ: Absolutely. He sounded like an activist judge today, no
question about it. Elections have consequences.

Jonathan Turley, professor, good to have you with us tonight. Thank
you.

Congressman Keith Ellison, what did he do? Well, he just flat-out
hammered Sean Hannity. I`ll show you what set off the Minnesota nice
congressman.

Republican talking points are destroyed by reality on Capitol Hill
today. THE ED SHOW congressional committee and panel is here with the
latest.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

You know, a guy can only take so much lying. Tonight, I`m calling out
my old buddy Sean Hannity for way he conducts business over at FOX News.

Now, last night Hannity claimed President Obama is trying to scare
Americans over the fallout from the sequester. He put together I thought a
very disrespectful video mocking the consequences of the looming spending
cuts. Here is a small portion of the two-minute clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Border patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents
will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and
potentially let criminals go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Well, Hannity`s guest, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison,
he didn`t care too much for that video. Ellison put away his Minnesota
nice attitude for a measurement and gave Hannity a piece of his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLISON: Quite frankly, you are the worst excuse for a journalist
I`ve ever seen.

HANNITY: I am the what? I can`t hear you.

ELLISON: The worst. You heard me.

HANNITY: No. Say it again. I didn`t hear you.

ELLISON: I heard you -- I mean, what you just displayed was not
journalism. It was yellow journalism.

Every journalistic ethic I have ever heard of was just violated by
you.

HANNITY: Conservative.

ELLISON: You are a shill for the Republican Party.

HANNITY: I`m a registered conservative, sir.

ELLISION: And you alibi them constantly.

The people watching your show should ignore all of the commentary you
put in and all of the hype and music that you put on and should pay
attention to what the president actually said. Because what the president
said was true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: That`s a hot one. What do you think?

Congressman Ellison hit it out of the park? I think so.

People should ignore Hannity because these spending cuts are serious.
If no deal is reached by Friday, here is the deal -- 10,000 teachers could
lose their jobs, airport security could be cut by $323 million, 70,000 kids
would be kicked off Head Start, FEMA`s disaster relief budget would be cut
by $375 million. Public housing would be cut by 1.9 billion dollars. And
overall, hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs would be at risk.

The list goes on and on. Hannity has no clue to mock these cuts with
his video. And again, he is just flat-out wrong. President Obama isn`t
fear mongering over the sequester. He is looking out for American people.
It`s something Sean Hannity knows nothing about.

Now, with that, I`m just going to let Congressman Ellison wrap things
up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Quite frankly, you are the worst
excuse for a journalist I`ve ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their days of holding our country hostage are
coming to an end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Illinois voters fire a shot heard around the country. There
is major movement on gun safety. And the big congressional panel weighs in
next.

A North Dakota lawmaker objects to a missing children`s law. And she
is using Jesus as her excuse. The bizarre story ahead.

And does the NFL have the right to ask about sexual orientation?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK KASA, FORMER COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER: They asked me like, do you
have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Super Bowl champion Brendan Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore
Ravens takes on the NFL`s tolerance for gay players. That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And we are back. It was an emotional day on Capitol Hill as
the debate over an assault weapons ban came to a Senate hearing. We heard
from the father of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, one of the 20 children gunned
down at Sandy Hook Elementary. Neil Heslin says he supports the Second
Amendment, but says the time has come for an assault weapons ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF CHILD KILLED AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY: And
Jesse was the love of my life. He was the only family I have left. It`s
hard for me to be here today to talk about my deceased son. But I have to.
I`m his voice.

I`m not here for the sympathy and a pat on the back. As many people
stated in the town of Newtown, I`m here to speak up for my son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Meanwhile, Milwaukee, Wisconsin`s police chief, Edward
Flynn, called out Senator Lindsey Graham for parroting NRA talking points
regarding background checks. Senator Graham, who says he owns an AR-15,
also says existing laws should be enforced. But Flynn pointed out that he
and other law enforcement officers aren`t interested in paper chases.
They`re focused on preventing people from getting guns illegally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD FLYNN, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN POLICE CHIEF: Just for the record,
for my point of view, senator, the purpose of the background check --

SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: How many cases have you
made?

FLYNN: You know what, it doesn`t matter. It`s a paper thing. I want
to stop 76 -- I want to finish the answer.

GRAHAM: No --

FLYNN: : I want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally.
That`s what a background check does. If you think we`re going to do
paperwork prosecutions, you`re wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHULTZ: Gun control advocates were given some hope last night.
Robin Kelly, a candidate who proudly flaunted her F rating from the NRA,
won the Democratic primary in Illinois`s second congressional district, a
seat left vacant by former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Kelly easily
defeated her closest competitor, a pro-gun Democrat. She got a two million
dollar boost from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose ads turned this
race into a referendum on existing gun laws.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBIN KELLY (D-IL), CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Today you did more than
cast a vote. You sent a message that was heard around our state and across
the nation, a message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our
country hostage are coming to an end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Let`s turn to our congressional panel tonight. Congressman
Jim Moran of Virginia joins us, along with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of
Illinois and Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky. Great to have all of
you with us.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, let`s talk with you first, because
Bloomberg`s group says this was a real defeat for the National Rifle
Association. And the candidate who won last night seems to agree. Do you
agree? How much of a change in the wind is this in the fight for gun
control?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Oh, there is no question that it
was a victory for those forces against gun violence. A personal victory,
of course, for Robin Kelly, who for a very long time has been a defender of
laws that protect against gun violence. She is not new to this fight.

But I think that there is now a different calculation that candidates
have to make, that there is a real player that is willing to take on the
NRA. And that`s the Mayors against Gun Violence --

SCHULTZ: Sure.

SCHAKOWSKY: -- and other activists. So as members reach for the --
to put their card in to vote, they`re going to have to be thinking that the
NRA isn`t just holding fort, but it is also that we`re going to be there
fighting against them.

SCHULTZ: OK. Congressman Yarmuth, is this victory an Illinois
momentum for gun control, for instance, or is this just Chicago speaking
out against gun violence? How will this play in Kentucky? And will it be
a factor?

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY: Well, I`m not sure that the Chicago
election will make a difference in Kentucky. But Kentucky has already made
a statement itself. We have polls recently, 75 percent of Kentuckians
support background checks; 65 percent of Kentuckians actually support gun
registration with the state, not the federal government, but with the
state.

So the tide is turning. People understand it. And I think the most
important thing is that gun owners actually want to be -- want to make sure
that only responsible people own guns. So it`s not just the general
population. It`s actually responsible gun owners, the balance of the NRA
membership, who are not being represented by their leadership, who are
making the same statements.

So I was thrilled to see Chicago make that statement, because, you
know, if you go back in history, Abner Mikva was one of the cases in which
the NRA actually was able to create this mythology that they could swing
elections. So it`s kind of ironic and poetic justice that now Chicago
makes the changing statement.

SCHULTZ: Congressman Moran, we heard emotional testimony supporting
assault weapons ban. Will it move the needle at all? What do you think?

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: I think it moves the need well the
American public. And in the way this democracy is supposed to work, it
should move the needle with members of Congress. I was disappointed to see
that the chair of our Judiciary Committee that the legislation would have
to pass through -- he is from Virginia -- said that he`ll oppose background
checks. He cited the inconvenience that it will cause gun purchasers.

But hopefully the Senate can get it in. Chuck Schumer`s bill
hopefully will pass the Senate and then come back to the House. But time
is not on our side. It`s on the NRA`s side. And that`s why I appreciate
your highlighting this issue. We can`t give up on this issue, Ed. And you
know, there is 30,000 deaths now from guns. And car deaths have now
dropped below 30,000.

In fact, there is considerably more firearm deaths in Virginia than
there are deaths by automobiles. But that`s because we have seat belt
laws. We have drunk driving penalties. We require driver`s licenses.
Auto manufacturers have to build safer vehicles. That`s the kind of thing
that the American public should be demanding of gun manufacturers.

And we have to keep this push going. And thank God for Mayor
Bloomberg.

SCHULTZ: Well, that brings up a real question here. If races are
funded, and this is a key issue, will it have an impact around the country?
Congresswoman Schakowsky, do you believe there are other places in Illinois
that Bloomberg money could make a difference?

SCHAKOWSKY: There is absolutely no question about it. The fact that
this issue is highlighted, and the fact that there is actually money behind
it that can be put into campaigns makes the scenario completely different
than it used to be.

SCHULTZ: All right.

SCHAKOWSKY: The NRA was virtually alone. And if they decided to
score a bill, everybody -- or a majority would just say OK, I`m going with
them. Now I think it`s very different. Everybody is going to have to
think twice.

SCHULTZ: Vice President Joe Biden also got emotional today speaking
before state attorneys generals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The excuse that it`s
too politically risky to act is no longer acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: And John Yarmuth, in Kentucky, is it politically risky?

YARMUTH: Well, you know, I think in some parts of my state. We`re a
huge gun-owning state, a very big hunting state. I think it might be risky
in some places. But I think what this election actually demonstrated is
kind of this -- again, expose the mythology of the fact that if you take on
the NRA, you`re automatically dead politically. I think that`s the key
revelation of this election.

And that is that you can be a responsible gun safety legislation and
not risk your political career. And I think everybody has kind of had
their eyes opened to that fact, even in Kentucky.

SCHULTZ: Jim, is the administration preparing to act with or without
Congress? What do you think?

MORAN: Well, there is only so much the administration can do without
the Congress. But we were elected to lead. That`s our job. And if we
don`t lead, then we really bear some culpability for the next massacre of
innocents, Ed. It`s our responsibility now to work with the president to
do the right thing. It`s what the American public, the vast majority of
the American public wants. It`s our responsibility to act.

SCHULTZ: Quickly, I want all of your reaction to what you saw in the
Senate hearing today, when that police chief fired right back at Senator
Lindsey Graham. That`s the kind of conversation, and that`s the kind of
responses that I think this debate has been lacking. Jan, what do you
think?

SCHAKOWSKY: Absolutely. The passion of this police chief against the
kind of nitpicking of Senator Graham I think really set for the American
people what this fight is about, and that law enforcement is so
passionately on the side of preventing gun violence.

SCHULTZ: They really are.

SCHAKOWSKY: Makes a difference.

SCHULTZ: John, your thoughts.

YARMUTH: Yeah, I agree. I had three different programs in my
district last week, all focused on gun safety proposals. And the vast
majority of people who were there were very supportive, who were concerned.
There is no fear for politicians to be on the side of gun safety
regulations.

SCHULTZ: Well, his passion certainly paralleled yours, Congressman
Moran. I thought that was you testifying there for a moment.

MORAN: You give me too much credit. Sounded like you, though, I have
to say.

SCHULTZ: Great to have all you have with us tonight, Congressman Jim
Moran, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and Congressman John Yarmuth. Great
to have you on.

A Republican state rep compares Casey Anthony to Mary and Joseph.
I`ll tell you about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Well, here is one from the wild, wild west. Legislators in
the state of North Dakota are looking for ways to protect children from
abuse and neglect. Bill 2125 aims to do just that. The bipartisan bill
would require parents or care takers to report a child as missing or face a
penalty. It seems pretty easy to get behind that, doesn`t it?

Care takers would need to report a child missing within 24 hours if
the child is under 13 years of age, or within 48 hours if the child is
between the ages of 13 and 17. It would also require the death of a child
to be reported within two hours. And that basically is it. That`s the
bill.

The bill, informally known as Caylee`s law, was introduced in response
to stories like Caylee Anthony`s. She is the two year old girl who was
missing for a full 31 days before it was reported to authorities. The bill
had overwhelming support in the Senate, and now heads to the House. But
not everyone was a supporter. Meet Senator Margaret Sitte of Bismarck,
North Dakota.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET SITTE, NORTH DAKOTA STATE SENATOR: I affectionately call
this bill the Make Mary and Joseph felons bill because Jesus was missing
for three days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: That`s right. Senator Sitte doesn`t support this bill aimed
at protecting children because if Mary and Joseph happened to live in
modern-day North Dakota, when they accidentally left 12-year-old Jesus at
the temple for three days after celebrating the Feast of the Passover and
they didn`t report Jesus missing, they would have been held accountable
under the law.

Senator Sitte needs to realize an awful lot has happened in the last
2,000 years. I suggest her fellow Republicans kind of bring her up to date
a little bit. I`m sure if Mary and Joseph lived in Bismarck in the 21st
century, the whole story might have been just a little bit different.

Tonight in our survey, I asked you, regardless of how the Supreme
Court rules, does discrimination still exist when it comes to voting
rights? Ninety nine percent of you say yes; one percent of you say no.

Coming up, Super Bowl champion Brendan Ayanbadejo will join us tonight
on the new controversy swirling around the National Football League
combine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And in the big finish tonight, this next story could cause
some real problems for the National Football League. A young draft
prospect says he was asked about his sexual orientation during an interview
at the combine. The story shed some light on how far gay rights have come
for some Americans and not others.

California passed Proposition 8 limiting marriage to a man and a woman
five years ago. Another example, this week, 75 prominent Republicans and
200 major corporations asked the Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8.
Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell has already been repealed, and the president has
declared his support for same-sex marriage.

Here is another sign of change. These young men were legally married
in the chapel at West Point Military Academy just a few weeks ago. But
these young Americans may not share the same freedom. The athletes at the
National Football League combine, well, they can`t come out. It`s illegal
to ask anyone about their sexual orientation during a job interview. So
tight end Nick Kasa says he was caught off guard when a perspective
employer asked if he liked girls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get any weirdly personal questions?

KASA: Yes. They asked -- they asked like do you have a girlfriend?
Are you married? Do you like girls? Those kind of things. And it was
just kind of weird.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Kasa won`t say who asked the question, but the NFL announced
today that it will investigate. Meanwhile, star linebacker Manti Te`o is
being asked repeatedly by reporters about his sexual orientation. And NBC
Sports commentator Mike Florio says the coaches are curious as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE FLORIO, NBC SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Here is the elephant in the room
for the teams. And it shouldn`t matter, but we have to step aside from the
rest of reality and walk into the industry, the unique industry that is the
NFL. Teams want to know whether or not Manti Te`o is gay. They just want
to know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: We`ll see a lot of new talent come out of the draft this
April, always. But none of them will be really able to come out at all.
I`m joined tonight by Brendan Ayanbadejo, who is a Super Bowl champion
linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, a three-time Pro Bowler, and a pioneer
of marriage equality and gay rights advocacy in the National Football
League.

Brendan, congratulations, first of all. You`ve had an awesome year.
And thanks for being on the program tonight. This is a pretty dicey
subject for the National Football League. This is new territory for teams
dealing with this. Is sexual orientation the elephant in the room for the
NFL?

BRENDAN AYANBADEJO, SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I mean, apparently it has
been. But in the past, it really hasn`t been an issue. And now it`s been
on the forefront after what happened in -- with the San Francisco 49ers in
the Super Bowl and what happened with me earlier in the season, when a
delegate from Maryland called me out and asked me to be quiet and not talk
about equal rights.

So it seems like it`s not only on the forefront of the NFL, but it`s
also on the forefront for politics and things that are going on within our
country as well.

SCHULTZ: Do you think that a player`s answer at the Combine could
affect their chances of getting drafted or moving up or down or even out of
the draft?

AYANBADEJO: Yeah. You know, teams are really fickle. There are all
kinds of things they want to know. Sometimes they`ll take a chance and
sometimes they won`t take a chance. It all depends on how your interviews
go and also how well you do at the Combine. But a lot of teams really,
they want to talk to you. They want to get a feel for your personality.
They want to see what you`re like. And they really want to get that one-
on-one face time.

If you give them the wrong answers, then that could potentially be the
difference between you being with that team in the first round or
potentially slipping to another team later in the draft.

SCHULTZ: So what do you think is the right answer if a player is
asked about his sexuality in the NFL?

AYANBADEJO: Well, selfishly, you know, I think players need to say
that they`re straight right now. You need to get drafted as high as you
can get drafted, get the money while you can. Your career is only going to
last 3.5 years. So, you know, initially, right now with the way that
things are going, with the bigotry that still exists and the discrimination
that still exists in locker rooms throughout the NFL and the sports arena
in general, I think you just need to say hey, I`m straight, I love women,
and keep everything so-called normal.

And maybe later, once you establish yourself and when we break down
some of these walls in the NFL, then players can be more comfortable to
really be who they are.

SCHULTZ: So the best counseling, the best answer from an agent or
advice from an agent right now to a player would be just go ahead and lie
about it?

AYANBADEJO: Well, I think, you know, selfishly, players need to do
that right now. And of course, that`s why you haven`t seen a player come
out in the NFL yet. But that`s why players like myself and Chris Kluee
(ph) and Scott Fijita (ph), we work so hard that we can eventually break
down the walls and let people be who they are truly express themselves.
And we feel like they`ll be better people and better football players as
well.

SCHULTZ: Do you think that there will ever be in the near future some
players coming out and staying on rosters?

AYANBADEJO: Absolutely. It`s just a matter of time. I think it`s
going to happen really soon. But right now, at this NFL combine, I don`t
think you`re going to see that. Maybe next year or the following year, we
feel like we`re going to see our Jackie Robinson, our pioneer for gay
rights and equality. And you know, we`re going to be there to support that
player and make sure that he has a support group around him, so he has
everything that he needs.

SCHULTZ: OK. Brendan Ayanbadejo, great to have you on THE ED SHOW
tonight. Thank you for your answers. I appreciate it very much.

And that is THE ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW"
starts right now from Washington. Big day today, Rachel.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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