'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, June 29th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
June 29, 2013
Guests: Kenji Yoshino, Barbara Armwine, Caroline Fredrickson, Wade
Henderson, Evan Wolfson, John Nichols, Dan Schlademan
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question. Who the
hell this Putin thinks he is. Plus, the fears of a hollow victory in the
Supreme Court rulings this week. And a huge step forward on immigration
reform. But first, this week in voter suppression is back in the supreme
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Thank you for joining us. The
Supreme Court giveth and it taketh away. It was a mixed bag this week for
members of the Diverse Progressive Coalition, whose lives hung in the
balance while the court rendered its decisions on its foremost highly
anticipated history-making equal rights cases.
On the one hand, unbridled joy and celebration as Windsor versus United
States took its place alongside other outcomes that have become synonymous
with human equality. The court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and
affirmed federal protections for same-sex couples in states that currently
recognize their unions. And at Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court
essentially legalized same-sex marriage in California by punting honest
decision and restoring the original ruling of a trial judge that overturned
Proposition 8. On the other hand, there is disappointment and uncertainty
for the future of democracy after the court gutted a signature piece of
legislation that has secured the right to vote for millions of Americans
for nearly 50 years. The court`s invalidation of Section 4 of the Voting
Rights Act removed the teeth from Section 5, the provision that had
required preclearance of voting changes in states with demonstrable
histories of racial discrimination.
And in so doing, broke the strongest line of defense against voter
suppression, a defense that was deployed to great effect as recently as
last year, when Section 5 was all that stood between some minority voters
and laws that would have kept them from passing a ballot on election day.
No sooner had those floodgates opened than the very kind of legislation
Section 5 was meant to stop came pouring through. Texas and North Carolina
are already moving to enact voter I.D. legislation in response to the
ruling. So now it`s up to Congress, yeah, Congress, to review and revise
Section 4`s coverage formula to determine which states qualify today for
federal oversight of their voting laws.
But let`s be clear. The consequences of the Supreme Court`s decision was
not to empower Congress at all. In fact, whether the outcome of these
cases has inspired celebration, mourning, or a bittersweet combination of
the two, we can all agree on a single, most consistent theme communicated
by the court this week. That the biggest loser in all of these cases was
the federal government. A loss lamented by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in
her dissenting opinion for the minority in Shelby County v. Holder. Where
she wrote, "The question this case presents is who decides whether Section
5 remains justifiable. This court or a Congress charged with the
obligation to enforce the post-civil war amendments by appropriate
legislation. With overwhelming support in both Houses, Congress concluded
that for two prime reasons, Section 5 should continue in force, unabated.
First, continuance would facilitate completion of the impressive gains thus
far made. And second, continuance would guard against backsliding. Those
assessments were well within Congress` province to make and should elicit
this court`s unstinting approbation." As we like to say in Nerdland,
Ginsburg is boss.
HARRIS-PERRY: Except, instead of approval for Congress` call on Voting
Rights, the court`s majority express this - its contempt by gutting those
congressional powers, thus weakening a federal authority to defend equality
has robbed and marginalized Americans who are still very much in need of
equal rights protections of one of the most powerful allies. And it`s what
makes the two very different rulings we saw in the DOMA and VRA cases more
alike than they may seem. It just so happens that in the DOMA case, the
loss for the government meant a win for marriage equality. Justice
Kennedy, in writing the majority opinion, negated the power of the federal
government to, quote, "Disparage and injure those whom the state by its
marriage laws sought to protect in personhood and dignity." In invoking
the principle of state autonomy, the court`s decision on DOMA has secured
those protections for couples in the 13 states and the District of Columbia
where same-sex marriage is legal.
But it also may have denied those still waiting that equality the
possibility of a more robust victory. A victory that still remains only a
distant hope in 37 states. The same argument against federal power that
protected the rights for some could also be erected as a barrier to prevent
Congress from passing a national marriage equality law that would guarantee
those same rights to all. Which means that whether this week left you
crying tears of joy or remorse, yes, the struggle still continues.
With me at the table is Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Caroline Fredrickson,
president of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Kenji
Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of constitutional law at
New York University School of Law. And Barbara Armwine, president and
executive director of the Lawyers` Committee for Civil Rights under the
Law. What a week!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
HARRIS-PERRY: Wade, let`s start with the VRA, just so we`re kind of
moving through time this week.
WADE HENDERSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Sure.
HARRIS-PERRY: How afraid should we be about this ruling?
HENDERSON: We should be very afraid, Melissa. What the court did was, in
essence, declare that the fight for equal rights, regarding voting, is
over. In a very cynical opinion on behalf of the majority, Justice Roberts
in effect concedes at the outset that voting problems still exist in
HENDERSON: And then turns his back on that very evidence to declare
mission accomplished --
HENDERSON: When it comes to talking about protecting the right to vote.
We should be very afraid. Because what the court did, not only invalidated
the heart of the Voting Rights Act as John Lewis said, our great hero on
the Voting Rights Act, it was a dagger in the heart --
HENDERSON: -- of the Voting Rights Act, but it also sets the stage for
more problems in the future. Because as you pointed out so correctly,
states like Texas and North Carolina have moved expeditiously to put into
place a voter I.D. law that will have devastating impact on the right to
vote in those states.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I mean, wait, when you say, you know, stabbing in the
heart, let`s be sure that we`re also very clear --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- it was the heart of Dixie that was covered.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let`s remember - take a look at the map that was the
Section 5 pre-coverage area. Right, the area where, in fact, you had to
have preclearance in order to change your voting rights. So there`s a lot
of rhetoric on this, but, basically, if you were going to make voting
changes, if you were in these areas that you see in red, then those areas
had to actually first get preclearance.
HENDERSON: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, let`s take a look at what the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
has already been tracking in terms of states indicating they`re moving
ahead right away on new restricting voting laws. Oh, look, how similar --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- this map looks to that other one. Barbara, this feels
to me like the actual empirical evidence of the thing the court just told
us no longer exists.
BARBARA ARNWINE, LAWYERS` CMTE. FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: Oh, it`s the
rise, again, of the neo confederacy. The court (ph) decision -- .
HARRIS-PERRY: It looks an awful lot like the old confederacy.
ARNWINE: That`s right. Exactly. I mean it`s the court, you know,
restoring state rights as their fundamental principle over, you know,
racial -- over, you know, ameliorating, destroying racial discrimination.
This is a really ugly decision, and what we`re going to have to do is just
fight. And we cannot think that what we just saw on that map is what
ARNWINE: We`re going to have to really organize, we`re going to have to
go not only into the courts and litigate. Because, remember, Section 5 and
Section 4 are just one -- just two of the many provisions --
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Section 2 --
ARNWINE: -- of the Voting Rights Act.
HARRIS-PERRY: Section 2 still stand --
ARNWINE: Is still as powerful.
ARNWINE: So is Section 3. So as many other things. And we`re going to
get a new - you know, if we`re going to go into Congress and we`re going to
go into the states and get new laws.
ARNWINE: I mean, we`ve got to be very clear that we don`t just take this.
ARNWINE: That this is a time for mass resistance, it`s a time for people
to rise up for justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So, on that. Because as we take to the streets or as
we just line up behind Ruth Bader Ginsburg as saying ah! Ah! Ah! Right
after I --
HARRIS-PERRY: I just want to know, help me to understand the ruling
around Section 4 here. Because, I wasn`t sure, and I`ve tried to read it a
couple of times. Kenji, are they saying that you simply cannot treat any
state differently, as an inherent matter. So that in order for there to be
preclearance, it must be preclearance for all or preclearance for none? Or
are they saying that there is some other substantive formula that Congress
could theoretically come up with that would then give teeth back to Section
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: Yeah, so that`s an
excellent question, and there are definitely notes about the equal
sovereignty of the states and how the Voting Rights Act now calls into
question the equal sovereignty of Georgia vis-a-vis, you know,
Massachusetts or what have you. But I think that the upshot of it is that,
you know, let`s remember that the baseline constitutional inquiry is
whether or not this is congruent proportional to violations of voting
rights on the basis of race, right?
YOSHINO: So, if we can come up with a formula, if Congress can have the
will to come up with a formula that says, well, we`re actually jiggering
there, pegging this to demonstrable violations on the basis of voting
rights and the basis of race, then it should be constitutional. What`s so
outrageous about this, going back to Barbara`s point, is that Congress
already did that!
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, in 2010!
HARRIS-PERRY: Right now -- .
HARRIS-PERRY: They kept saying, this are 40-year-old data. But in 2006,
when it was reauthorized, there were new data.
YOSHINO: Exactly. So they looked at all the data. There was 15,000
pages of congressional records.
YOSHINO: That was a 98-0 vote in the Senate, a unanimous vote in the
Senate, and then a super majority vote, I think it was like 300 --
YOSHINO: 390 to 33, I think, is the ultimate number in the House of
Representatives. So this was passed with the overwhelming majority. You
know, I just have to get this out. During oral argument, Justice Scalia
said, you know, if something is unanimous, then that actually calls the
integrity of the process into question, because it means that people are
YOSHINO: -- and it suggests that there`s some kind of racial preferment
or entitlement going on.
YOSHINO: I`m kind of like, OK, so in the future, is that a note to people
in the Senate who favor voting rights that they should throw their votes
YOSHINO: -- to protect it from Justice Scalia on the back end? Which -
I mean this is a crazy way of thinking about, you know, constitutional law.
CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, PRES., AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY FOR LAW &
POLICY: -- the same --
FREDERICKSON: -- to DOMA, that`s for sure.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, yeah, and - but so let me ask something, if there is,
theoretically, some possible equation, is disparate impact part of that
equation? So, in other words, as Congress develops this theoretical
equation that hopefully will not have unanimous support --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- but only say, two-thirds support, so that it will pass
Scalia`s test, can they say that if a new law disparately impacts
minorities, the disabled people, the elderly, for example, then that,
itself, is sufficient evidence, or are they going to have to -- since
history is no longer a sufficient claim, is disparate impact a sufficient
FREDRICKSON: Well, I mean, you know, I think there are a lot of measures
that you could look at. But I, you know, I just - to go back to the
empirical evidence that they had --
FREDRICKSON: I think, you know, in addition to what Kenji was mentioning
in terms of the 15,000 pages of evidence, there were actually 600 plus
examples of the Justice Department rejecting changes since the last
reauthorization that would have disenfranchised minority voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
FREDRICKSON: And so talking about desperate impact, I mean it`s clearly
there. I mean they actually have these examples that Section 5 has been
enormously powerful in protecting people`s right to vote against an
onslaught of efforts. And these are things that I think are way below the
radar in most cases, because we`re talking about city council --
FREDRICKSON: -- county councils -- .
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
FREDRICKSON: -- school board, changing voting districts --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
FREDRICKSON: -- going from at large to multi --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- but, of course, school boards are exactly how Art Pope
ended up buying North Carolina. So, it does matter. Stay with us. It is
going to be almost impossible this entire day to get me to go to
HARRIS-PERRY: The Nerdland crew is screaming in my ear, we`ve got to pay
for the show! But we will be back on this topic when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: With its decision to do away with DOMA and affirm marriage
equality, the Supreme Court belatedly got on board a train that had already
left the station. Popular support for same-sex marriage first outpaced
opposition two years ago, according to polling firm Pew Research. And that
support is only increasing. It`s a trend that re-writes an old rule.
Because as it turns out, familiarity does not breed contempt. As LGBT
Americans have enjoyed increasing freedoms to become more completely and
openly themselves, familiarity has given way to tolerance, acceptance,
understanding, and paved way for what follows. Government enforcing the
will of the people by enshrining that expanded equality into law.
It`s what the Supreme Court`s decision on affirmative action this week is
part of why it was so disheartening. You see, the justices sent a case
back to the Texas appeals court, with orders to reconsider the U.T. Austin
admissions policy under a strict standard that could put the program in
jeopardy and open the door for future challenges that could end affirmative
action altogether. Which could ultimately close the door on the kind of
progressive momentum around race policy that we witnessed this week for
marriage equality. Because where else do we find those faces for
acceptance and understanding among unfamiliar identities than in diverse
college classrooms enabled and created by affirmative action.
So I want us to talk about this affirmative action thing, but I also don`t
want us to lose VRA, because they feel connected to me.
HENDERSON: But let`s go back to the Texas voter I.D. issue --
HENDERSON: -- which has been put central in the debate about Voting
Rights Act. In Texas, even the state itself, when that voter I.D. law was
passed, conceded that 800,000 of their citizens would be disenfranchised,
because they didn`t have the I.D. necessary to vote. In fact, Texas
allowed individuals who had concealed carry permits to vote, but students
with valid I.D. couldn`t.
HENDERSON: So the assumption that voter I.D. simply requires you to
produce a picture I.D. is absolutely false. And I want to say something
about Kenji`s point about the 98-to nothing issue that Justice Scalia
seemed to ignore. In fact, he was confirmed by that same vote, 98-to
HENDERSON: One would think that that raises questions under his standard
about how efficacious is confirmation --
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, that`s very good, Wade!
ARNWINE: But also, you know, what still strikes me about this opinion is
that when you read it, it is interestingly myopic and revisionistic about
ARNWINE: -- because what it doesn`t talk about is the last two years.
ARNWINE: All of a sudden, there`s nothing about the Texas voter I.D. law
ARNWINE: There`s nothing about the fight that we had in South Carolina,
ARNWINE: -- all of the, you know, all of the states, there`s nothing
about that. In fact, they don`t even talk about racial polarization and
voting very well. And there`s so much that they get wrong in this
decision. That`s why it won`t stand the test of time. It`s going to be
overruled, no doubt about it.
FREDRICKSON: If I could jump in on Barbara`s point, I mean I think, you
know, the terrible irony is that they didn`t look at Alabama.
FREDRICKSON: There`s plaintiff in the case, who has an incredible recent
ARNWINE: Right. Absolutely.
FREDRICKSON: -- of voting violations, and has been in the - under
the microscope of the Justice Department for exactly that reason.
You know, one of the things, I think, is very disheartening about the
opinion, and maybe is revealing, is how little attention is actually paid
to the Constitution.
FREDRICKSON: And Chief Justice Roberts barely gives a glance to the
15th Amendment, which says --
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is where it is!
FREDRICKSON: Right. Congress has the authority to pass appropriate
legislation. Now, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who I know now we are all super
fans of, you know, pointed to that very clearly and said, what about this?
FREDRICKSON: It says Congress gets to decide. We can`t substitute our
own policy judgment. We might not like the way they did the formula, but
that`s Congress` job. Not the court`s.
HARRIS-PERRY: But let me ask this, because both the 15th Amendment and
the 19th Amendment, and the other sort of voting amendments are there, and
what they do is they prohibit states from behaving in certain ways. Is it
time for an affirmative, constitutional right to vote for all citizens over
YOSHINO: Right. So, it may be. I mean - but I don`t think we need to
even go there --
YOSHINO: -- because I think we have enough with the amendments that you
mentioned. So the 15th, the 19th, the 24th, and the 26th amendments are
all amendments dealing with the right to vote. You know, expanding the
franchise on the basis of race, on the basis of gender, on the basis of
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Poll tax.
YOSHINO: Poll tax. And the basis of age.
YOSHINO: Right? And so for me, what`s so scandalous about this decision
is exactly what Caroline was saying. Which is, what we have is something
that`s at the intersection of a fundamental right, the right to vote, and
race, which is a heightened scrutiny classification.
And so the idea that Congress, having been given under 15-2, Section 2 of
the 15th Amendment, the right to enact legislation that is appropriate to
enforce the provisions of this article, meaning the voting, you know,
promise in 15-1, you know, it just seems so obvious that they would have
the right to enact something like the Voting Rights Act.
YOSHINO: So to me, I mean I think what we need to --
HARRIS-PERRY: And to reauthorize it. Right?
YOSHINO: Yes, absolutely.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not just - not just that the Congress of the 1960s had the
right to do it, but that the Congress of 2006 had a right to reaffirm it.
YOSHINO: Absolutely. And if a Congress of 2013 needs to asked, right?
YOSHINO: I mean, this is -- voting is different. Like, you know, I care
a lot about, obviously, about same-sex marriage. I care a lot about
affirmative action, but voting is different. The Supreme Court has told us
that voting is a right that is preservative of all other rights.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. Without it.
YOSHINO: So I think we need to face down Congress right now in 2013 --
YOSHINO: -- and say to them, OK, you keep telling us you can`t do
anything, everyone else keeps saying you`re so dysfunctional, you know,
maybe immigration is an exception, but you`re so dysfunctional on gun
control, et cetera, et cetera.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do this.
YOSHINO: If you can`t do this, what can you do?
HENDERSON: What is in fact the real issue behind Roberts` opinion? It`s
a cynical recognition --
HENDERSON: -- that Congress is dysfunctional. If you can`t pass a farm
bill -- .
HARRIS-PERRY: If you can`t raise the debt ceiling.
HENDERSON: Right. Your debt ceiling, your economic status globally --
HENDERSON: -- then how can you possibly pass a law as controversial as
this? We believe, however, as Kenji pointed out, that voting is unique and
that there was such strong bipartisan support in 2006, for the
reauthorization, that we can count on both Democrats and Republicans to
stand up to this decision.
HARRIS-PERRY: but before we go, before we go, I do want to remind folks
that as hard as Congress, at the federal level, as difficult as they`re
finding it to pass laws, states are having no problem. Right? States are
HARRIS-PERRY: And I wanted to remind us of how bad it has been in this
country. I am looking right now at a literacy test that was part of what
it took for someone to vote in my state in Louisiana. And you had to ask
questions -- answer questions like, draw a line around the number or a
letter of this sentence. What? Draw a line under the last word in this
line. Draw a line through the letter below that comes earliest in the
alphabet. Look at the line of numbers below and place the blank - in the
blank the number that should come next. Number 25, "Write down on this
line provided what you see in the triangle below with the triangle, and it
says "Paris in the Spring." I mean, folks, this is the idea -- this is in
our living memory in this country, what we did to the thing that you have
just defined again as the preservative right. The thing that makes us a
democracy. Everyone stay with me. When we come back, we`re going to take
a look at the celebrations on Wednesday and explain why they may not have
been all exactly what we initially thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our plaintiffs now get to go back to California and
together with every other citizen of California, marry the person they
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is going to be one amazing f-n pride weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we can go back to California and say to our
own children, all four of our boys, your family is just as good as
everybody else`s family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won everything we asked and hoped for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the day I finally get to look at the man that I
love and finally say, will you please marry me?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: While Wednesday`s Supreme Court rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA
were cause for celebration for many seeking marriage equality, I wonder if
we`re celebrating hollow victories. I want to party, but not too much. I
don`t know, it`s foreign. Joining the table is Evan Wolfson, president of
"Freedom to Marry." Congratulations, what a week.
EVAN WOLFSON, PRES., FREEDOM TO MARRY: What a week indeed.
WOLFSON: Really wonderful. A lots more to do -- .
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that`s --
WOLFSON: -- but that`s great things to celebrate.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, in the hours following the ruling, you know,
I`m watching MSNBC, there were some great moments. And everybody kept
talking about how the Supreme Court had affirmed the humanity of same-sex
couples. And I thought, no, it didn`t. Like, we are -- we`re reading it
that way, right, but in fact, it felt like the court was like, eh, we don`t
want to be bothered. Back to the - you know, back - am I reading that
wrong, is there something that the court itself did in the decision that
says we`re affirming the - that`s like the Loving decision was?
WOLFSON: Yeah, I think your aim is right, but I think you`re undervaluing
what the court did today --
WOLFSON: Did in this decision. Both what it said and what it is
immediately and will be meaning.
WOLFSON: First of all, the language of the ruling was strong and clear
and powerful and emotional. He talked about couples who want to marry. He
talked about their longing, Edie and Thea`s longing to marry, and that
their dignity was assaulted by the exclusion from marriage. He talked
about the federal government`s having a standard of discrimination being
unacceptable, both under the Constitution and in violation of these people
who he recognized as people, rounded human beings who seek the freedom to
marry for the same reasons of love and commitment and aspirations and
connectedness and deserve the same safety net of protection as every other
American. So, the language and the opinion itself are very, very strong
and we shouldn`t undervalue that. We want to have that. We want that
moral weight of the Supreme Court. And we`ve seen it reverberate already.
WOLFSON: But in addition, in addition, the immediate impact of the ruling
we have begun putting into effect. And I want to give a great shout-out to
President Obama --
WOLFSON: -- and Attorney General Holder and the administration, because
they immediately took steps to say the court`s mandate is that the federal
government will no longer discriminate against married couples, no matter
where they are.
WOLFSON: And couples across the country will now access --
WOLFSON: -- important protections that are touching their lives
HARRIS-PERRY: The level of enthusiasm from the president`s Twitter feed
was pretty intense. I don`t know if it`s because he was on Air Force One,
and therefore had extra time or what, but, first, it was, "Today`s DOMA
ruling is an historic step forward for #marriageequality, #loveislove."
And then a second tweet, "Love is love, " and then a second one - "We are"
- I mean the third one - "We are proud of you, guys." The president from
Air Force One to the Prop 8 plaintiffs, the notion that this president was
this enthusiastic does suggest there`s also more weight in the
administration. Let me ask, though, we still have the problem of, if you
get married in California and you move to Louisiana, you don`t have the
same protections that opposite sex couples do, right? That hasn`t changed,
is that correct?
WOLFSON: That`s right, although let me add in, because - yeah, there`s a
WOLFSON: Well, it is true that couples in Louisiana are not protected in
the same way couples in New York are, because we are denied the freedom to
marry in Louisiana.
WOLFSON: But what the president and the Attorney General have said,
fulfilling the court`s command, is that though the states may discriminate,
the federal government will no longer discriminate. And so --
HARRIS-PERRY: On your federal tax return.
WOLFSON: So couples in Louisiana who are legally married in New York
or Iowa may be discriminated by Louisiana until we finish our job --
WOLFSON: -- but the federal government won`t discriminate. So they
will receive access to the important federal safety net. That`s part of
HARRIS-PERRY: Got it.
WOLFSON: -- tangible protections that are so important. This is a
HARRIS-PERRY: Got it.
And so, this is as big as it could have been?
YOSHINO: Well, I mean, obviously, if they would have done a 50-state
solution, no --
YOSHINO: But I don`t think any of us were expecting that. But I think
just to piggyback off of what Evan was saying, if you look at the DOMA
opinion, if you look at the dissent, Scalia`s dissent, he actually does a
mad lib, essentially, where he strikes out passages, words from passages
referring to DOMA and subs in the state. And he said, if you actually just
do this mad lib of subbing out, you know, a state ban on marriage for DOMA,
the analysis reads in such a way that it inevitably requires a court to
strike down bans on same-sex marriage by the state, right?
YOSHINO: So, you know, he helped us in Lawrence by saying, you know,
Lawrence in 2003, the sodomy case means that same-sex marriage is on its
way. I think he`s helping us again in the DOMA case and the Windsor case
by saying, you know, the logic of this inexorably leads to marriage in the
HENDERSON: Kenji, I think it`s right. And I think this was a profoundly
important decision. And it is especially gratifying to know that it
springs from the same Civil War amendments that had advanced African-
American equality nationwide, but also, obviously, the same set of
amendments that were denied their full meaning in the Voting Rights Case.
Obviously, we - none of us really expected the Prop 8 case to extend
marriage equality nationwide. I think the court wanted to avoid what they
perceived as the problems with the abortion cases --
HENDERSON: -- in part by allowing states to work as experiment, sources
of experiment in advancing the law. But what we hope this will mean is
that states will take their role really importantly and help to advance the
goals that the court helped to set out by withdrawing federal opposition to
marriage equality. And that`s an important step.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. We`ve got more on the Supreme Court. I do
want to point out, though, that if you look again at that thing that I was
reading to you, the Louisiana literacy test, I actually would not be able
to vote in my state if this existed, because I`d read to you, "Paris in the
spring," in that triangle. Look again, it says "Paris in the spring." So,
just if you want to know how serious it is, I would not have been able to
vote. I`m sure some of the haters would be thrilled about that.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, more when we get back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back. And talking about this historic week in
Supreme Court rulings, I want to go back to a point I tried to make around
affirmative action. We`ve just got so much. But part of what we heard in
response to the DOMA and Prop 8 was this notion that we`ve gotten to know
one another. Particularly because of the courage of lesbian, gay,
transgendered people coming out to their friends, their family, their
coworkers, we`ve gotten to know one another and that`s been part of what`s
pushed marriage forward. But now it feels like given how residentially
segregated our communities are, and without affirmative action, how will we
get to know each other around race?
HENDERSON: Well, it only works if we get to know one another as equals.
And I think one of the principles that came up in the affirmative action
case, the Fisher case, was that diversity as a goal was upheld. But the
truth is, the court created a barrier, which says, OK, in theory, we can do
that, but in fact, it may be more difficult than you think. And they may,
in fact, have laid a foundation for striking the very Texas program that
tried to, in fact, avoid the use of race, only used it as one of the
several criteria to evaluate how to have a program going forward. And
instead, have laid traps that will make it harder in the future.
So, as Paula Deen tried to raise this past week, you know, the South is a
great place, we`ve gotten to know each other, but that racism that is
residual and that is deep-seated only can be resolved if you get to know
one another on an equal basis. And that`s part of what`s happening.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is that an appropriate goal, in part, for the court? I
mean I guess, part of what`s been my question is, is the court acting with
judicial restraint here, by sending things back to the states, by sending
them back to the universities, basically, to figure it out, by sending them
back to Congress, or they - are they actually acting in a way of activism,
or should they be acting to say, here are the things that matter. Equality
at the ballot box, diversity in the classroom?
FREDRICKSON: Well, I mean I think that`s a very, very illuminating
question. Because I think it`s very right. Adam Liptak in "The New York
Times" this week had a really good piece where he talks about how Chief
Justice Roberts has very carefully planted the bombs in earlier decisions
that then blow up later. We`ve seen that with the earlier - Muddno (ph)
case, the voting rights case where he said, you know, we`re going to send
this back, but serious constitutional concerns. And then it blows up in
the Shelby County case. And we`ve seen that in Citizens United, in dealing
with campaign finance reform. But now the real worry is, has he planted
the bomb here, so that, sure, you know, we`ve reaffirmed Grutter, but, you
know, that - those little - little --
HARRIS-PERRY: So --
FREDRICKSON: -- the dangerous language in those decisions that allows
challenges going forward that could bring the case back to the court and
lead to the demise of affirmative action. I think that`s the big worry,
even though, you know, at the end of the day, the outcome was the one we
all hoped for, which was that --
FREDRICKSON: There was - diversity was affirmed.
YOSHINO: Yes, so I would agree with what Caroline is saying, but I would
also just add there that, you know, while we`re praising Justice Ginsburg,
you know, she`s the only one who dissents in the Fisher case.
YOSHINO: And I think she dissents precisely because, she was like, you`re
not going to catch me again. Because she actually went along with
(inaudible) case and then saw that blew up in her face. And He keeps -
Roberts keeps using that against the left as the bludgeon in the Voting
Rights Act case. So, I think she says, you know, fool me once, you know,
shame on you.
YOSHINO: But, you know, fool me twice, shame on me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Once again, the notorious RBG.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I can just say?
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we`ve got one more block. Now, I`ve got to say, I kept
asking how I could get a four-hour show today, because --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- we need to get into, and we`re packing in as much as
we can, I promise. It`s simply a huge news week. So huge that we had a
lot of debate - a lot of debate about who to send the letter to, but
ultimately, there was one person who had to get my letter.
HARRIS-PERRY: The success of the latest Superman reboot left me
wondering, can a sister get a super heroine for a change? Well, someone
must have been listening, because this week I`ve got my wish. Instead of a
man of steel, we got a woman with backbone when Texas State Senator Wendy
Davis used the powers endowed to her not by the yellow sun, but by the
citizens of Texas to save the day.
But, of course, every great superhero must also square off against an
equally evil archenemy. And while Senator Davis is fully capable of taking
on her nemesis on her own, I thought I`d play sidekick and give him a few
kicks with my letter this week.
Dear Governor Rick Perry, it`s me, Melissa. You, sir, have taken the turn
adding insult to injury to an all-new low this week. It was bad enough
that you forced the Texas legislature to extend its legislative session for
an additional 30 days, for the express purpose of adding legislation to
restrict reproductive choice. Two dozen anti-abortion bills that all
failed to reach the floor of either chamber after your fellow party members
in the legislature figured out what you seem to have trouble comprehending.
Texans don`t like it when you try to erect barriers against women`s health
care, but you just couldn`t stand to leave well enough alone, could you?
You just had to give the legislature another shot at banning abortion after
20 weeks and passing laws to force 37 of Texas` 42 abortion providers to
shut down. Governor, you are so hell bent on pushing your agenda of
outlawing all abortion that I`m sure it came as somewhat of a surprise to
you when the people pushed back. Since you clearly have a problem hearing
what they want, Texans literally raised their voices, shouting to be heard,
and led by a champion of the people, whose message was clear preserving the
right to women`s reproductive choice is the only choice. Well, I guess
that hearing problem of yours was acting up again, because when Wendy Davis
spoke, you apparently heard something entirely different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R ), TEXAS: She is the daughter of a single woman. She
was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from
Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It`s just unfortunate
that she hasn`t learned from her own example that every life must be given
a chance to realize its full potential --
PERRY: -- and that every life matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yeah? Now, let`s put aside, for the moment, the irony
of you holding forth on the sanctity of every life right before you win and
oversaw Texas` 500th death by execution. Because what`s really unfortunate
is that you haven`t learned from Wendy Davis` example. She recognizes that
all she has been able to accomplish was thanks in part to having what
Senator Davis called the privilege of making a choice. You, on the other
hand, have chosen to use your privilege to hurt instead of help women and
families. And yet, another special session to resurrect the bill that
Senator Davis and her pro-choice ally succeeded in killing, to restore what
you called, quote, "the breakdown of decorum and decency?" OK, spare me
the decency talk. Because, really, what would you know about decency?
What`s decent about refusing a Medicaid expansion, leaving 1.5 million
poor, elderly, and disabled Texans without health coverage? There is
certainly nothing decent about defunding your state`s family planning
clinics last year, leaving more than 140,000 Texas women without health
services and forced to carry 30,000 unintended pregnancies to term. And
punctuating all that by saying this week, quote, "the louder they scream,
the more we know we are getting something done."
Be careful, Governor, you`re looking a lot like the villain who twirls his
mustache and laughs while a speeding train is headed toward the woman
you`ve tied to the tracks. Although you might want to take a closer look
at that train, because Senator Davis has been hinting that she might be
interested in your job, and right now there`s a lot of momentum behind the
Wendy Davis express. And it`s headed right for you. Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: The focus this week has been on the Supreme Court`s landmark
rulings on the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, marriage equality,
but the court made rulings in other cases that may also have a lasting
impact on the quest for justice. In a series of rulings this term, the
court made it harder to bring class-action lawsuits against big
corporations. The decisions in both Vance v. Ball State University and the
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center versus Nassar raised the
bar for workers to prove workplace discrimination. The court`s ruling an
adoptive couple versus baby girl case struck a hard blow against tribal
sovereignty when it comes to a Native American`s parent`s parental rights.
And what may add to the lasting impact are the cases the court will hear
during its next term, which include the president`s recess appointments,
buffer zones to abortion clinics, and power plant pollution.
So there were other things that happened this week. Barbara, what`s at the
top for you of things people should know about, the other cases?
ARMWINE: Well, I am very concerned about the Maryland versus Keene case,
I`m very concerned about the Salinas versus Texas case. These are cases
involving criminal justice. They made some serious backward motions on DNA
collection and on when you are able to invoke Miranda, and when you should,
you know, when you should know that you are putting more affirmative
obligations on criminal defendants. And I think that that was really an
undermining of our Constitution and an undermining -- we have got all these
mass incarceration already going on, doing serious damage to African-
American and Latino populations. It`s absolutely outrageous. And I hated
the AmEx case. I also want to add that to the list of infamy here that
we`re doing of bad cases. This is a term where the court just said
straight up, we`re about employers only.
HARRIS-PERRY: And not workers and not the communities.
ARMWINE: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: The court`s decision on local land jurisdictions and land
development, this idea that you no longer have to meet the burden of
localities to say that the land use that you want to put it to use for is,
in fact, environmentally sound. This sort of thing, how dangerous can this
be? I mean, we know the big cases, but I think sometimes we miss the
smaller case law, Kenji?
YOSHINO: Yeah, I actually want to go back to the baby Veronica case, if I
may, because that was a really tragic case about the Indian Child Welfare
Act. So you have an adoptive couple who has baby Veronica, and then her
biological father is, you know, part of a tribe, the Cherokee tribe, and
she is 1.2 percent -- the baby is 1.2 percent Native American, so under the
Indian Child Welfare Act, there was this tussle about whether or not in
order to restore tribal sovereignty, she needs to be returned to her
biological father. The court says, no, she doesn`t. It`s actually a
fascinating case, because at the very end, Justice Alito, who`s writing for
the majority says, you know, there may be some equal protection issues
here. So it looks really bad -- it`s really much along the vein of the
affirmative action cases, so I don`t want to let go of it. I think it is
kind of a sleeper problem, it`s another one of these time bombs that I
think is being planted by the right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s a painful one, because there`s the case of these
families and their love for this child, and this child - and then there`s
the large legal question, right? And I just kept feeling like, did no one
here read Solomon? Like, you`re not supposed to divide the baby, and yet
that`s exactly what we see happening.
FREDRICKSON: I just want to, I think Barbara raised some really important
cases. The American Express case, certainly, is one in which this court
has recognized yet again that corporations win. And we`ve seen that
statistically, right? The Constitutional Accountability Center did a study
that showed the Chamber of Commerce won something like 88 percent of its
cases in the Supreme Court for the last several terms. And that means on
the losing side, are workers, are employees who are victims of
discrimination, are consumers, and I think what we can essentially say is
that the Roberts court has closed the doors to the courthouse for real
people. And it is really, this access to justice, it`s a whole set of
cases involving class actions and can people come together when you can`t
litigate a case by yourself and only by joining with others, is it
economically feasible to go after some major wrongdoer? But there are a
whole other series of cases that have been slowly but surely making it
harder and harder for people to vindicate their rights.
HARRIS-PERRY: And now, if you can`t vote, to bring in the president who
will get to appoint the next -- because even if this president gets to
appoint another justice, it`s the liberals on the court that are old,
right? The conservatives are all quite young, right? So it`s actually after
the next election cycle, 2016, when we`d have any opportunity to see a
reconstitution of this court.
HENDERSON: That`s absolutely right. And these cases also underscore the
importance of judicial nominations and confirmations. So this fight that`s
been going on throughout the Obama terms, about whether he will have the
ability to appoint justices and judges and have them confirmed is a huge
issue. He now has three nominees who are pending for the D.C. Circuit
Court of Appeals, the most important court, second only to the Supreme
HARRIS-PERRY: And a feeder --
HENDERSON: And a feeder for the Supreme Court appointments. And yet he`s
having great challenge, great difficulty confirming three eminently
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, he can`t even get his, basically, the folks who are
going to work for him directly in the administration, right, through Senate
confirmation. And, of course, this bring us back to the fact that the
court sent it back to the House, where we just, I mean, the level of
gridlock keeps making us feel like, are you serious? How can we expect the
113th to be our savior on this? Kenji?
YOSHINO: Yes, and the point I love to hammer home here is you know, we
keep fighting over Justice Kennedy. Everybody knows we`re arguing to
Justice Kennedy, but we would not even have Justice Kennedy if Robert Bork
had not gone down.
YOSHINO: So we have the luxury of fighting over Justice Kennedy. We would
not have had the luxury of fighting over Bork. So I think that that should
just send a shot across the bow about how important these next replacements
are going to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: If anyone wants to, like, have a horror moment, where it`s
hard to sleep tonight, just keep thinking, what if it were Bork!
All right, when we come back, the man hiding out in a Moscow airport, I`m
telling you, you all are glad I am not the president, because I would not
be having this Snowden situation going on like this. There is more
Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
The latest news on NSA leaker Edward Snowden is that he`s holed up in an
airport in Moscow, with the United States eager to bring him home to face
charges of stealing and sharing classified information about NSA
Snowden`s flight has strained U.S.`s relationships with China and Russia,
which both have refused to send him back, even though President Obama said
he`s not about to scramble jets to go after, quote, "a 29-year-old hacker,"
he is determined to get Snowden back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My continued expectation is
that Russia or other countries that have talked about potentially providing
Mr. Snowden asylum recognize that they are part of an international
community and that they should be abiding by international law. And we`ll
continue to press them as hard as we can to make sure that they do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And good luck with that. We can`t even get Putin to give
back a Super Bowl ring.
And the tensions aren`t just with world powers like Russia and China. The
Obama administration is also having issues with Ecuador -- yes, Ecuador,
population 15.5 million. Ecuador is openly and pretty gleefully tweaking
the United States. Snowden may seek asylum from Ecuador, which is also
protecting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London.
Members of Congress who lead international trade committees have warned
Ecuador that if it takes Snowden in, it can say good-bye to its
preferential trade deal with the states.
In defiance, Ecuador`s government said, it didn`t need no trade deal, and
even offered the U.S. $23 millions a year, the value of the trade deal to
fund human rights training for the American government. Hey, no one can
say Ecuador ain`t plucky.
Now, Snowden and his defenders say he is a whistle-blower, a hero that has
done something brave in the public interest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: If you realize that that`s the world that you
helped create and it`s going to get worse with the next generation and the
next generation, who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture
of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk and
it doesn`t matter what the outcome is, so long as the public gets to make
their own decisions about how that`s applied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Let me just say how I feel about this. I understand
the value of whistle-blowing, the knowledge of how our government conducts
its business in the state of our civil liberties is crucial.
Here`s my beef with Ed Snowden -- once you`ve decided to be a defender of
those ideals, you have to be prepared to face the consequences. That is
the whole point of civil disobedience, to show that you are willing to risk
your own freedom, your own body, in order to bring attention to something
that needs to be known.
Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, attacked, smeared. Nelson Mandela
went to prison for 27 years. Protesters right now, today, in the North
Carolina statehouse are being arrested every Monday. This week, a state
senator in Texas fought against devastating restrictions on abortion rights
by filibustering for 11 hours without food, bathroom breaks, or sitting or
leaning for even a moment.
Edward Snowden on the other hand has gone on the run to countries with
truly totalitarian regimes. China has imprisoned dozens of journalists on
charges of revealing state secrets. Russia has a brutal record of
discrediting, harassing, and beating journalists and anti-government
activists, as well as stealing Super Bowl rings. Ecuador`s president has
intimidated critics by pressing criminal libel charges against him.
Snowden is giving any country he hides in more leverage in their dealings
with the U.S. When it comes to Russia, those dealings include trying to
find a way out of the civil war in Syria.
Look, Snowden reportedly has more information with him. U.S. state secrets
that he says are even more significant than what he`s already released,
that Russia and China authorities will be more than happy to get their
hands on, if they haven`t already, and if he wasn`t intending to spy on the
U.S. for foreign governments -- well, he`s as good as doing it now.
I can see the merit and the knowledge of the NSA programs, but Edward
Snowden is risking a lot to save his own skin. That`s not something I call
At the table: John Nichols, Washington correspondent for "The Nation"
magazine, Barbara Arnwine, executive director for the Lawyers Committee on
Civil Rights Under the Law, attorney Raul Reyes of NBC Latino, and Caroline
Frederickson, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.
All right, John, me and Ed this week -- I mean, tell me I`m wrong, give me
the progressive line on why he`s a great hero.
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: Let me start with this. Have you seen the place
he`s staying in? Oh, my gosh, the picture -- no, I have been stuck in
airports and that is a -- I had no idea, because I`ve been through that
It has been upgraded. That transit area -- they have an Irish pub! They
NICHOLS: And so -- what?
CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, AMERICAN CONT. SOCIETY FOR LAW & POLICY: It used to
be a dump.
NICHOLS: Here`s the bottom line. I am absolutely in the camp that we`re
talking too much about Edward Snowden, because a whistle-blower, a real
whistle-blower is supposed to get that information out and then step back.
And we`re supposed to look at it and have a debate about it.
And we are having all over right now, huge debates about Edward Snowden,
very little debate about this important information that`s come out, which
isn`t just the government, it`s also the private sector.
And here`s where it gets troublesome. One of my great heroes and Daniel
Ellsberg -- I have immense respect for Daniel Ellsberg. One of the most
powerful things that Daniel Ellsberg did was provide those pentagon papers
and then say, I`m taking the hit. Whatever comes my way --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This is --
NICHOLS: Now, Snowden will make the case that things have gotten worse in
America, that there is a tougher line on whistle-blowers and think there is
concern there -- real concern that our government does crack down too much
But, I will argue that Snowden --
HARRIS-PERRY: But, come on. Come on, come on, come on. In the South,
when first graders break school rules, we arrest them. In this country,
there are women giving birth who are shackled to their beds, because the
law they broke was coming across the border.
There is a serious public safety issue here. I don`t know how serious it
is, because I don`t know what Snowden`s got, but I do feel like how --
FREDRICKSON: Melissa, I have to say that I agree with John in I think that
there is far too much attention being paid to Snowden and whether he got a
high school diploma or whether he didn`t, how long he`d been dating his
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, not that --
FREDRICKSON: But I would say that there were -- these concerns about
Section 215 of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 were all
brought to Congress when it was being debated. It was so clear that the
language had enormous potential to do a dragnet of Americans communications
and the Bush administration and the leaders in Congress said, no, no, no,
trust us, it`ll be fine.
And then we find out, and when this, through Snowden`s leak, we find -- we
actually see the FISA court order and we see that they`re getting all of
American`s phone records. And it gets very -- I just -- I mean, again, I
think we can have an argument about whether that`s right or not, but the
fact that it was a secret court order that we don`t know how the privacy --
theoretical privacy requirements in the law are being implemented.
And when you have 26 members of the Senate, a bipartisan group, writing to
say they have serious concerns that the NSA has gone beyond the bounds of
the law, and when you have Sensenbrenner, Congressman Sensenbrenner saying
this is way beyond what we ever could have conceived of, I think we need to
have a discussion about going back and understanding what the law is.
RAUL REYES, NBC LATINO: Yes. Now, I partially agree with you. Don`t yell
REYES: No, you are right. However, we cannot have this debate, as long as
he`s continuing to do what he is doing, we get further and further away.
NICHOLS: Yes. That was the point I was making about Ellsberg.
REYES: He is not playing by the rules, as you mentioned, of civil
disobedience. He does have to risk something personally. That`s how it
And you know, it was just reported this week that he was cleared through an
outside contractor, which is now being investigated. And that also raises
the question, why are we outsourcing the vetting of this intensely
classified information. Why isn`t that being done by the federal
But again, we don`t talk about all those things as long as we have this
geopolitical movie spy thing going on, which is his fault.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And again, that`s right. So, I guess that`s part of
the point and for him to claim that this is, oh, I`m so -- no one`s talking
about waterboarding him. We`re talking about arresting him, in a country
where we arrest folks, and people who are much more vulnerable, and
arresting them under circumstances where they would have much less public -
- I mean, at this point, if he`s arrested, it`s with all the public view on
And likely something particularly bad is going to happen to him is very
low. And it does keep us from having a conversation. Although, I still, I
don`t know, we gave a lot of this information to Google and to other sort
of organizations that have no Democratic elect -- I mean, I get the fear of
big government, I truly do. But I guess I don`t quite understand why we`re
so pissed that our democratically elected government, for which we assume
there`s at least some sort of check, have information that we willingly
gave away to private corporations that we know have no check.
NICHOLS: I am more angry --
NICHOLS: -- I am more angry at what is happening in the private sector,
and what our political class does. We are data mined by political parties
and political candidates all the time, to get us -- to give them money, to
get us to vote.
So, the bottom line is, we need to have a great big whomping discussion in
this country about the status of the Fourth Amendment, about, you know,
where our privacy rights are, and the fact of the matter is, the brief
opening we had to have has turned into this lousy spy novel.
BARBARA ARNWINE, LAWYERS COMMITTEE ON CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW: And I
was at the senate hearing the day after all this broke --
ARNWINE: -- when Eric Holder was testifying and Lindsey Graham was, of
course, one of his biggest defenders at the hearing. And I just want to
remind people that the source -- let`s go to the source of this problem.
That`s called the Patriot Act.
HARRIS-PERRY: There you go!
ARNWINE: And we really need to be looking at this act that`s going to --
it has this potential for abuse, the way it was passed, what`s in it. It
will continue to be a problem president after president after president.
So, let`s be honest. That`s where the root is.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Barbara, part of what`s useful, when you say, it`s
going to be a problem, president after president, I do feel like there`s
this odd sort of emotion that progressives are having about the fact that
President Obama has extended certain policies that also existed under
President Bush. And that that`s part of what heightens this -- when, in
fact, presidents act like presidents, right? There are some differences
for Democrats and Republicans.
But if you extend executive power, the executive is going to use that
NICHOLS: You think about it this way. When George Washington chopped down
that cherry tree, if they used the wood-burn thing, they would have made a
box and in that box, you put the powers to the president. You keep handing
it on, each new president.
Well, that box is now bigger than this table and we would love it if each
new president takes things out, but it isn`t in the nature of the game.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not, even those who want to drown government in their
NICHOLS: But what I would say, what progressives do need to do is rise
above that and at times say, whether it`s a guy we like or a gal we don`t
like, that we need to raise these issues. So, I do think it`s vital to
talk about what`s in that toolbox.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, sure.
REYES: And one more thing to -- you know, we do trust this administration,
this is a popular president, but also one thing to consider, especially on
this show, talking about the Supreme Court, he was exposing not necessarily
illegal activity. These were illegal acts, this was -- but the people on
that FISA court, those people who are currently on there, every one of them
was ape pointed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
So just saying, maybe it`s not necessarily a cross section of our
judiciary, but that`s where it came from.
FREDRICKSON: A little correction, Raul, because I don`t know that we know
that he was providing information about legal activities. I think there
are many --
REYES: No, that`s correct.
FREDRICKSON: -- the four corners of the statute they voted.
HARRIS-PERRY: My solution, ever since finding this out, you know your e-
mail tag where it says your name, I write little P.S.`s to Susan Rice, the
new NSA -- hey, what`s going on?
HARRIS-PERRY: I want it to be nice. Hey, glad to see you up there.
All right. Up next, talk about standing and fighting, the sneaker-wearing
political warrior that could really teach Edward Snowden a few things.
HARRIS-PERRY: A political star emerged this week and she emerged in a pair
of killer running shoes. With her now-famous epic filibuster on Tuesday,
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis drew the nation`s attention to Austin by
taking on Governor Rick Perry`s prized omnibus anti-reproduction rights
bill that would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks and resulted
opponents say in the immediate closing of 37 of Texas` 42 facilities
providing the procedure.
Republicans had ended Davis` filibuster after more than 10 hours, but
Democrats in the Texas Senate helped run out the clock some more. As
midnight approached, Davis` colleague, Senator Leticia Van De Putte set off
the chamber full of protesters when she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ST. SEN. LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE (D), TEXAS: Mr. President, parliamentary
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State your inquiry.
VAN DE PUTTE: At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her
voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The pro-choice protesters went pro-voice, using their
cheering and chanting to prevent the Senate from coming to order and
placing a vote before the deadline of midnight central time. A few hours
later, it was all sorted out. The vote that took place did so after
midnight. The bill failed.
Yes, Governor Perry, the very next day, called for a second 30-day special
session starting on Monday. And Davis would need to filibuster a bill for
two weeks to stop it this time.
But the people have been and will continue to be heard in Texas.
Also in Ohio this week, 17,000 signatures were delivered to the office of
Republican Governor John Kasich on Thursday, all in protest of a new harsh
state restrictions on abortion rights. The budget which contains those
restrictions now awaits Governor Kasich`s signature until he has 11:59 p.m.
on Sunday to use his line item veto power. And continuing to speak their
minds, the thousands of Moral Monday protesters in North Carolina this
week, protesting the state government`s radical right-wing agenda.
One of those protesters, 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton (ph), who in her early
20s was required to recite the preamble to the Constitution just so she was
eligible to vote. She was willing to get arrested this past Monday to
protest against new voter restrictions.
So as we continue to see the repressive action at state level in
legislature after legislature, so too are we witnessing the waking of a
sleeping giant in the form of the people`s fight.
Rejoining the table are NYU professor Kenji Yoshino, and Wade Henderson of
the Leadership Conference.
Barbara, this is all you. The people are fighting back! How do they win?
ARNWINE: We have -- well, listen, we win when we fight. That`s one
guarantee. You`ll never win if you don`t fight.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s certainly true.
ARNWINE: And one thing we knew about the Supreme Court, was even if they
would have upheld, we would still have to fight.
ARNWINE: We have to fight to enforce it. We`ve got to fight now with the
Listen, I`m asking people everywhere, rise up. Rise up for justice. This
is a fight about the new America.
American is in a transitional stage. People right now want to go to the
old America, the 1950s. That America was unequal it was unfair, it
excluded too many people. We want a new America that`s just, that gives
people their individual freedoms, that`s respectful of our human dignity
and that accords to all of us equal rights.
So this is a fight, everyone, and we have to stand up. This is our moment
to carve a new constitutional reality for Americans, to make it real that
we are all in this fight together. This is our common destiny. This is
And if we don`t stand up and fight, make our voices heard, take it directly
to our legislature and have one thing enshrined on our mind, 2014.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes. And we saw this in Wisconsin, right? They led
NICHOLS: Can I, as a Wisconsinite, no one`s ever prouder in my state, all
HARRIS-PERRY: All right.
NICHOLS: And I like to think that Wisconsin responds to remember that
depressing moment after 2010, when people really did feel they had been put
in a corner. In those cold days in February 2011, Wisconsin rose up.
And I love Wisconsin, but I think there is a sense of Wisconsin got this
incredible play. Everybody paid attention. And then an awful lot of
people thought it went away. Like, one state did its thing.
The fact of the matter is, over the last two years, in state after state,
often alone, often unnoticed, people have risen up. In Maine, they have
done incredible things to fight against Paul LePage. And I love what
happened in Texas this week. I think it means as much as Wisconsin.
NICHOLS: And I think that Ms. Davis should run for governor. I`m very
excited by that prospect. What a race to cover.
But let me also say this. It was not about her.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes, yes.
NICHOLS: They came -- legislators rise up all the time. They say -- they
speak truth to power all the time, and then toe they have to sit down
because nobody came. They stormed into that capital --
HARRIS-PERRY: Those images -
NICHOLS: That was a Wisconsin moment. That was an Occupy moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a North Carolina moment. They`re going every single
Monday, they`re going.
NICHOLS: I love that.
WADE HENDERSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Activism is alive and well, across
the country. And what we`re seeing in North Carolina, being led, in fact,
by the NAACP state conference. But many other organizations joining
together to make their voices heard and to link arms with activists in
Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine and other states, making clear that if we
both fight back, as Barbara has suggested, but also organize our efforts in
ways that we connect the dots, that`s how we`re going to win.
So we have a website, www.restorevotingrights.org and lots of other efforts
are underway to collect data, to have that data connected to the activism
on the ground and to aim for the political changes that will occur in 2014.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, the point about the Moral Monday folks, that they
come every single Monday. And now they`re having Witness Wednesdays too.
I mean, so that feels to me very much like a Montgomery bus boycott, where
people staid off the buses for an entire year.
But also your point about Wendy Davis, I`m sorry, I feel like she and I are
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I feel like she`s my running buddy at this point.
But the fact that she wasn`t just speaking herself, she was reading all
those testimonies of the people`s filibuster who had come. They had come
to filibuster and then been silenced. And she was reading their stories.
And yet, right, and yet Perry can call another 30-day session. And
apparently can do so forever, right, repeatedly, although it`s very
expensive to do so. And so maybe Texans will be irritated by that
But I thought about the rules, Kenji, like what I kept thinking is -- there
is, you know, it`s easy for me to feel in my core like they`ve done
something wrong here. The people are pushing back. But the people were
also pushing back in the Tea Party.
So, you know, how do we on the one hand have the rules but also respect
that the vote is too blunt an instrument? That we have to be able to speak
in between elections as well?
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: Yes. So it`s a great,
great question and I`m so glad you raised the Tea Party issue. When I
think about this, I`m so conflicted, because, you know, Prop 8 itself was
like the people rising up and speaking.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Yes, exactly!
YOSHINO: So there what we need, I think the Supreme Court did the right
thing when it said, originally populist was used to cabin special interests
in society, now it`s being used to sort of whale on minorities. So,
therefore we need some more filtration in the process.
I think what I`m for is just dialogue, right? Which is to say, you know,
constant dialogue between elected representatives and the people at the
large. I think that when we get tilted over one wing or the other, it gets
very dangerous in either way.
So, they`re dangerous on mobocracy, too. That`s what I`m saying.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, right. So for me, I`m always reminding my
students that the Ku Klux Klan was also a community-based organization. So
we just have to be careful. On the one hand, I want the people to fight
back, but I also want to think about, the terms you were fighting back were
We`re going to hold -- we`ve got much more on the people`s fight, because
there`s a little bit more of the people`s fight. Remember, we`ve been
talking to you about the struggle that continues about those everyday low
wages at Walmart? That fight continues too, when we get back.
HARRIS-PERRY: The people already taking on the world`s largest retailer
were also making their voices heard this weekend at Internet giant Yahoo.
Protesting Walmart workers took their case to Yahoo`s headquarters on
Monday, where five of them were arrested for their actions. But that
didn`t deter the movement.
On Thursday, protesters were also at Yahoo`s annual shareholder meeting,
demanding answers from Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo CEO who is on Walmart`s
board of directors. One woman who said she was illegally fired from
Walmart and denied freedom of speech asked Mayer, quote, "Are you going to
bring Yahoo values to Walmart or Walmart values to Yahoo?" And then asked
to meet with Mayer, who reportedly replied, "I`m sorry, because what we`re
here to do is Yahoo`s business."
Joining me from Chicago to discuss Marissa Mayer`s business with Walmart
and the continuing protest is Dan Schlademan, who is campaign director for
Making Change at Walmart.
Nice to see you, Dan.
DAN SCHLADEMAN, MAKING CHANGE AT WALMART: Good morning. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So we`ve been talking about sort of the people pushing back
in any of a variety of ways. What did the protesters hope to accomplish by
going to Yahoo and confronting Mayer?
SCHLADEMAN: Well, I think, you know, the beginning of this is that Walmart
workers just went out on strike again, responding to illegal retaliation at
Walmart in June, and they took those strikes and put them on national
caravans across the country to Walmart shareholders meeting, where they
really had their voices heard, and they were really, again, the questions
about Walmart`s business model and Walmart`s illegal retaliation was front
and center during Walmart`s big show at their annual meeting.
And Walmart feels threatened by that, and unfortunately, has responded by
illegally firing and disciplining scores of leaders of Walmart workers who
were part of this strike. As of just this week, it`s up to over 40 workers
who have either been fired or disciplined.
And so the reason why people went to Yahoo was because Marissa Mayer, along
with a lot of other folks, who were on Walmart`s board of directors, really
has a responsibility. Right, they are supposed to be the independent voice
to be able to say to this company, you`re breaking the law, you`re making
bad decisions, this is not good for the company.
And so, they went there, they first went to Yahoo!`s headquarters and tried
to meet with Marissa Mayer, and unfortunately they were arrested. And then
they also went to Yahoo`s shareholder`s meeting, where they were able to
talk to her directly, but unfortunately, she chose silence other than
dealing with this really egregious act by Walmart.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dan, let me ask you a question, because when it comes to
protests, for example, in North Carolina, at Moral Mondays or in Texas,
people know what they can do to be supportive, right? They can show up.
They can sign the petitions, they can vote.
It`s a little tougher when you`re talking about an employee strike,
particularly at a retailer as enormous as Walmart. So, you know, we`ve
covered this a couple of times, but it may be less clear to folks, how are
they supportive? Y`all aren`t calling for a boycott of Walmart, right?
What are the things that consumers can do, because it feels like Walmart
might also respond to consumer pressure?
SCHLADEMAN: Sure, I think the question about consumers is, I mean, they`re
incredibly supportive. Whenever we`re out talking to consumers, we get an
incredible amount of support here.
I mean, they understand what Walmart is doing is violating basic American
values, you know, the values of free speech, values of freedom of
association. They understand that those are important to them as well as
to Walmart workers.
And so, I mean, right now what we`re really asking them to do is to go to
ChangeWalmart.org, sign up on that Web site to gain more information.
Because there are regular events and regular activities where they can
participate and that doesn`t mean coming out to a store and doing a
demonstration, although that`s a lot what we`re doing, there`s a lot of
online actions that people can do and there`s a lot of other ways that
people can support these workers.
And it`s been exciting to see the level of support that`s out there and the
kind of support that we saw on Black Friday and the kind of support that
we`re seeing as people are learning about these egregious firings that
Walmart has just committed. And, you know, so I think we`re really excited
about what`s about to happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dan, I want to bring in John Nichols here for a second. I
keep feeling like in Texas and North Carolina, even in Wisconsin, that
maybe those who are in power have overreached. That part of what we`re
seeing is a tipping point where folks like, whoa, too much. But is Walmart
simply so wealthy they`re just impervious to this kind of action?
NICHOLS: No, they`re not. They have tried quite rapidly to remake their
image. And they argue quite often. But I think that what Dan`s doing here
is really powerful. If Walmart itself is resistant to change, this sort of
corporate campaign, where you go to the board members -- remember, we right
now watch and pray for Nelson Mandela.
In the 1980s, when this country wasn`t paying any attention, what did you
have? The sanctions movement. And you had people looking at corporate
money from very responsible, very lovely American companies investing in
South Africa. Similarly, with the thing we just had, they exposed this
American Legislative Exchange Council, but not a lot changed until pressure
came on the corporations that were part of it. These Walmart workers who
went to Yahoo, they did exactly the right thing to change Walmart.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m so glad you said that about Mandela. We are going to be
talking about Nelson Mandela tomorrow on exactly that concept. I think for
so must have us that were born post-civil rights, that the antiapartheid
movement was the first piece of political activism we were part of.
Thank you to Dan Schlademan in Chicago.
Also, thank you to Barbara and Kenji here in the studio. We still have
more Nerdland, because up next we made huge progress this week for millions
and millions of people. But house Republicans are saying, who cares?
Immigration, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Much of our focus today has been on this week`s ruling from
the Supreme Court and Congress has had a news making week as well. As a
monumental step towards immigration reform was finally taken. The Senate
finally in genuine bipartisan fashion passed the "gang of eight" bill with
a vote of 68-32.
A key element in the bill that helped garner the level of support was the
border security surge provision, which will require more electronic
surveillance, double the size of the border patrol, and mandate 700 miles
of border fencing. But because it`s Washington and nothing`s easy, House
Republican leadership is already on the record, saying they will not take
up the Senate`s version of the bill.
Still, just this morning, even while traveling in South Africa, President
Obama urged the House to act now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the ball is in the
House`s court. I`ve called both Speaker Boehner and leader Pelosi and
encouraged them to find a path to get this done. And the framework that
the Senate has set up is a sound framework. It doesn`t reflect everything
that I would like.
Nobody is going to get 100 percent of what they want, not labor, not
business, not the advocates, not me. But the time is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what happens next? Joining our discussion, attorney
Raul Reyes of NBC Latino and Caroline Frederickson, the American
Constitution Policy for Law and Policy.
We`ve got little musical chair going on today.
So, Raul, is there any chance we`ll get immigration reform out of the 113th
REYES: Possible. However, the key words that the president said there is
that the ball is in their court. And he --
HARRIS-PERRY: God help us.
REYES: Yes. But I actually think, you know, the Senate, we have to just
acknowledge that this Congress doesn`t get anything done. So the fact that
we`ve gotten to this point, it is extraordinary. We have to acknowledge
that, and that the "gang of eight" stuck in there and hung together. We`re
seeing tremendous Democrat unity that we didn`t have the last time we did
NICHOLS: And Republican crossover. Right, right.
But the thing is, I`m not necessarily sure that it would be a good idea to
have the house come up with their own bill anyway. Because, of course,
theirs would be very heavy on border security, probably would not have the
path to citizenship.
But you have to remember, the Senate bill, as we have it now, it is already
so far to the right, to appease Republicans. If the House, in the unlikely
event they came up with something, the compromise would be in between those
two, and that would be something that Democrats and progressives would just
say, like, no, this is too far.
So everything, I think, is up to Speaker Boehner. Is he going to allow the
vote? That`s the best way for it to go forward.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is such an important point about sort of how far to the
right the bill already is.
Wade, I wanted to ask you, because it does feel like there are these
conflicting political realities that the Republicans realize they`re
facing. One is the growing Latino population and the recognition that the
president got something like two-thirds of the Latino vote last time. Or
maybe even three quarters of the Latino vote.
HENDERSON: Right, 71.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, 71 percent versus 27, to Mitt Romney. But there`s also
this weird thing I wanted to show you on these two charts. They asked
American, Pew Research in June asked Americans on whether or not illegal
immigration is higher, whether or not there`s more illegal immigration in
the country. And 55 percent of Americans say, yes, it is higher. There
are more illegal immigrants in this country now.
But when we look at the empirical evidence also from Pew, it actually shows
that illegal border crossings peak in 2007, and then as you might expect,
start coming down, right, because in part of the economic crisis. So how
do Republicans thread that needle? They so effectively convinced people
that there`s a big problem than there actually is.
HENDERSON: Well, they`ve been working overtime.
But let me just say, this was such an extraordinary week. First of all, to
have the Senate agree on a bill that provides a road map to citizenship for
11 million undocumented people is something we have to celebrate. But
Chuck Schumer and the Democratic and Republican support in the Senate
recognize that this issue of border security was so important, they`ve
larded the bill with as much enforcement as you could possibly ask for.
They`ve militarized the border.
Now, I have to say, they`ve done that to the detriment of border
communities who know the reality of how difficult this will be to function.
The bill now moves to the House. That debate will continue. The real
question is whether John Boehner will put aside that so-called Hastert
Rule, which requires him to have a majority of the majority.
HARRIS-PERRY: He had his whole term, pretty much.
HENDERSON: And this -- obviously, leadership is the issue. So convincing
people that, in fact, it is not necessary to go to the extreme that the
Senate bill has done, in order to security the borders, is something that
we hope Republican and Democratic leaders will try to achieve. I fear,
however, that there will be additional efforts to move the bill further to
the right by adding additional enforcement measures. And that`s when
leadership comes in, and that`s where Republicans and Democrats have to
resist the effort.
FREDRICKSON: I think this was a very interesting moment, where the House
is going to be of central importance, both on immigration, but also on
voting. So, on addressing the Voting Rights Act. So I think it`s a moment
where I`m hoping, at least, the Republican Party is taking stock and
saying, are we going to exist in the future and do we allow for
This is so interesting, because this is a moment -- it`s almost a
redemption moment for -- and I want to say, for 113th Congress, not just so
much for the Republican Party, but the idea that the House, whose public
opinion polls have bottomed out, everybody hates the Congress at this
point, but they could redeem themselves.
NICHOLS: But it comes down to Boehner. He has abandoned the Hastert Rule.
And when he has done so, we have had action and movement in America. I saw
a fascinating thing over these last couple of days.
There`s some very, very anti-immigration reform Republicans who say, if
Boehner abandons the Hastert Rule, is leadership in question? They`re
literally threatening to overturn it. And they were saying that America
America didn`t choose Republicans to run the House. It`s a gerrymandered
House. The fact of the matter is, more people voted to have a Democratic
Congress than a Republican one. And if John Boehner has a smidgen of
regard for that post-election responsibility to govern, he should abandon
the Hastert Rule on this and let the House vote.
REYES: And not just that, but his choice, I think, it`s not that
complicated, because he could lack to two models for the future of his
party. The Romney model of self-deportation and alienating Latinos, which
really didn`t work out so well, or the George W. Bush model back in the
day, when he got 40-some percent of the Latino vote and he was on board for
comprehensive reform. That`s his choice.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think there`s a Marco Rubio model and that`s exactly what
I want to talk about as soon as we get back. If you harm Marco Rubio now,
do you end the possibility of having him as a candidate in 2016, as soon as
we get back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Go to the cafeterias in this very capital,
and there you will find that the miracle of America is still alive.
Because here in America, those who once had no hope will give their kids a
chance at a life they always wanted for themselves. Here in America,
generations of unfulfilled dreams will finally come to pass.
And that`s why I support this reform. Not just because I believe in
immigrants, but because I believe in America even more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Thursday making an
impassioned and sometimes a little corny, but deeply impassioned speech
ahead of the immigration debate.
Mr. Rubio, whatever you think of his politics, certainly embodies the GOP`s
struggle over the issue of immigration reform, and he put himself front and
center, in which 14 Democratic senators joined the entire Democratic caucus
to vote in favor of the bill.
Well, that cost him the ability to be the Republican nominee for president
REYES: Not necessarily.
REYES: Because I tell you, some of the early polling from Iowa shows that
he is still ranked very well as a frontrunner. But that a majority of
Iowans, this is the heartland, they are cool with immigration reform,
including the path to citizenship. So, some of that has been overblown by
that small but very, very vocal anti-immigrant minority.
So he has really, some of his posturing during this process, I will say,
you know, has been mystifying or even annoying. But he owns it now. He`s
gone the distance and I think it remains to be seen. But right now, the
momentum is still there. It all is on Mr. Boehner.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the thing is, we saw Sarah Palin tweeting on Friday, God
help me, I`m so sorry I`m reporting this, we saw Sarah Palin tweeting on
Friday, Obama never president, but President Obama called Rubio to
congratulate him on immigration reform. "Hope it was worth 30 pieces of
So, you get the sense -- err, right. But it is Sarah Palin. We could go
with the Nancy Pelosi, who cares, but it does feel like there`s clearly
going to be a right that`s going to flank around. On the other hand,
actually he`s actually better positioned to then win the presidency if we
can win the GOP nomination, given this kind of position.
FREDRICKSON: The irony is, she ran on the ticket with John McCain, who was
a big proponent of immigration reform when he was running for president,
you know, until he started running for president, really. But I think it`s
a very interesting, how the Republicans are setting themselves up to have
this interparty fight, with really the ones who actually see a future for
their party recognizing that they have to recognize the dignity and
humanity of all people and figure out how to provide some kind of path to
citizenship. If they don`t, there`ll be consequences.
HENDERSON: The polls have shown that the person people support
comprehensive immigration reform. They really do, and in fact, the support
And voters like success. I think there is a real sense that the gang of
eight has done a service for the country by producing a bill, even though
it has its flaws. Now the issue moves to the House. And, obviously, Mr.
Boehner has some decisions to make.
But I thought your point earlier about this being a redemption moment for
the 113th Congress needs to be lifted up. Because it is both immigration
reform and a fix for the Voting Rights Act that will determine how this
Congress is viewed going forward.
I`m optimistic, Raul, that the Congress will eventually do immigration
reform and I`m increasingly optimistic that there is growing bipartisan
support for a fix of the Voting Rights Act.
NICHOLS: Two things to put in the mix here. Number one, anybody talks
about 2016 now is way ahead of the curve. There`s a lot happening in
between. And if you look at a three-year arc, a lot can happen. I don`t
think actions on this are necessarily going to disqualify.
But the second thing --
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve been sitting next to Steve Kornacki. He makes you
think like two elections a day.
NICHOLS: Here`s a big thing, though -- in Great Britain, after Margaret
Thatcher, and John (INAUDIBLE), the Tory party lost and lost and lost and
lost. And they kept doing things that reinforced their bad brand.
Finally, and I`m not the biggest fan of this guy. But David Cameron said
wee been losing for a long time. We have got to change.
The only question with the Republican Party is the day somebody comes along
and actually successfully organizes them to do that. That`s the critical
Will they do it this year? I don`t know. I think it may be a early for
them. But they`re going to come to a point where all of this "no, no, no"
is going to confront them so much a someone will be a yes.
And I would say Rubio this week, and you called it corny. I thought he
sounded kind of nice.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re like oh, oh, yes, Marco?
OK, thank you, guys. This has been such a fun day.
Thank you to John Nichols, to Wade Henderson, to Raul Reyes, and to
And in just a moment, the next step in the saga of little Cheerio`s. It`s
now a mixed girl`s best friend. It`s the cereal of choice for al all
biracial gals, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: For our foot soldiers this week, we have to start with that
Cheerio`s ad that`s been all over the Internet and TV. You know, the now
famous commercial featuring an interracial couple and their adorable
daughter and the infamous response it received.
So many hateful messages that YouTube had to disable its comments section
under the video. Since then, the backlash to that backlash has grown
stronger as people across the country show their support for both Cheerio`s
and interracial families.
That brings us to our foot soldiers of the week. Some of the ad`s most
vocal backers, Alyson West, and her husband, Michael David Murphy of
This interracial couple has created a Web site that is combating the hate
without saying a word, showing the reality that beautiful, loving,
interracial families don`t exist only in commercials. "We are the 15
Percent" is a blog that has gathered 2,000 photos of mixed race couples
across the U.S.
The blog is named for the noteworthy statistics from the Census Bureau,
that nearly 15 percent of new U.S. marriages are interracial.
Alyson, a web developer, and her husband Michael, a program manager at a
photography company, and their 1-year-old daughter Alexandra started the
site with their own snapshot of the new normal in America. It`s a snapshot
I can relate to myself since my own mother is white and my father is
African-American. Hey, parental units.
Since we are the 15 percent launched on June 5, photos from different
communities all over the country have come pouring in and the conversation
is expanding beyond the black-white paradigm.
Some of the pictures are amusing. Some are touching. All reflect the
changing face of the American family.
Alyson and her husband say they`re doing their part to elevate America`s
conversation about race and to make sure families like theirs are part of
the conversation. They hope that this site helps their daughter understand
that she`s a global citizen. And this is a simple affirmation that race
does not determine family.
For teaching all of us that valuable lesson, for showing us the many colors
of love, Alyson West and Michael David Murphy and maybe Cheerios, too, are
our foot soldiers of the week.
That`s our show for today. Thanks for watching. I`m going to see tomorrow
morning 10:00 Eastern. We`re going to take a look at the president`s
relationship with Nelson Mandela and explain why this presidential trip to
the African continent is largely about China.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT".
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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