UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 30, 2013
Guests: Ari Berman, Donita Judge, Amanda Terkel, Jerry Nadler, Pat
Schroeder, Richard Socarides, Mo Cowan
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: When it comes to riling up a conservative
audience, one slab of red meat is especially reliable, court dashing.
You`ve probably heard it a million times. Those activists judges, those
activists courts, they are out there thumbing their noses at the people
undermining the Constitution with their unchecked liberalism, which is what
makes what the five member conservative majority of the Supreme Court did
this week so ironic. The way the court invalidated a crucial component of
the Voting Rights Act is actually a classic example of exactly the kind of
judicial activism that the right loves to decry. It is also, and here`s
where things get really ironic, an example of judicial activism that has
very real backfire potential for the conservative movement and for the
Republican Party as a whole.
Let`s start by pinpointing that activism. Seven years ago in the summer of
2006 the United States Congress, Democrats, Republicans, even the
socialists from Vermont, all of them duly elected by the voters, took up
the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. There were extensive,
exhaustive hearings, and studies, and testimony from witnesses and debates
on the floor. And then the vote was taken. In the House it was 390-33.
It`s 198 Democrats for zero against it. 192 Republicans for it, and 33
against it. In the Senate, it was 98 to nothing. But those 33 no votes in
the House were mainly from Republicans in the South, the deep South. Deep
South states with a history of discriminatory voting practices. The states
that are or that were covered under the VRA`s preclearance requirement.
Basically, if those states wanted to change their voting laws in any way,
they first needed to run it by the Justice Department to make sure it was
fair. This provision, the preclearance provision, was renewed in 2006
along with the rest of the VRA. It then gave rise to a lawsuit from an
Alabama county that said preclearance was unfair, and that case reached the
Supreme Court for oral arguments in February. And here is where the
judicial activism comes in. Listen to how Antonin Scalia addressed
Congress`s clear bipartisan overwhelming reauthorization of the VRA in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I think it is attributive,
very likely attributable to a phenomenon that is called - perpetuation of
racial entitlement. It`s been written about. Whenever a society adopts
racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the
normal political processes. I don`t think there is anything to be gained
by any senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly
confident it will be re-enacted in perpetuity, unless a court can say it
does not comport with the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, to translate, Scalia said that Congress is too scared to
vote against something called the Voting Rights Act. So he dared the
Supreme Court to do the dirty work for Congress. And four of Scalia`s
colleagues, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Anthony
Kennedy, joined him this week in doing just that. Section 4 of the VRA,
the section that sets the criteria for choosing, which states and counties
are subject to preclearance is gone. Just like that.
In a way this is an obvious win for the right, for Republican Party that
more than ever before depends on the votes of white people to win
elections. It will now be a lot easier for Republican-controlled states to
go forward with onerous voter I.D. and early voting laws, another
procedural twists that could suppress nonwhite turnout. The ink on
Tuesday`s ruling wasn`t even dry when Texas` Republican attorney general
declared that his state`s controversial voter I.D. law will take effect,
But now think about this for a minute. Because in a way, we`ve seen this
show before. Last year Republicans scrambled to pass a host of voting
restrictions across the country. Some went into effect. Some were
blocked, thanks to the VRA`s preclearance requirements, there was even a
case of Pennsylvania State that wasn`t a subject to preclearance where a
court put a hold on the strict voter I.D. law just before the election.
The whole drama was not healthy for democracy, but in the end the entire
GOP effort backfired. The laws fermented a backlash, and the backlash
produced astonishing turnout among African Americans.
In Ohio, for example, blacks had accounted for 11 percent of the electorate
in 2008. In 2012, even after the state radically curtailed early voting,
the black share of the electorate surged to 15 percent. President Obama
carried the state. Scalia and the rest on the conservatives on the court
may have just put the national Republican Party in a tough spot. They
didn`t actually eliminate the VRA, they just left it open to Congress to
update the formula for preclearance.
If Congress does this, the VRA could be back online. Pretty much like
we`ve always known it, maybe even better. Democrats and civil rights
leaders are calling for this, no surprise there, but so are some
Republicans. Jim Sensenbrenner, a conservative Republican from Wisconsin,
who led the House floor fight for the VRA in 2006, said this week, quote,
"The Voting Rights Act is vital to America`s commitment to never again
permit racial prejudices in the electoral process. This is going to take
time and will require members from both sides of the aisle to put partisan
politics aside to ensure Americans most sacred right is protected." Eric
Cantor, a number two Republican in the House, seem to call for a
legislative fix as well. But from the party`s top leaders, from the
conservatives who hold sway outside Congress and from the southerners who
put up a fight against the VRA in 2006, well, it doesn`t look like they
want to touch this at all.
The Republican Party`s biggest long-term challenge is to become less
monochromatic, more diverse, a challenge that will only be made worse if
the GOP stands by now and refuses to save the Voting Rights Act. And yes,
it is possible that the new voter I.D. laws and restriction will help the
GOP in the midterms next year. But that`s no guarantee. Because remember,
they were supposed to do the same thing in 2012. So, it may be that
Antonin Scalia thought he was handing the GOP a big victory this week, but
he may have just given them a major headache instead.
We want to bring in Ari Berman, a contributing writer for "The Nation,"
who`s been covering the Supreme Court and the Voting Rights Act, Donita
Judge, staff attorney at the Advancement Project, who has worked with
communities on the issue of redistricting. Amanda Terkel, senior political
reporter and politics managing editor for "The Huffington Post," and
Democratic Senator Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, now outgoing senator who will
be replaced by the newly elected Ed Markey.
Still, a little bit more than a week left on your term, senator, so thank
you for spending a little time with us today. And I guess, you know, I`ll
start with you, because it was striking to me. I know it`s tough to
imagine anything really bipartisan happening in Washington today. And I`m
skeptical that the two parties are going to come together on a real VRA
fix. But it was striking to me to see Eric Cantor, the number two
Republican in the House, you know, suggest he wants to do something, talk
about his trip to Selma with John Lewis, to have Jim Sensenbrenner, I
remember watching him manage the floor debate on this in 2006. It seems
like there might be some divisions and some pressure from within the
Republican Party, maybe to address this and to address that Section 4
SEN. MO COWAN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: And there ought to be. If there is
anyone in the Congress right now, Steve, who honestly believes in the
founding principles reflected in our founding documents, the fact that
there is still discrimination in voting rights and voting opportunities
anywhere should be offensive. And it`s an opportunity for the national
Republican Party to put the truth to the myth that they spoke about after
the national elections last year. That they are going to be a more open,
inclusive party. Now, we just passed the bipartisan immigration bill in
the Senate. Right?
We had about 14 Republicans who signed on. There were still a number of
Republican who said no. This is another opportunity for the Republicans in
Congress to stand up for what they claim they believe in. And it should be
offensive to anyone that there is still racial discrimination in voting
rights. And even Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that. So, it`s
unbelievable to me that he then took the action of taking away the most
effective tool we`ve ever had to prevent discrimination in voting.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s actually - and maybe we can back up for a second.
Let`s just talk about and understand exactly what is left of the Voting
Rights Act at this point after this ruling. So, Section - Section 4, which
basically controls Section 5, was invalidated this week. Section 2, which
allows people to initiate lawsuits, still stands. What exactly is left
right now and how does it work at this moment?
DONITA JUDGE, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, actually, at this point what
is left is that we still have Section 5. We still have the preclearance
section. We also have Section 3, which potentially could be used to bail
in. And so, basically while we have lost Section 4, it certainly was a
major setback. It crippled the Voting Rights Act, but if, if, in fact,
Congress can come together and really develop another coverage formula,
then we still have Section 5. And we intend to make sure that we use every
tool that we possibly have, including advocacy within the community, public
policy in terms of pushing back on bad laws, Section 2 where we can, and
certainly justices can help us in that effort, but ultimately we`re
expecting Congress to act. The Supreme Court was extremely clear that
racial discrimination still exists. And because it still exists, then we
need to fix that. And fixing that would certainly start with a coverage
formula to bring back Section 5 and to give it the teeth that we need.
KORNACKI: Well, I want to talk about what that potential fix to the
coverage formula would look like. But Ari, in the meantime, because we
know even if things happen in Congress, they take a long time. So, in the
meantime we`re going to be existing in the world without Section 4 and, you
know, Section 5 because of that. Functionally, how will it work with just
sort of Section 2 governing us at this point. Functionally, what will that
mean for voting rights?
ARI BERMAN, THE NATION: I think a post-Section 5 world was going to be a
very scary place. I think we`re seeing that immediately, the fact that
five of nine states that are fully covered by Section 5 rushed to implement
new voter I.D. laws. I mean the ink was barely dry on the Supreme Court
and they`re saying we`re going to implement these laws immediately. And it
just goes to show you how much they want to initiate these voter
suppression laws. And if the Chief Justice had looked at the record, since
2006 he would have seen that Section 5 blocked 31 laws from going into
effect after Congress reauthorized it. That six of the nine states in the
South passed new voter restrictions since the 2010 election alone. And so,
there was this weird cognitive dissonance reading the opinion, right? I
mean he says voting discrimination still exists, but he didn`t talk at all
about the wide scope of voting discrimination. The fact that since this
was reauthorized, there was a wave of voter suppression that we really
haven`t seen since 1965.
KORNACKI: And you wrote about this, I want if you just explain this a
little more. Because one of the cases that`s been made from people to say,
who were supportive of the Supreme Court decision is, well, you know, the
world has changed since the 1960s, the world has changed in the 1970s, the
coverage formula, therefore, should be updated. You`re writing, though,
that the states and the counties, the jurisdictions that are covered,
actually it`s a pretty accurate reflection of what should be covered at
this point. Can you just explain?
BERMAN: Yeah, it`s not a perfect formula. But if you look at the states
that are fully covered by Section 5, two-thirds of them passed new voting
restrictions since the 2010 election. A very high number. One-third of
the non-covered states passed new voting restrictions. So, that means that
there is a problem with voter suppression, but it`s a problem across the
country. So, what the Supreme Court could have done is they could have
said, we have this problem. It`s not being addressed well enough by
Section 5. Maybe we should expand it. I mean that`s the logical
conclusion from what`s happened since 2010. But instead, what they said is
we need to narrow or eliminate it instead.
AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: And, I mean, what`s being left out of a
lot of these discussions is that you can bail out. If you aren`t
discriminating for ten years, you can bail out. The Justice Department
recently bailed out someone -- I think about a week before the Supreme
Court case. So, it`s not like these jurisdictions were stuck from
preclearance forever. If they`re not discriminating, they can get out.
And I mean I thought Justice Ginsburg had one of the best quotes in her
dissent that, if it`s raining, and you have an umbrella and you`re dry, it
doesn`t mean you just throw out your umbrella. It means it`s working and
that you continue to use the umbrella.
KORNACKI: Also, what would - you know, we`re talking about the possibility
of - it was sort of a split on the Republican side here, you know, at least
theoretically. But if Congress was going to address this, is there any
talk right now of what a fix might look like? What a Section 4 fix might
TERKEL: Not at all. And they`d be a lot more confident that there would
be a fix if Jim Sensenbrenner were still House Judiciary chairman as he was
in 2006. Now, you have Chairman Bob Goodlatte. We asked him for a comment
the sort of the day of the Supreme Court decision. And he said that, you
know, he will be looking at it, but he did not give a lot of confidence
that he would be working hard to get a fix. There are supposed to be
hearings. But, you know, I hope that Congressman Sensenbrenner will step
in because he had so much experience with this in 2006, but he`s no longer
KORNACKI: Well, we`re hearing noise from the chairman - from the chairman
of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy about taking this up in the
Senate, and that has been the pattern in Washington, as it goes from the
Senate first and then House reacts. I want to ask Senator Cowan about what
might happen in Senate, after this.
KORNACKI: So, we started talking about the Senate a minute ago. The
Democrats still control the Senate. The Judiciary Committee in the Senate,
you know, Pat Leahy of Vermont is the chairman, and Pat Leahy is talking
about now aggressively beginning hearings and beginning a process of trying
to fix it this summer. We also had this week - here`s a quote from, this
is what he`d be up against in the Senate, this is Jeff Sessions, Republican
from Alabama responding to the rulings. "I`m just not - I`m just not aware
of any discrimination of that kind.
And if it happens I have no doubt that the Alabama attorney general would
prosecute it or the U.S Department of Justice will. You don`t need a
voting rights act if there`s not systemic violations." So, you know, that
- that`s a prevalent attitude I think, among a lot of conservatives, a lot
of Republicans, a lot of southerners (inaudible) in the Senate and in the
House. So, Senator Cowan, I just want to - what the noise you`re hearing,
you know, on the Senate side as in terms of how Chairman Leahy would be -
would be approaching this this summer.
COWAN: Well, I think the Democrats led by Senator Leahy and Senator Reid
are really going to push on this, and Chris Coons from Delaware is also
going to be pushing hard for some hearings. We`re not going to sit idly by
and let this happen.
Listen, I would call on my Republican colleagues in the Senate to show that
spirit of bipartisanship. And really join with us and try to address this
phenomena, because it`s still very much a problem. With respect to Senator
Sessions, or we`re saying, my friend from Alabama, I think one only needs
to look at the congressional record from 2006 or, if you don`t have that
much time, read Justice Ginsburg`s dissent and you`ll see that we`re still
plagued by some significant problems when it comes to voting rights and
access. And whether we`re talking about Alabama or South Carolina or my
birth state of North Carolina, wherever there is discrimination or efforts
to limit the ability of anyone, particularly those who have been sort of on
the margins and been over the course of this history, been denied the
right, we have to stand up.
And that`s what Congress has to do. I gave my farewell speech on the floor
this week, and I said, quoting my predecessor, John Kerry, who I believe
was paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, there`s nothing that`s wrong with the
Senate or Congress that can`t be fixed by what`s right with the Congress.
We`ve been sent there to move this nation forward. And any time there`s
any effort anywhere to restrict anyone`s right to vote, we have to do
something about that. Now, we have that obligation, but we`ve been sent
there by the people. And I think the people need to rise up and make sure
Congress hears them on this issue.
KORNACKI: Well, what would you? Donita, what would you say, though, if,
you know, Senator Cowan or other member of the Senate came here and said, I
- we want to patch up, you now, Section four in a way that`s it`s going to
fit with - it is going to win approval from the Supreme Court. What would
you say the guidelines should be for fixing it?
JUDGE: Well, certainly I would say that we need to look at the modern day
voter suppression and we need to look at things like the photo - the
proposed photo I.D. laws that are being passed throughout the country. The
rollback of early voting. And we need to look at those. And where we find
that there is discrimination, then we need to basically challenge those
under-- whatever - whatever we have at this point. But certainly I think
that Congress really needs to look at the modern day record. We have a ton
from 2006, but we have a lot from 2011 and 2012 where we show that the
voter suppression in this country, which we believe was really -- had to do
a lot with the fact that President Obama was elected, and certainly we look
at 2008 and 2012. We had laws -- attempts to rollback voter suppression
against voters that we`ve never seen in this country in modern days. And
so, we don`t need to go back to 2006. We only need to look back two years
and really bring that record forward.
BERMAN: I was just going to say, I mean Senator Sessions doesn`t need to
look any further than his home state to find that evidence of
discrimination because Shelby County, Alabama, which brought this challenge
to the Supreme Court, was guilty of a section 5 violation as recently as
2008. So, this is very much ..
KORNACKI: Can you explain for me, what was going on in Shelby County that
BERMAN: So, there was a city of Calera in Shelby County, they passed the
redistricting plan that eliminated the only black city council district.
It took it from 71 percent African-American to 29 percent African-American.
He lost that election by a few votes under a map that was not pre-cleared
by the Justice Department. The Justice Department stepped in, said you
need to change this law. You need to get approval for your voting change.
They changed the way that districts were allocated.
That man, Ernest Montgomery, subsequently was re-elected in the new
district, so now there is a black city council member. This is the kind of
stuff we`re going to see happen without Section 5. It`s not just going to
be on a statewide level. There`s going to be all these very important
local races that get no national coverage. And this is where the biggest
impact is going to happen. These are where the gains under the Voting
Rights Act are the most fragile and can be taken away most critically
without anyone knowing. And there`s an irony, of course, of Alabama, the
state that`s the birthplace of the Voting Rights Act, being the one that`s
taking it away.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s - you raise sort of an interesting point there.
Because one of the features of the Voting Rights Act and one of the
features of preclearance is if you`re changing the map, if you`re changing
like the, you know, congressional redistricting, you know, a state that`s
under preclearance, would have to run this by the Justice Department. And
I found that the Republican Party, when it comes to Congress, has actually
liked that -- has liked the Voting Rights Act in that it calls for
majority/minority districts. And what Republican map makers in a lot of
southern states have been able to do, and then elsewhere, pack of minority
voters into, you know, small districts and then the population outside of
those districts is a lot more Republican-friendly. But I think what Ari is
saying is look beyond the congressional map, you know, look at city
councils, look at the country level, look at the state legislature and that
is where the Republicans can make serious gains under this.
TERKEL: Yeah, and as Ari was saying, this is the stuff that doesn`t get as
much media attention, so it`s not going to be covered nationally, you are
not going to have as much of an outcry from Congress, and, you know, this
statewide voter photo I.D. laws that are getting passed. But this is how,
you know, Republicans for so many years have been so much better than
Democrats at getting people in on the ground level and the city councils,
the school boards and on gradually having them rise up to Congress, to
Senate and so forth, the evangelical movement, for example, was really good
at this. So I think that the Voting Rights Act dismantling it could
certainly do this on the local level. And it could be bad, again, because
it`s not going to get attention.
JUDGE: That`s absolutely right. I was In 2011 I worked in Hondo (ph),
Texas, which is a majority Latino community now. And the districts were
drawn, the commissioner districts were drawn to actually reverse the
district that had the majority control for the Hispanic community.
Interestingly, the community did sue on that issue. And actually came back
with a map that was -- not only gave them one district, but gave them to.
Because, really, they were the majority. And to see what is happening on
the local level and how really there are so many opportunities for people
to tweak maps that appear to be fair, but aren`t fair. They were - you
know, they were drawn with the intent to discriminate that group. And so,
starting at the local level and really making sure that we are aware of the
record, not only nationally, but what`s happening on the ground. What`s -
what are the communities saying? They are the people that know what`s
going on in their communities. And we need to listen because they know
when actually discrimination is happening.
COWAN: And let me say, this is a clarion call for the communities of color
and others impacted by this decision to be even more involved at a
grassroots level in our governance process. This is a clarion call. We`re
talking about the city council level, the state level, the federal level.
We must get more involved in the game and make sure our representatives are
speaking for us. And I`d also say to those leaders of those states who
rushed out to impose laws that they otherwise wouldn`t have been able to,
but for this ruling, if, in fact, you`re changing voting laws not to
discriminate, but for some other so-called legitimate purpose, then
notwithstanding this ruling, submit your plan to the Department of Justice
anyway. Put it to the test. And if you don`t, I challenge -- I ask the
question, why not? But I suspect we all know the answer.
KORNACKI: Well, I want pick up that point and talk a little about what --
what the South, in particular, what these coverage states could look like.
You know, again, we`re talking about the possibility of a fix. But if
there isn`t a fix, I want to talk about the future looks like in the next
10, 20 years in these states, after this.
KORNACKI: Talking a little bit about the South and a lot of the - the
preclearance states, states that had been covered under the VRA. I said,
you know, one thing that`s always striking to me when I look at the
election results, especially from Deep South. We had these numbers on the
show yesterday. When you look at like Mississippi, when you look at
Alabama, it`s how racially polarized the electorates are in those states
now. I think it was - the number was basically like among African-
Americans in Mississippi, it was like 96-4 for Obama last year. Among
whites, it was like 90-10 for Romney.
It`s just completely polarized. There was an African-American candidate
for Governor of Mississippi in 2011 and you had basically, you had a very
similar trend to that. Where, you know, basically it`s become in the Deep
South white equals Republican, black equals Democrat. And, you know, it
just strikes me, what is the way besides having a majority/minority
district or something to get representation for African-Americans if they
do not have the numbers and voting is that polarized racially?
JUDGE: Well, certainly, I mean, the courts have looked at the fact that,
you know, initially there was some crossover. There`s always been some
crossover with majority/minority districts to help them along because
people don`t always vote in a block. There are some people that cross
over. But I think that what we`re seeing is really, it is so polarized
throughout, you know, throughout those states. I am concerned that the
individuals who are in power make the rules. And certainly, they make the
rules with regard to redistricting. And while we won`t redistrict on this
congressional level for another eight or so years, local districts don`t
have those same rules. And so, we have to all be concerned when we start
to see these individuals drawing districts or doing things that really are
going to disenfranchise and hurt, because it is very, very polarized there
in the South. And I`m just not -- I`m just concerned what will happen at
KORNACKI: Well, it starts to remind me a little bit of when we talk about
the immigration debate and we talk about - so, right now it`s passed
Senate, it`s in the House. And we say, well, it`s in the broad interest of
the Republican Party in the House to pass immigration reform, to try to
repair its relationship with Latino voters. But if you look at the
individual incentives for the Republican member of the House, in terms of
surviving Republican primaries, that sort of thing, there`s a strong
incentive for them to vote against it. And I kind of wonder if the same
thing exists when it comes to fixing the Voting Rights Act.
It is clearly, you know, the Republican Party, I think it`s not been since
1960 that they`ve gotten more than 20 percent of the black vote in the
national election. It is clearly, long overdue need for the Republican
Party to try to repair its relationship with the black vote. But you then
- you look at individual Republicans in the South and they`re looking at
this, and these preclearance states and saying, wow, this is a way to
guarantee our party is going to, you know, stay in power.
BERMAN: Well, there`s a short versus long-term tension here. Which is in
the short term, it`s absolutely true. And I think, it`s not just in the
Deep South, but the places where the demographics are changing most
acutely, so Texas, Georgia, North Carolina or Virginia. All these states
are trending blue. Based on the demographics, and absolutely in the short
term you`re going to see Republicans pass a whole slew of laws, like North
Carolina is doing to pass voter I.D. eliminate same day registration, cut
early voting and try to tamp down a turnout. But on the - in the long
term, that`s not a viable strategy. I mean you can do that for 10, 20
years in Texas, but in 30 years, can you be a party that`s trying to
suppress a majority/minority state? I mean it`s going to be very, very
difficult to pull off, I think, in the long term for Republicans.
COWAN: I would agree with that. And I think the Republicans nationally,
certainly, and perhaps locally and even more locally than that are working
against themselves right now. I do think there`s going to be some backlash
from this ruling. And we may see it as early as the elections next year,
if not even earlier than that in local elections. I think the Republicans
have to get right with the electorate and they`re not right now. So, I
think, there`s some work to be done. And if you look at the numbers behind
the vote in 2006, you know, it was those Southern, as you`ve indicated
earlier, those southern Republicans who fought hard against the
reauthorization. But the broader Republican bloc, you know, with some
rationality and reason got beyond that. We`re at that pivotal point again.
And again, if the National Party is serious about what they spoke about
after the national elections last year, we need to see that right now.
TERKEL: I mean I think Republicans, you know, they`re in part doing
immigration reform to try to show that they care about people who don`t
look like themselves. That they are -- you know, they`re not the party of
just upper class white voters. But now they have the Voting Rights Act.
And if they don`t do anything about that, what they`re doing on immigration
reform will not be enough. And I think that`s something that Eric Cantor,
who has been trying to go about and creating a warmer, fuzzier, Republican
image lately, I think that`s something he realizes. But at the same time
there`s risks, and I don`t remember the name of the congressman, but he
admitted that he and other Republicans are right now - they just don`t want
to say anything on this, because they don`t want to be - say something
wrong like they`ve been doing on abortion and basically look racist. So,
they`re trying to figure out where is the least amount of risk for us going
forward on the Voting Rights Act.
KORNACKI: It was amazing to listen to Boehner and McConnell, both be asked
about this this week, and they went out of the way to say nothing.
KORNACKI: But I want to pick up on that issue of 2006 and the
reauthorization vote in the House. Because - 390-33 overall. Although it
was interesting, we have Sara Binder who studies Congress, studied the
votes. And she - there were a bunch of amendments that Republicans offered
that were designed to weaken the Voting Rights Act. And the Republicans
put these up for a vote. None of them actually passed. None of them were
actually included, but you can see - this is Republican support for these
amendments. All of these would have weakened the VRA in some way. Blue
are from the states that were, you know, preclearance states, red are from-
non-preclearance states. Do you see there was - there was actually fairly
significant Republican support for weakening the VRA. None of them reached
the majority threshold, none of them came at the bill, and they want to -
full bill became before the House, you know, basically, you now, most
Republicans voted for it.
But I guess, you know, when you have Republicans controlling the House,
when you`re talking about fixing the VRA, the question has to be asked, you
know, where exactly is the Republican Party on this now? I wonder, you
know, do you need - do you have a sense of this is it, you know? Have they
moved significantly from 2006? As this - 2006 maybe a good -- is that
maybe a good baseline of where Republicans are? Do you have a read on that
JUDGE: I don`t really have a read on it, but I would say that in 2006 the
- we were pretty sure that the Voting Rights Act was going to be
reauthorized. Right now we`re at a point where we have nothing. And so
while they may have felt one way in 2006, they certainly voted for the
Voting Rights Act. And so, you know, I can`t read the tea leaves. I don`t
think any of us can. But certainly, we`re now at a point where we don`t
have anything. And so hopefully, I`m hopeful, that a bipartisan Congress
will look at this and say, you know what, we realize the discrimination
still exists in voting. We need to stop it. None of us should be tolerant
of it and that we go - that they will come together to work with us on a
KORNACKI: Like Nancy Pelosi this week said, and again we`re talking about
how this would -- if the fix would probably originate in the Senate, but
Nancy Pelosi said this week that she envisioned introducing something in
the House that would be called the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
KORNACKI: And I was just trying to imagine, if you had a bill called the
John Lewis Voting Rights Act and you have the - every Democrat lined up for
it, you have Republicans like Sensenbrenner maybe lining up for it, what
does it look like for Republican Party to be saying no to that at that
BERMAN: If you have someone like John Lewis with such a moral stature who
literally almost died to pass the Voting Rights Act in Selma, Alabama. If
you have him on the floor every single day making the case for the Voting
Rights Act, that being covered on the national news, it`s going to be hard
for Republicans to turn their back on someone like that. And I think there
are people within the Democratic caucus in the House who have the moral
stature to get this done, to make it the legacy. To say that 50 years
we`ve made a lot of progress, but we had 200 years of slavery, we had 100
years of Jim Crow. And if we want to get to that post racial future that
everyone is imagining, we still need those protections to get there.
KORNACKI: We still have the issue of the Supreme Court, which, you know,
is what started all of this this week. And I want to talk a little about
what sort of the game the Supreme Court is playing here, long term on this
and other civil rights issues after this.
KORNACKI: So, we had the VRA decision from the Supreme Court this week.
We also had - and we talked about this a little bit on the show yesterday,
an affirmative action ruling on Monday, which got completely lost in all
the news of the rest of the week. But the common thread between them was
you had the conservative majority on the court. Not - and they didn`t
outright kill affirmative action and they didn`t outright kill the Voting
Rights Act. They kicked the affirmative action case back to the lower
court and said, you know, see if you can clarify, see if you can fix this.
They kicked the Voting Rights Act back to Congress and said, see if you can
fix this. I wonder, do you see some sort of strategic thinking or
strategic or political thinking on the part of the conservative majority,
Donita, when you see those two rulings this week that way?
JUDGE: Well, when I look at the two rulings, it seems to me that while the
Supreme Court has said one thing in terms of that they understand that, you
know, discrimination still exists, on the other hand they`re saying, well,
you know what, discrimination doesn`t exist. I mean, we`re -- you know,
there`s no reason for affirmative action. So, it seems to me that there
are, you know, there are in some ways cross-purposes there. I mean, you
know, it either exists or it doesn`t. It exists in voting, it exists in
education, it exists in housing; it exists in this country. And we need to
recognize that. And the Supreme Court taking those two positions,
depending on where they are - I think really -- it hurts. And it leaves
us all kind of questioning, where is the Supreme Court?
BERMAN: And it was really kind of sickening to see the court release these
decisions right before the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions knowing, I think, full
well that the gay marriages cases would overshadow. So you had the
situation where affirmative action, basically, got no coverage and the VRA
was treated as a one day story. I mean can you imagine eviscerating the
most important civil rights law of the last 50 years, and it gets the day
of coverage? And then - says, oh, we`ve moved on, we`re moving towards
equal rights in our country. And I just think it was a very disingenuous
move by the court. They had many, many months to decide these decisions,
they didn`t need to release them all in the same week.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s always - you know, the Supreme Court is so - it`s
such like an opaque institution, right? So I`m always trying to figure out
how much sort of calculating is going on, it`s not just about issuing its
rulings, it`s about when the ruling is issued; it`s about the wording. And
then like I said, it even seems like there may be some sort of calculation
here in terms of, you know, we don`t want to be the court that actually,
you know, strikes down affirmative action. That actually strikes down the
VRA, so we`re going to technically leave it to Congress, we`re going to
technically leave it to a lower court. But it will have the same effect.
Do you see that kind of calculation?
COWAN: I do. Certainly. I think this is one of the more activist courts
we`ve seen in some time. And, you know, there`s a hue and cry any time a
court does something that seems to favor the liberal side of the ledger as
that`s a bad thing. But this is a very conservative and very activist
court. I think the opinions we`ve seen this week, and you go back to
Citizens United, you look at the Obamacare decision, which came out
favorably, but as I believe has a poison pill in there about the impact of
the commerce clause. We have a court that`s very politically astute. And
they are very calculating in what they decide to do and how they do it.
Now, we`re starting to get an insight into that because the court is
beginning to speak more publicly, individually, the justices. And I think
in Justice Scalia over the last couple of years, we`ve really seen him just
speak his mind, be quite candid about how he views the Constitution and
certain of the past actions of the court, which have -- all have been about
ensuring equality for all Americans.
I think this court is being openly hostile right now to that very concept
and believes that the federal government shouldn`t have a role into
ensuring that equality that is written into our Constitution. I think
that`s a problem.
KORNACKI: Yeah, you know, with Scalia kind of got passed over for chief
justice in 2005 it really seems he`s been a lot freer and looser with how
he`s talked. It`s been interesting in revealing to listen to him.
I want to thank Senator Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, Ari Berman of "The
Nation" magazine, and Donita Judge of the Advancement Project. And I want
to talk to a historic figure in many battles for equality about today`s
battles for equality. She joins me after this.
KORNACKI: Remember the 1972 presidential elections as perhaps the worst
ever for the Democratic Party. Its nominee, George McGovern couldn`t even
crack 40 percent in the national popular vote against Richard Nixon and
carried just one state, Massachusetts. It actually became a point of pride
for (inaudible) residence a few years later, when the whole world learned
all the grim details of Watergate and Massachusetts motorists took to
driving around with bumper stickers that simply said, we told you so. The
1972, there was just no touching Nixon. And that was especially true in
Colorado, which was then a lot more conservative than it is today. Nixon`s
margin in Colorado was 28 points that year. And even in the hub of the
state`s liberalism, Denver, McGovern still lost by double digits.
And yet in the congressional district that covered Denver, in that awful
year for Democrats, there was a big election-day surprise. The incumbent
Republican congressman, James McKevitt was knocked off by 8,000 votes by
32-year old political newcomer. Her name was Patricia Schroeder, she
worked as a field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. And
when she was sworn in in January 1973 she became one of just 14 women in
the House. She was also the only one raising small children at home. This
was back when it was widely assumed that women who worked did so out of
boredom. A newspaper story claimed that Schroeder looked, quote, more like
a college co-ed than a professional politician.
They had no idea. Over the next generation, Congresswoman Schroeder would
emerge as a leading advocate for women, for working women, for minorities,
for those who lacked a voice. It often put her at odds with her own party.
A minority in a majority, that`s how she wants refer to herself. She
wanted a more open, more modern Congress. She championed landmark
legislation and she fundamentally altered the way of the political world
and everyday Americans thought about women and political power. History
will always remember Geraldine Ferraro`s vice-presidential campaign in
1984, and those 18 million cracks that Hillary Clinton put in the glass
ceiling in 2008.
But let`s not forget that Pat Schroeder ran for the nation`s highest
office, too, back in the 1988 cycle. Pat Schroeder wanted a Congress that
looked more like America. And on that front, the progress of the last 40
years is undeniable. There are nearly 100 women in the House today. For
the first time ever, white men do not make up a majority of the Democratic
caucus. But there are also limits to that progress. When she retired in
1996, it was just after Newt Gingrich and the GOP had taken over the House.
"There is this angry - angry populism, targeted at government," she said
back then. "It`s mindless." That remains a familiar lament today, 17
years later. We`ll talk to pat Schroeder about what has changed for women,
for politics for the country and what hasn`t next.
KORNACKI: Now I want to welcome Pat Schroeder, former Democratic
representative from Colorado, former presidential candidate and a
trailblazer for women in politics. Thanks for joining us. It`s great to
have you here.
FMR. REP. PAT SCHROEDER, (D) COLORADO: Thank you. I`m very honored to be
here. And I love your show. So it`s great to be here.
KORNACKI: Excellent, excellent. So, you know, one thing that struck me as
I was reading back some of the stories from your career this week before
you came here was, when you retired from the House in 1996-1997, it was two
years after Newt Gingrich and the Republican revolution, the Republicans
have got in the House for the first time in 40 years and, you know, the
story back then was, you know, harsh confrontation between the House
Republicans and the Democratic president, Bill Clinton, lots of
investigations, lots of sort of overheated rhetoric from the Republicans,
lots of obstruction. And I think, you know, we`re seeing the same thing
today. It feels like -- has anything really changed in 16, 17 years?
SCHROEDER: I think it`s gotten worse. I mean, that`s what`s really
shocking to me. I must say what I finally did is I thought, look, I`m 55
years old. I get dressed up every morning and I feel like I`m in a food
fight all day. And all I do is go home, go back to bed, and come back and
there`s another food fight. So, after two years of that I decided, you
know, it`s really time to retire, because my first 22 years were wonderful.
We literally got things done. It was amazing. So, I really thought that
Gingrich was going to be around for a while, because I really thought there
were a lot of Democrats that didn`t quite get it. They were so shocked by
that `94 election. They didn`t really understand that they were -- you
know, they needed to organize and push back. And I thought, it`s going to
be a long time we`re in the weeds, so I think I`m not going to stay in the
weeds and do food fights. Well, I thought Gingrich was bad. And then came
Tom DeLay, and then came the Tea Party, and then - you know, we have all
these people who don`t believe in government at all. So, why are they
there? And all they want to do is disrupt.
KORNACKI: And you watched that. So, you came to Congress after the `72
election and you watched that sort of growth, that development, that
evolution on the right where, you know, back in the end of `60s and `70s
you had moderate, you had pragmatic, you had liberal Republicans who wanted
to do something, and you saw sort of the birth and the rise of Gingrichism,
which, as you say, and that sort of philosophy still sort of seems to
dictate Republicans. Can you talk about watching that, you know, sort of
evolve and the origins of that?
SCHROEDER: Well, the way I can put it most personally, because for a long
time I was the co-chair of the women`s caucus. And we had a Republican
woman and the Democratic woman, and so we worked together. Olympia Snowe
and I were co-chairs together for a very long time. And we would all meet,
we`d get together. And it was the largest bipartisan caucus on the Hill,
because we let men and we didn`t let them be officers, but we did let them
in if they voted right. So we did all of that. And then all of a sudden
when Gingrich came in, if I was talking to Olympia or to Connie Morella, or
some of my friends on the Republican side, and we were very good friends
and still are, somebody would come over and say, what are you doing for
them? Get over here. It was like, we were going to contaminate them.
KORNACKI: So, all partisan warfare all the time?
SCHROEDER: It was just all partisan warfare. And it was almost -- they
were policing it. Literally. And I thought, boy, I never thought I`d see
this day. And I just got more and more miserable. And I can`t imagine
what it`s like now.
KORNACKI: And I wonder what - the experience of being a woman in Congress.
We set it up a little bit there at the beginning when you first got there.
The newspapers treated it almost like a novelty that, well, here`s this
woman and she has a family and she`s in Congress, too. We`ve obviously
made a lot of progress there, but how much progress do we still have to
SCHROEDER: Oh, you know, the whole thing was so funny. I remember my
husband and I, after I won the primary, going back to meet with the
Democratic congressional campaign and they kind of said, you won? Well,
there`s no hope, you know .
SCHROEDER: . and that was the end of that. Again, I have been at the
labor board, as you said, so I knew a lot of the unions. When I came back
to meet with the AFL-CIO COPE and they said, oh, no way. So, literally,
ours was all grassroots, and wonderful, and it was so terrific. And then I
got to Washington and it was like, thank goodness I had gone to Harvard Law
School before because it was kind of the same feeling. I had always gone
to desegregated schools and public schools, and here at Harvard Law School,
and I remember sitting (ph) down the first day, and the young man on either
side of me said, we have never sat next to a girl in our entire career and
we`re not going to now. Went up and changed their seats, and I thought,
SCHROEDER: So, Congress was kind of like that. And everybody -- I would
try to come into the parking garage and they would say, look. And how many
times do we have to tell you? Secretaries don`t park here, or whatever.
So, it was always a test. Well, you don`t look like a congressman. And
I`d say, well, OK, I`m sorry, I don`t look like one, but here`s my, you
know, here`s my credentials. So, it was - it was a constant test. And I-
I`ll never forget one of the older bulls asking me to coffee and I thought,
oh, this is good. I`m having a breakthrough. We`re having a conversation.
And he sits down and he says, I don`t know why you`re here. And I said,
what do you mean? He said, this is about beautiful women Chivas Regals,
leer jets and thousand dollar bills. Why are you here?
SCHROEDER: And I thought, it`s over for me.
KORNACKI: So much for the breakthrough. Well, I mean, look, since you
left the House we`ve had a female speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and
she`s now the top Democrat. You had, you know, Hillary Clinton come very
close in 2008. We only have about 30 seconds here, but I do kind of want
to put you on the spot. When you think about 2016, Hillary Clinton, are
you thinking, this is the year?
SCHROEDER: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. I think she is so
experienced, so wonderful. I mean, I can`t say enough good things about
her. I think she`s just a real treasure. And we would be crazy not to
KORNACKI: OK, so we`ve got another Ready for Hillary endorsement. We`re
keeping track of these. We are going to be sticking around, we have
another hour of the show, we`re going to be talking DOMA, we`re going to be
talking Prop 8 next hour, we`re going to have you here, which I`m really
looking forward to it, and thanks for coming, again.
A discriminatory law signed by a Democratic president, overturned by a
conservative court, that`s after this.
KORNACKI: So we are - I wanted to talk a little bit about the two other,
you know, big Supreme Court rulings this week. The Defense of Marriage Act
Ruling, the Supreme Court now invalidating the 17-year-old law, and then
Prop 8, you know, in California. We`ll talk about Prop 8 later. But we
want to start with the Defense of Marriage Act. And first, I want to just
bring back Amanda Terkel, the Congressman Jerry Nadler, we have former
congressman Pat Schroeder - we have a reunion of two members of the 103rd,
and 104th Congress, I think, we have Richard Socarides, who was gay liaison
for Bill Clinton when he was president. And that`s what I really want to
talk about here a little bit, is Bill Clinton`s legacy on the Defense of
Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996, it was an
election year, it was Bill Clinton`s reelection year, he signed it in
September of that year, about two months before the election. He signed
it, you know, the legend has it, in the dead of night, you know, when no
one was looking, although he then ran ads on Christian radio stations
saying that, you know, Bill Clinton signed this to support our values.
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: Ads were pulled, very quickly.
KORNACKI: Ads that were pulled, but as they - as they ran .
KORNACKI: And so, it`s a complicated - it`s a complicated legacy because
in one way, there`s this big victory this week that the conservative
Supreme Court has handed the gay rights movement. And, you know, DOMA is
gone now. DOMA caused so much havoc for so many people.
NADLER: Part of DOMA is gone.
KORNACKI: Yeah, the federal component of DOMA is gone. But it`s only
there in the first place because a Democratic president, because Bill
Clinton signed it. You know, Congressman Nadler, I`ll start with you. You
were there in 1996 when it happened. Can you take us back to, you know,
what you thought when Bill Clinton signed DOMA?
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: I was very disappointed when he signed
it, although not surprised, because he had telegraphed that he would sign
it. I was one of the people who led the fight against it. But there were
a lot of people in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, I assume,
who voted for it just because they didn`t -- just because of politics.
They didn`t think it was sustainable politically not to support it.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: I mean, you are right that it is
extremely complicated - it was an extremely complicated set of
circumstances. And you - it is hard to go back, even though it was only 17
years ago, it was hard to go back and kind of reimagine what the time was
like then. But I think it`s not completely -- doesn`t give a full picture
to say it was only enacted because Bill Clinton signed it. I mean what you
have to do is think about it in terms of, this was six weeks out from
President Clinton`s re-election. And the Republicans were trying to, in a
very diabolical, and, you know, really old political, old tough political
way make gay rights an issue that they could be used - use as a wedge issue
against President Clinton. So, this was an effort by Bob Dole, who was
head of the Republican Party that year to try to insert gay rights into the
1996 presidential election and to use it as a wedge issue against President
KORNACKI: Well, right. And we should say a key - so, the background on it
was there was a case in Hawaii that was suggesting that possibly Hawaii
would legalize same-sex marriage. And then, yes, it was sort of a
Republican issue, the thing that we`re going to have DOMA, which is going
to say the federal government doesn`t have to recognize Hawaii`s marriages
or any other marriages.
NADLER: No, no ,no, no.
SCHROEDER: It was, of course.
NADLER: The entire debate, it`s very interesting now. The entire debate,
as my recollection is, all the debate, you know, in kind was on Section 2
of DOMA. That state one does not have to recognize the gay marriage
performed in the state two. Nobody discussed Section 3 of DOMA, which is
what the Supreme Court just overturned, which said the federal government
doesn`t have to ...
KORNACKI: Right. And still activist states do not have to recognize .
NADLER: There was no discussion of that at all. The whole thing was, my
god, if Hawaii legalized the same-sex marriage it`s going to force Arizona
to recognize it .
NADLER: And it`s going to force this one. That was the whole debate on
SCHROEDER: It was the fear of the full faith and credit .
SCHROEDER: . part of the Constitution. Literally. I mean you remember
when people used to go to Nevada to get a divorce and everybody had to
recognize it. Well, it was like, oh, my goodness, here comes Hawaii and
those crazy people out there are going to -- well, everybody will run and
get married and then they`ll come back.- And it was really kind of an
anti-court thing, too. This is going to come through the courts because I
think they felt so secure that if it was on the ballot, they`d be safe. I
mean I was on the judiciary committee, too, with Jerry. And it was a very
NADLER: Extremely painful.
SCHROEDER: Bob Barr who had been married multiple times, was our lead guy
talking about how he was having to defend marriage. And I remember many of
us making catty statements like, really?
SOCARIDES: Really, Mr. Barr?
SCHROEDER: Gay and lesbian couples are causing you to have these divorces
NADLER: But I think some of the comments were, you like marriage so much,
you`ve had a few of them.
SCHROEDER: Few of them. Except that .
KORNACKI: But the question with Clinton is, and I, you know, I take your
point, obviously, that this was the Republicans trying to trap him. I mean
that is an election year and that`s what your opponents are going to try to
do to you. I think the question when you talk about Bill Clinton`s legacy
and what people try to grapple with this, this was not a Clinton, 48, Dole,
KORNACKI: It was dead even all year. The poll - the most recent poll when
he signed it, September 20 of `96, there was a CBS News poll that day that
said 56-34. He was crushing Bob Dole. Bob Dole was out there calling the
Dodgers, the Brooklyn Dodgers. I mean he was a - I have a soft spot for
Bob Dole, I have to say, but he was a hapless candidate in 1996, and Bill
Clinton was going to win this election. I think when you start talking
about his legacy, where the criticism comes in, it`s like how many people
think Bill Clinton really wanted to sign this? OK, most people, you know,
that I talk to say that they don`t think he really wanted to sign it.
Well, he had - OK, maybe he`s going to take a hit here, instead of being
56-34 in a poll he is a 52-38.
SOCARIDES: Well, maybe that`s one of the reasons why he`s such a
successful politician, because, you know politics - they don`t take any
elections for granted. But I mean you`re right. Listen, President Clinton
recently wrote this op-ed in "The Washington Post" before the cases were
argued at the Supreme Court. And he himself said, I signed a piece of
legislation, which I should have known at the time was unconstitutional. I
mean, I can never remember in American history a president saying, you
know, a living president, a president who`s out of office but still alive,
saying that I signed a piece of legislation when I was your commander-in-
chief that was unconstitutional. I mean it was a very big moment.
KORNACKI: But did you think he wanted to sign it at the time back in `96?
SOCARIDES: Well, you know, I mean listen. You know, I wrote a long piece
for "The New Yorker" about what was happening and why this happened. I -
you know, I personally did not believe he wanted to sign it. And I think
in his signing statement he was saying, I don`t want to sign this and don`t
anybody think that this is an excuse to discriminate. And he went out of
his way to say, I don`t believe in discrimination. And, you know, there
was a - there was a quite an extensive argument going on in the White House
at the time, could he veto it? What would that mean? Could he allow it to
become law without signing it? You know, because you don`t have to - you
can if you - you don`t have to veto -- it`s not your only option. You can
just let it sit, you know, a pocket veto. What were the other options?
But, you know, at the time you`ve got to remember, there were -- there were
only 14 members of the U.S. Senate who voted against this bill. It would -
a veto would have been overridden. There was no state in this country
where same-sex marriage was allowed, so it affected nobody. There was less
than 30 percent of the American public who supported same-sex marriage six
weeks out of a presidential re-election. I mean that was the case. I mean
I made the case to him that, Mr. President, your legacy -- think about your
legacy. Think about, do you want to be remembered for this? You will be
remembered for the same-sex marriage is possible. It`s going to happen.
But on the other side his advisers were saying to him, you are against
same-sex marriage as are 70 percent of the American public. This bill will
affect nobody. You`re six weeks out of an election. And we`ll deal with
it later if it comes to pass.
SCHROEDER: Can I just add, too? Remember, when it was introduced in the
Senate, there were only two co-sponsors, and Bob Dole was one of them.
SCHROEDER: And I don`t think any of us - and I voted against it, as did
SOCARIDES: Profiles in courage, right? I mean I`m serious. I stayed in
the - it was very difficult to do, no matter where you were from.
SCHROEDER: But it was like a brush fire. I mean, you know how slow the
Congress is now? You can`t get anything through. You can`t name a post
office, for crying out loud. This thing went at a thousand miles an hour
because -- it must have been Karl Rove or somebody who came up with this,
(inaudible), altered blast in this .
SCHROEDER: Saying if we do this, we can defeat a lot of that .
KORNACKI: How does - so, Amanda, how does this affect his legacy? How
does this chip develop on his legacy, do you think?
TERKEL: I mean, it`s certainly a blemish on his legacy. He was on the
wrong side of history. And while there may have been some sort of
political cost, and we don`t, you know, it doesn`t seem like it would have
been that big, you know, he wasn`t LBJ. He didn`t stand on the right side
of history. I mean he was also concerned about, in his first two years in
office, he had to deal with "Don`t ask, don`t tell." And I think he was -
and that didn`t go well at all. You know, he came up with this middle
ground where gays could serve in the military, but not openly. People
weren`t happy. And I think he was reluctant to take on this issue again
and what it would do to his legacy. And like Richard was saying, there was
this short-sightedness that well, this wouldn`t affect anyone. I mean
Vermont didn`t have civil unions until 2000, so for the gay community, this
is very real, but for many other people this was still very abstract.
KORNACKI: And it started - it started to affect people, though, within the
first decade. And something interesting happened, or it was reported to
happen with Bill Clinton involved in this in 2004. And I want to talk
about that after this.
KORNACKI: So, it was this past March, three months ago, when Bill Clinton
officially reversed his position on the Defense of Marriage Act. He wrote
an op-ed in "The Washington Post." It was a little unsatisfying for me to
read this, because I don`t think he fully grappled with why he signed it
and a lot of - any of the political calculations. The one case that he did
make in there, though, was saying that he thought that it forced a more
serious push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that would
have been harder to get off the books. It would have been - it would have
had more fallout long term.
But what`s interesting is, we`re talking about what Bill Clinton did within
the confines of 1996, when gay marriage was, you know, a fringe concept.
Nobody was really talking about it. There`s this anecdote that stuck with
me from the 2004 campaign. And it was one of those stories of the 2004
campaign, it was that Rove and the Republicans got all these anti-gay
marriage initiatives on state ballots. We talk about Ohio, maybe that
helped in Ohio, or maybe didn`t, but it was on the ballot there any way
And this was from "Newsweek`s" - you know, "Newsweek" would have these
embedded reporters in every campaign and they would do this sort of, you
know, tell-alls at the end of the campaign. "Newsweek" the kind of the
campaign said that, a phone conversation between Bill Clinton and John
Kerry, it`s going on - in an earlier phone call Clinton, "Ever the
political triangular looking for ways to pick up swing voters by reaching
into so-called red states, had urged Kerry to back local bans on gay
marriage. Kerry respectfully listened and then told his aides, "I`m not
going to ever do that."
And it`s Bob Shrum who was, you know, the chief strategist for Kerry, has
also told this story in his memoir. I don`t know, you know, for sure, if
it`s true or not. But when I - when I read this, I see Clinton - the
Clinton who is coming across here is the same Clinton I see from 1996. And
I`m saying, well, now in 2004 it`s different than 1996, because now you
have gay marriage in Massachusetts, now you have civil unions in some
states. And to me that kind of complicates Bill Clinton`s legacy on this
SOCARIDES: Well, I mean, I think the first thing, important thing to note,
is that President Clinton, you know, his staff has said, his staff has said
recently when this was resurfaced, that he did - that this did not occur.
And they say that it`s a total fabrication, I think, is what his
spokesperson said. So, we`re talking about something that one side says,
Mr. Shrum says it happened, Mr. Clinton`s people say it didn`t. So, we
don`t really know if it happens. But it does, you know, it does - it`s
tricky because it evokes this part of Bill Clinton that we saw, as you saw,
the triangulation of the `90s where, you know, you could find kind of a
little middle position and give a little on one side, give a little on the
other side. So, we don`t know if it happened. You know, I tend to doubt
it. I`ve, you know, stayed in touch with President Clinton, you know, ever
since he left office. And he tends to call me on these things and, you
know, as I`m sure he calls a number of other people. You know, he just
doesn`t talk to one person, as we know. But I would be surprised if that
KORNACKI: What do you think, Congressman, his - when you think of Bill
Clinton`s legacy on gay rights overall? What do you think of?
NADLER: It`s a mixed legacy, obviously. This makes it a mixed legacy.
Other than that, he deserves a lot of credit. He`s gotten a bad rap, I
think, on the "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell, " because people forget. I mean he
tried -- you had a policy in the military that said no gays. He tried to
stop that by executive order. He said, we`re going to have gays in the
military. And then Sam Nunn and others had the votes in the Senate and the
House to take that discriminatory policy and put it into law. And to
prevent that, they came up with the compromise -- the - a not very good
compromise, to put it mildly, of "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell." But he was
forced into that. He tried to do the right thing there. And he issued
executive orders on various things and he appointed the - a gay and
lesbians to high-profile positions, including the first, Steve, Hormel as
the first ambassador. The big negative, obviously, is that he signed the
DOMA. And that`s hard to forget.
SOCARIDES: And an executive order he signed. Remember, the most important
thing - the two most important things on my mind on the Clinton legacy on
gay rights, is that he`s the first president to say that gay people had a
right to be entitled to be open and be part of the political process by the
appointments he made and so forth, and by seeking supporters, the first
person running for president ever in 1992 to seek the support of the gay
community. But very concretely, he signed two executive orders. One - an
executive order that banned sexual orientation discrimination in the
federal civilian workforce.
SCHROEDER: Of course.
SOCARIDES: And another one that banned the federal government from denying
security clearances to people because they were gay.
SCHROEDER: That`s right.
SOCARIDES: And this was -- this was, you know, unheard of at the time.
And if you think that it was a small thing, if you think it was a small
thing, when he signed that executive order banning employment
discrimination in the federal government, the Republicans in Congress tried
to get -- tried to deny funding to its enforcement. They tried to override
it. And they only missed by like 12 votes.
SCHROEDER: That`s right. That`s true.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s because the thing - I think the thing that always
comes back when I talk to specifically on the issue of gay rights, but when
I talk to people who were generally supportive of Bill Clinton, whatever
their issue was, they say the common thing is well, they think his heart
was in the right place.
SCHROEDER: His actions were in the right place.
KORNACKI: Well, OK, and they understand that, you know, also he was an
unusually smart politician in terms of, this is what have I to do to get
elected, this is I`ve got to do to stay in office. The question with
Clinton is always, though, did he compromise away too much in the name of
staying in office?
NADLER: I think you have to put one thing in context. And he did all
these good things for gay rights. In an unprecedented manner and in a time
when it`s hard to remember what the time was like now. And on gay -- on
gay marriage, he did this one bad thing. But it`s - you have to remember,
I think, in putting that into context how fast things have changed. In
2009, 13 years after he signed that, and only, what is it, four years ago,
when I introduced the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, I had
members of Congress, liberals, gay groups saying, don`t do it. Don`t
introduce a repeal DOMA bill. It`s getting the wrong issue on the table.
We should concentrate on employment, nondiscrimination act, don`t get into
that debate, four years ago. And now looking back, it looks like such a
mild thing. But remember, how fast this is changing. He couldn`t have
anticipated that in 2000 - in `99.
SCHROEDER: And don`t forget, there is nothing worse than being a leader,
and getting out there and looking over your shoulder and finding no one`s
behind you. And I think - that`s kind of what he was seeing. And there`s
also the heat of the campaign thing. I thought the worst thing that
happened -- I thought he showed his real commitment after he got elected
and did these executive orders and tried to change the military. And he
had been so active in the Democratic Leadership Council. And here it is,
the Democratic Leadership Council going after him at 100 miles an hour,
trying to undo it. So, that -- I think he gets a little credit there.
SOCARIDES: But you make a very important point. I mean, it is -- it is
for sure a mixed record. It is, you know, a guy trying to do the right
thing most of the time, and sometimes giving into political expediency.
And I don`t mean to suggest that Mr. Shrum made up that story. I mean I
think people may remember it differently. You know, it happened a long
time ago. It was a little footnote to history. But I will say this.
That, you know, you have to view it in the context of the moment. And I
think that, you know, President Clinton, like most other Americans, has
evolved. You know, what happened to him happened to everybody else.
SOCARIDES: And it is - well, for those of us - for those of us who are -
for those of us who have been involved in this a long time, it is an
education campaign. It is not about assigning blame for not being perfect.
KORNACKI: I understand that. A lot of these evolutions, a lot of these
evolutions, too, the polls have evolved, too, so of course the politicians
SOCARIDES: But if you look at the .
TERKEL: . that which is why he - I mean, now he`s great on LGBT issues.
And he`s out there. He`s an advocate. And, you know, it would be nice to
see him now sort of, I guess, do more to try to repair his legacy, for
example, by pushing for the employment non-discrimination act, which when
he signed DOMA, he said, that I would like to see Congress push this as
well. It failed by one vote, 49 to 50. It now has 53 co-sponsors in the
Senate. And it should be -- you know, Harry Reid expects it to get more
time in the Senate after the July 4th recess. So, it would be nice to see
President Clinton, for example, push for that more.
KORNACKI: All right, a politician who stood up for gay Americans when it
mattered then and now. That`s next.
KORNACKI: 1978 was not supposed to be a good year for gay rights. In
Florida, a high profile campaign led by Anita Bryant had just successfully
overturned Miami-Dade County ordinance to protect gays and lesbians from
discrimination. A result that spurred gay rights opponents to think
nationally. Their next target became California where an initiative was
placed on the ballot, the Briggs Initiative, or Proposition 6, it was
called. It would ban gays from teaching in public schools and more. News
reports from the time give us some indication just how vulnerable the
rights of California`s gays and lesbians were in that crucial pivotal
moment as the vote on the initiative approached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unlike earlier gay rights questions in other parts of
the country, it would not apply just to homosexuals. The law would empower
school boards to fire anyone for advocating, soliciting, imposing,
encouraging or promoting of private or public homosexual activity directed
at or likely to come to the attention of school children and/or other
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In the middle of all of this was California`s governor, Jerry
Brown. Brown was running for re-election in 1978. And while the gay
rights movement had gained a foothold in some urban areas, it was a risky
cause for a statewide politician, especially a politician who like Brown
wasn`t married. "The governor is 39 years old and is still a bachelor,"
one 1977 news story noted. Ever since he entered politics, it`s been
whispered that any man his age who`s never married must be homosexual.
Brown has thought to laugh of the matter, his highly private and aesthetic
personal lifestyle has only fanned the rumors.
But Jerry Brown did not duck the issue of Proposition 6. He opposed the
referendum, and in the end so did a host of other major political figures
including Ronald Reagan. Went down to defeat 59-to 41 percent that
November, on the same day that Brown won a second term as governor.
Brown`s stand against the Briggs Initiative was not an isolated moment. In
his first thing as governor, he appointed the first openly gay judge in the
United States, maybe even the world. He signed the bill into law that
decriminalized sodomy, he issued an executive order to prohibit job
discrimination by the state and he spoke up for gay rights even as he ran
for president in 1980.
Now fast forward three decades to 2008. Brown then is making a political
comeback. He`s California`s attorney general. It`s the same year that
voters narrowly approved Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage. Prop 8 is
immediately challenged in court, making the state attorney general Jerry
Brown a defendant. Except Jerry Brown had no interest in being a defendant
and trying to justify the law in court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY BROWN: As we evaluated the law, that law, we believe, says that to
deprive same-sex couples of the right to marriage, while you`re giving
18,000 couples that right, violates the equal protection clause of the 14th
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And that decision by Jerry Brown, the much older, much balder,
then married version of the same Jerry Brown who fought the Briggs
Initiative in the `70s paved the way for what the Supreme Court did this
past week. When the state of California refused to defend Prop 8, anti-gay
marriage activists tried to step in to make the case. But the Supreme
Court ruled Wednesday that they didn`t have standing to do so. And that
meant that the lower court`s ruling stood, which meant that gay marriage
became legal again in California. And it meant that Jerry Brown, now once
again Governor Jerry Brown, could order his state to be ready to allow what
happened on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, (D) CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: By virtue of the power and
authority vested in me by the state of California, I now declare you
spouses for life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: You know, so - so Congresswoman Schroeder, we just talked about
Bill Clinton, and sort of the complicated legacy there. And, you know, now
Jerry Brown ran against Bill Clinton for president. Bill Clinton won.
Bill Clinton climbed higher in politics than Jerry Brown. So, maybe
there`s a lesson there. But I am struck by how consistent on this issue
Jerry Brown has been going back to a time when the issue was - could gays
teach in school?
SCHROEDER: Right. But I think he also came from California, which is a
little more progressive than maybe, Arkansas and backgrounds of the south.
I also wonder, and this is - this is maybe crazy, but, you know, I`m from
the west, and high altitude, maybe it`s my brain, but I often wonder if we
turned this argument around and if the gay and lesbian community had said,
we`re special people, so don`t come and ask us to serve in the military
because you know what, we don`t want to do that, and don`t ask us to take
responsibility because, no, we`re not going to do this marriage stuff. I
have -- I wonder if the right wing would then say, oh, no .
SCHROEDER: You know, you`re going to ..
SCHROEDER: . have to come forward on this. And so, I so often find that
we who are progressives are always on the defensive end. They`re coming at
us at 100 miles an hour. And they have framed it, oh, you people want
something from us. You`re the takers. It was .
NADLER: You have an agenda.
SCHROEDER: Exactly. The homosexual agenda, the takers. I don`t know.
But I do really salute Jerry Brown. I mean he`s been - he`s been very
consistent through all of this. And he has succeeded politically.
KORNACKI: What I`m curious of, too, about it, there were so many different
ways the court could have settled Prop 8 this week. And what they - what
they settled on was, you know, the state of California didn`t defend it,
therefore, didn`t have standing. They could have made a much more sweeping
declaration that gay marriage is legal across the country, they could have
made it of states that have civil unions to have gay marriage - you know, I
guess, Amanda, is there - is there some issue maybe with what Jerry Brown
did was noble in a way and ended up getting gay marriage for his state, but
it gave the court an out to be less ambitious and less bold than they could
TERKEL: It take it - the court to know, although the Obama administration
also decided not to defend DOMA, which made the House GOP step in and
perhaps led to the defeat of DOMA, because John Boehner decided to defeat
it. So it worked sort of the other way on that case. But, I mean, you
know, there is the possibility, though, that the court could have said that
states don`t have to -- you know, that Prop 8, you know, would have been
upheld. I mean it could - it could have hurt the other way. So I think
what Jerry Brown did was -- I think what he did was right. I think it was
in line with what he has stood on. And when Prop 8 was struck down, he
immediately before the stay was lifted by the 9th Circuit said, go ahead -
you know, the state can start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples even
before it was cleared. The clerks could actually do that.
NADLER: It`s very .
TERKEL: I loved it.
NADLER: It`s very refreshing to see someone be -- like Jerry Brown be
consistently progressive and consistently courageous.
NADLER: There`s no - there`s no ifs, ands or buts. He`s been fine,
excellent on this throughout. I think what the court did is very
interesting. They ducked it on standing, although to be fair, Chief
Justice Roberts has been trying to narrow standing on a host of issues.
And so, that was consistent for him. But beyond that, if you look at
Justice Kennedy, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority decision in the Romer
case in Colorado, he wrote the majority decision outlawing anti-sodomy
statutes in the Lawrence case ten years to the date before DOMA, he wrote
the majority decision in DOMA. He was careful to not find DOMA
unconstitutional on a straight equal protection argument, because if he did
that it would be impossible to distinguish the Prop 8 case, except, perhaps
in the stand (ph).- It would be impossible to say the state can get away
with it. He came up with this sort of half federalism, half equal
protection, so violation of equal protection because you`re upsetting the
favorable thing that the state wanted to do to the same group of people,
which is sort of a strange amalgam.
But Justice Scalia was right when he wrote in his dissent, that it is
impossible to see how the court can avoid a couple of years from now,
outlawing discrimi - outlawing state anti-marriage statutes given Justice
Kennedy`s reason. (INAUDIBLE). You know, obviously go full steam in the
next -- if he`s at all consistent, in the next case.
KORNACKI: Well, which is interesting. You know, we were talking earlier
on the show about how the seeds that implanted sort of on the right when it
comes to like affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act, for these things
that play - plays that play out in several acts and that ultimately leads
to the - it may work the other way.
NADLER: And Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent in the Lawrence case that
the rationale of the court would lead inexorably to saying that it`s an
equal -- that anti-marriage statutes -- anti-marriage equality statutes are
violation of equal protection. He said that, again, here. But I think .
SOCARIDES: Let`s hope it`s true, right?
KORNACKI: We have a couple of .
KORNACKI: We have a couple of potential test cases coming. The first
state where I think this might be next, you know, kind of be litigated is
New Jersey. We`ll talk about that and these battles and moving next, after
KORNACKI: So, gay marriage is legal again in California now. And we want
to talk about where this is going to happen next. We actually have a map
that sort of shows the various statuses out there from the different state,
you can put that up. And the blue states, it`s legal. You see, California
now has flipped. And a few other states in recent months have flipped,
too, like Minnesota, Rhode Island. Green is what I want to kind of focus
on right now. And you see a couple of those green. These are states that
have civil unions, domestic partnerships, they don`t have (inaudible), the
rights of marriage basically without calling it marriage. In New Jersey,
the particularly interesting one there, because the question is, that the
legislature, the Democratic legislature in Virginia - in Virginia - excuse
me, in New Jersey, you have votes there for gay marriage. You have a
Republican Governor, Chris Christie, who wants to - who has vetoed it. Who
vetoed it. The question, A, is - will the legislature now override Chris
Christie? But the second question in New Jersey, though, is that the state
Supreme Court there a few years ago ruled that you can`t distinguish
between - you have to - you can have civil unions .
KORNACKI: You can call them civil unions as long as you get everything you
get in a marriage. And with DOMA now being .
NADLER: And it`s clearly not .
KORNACKI: Being - right. You`re going to have federal benefits for
heterosexual married couples in New Jersey that will not necessarily apply
to the civil union - to the gay civil union couples. So New Jersey now, it
looks like it`s going to be the next test case.
SOCARIDES: So, there are two other questions, and those are two other -
there are four, you know, scenarios presented to the people in New Jersey,
right? It matters if you live in New Jersey and Chris Christie is your
governor, you can`t get married, but if you live in New York, just across
the way and Andrew Cuomo is your governor, you can get married, right? So,
there are two other scenarios, one is, Chris Christie might change his
mind. You know, I haven`t given up hope for that.
KORNACKI: I`m not sure I see that one.
SOCARIDES: But, you know, I think things are happening so quickly that he
might actually change his mind.
KORNACKI: And in 2016 Republican presidential prospect?
SOCARIDES: It`s possible. It`s possible. The other thing that could
happen, of course, is this that gets put on the ballot in New Jersey. And
there`s over - the latest polling shows that over 60 percent of the voters
in New Jersey .
SOCARIDES: . want their citizens to have the right to same-sex marriage.
KORNACKI: I think - I think it would pass if it was on the ballot in New
Jersey. The question is, you know.
SOCARIDES: Do you put rights on this ballot?
KORNACKI: Is that something you should be doing? You know.
SCHROEDER: Well, you shouldn`t have to be doing it. Shall we say that?
SOCARIDES: I think you shouldn`t have to be doing it, too. But I think in
a place like New Jersey, I mean I know that for a long time the gay rights
movement, of which I`m a part, has said, under no circumstances, will we
endorse putting our, you know, our civil right on the ballot. And I think
for a long time that`s made sense. But in a place like New Jersey where it
looks like it would pass fairly easily and where Governor Christie, who
looks like he`s also going to be governor for a good, long time, is going
to block it. I think that we might want to really seriously consider
accepting his invitation. This is an invitation he`s made. He said I`m
going to veto it, because I don`t personally support it. But go ahead, put
it on the ballot. He said, I`ll support your right to put it on the
ballot. I think we ought to seriously consider it.
TERKEL: Because right now it doesn`t seem like the legislature has the
TERKEL: . to necessarily override. It seems like the courts or the
referendum, I`m a little less optimistic that Chris Christie will be
changing the Constitution.
KORNACKI: Well, yeah, Christie just denounced forcefully the DOMA ruling
SCHROEDER: He did.
NADLER: Yes, he did. He denounced forcefully DOMA ruling, although he did
invite a referendum. Now, I don`t think he telegraphed which position he
would take on a referendum, if any.
SOCARIDES: But you know, he said he would be against it.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting to watch the polling on New Jersey because it`s
a progressive state. Like I said, I think it`s a state - you can look like
at Maine last year, where these things started passing in some, you know,
blue states last year. I think it would pass in New Jersey if they put it
on the ballot.
NADLER: But I think also New Jersey, if the Supreme Court of New Jersey
said, you have to have something equivalent to marriage and civil unions
may be that, now clearly civil unions is not equivalent to marriage because
it doesn`t come under the aegis of the Supreme Court decision and you don`t
get federal benefits. So I think you go to court in New Jersey. You
SOCARIDES: Jerry is exactly right. Here`s what`s going to happen next in
these cases. That in all of these states, all the purple states for sure,
but even in some of the red states, plaintiffs, real people who want to get
married, are going to take the Supreme Court decision in the Windsor case,
in the DOMA case, not in the Prop 8 case, but in the Windsor case, and
they`re going to go into state court and they are going to say, here is
this decision from the U.S. Supreme Court which says the United States
Constitution guarantees that I have a right to be treated equally. Now,
the whole, the .
SOCARIDES: If you have a state marriage statute, but I think, you know,
that decision is so powerful rhetorically, but I mean it`s powerful - it
has a legal precedent, or it sets out this kind of new standard that Jerry
talked about, this sort of blended equal protection, due process,
federalism blend. A very new kind of very Kennedy-esque approach to this.
But I think, you know, a lot of people are going to be able to take this
precedent and go into state court and going to get state courts and state
Supreme Courts in all (inaudible) in this country and going to get the
state constitutional .
KORNACKI: The other issue at the state level, and, Pat, I want to ask you
about this because I saw Ralph Reed, you know, Christian conservative
activist, after the rulings this week. He said, yes, it`s a win for the
gay rights movement but he said he likened it to the equal rights
amendment. And he said, you know, equal rights amendment, you have some
states willing to ratify and then it just stalled. And he said look at
that map. And he said, I said it - the same thing is going to happen with
gay marriage. There are going to be - a large number of states that will
just never accept this. When you hear that comparison, what do you think?
SCHROEDER: Well, what he`s thinking is he`s going to raise a whole lot of
SCHROEDER: No, don`t you think?
KORNACKI: That`s exactly.
SCHROEDER: I mean, that`s exactly - he`s - I mean he`s thinking, whoa,
this is great. Because we saw the equal rights amendment do the same
thing. And - but I honestly think it`s different because I think the young
people and a lot of people my age, they`re just not there. And so, good
SCHROEDER: I can`t -- I just can`t believe that that`s really going to
happen. Maybe in the south. I mean, he`s going to win -- it`s going to be
very tough in the south. And I still don`t know why we can`t push full
faith and credit a whole lot harder and say, you know.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s - and there`s an issue -- well, there is - when it
comes back to the Supreme Court then, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made some
very interesting public comments about where she thinks the balance between
public opinion or the court is. And I want to just play that and talk
about it after this.
KORNACKI: We were talking about Ralph Reed`s comparison of gay marriage
and equal rights amendment. Another comparison I`ve heard from, maybe, a
more, you know, credible source has been comparing public opinion on gay
marriage with public opinion on abortion. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
actually, had made some public - some public comments about the effect of
the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 on public opinion on abortion. And
basically, what you`ve seen for the last 30 - you know, 30 -plus years, has
been that -- is very stable. Public opinion on abortion is very stable.
And she seemed to be saying that the court may have - and it brought
national ruling. It could have made a limited ruling like just for Texas.
You know, and instead it made a very broad, national ruling. And what she
was saying was that sort of created a backlash and locked in polarization
on abortion. This is how she said it. Well, I`ll let her explain it
instead of me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: So, my judgment is
that court ruled -- not that the judgment was wrong, it certainly was not.
But it moved too far, too fast. My thinking and maybe we`ll never know
whether I was right or wrong.
And (inaudible) differently because the court had been (inaudible)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: What do you make of it, Amanda? I mean a lot of people have
connected that to the gay marriage question and they`ve said the same thing
-- we`re on course for the same thing to happen with gay marriage where it
will become, you know, we`re moving so fast, it will become like abortion,
where we`ll reach a level of public opinion where the acceptance will peak
here and that will be that.
TERKEL: But I think it`s - this like abortion in Roe v. Wade or is this
more like interracial marriage and Loving v. Virginia. You know, that -
the court said that interracial marriage, go ahead. People today have no
problem, for the most part, with few people, I suppose, have no problem
with interracial marriage whereas abortion, and it`s not becoming more and
more popular like it once was. I mean I understand where she`s coming
from. I`m not quite sure is, same-sex marriage is there. I mean it seems
especially with younger people it`s more and more popular, especially as
more younger people know people who are gay, more people are out of the
So, and it`s simply, you know, like with interracial couples, they see
them, they know them, they`re fine with them. You know, abortion, I think
there are so many more people who don`t know people who have had an
abortion. It`s not an issue that is in front of people every day. So, I
see where she`s coming from, I`m not sure, though, if it`s exactly the
NADLER: I think it`s exactly different. I think Loving is the proper
example. When the Supreme Court came down with Loving, 27 percent of
Americans approved of interracial marriage.
KORNACKI: And this was in 1967.
NADLER: It was 1967. The difference is -- so it`s even worse from that
point of view. The difference is, and there are two reasons, I think, why
opinion is shifting so rapidly. Number one, young people, young people,
even Republicans, conservatives, have no problem. They don`t understand
what the issue is.
NADLER: So that tells you where the issue is going inexorably. And second
of all, unlike with abortion, with abortion if people think a fetus from
the time of conception is a person, they have that opinion for religious
reasons, whatever reasons, you`re not going to move that for those people
who firmly believe that. With gay marriage, when people see that people
marry and nothing else changes, there`s no harm. You know, we`ve had gay
marriage now in Massachusetts for nine years. Nothing happened. All the
different predictions of doom, nothing happens. It`s going to become very
KORNACKI: A few seconds. Your first year in Congress was the year Roe v.
SCHROEDER: Absolutely. Absolutely. And like - I really feel one of the
problems we`ve had is that they`ve been able to define it only about the
fetus. And no one ever looks at the mother. We`re terrible on safe
motherhood issues. I mean people who are watching this wonderful PBS show
"Downton Abby," learned about preeclampsia. People - people are dying of
preeclampsia in America. We don`t know that. Because they`ve made this
whole myth that this is just about selfish women wanting to wear prom
dresses or something they decide to get rid of the baby. So, the media on
it has been really awful. And the progressives have never been able to
once again gain - Whereas when you`re talking about gay marriage, you`re
talking about two individuals and people who want to support each other.
And I think a lot of people think that`s a very good value in our system.
KORNACKI: All right. So what should we know today? My answers are after
KORNACKI: So what should we know today? We should know that because
Congress failed to act, student loan interest rates will double starting
tomorrow. Interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans will rise to 6.8
percent, which means an added and unnecessary burden for over 7 million
Americans. Many bills were introduced by members in both parties to avoid
the rate hike. But nothing passed ahead of tomorrow`s deadline. And since
the Senate packed up for their nice long July Fourth holiday last Thursday,
the issue can`t be addressed until they return from break.
While the Senate wasn`t passing the student loan bill, we should know that
Senate Republicans were sending vaguely threatening letters to the heads of
major sports leagues. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn were trying to warn
the leagues against partnering with the Department of Health and Human
Services plan to promote awareness about Obamacare.
On Monday, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the NFL had been very receptive
to a possible partnership to publicize the effects of the new law. Just
three days later, though, on Thursday, before any actual partnership plan
was set, McConnell and Cornyn strongly urged the head of the NFL and five
other major sports leagues against cozying up to Obamacare. Their letter
reads, quote, "Should the administration or its allies suggest that will be
any policy consequence for your decision not to participate in their
outreach efforts, we urge you to resist any such pressure and to contact us
immediately, so that we may conduct appropriate oversight." Spokesperson
of the NFL says that a league has "no plans to engage on the law."
We should know that three years after her surprising loss to Scott Brown in
the 2010 Massachusetts senate election, Martha Coakley is reportedly
considering a run for governor. According to "The Boston Globe," people
close to her say she`s seriously considering a gubernatorial bid in 2014.
We know that if she does decide to run, and that if she does win the
Democratic primary, the state voters could possibly have a Martha Coakley -
Scott Brown rematch. That`s because the former senator has hinted at his
interest in this position. But then, again, he has also flirted with
running in this year`s special election for the Senate in Massachusetts,
running for the Senate in 2014 in New Hampshire and even running for
president in 2016. While we don`t know if Coakley will get into the race
for governor or how she performed this time around, we do know that we`ve
probably not seen the last of Scott Brown or his truck. I want to find out
what my guests think, we should know. Let`s start with Amanda Terkel.
TERKEL: Well, the Chamber of Commerce, had a great turn with the Supreme
Court. It intervened - or it took position, then filed briefs in 18 cases.
And it lost in just three of those. So, the Roberts (inaudible) continuing
to take a very pro-corporate tilt.
KORNACKI: All right, and congressman.
NADLER: Well, what we do know is that we still have to pass the Respect
for Marriage Act in Congress, so that people who are married legally in New
York, where it`s legal, will get federal benefits wherever they live in the
country, not just in marriage-recognizing states. And what we should know
by the end of the week is whether Secretary of State Kerry who has extended
his trip in the Middle East - he`s in the Middle East to try to get peace
talks going again between the Israelis and the Arabs, most people didn`t
think much of his chances, but he`s extended the trip, he`s had - he`s
canceled trips to other countries. We`ll know by the end of the week
whether that he may be successful or not.
KORNACKI: All right. Pat.
SCHROEDER: Part of my childhood, I lived in Dallas, Texas. And every
morning in school, we had to get up and sing "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon
You." So, this week my eyes are going to be upon Texas. Because I`m
really - Wendy Davis and that tremendous -- I`m hoping it`s a rebirth of
progressivism that we loved with Ann Richards and so many in the past.
Then I`m really hoping that something wonderful can happen.
KORNACKI: They really made you sing that song?
SCHROEDER: They really did. I didn`t even know there was a "Star Spangled
KORNACKI: The Republican Texas.
SOCARIDES: The return of progressive politics to Texas is pretty great.
But I think that several big polling firms are going to pull on the issue
of whether or not Americans approve of the approach that the Supreme Court
has taken to same-sex marriage. And I think you`re going to see
overwhelming support from Americans everywhere for the approach the court
took, and I think rather than decelerate the progress, I think the approach
the court has taken, you`re going to see an acceleration of the progress
towards approval of the idea that gay and lesbian Americans are entitled to
full equal rights across the board. And we`re going to start to see that
next week in the results of these polls.
SCHROEDER: You`re here.
KORNACKI: Yeah. I tend to agree. We`d had that discussion before. I see
it, it is a Loving more than Roe, too, my little two cents. Anyway, I want
to thank Amanda Terkel of "Huffington Post", New York Congressman Jerry
Nadler, former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder and Richard Socarides, former
senior adviser to President Clinton.
Thanks for getting up and thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next
weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 A.M. Eastern Time. Our guests will
include Dave Weigel from "Slate".
Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. On today`s "MHP", President
Obama`s relationship with Nelson Mandela. And why his trip to Africa is
largely about China? Plus, the oddly timed climate change speech and the
Keystone pipeline. Curious mix of news for those following the White
House`s environmental positions. That`s Melissa Harris-Perry, she`s coming
up next. And we`ll see next week here on UP.
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