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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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April 23, 2014

Guests: Karen Bass, Ed Rendell, Susan Milligan, James Peterson, Viviana

Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.

Good evening, Rev.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Miami.

Tonight`s lead, the GOP`s extreme candidates, are they dragging the GOP
down with them? In state after state, Republican candidates are so
conservative, so far out there, that Democrats are actually in a strong
position. Certainly better than the GOP`s been predicting. And a
candidate in North Carolina may just become the poster child for GOP
extremism. Remember this clip from the movie "Dr. Strangelove"?


SHARPTON: Just a regular guy riding a nuclear weapon and cackling with
delight. Well, North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon seems to
believe that every American should be able to own nukes. That`s how far
out he is on the second amendment rights. Here he is in a 2010 radio show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should you have a right to own a nuclear weapon,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And -- I think the quotes are going to help us in that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Jefferson said that the only role to be armed is to
protect you from a tyrannical government, what do you think he would say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let me read this next one. Who are the militia?
Are they not ourselves? Congress has no power to disarm the militia.
Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier are the
birthright of an American.


SHARPTON: The birthright of an American, and nukes are part of that? Greg
Brannon also thinks that the U.S. is now a Marxist country, that President
Obama is a socialist, that taxes are equivalent to apartheid, and that food
stamps are slavery.

In a nut shell, he`s extreme. And because of that, he`s losing. "The New
York Times" poll shows him losing to his democratic opponent in North
Carolina`s Senate race. And GOP extremism is getting rejected elsewhere,

In Arkansas, GOP candidate Tom Cotton is losing by ten points. That`s what
happens when you want to gut Medicare, cut Social Security, and essentially
ban abortion. And some types of birth control.

Even Senator Mitch McConnell, the top-ranking Republican in the Senate, is
holding on for his political life. He leads his Democratic opponent by
just one point, just one point lead from the man who opposed the president
at every turn.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Our top political priority
over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.


SHARPTON: Mitch McConnell led the way on the political extremism against
President Obama. Because of that, he and others are fighting for their
political lives.

Joining me now are Jonathan Capehart and Abby Huntsman. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me start with you. How can the GOP win when they
are putting up candidates that think people should be allowed to own nukes?

CAPEHART: You know, Rev., I really don`t know. Maybe Abby has a better

HUNTSMAN: I`m going to leave it to you, Capehart.

CAPEHART: Great. So here`s the thing. This extremist rhetoric, this
crazy talk, if you will, that`s happening in the Republican primaries might
work with the revved up base of the Republican party and very well might
get some of these folks the nomination. The problem comes in when they
have to then face the voters of the entire state who probably won`t like
what they have to say, won`t be comfortable with it, find it extreme, and
will either stay home or vote for the democrat, or rev up, gin up, the
Democratic Party base so they come out and ensure the defeat of that
Republican candidate.

SHARPTON: But you know, Abby, this poll also shows that Democrats have an
edge in retaining the Senate, but already Republicans are refuting the
poll. Weekly standards Bill Krystal calls the poll, quote, "bogus," but
clearly there are signs that the Democrats may be in a better position in
parts of the country that we thought were given Republican.

HUNTSMAN: Yes. You know, that is certainly the case. And Democrats
should actually be hoping that these more extreme candidates end up doing
better in the primaries, because it only helps these democratic candidates,
because they can then pick up some of these Republicans, mainly business
minded Republicans who feel they have nowhere else to go, because their
only option is so extreme.

This is evidence, though, that the tea party is still alive and well. They
are very passionate about the things they believe in, and as Jonathan was
pointing to, we see the folks that vote in the primaries tend to be more on
the extreme, which is why we`re seeing mainstream candidates like Mitch
McConnell being polled to the far right. But I promise you the minute he
ends up -- I`m guessing he`ll end up winning the primary, he`ll shift back
to the center very, very quickly.

A state like Georgia is a perfect example, where Michelle Nun is not
expected to actually win there, but she`s not only doing well, she`s
already been supported by a number of business-minded Republicans, many of
which supported Mitt Romney, because the alternative is so extreme, they
have nowhere else to go.

SHARPTON: But where are the moderate voices, Abby, that are confronting
these guys in the primary? What I don`t hear is moderates that take them
on and really back them down. This is what gives the image of extremism
for all Republicans.

HUNTSMAN: Yes, and that`s the real challenge, is when does the
establishment part of the party actually stand up and say no more of this,
we just can`t continue down this path. And my fear is that you end up
keeping this rhetoric, you don`t move enough to the center that this drags
on into the 2016 elections and if Republicans lose another national
election, you heard it here, they are out of business. They are going to
have to totally start over and say, how do we actually win elections again.

SHARPTON: You know, Jonathan, look at last night`s North Carolina
Republican Senate debate. The candidates were asked about climate change.
Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is climate change a fact? Mr. Harris?





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, god controls the climate.




SHARPTON: Now they are not only all said no, they actually laughed at it.
They were mocking it, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Well, the fact that this question even comes up in a serious
debate even though it is settled science that we have plenty of evidence
that climate change is real just goes to show how far -- how extreme the
Republican party has become in one of the key issues facing this country
and facing the planet.

You know, the country, I believe, is already there. They understand that
climate change is happening, and if the Republican party wants to keep
nominating people who are questioning the science and in some instances
electing people who keep questioning the science, then that`s going to be
one more thing that is going to hasten the demise, the end, of the
Republican party.

SHARPTON: And again, I don`t hear no loud establishment voices, not any,
Abby, from established Republicans. I mean, what are we going to debate,
whether the earth is round next? The GOP candidates in this election are
also very far on the right in women`s issues.

Candidates in Colorado, Arkansas, Montana, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa,
Michigan, and Louisiana have all backed personhood amendments, which would
essentially ban abortion. Not that long ago this was considered a pretty
extreme view in the party, Abby.

HUNTSMAN: It reminds me of when my dad was running in 2012 and he tweeted,
call me crazy, but I believe in science. And I remember at that moment
many folks said that is the end of his campaign, and that very well could
have been the end of his campaign.

But you know, historically, the president`s approval rating tends to impact
the way that candidates do in specific states, and we`re seeing even though
the president has a high disapproval rating in some of the southern states,
Democrats are still doing fairly well there. So you can`t really look at
history in terms of how this election is going to end up.

But I do think there`s a real challenge here with Republicans not figuring
out a way to appeal to the mainstream group of voters that they are going
to end up having to try to win over in the general election. That`s going
to be a real challenge.

SHARPTON: And you know, Jonathan, when she talks about the president,
take, for example, in Georgia, Republican senator candidates were asked if
they`d impeach President Obama, not oppose it, impeach him. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clinton was impeached for perjury. Obama has
perjured himself on multiple occasions. Would you support impeachment if
centered for a vote?


SHARPTON: Three candidates raised their hand to impeach the president.
Three candidates, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Yes, this gets to the issue that Abby brought up and that you
repeated, which is where are the grownups in the Republican party to stand
up to insane questions like that? Where`s the grownup in the Republican
party that will stand up and say talk of impeaching the president is off
base? We can disagrees the president on a host of issues, from health
care, to the economy, to all sorts of things, but to say he has broken the
law and that he deserves to be impeached is a bridge too far. The
Republican who stands up and says that is the Republican I will defend
until the end of my days because it is need.

HUNTSMAN: They just might not win.

SHARPTON: Well, you may need impeachable things that you want to impeach
him for, but if climate change is debatable, why look for a bill of
particulars? This is the reason, though, that the Democrats may do far
better than people think.

Jonathan Capehart, Abby Huntsman, I am going to have to hold it there.
Thank you both for your time tonight.


HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And make sure, make sure, make sure you catch Abby on "the
Cycle" week days at 3:00 p.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, as Paul Ryan pushes a budget attacking the poor, Elizabeth Warren is
out pushing for the fight for fairness today.

Plus, it turns out when you deny hundreds of thousands of people health
care, you become unpopular. New numbers show the repeal obsession is

And the ugly conservative attack on justice Sonya Sotomayor after her
candid dissent on race in America.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: President Obama calls the fight to stop a growing income gap the
defining challenge of our time. Today, Elizabeth Warren took up that
challenge. That`s next.


SHARPTON: It could be a dramatic moment in the fight for fairness. One
week from today, Congressman Paul Ryan, the architect of the GOP`s brutal
budget that cuts from the poor to give tax cuts to the rich, will meet with
the congressional black caucus. The meeting was called after Ryan said
this about poverty.


tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular of men not working
and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the
value and the culture of work, and so there`s a real culture problem here
that has to be dealt with.


SHARPTON: Ryan back pedaled from those comments, but his budget that
includes massive tax giveaways to the one percent. Under Ryan`s plan,
millionaires would get an average tax break of $200,000, all paid for by
the poor and the middle class. Middle class families with kids would pay
$2,000 more in taxes.

How`s that fair? It`s not. And it comes as we learn the American middle
class is losing ground and is no longer the world`s richest. President
Obama called the fight to stop a growing income gap the defining challenge
of our time. And Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling for people to fight


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Washington works for those who
can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. If you`re a huge corporation, if
you`re a billionaire, boy, your voice gets heard in that place.

The Republicans say, you know, what we really have to do is we`ve got to
open up a bunch of tax loopholes, and the way we`re going to pay for them
is we`re going to cut back on what we spend on educating our kids. We`re
going to cut back on the basic infrastructure, those roads and bridges and
power grids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve made some enemies, because people think you`re
against big business, and all we hear about these days, and rightly so, is
inequality, inequality. How do you answer that?

WARREN: Well, I`ll tell you, I`m not against big business. I`m against
cheating. I`m against cheating.



SHARPTON: Congressman Ryan and the GOP, this fairness fight is coming.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat of California.

Congresswoman, you`re a member of the congressional black caucus. You`ll
be at the meeting with Congressman Ryan next week. What do you expect to
hear from him and to say to him?

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I certainly will be at the meeting,
and I`m not sure. I mean, I think that Paul will come forward and I think
he will try to give a very intellectual description as to what he actually
meant. But at the end of the day, you know, Paul Ryan has put his ideology
in writing. He calls for repealing Obamacare. He calls for cutting Pell
grants. He calls for cutting food stamps. So regardless of what he says,
he has written what he believes. And I think he might say that he stumbled
over his words, but it`s very easy to go to the collective works of Paul
Ryan and see where he was really coming from.

SHARPTON: But how do you intellectually say that people have no work
values and no ethics for generations? I mean -- but let`s get beyond his
rhetoric. I mentioned earlier that the Ryan budget will give millionaires
a $200,000 tax break. It`s in line with those in the right wing media who
say the one percent are paying too much in taxes right now. That`s what
their position is. Listen to this, Congresswoman.

BASS: Sure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a loophole. Let the rich get out of them.
Well, I`ll close that loophole, tax them to death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We eliminate the corporate tax, money would pour out of
this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Governor Cuomo says I have enough money to help
you out with this. He say they still want to raise taxes. What`s the
message that you get if you live in New York?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just imagine a tax-free $500 billion stimulus plan that
no one watching this show would have to participate in.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The president has not been a friend to
corporate America. He advocates high taxes to pay for an entitlement


SHARPTON: So I mean, he can intellectually try to talk away from his
words, but the policies reflect that and those that advocate the same
thing, as I just showed you, reflect that. Their policies say that.

BASS: Well, exactly, and we know that the person he was quoting when he
was, quote, unquote, "inarticulate" is a person who has a long track record
of discrimination. You know, we know that.

I believe that there is not a way that you can justify what he said. It
really wasn`t even coded language. I mean sometimes people think in code,
people talk in code, but when you are saying inner city and there is a
culture, it`s very consistent. And that`s the one thing about Paul, he is
consistent. So he does not believe that there really needs to be a safety
net, that what poor people need is a kick in the butt and a pep talk.

And that, in terms of a safety net, you really don`t need the government
investing in a safety net like food stamps and Pell grants and Social
Security and Medicare. What you need is that you can have all of the
volunteers in the community take care of all of the needs. So I think he`s
going to have a very tough time explaining his way away from what he said
on the radio show, because I think there is too much evidence to back it up
that those are his fundamental beliefs.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, Republicans have refused, I mean, outright
refused to extend jobless benefits.

BASS: Right.

SHARPTON: And at this point, over 2.5 million, 2.5 million long-term
unemployed Americans have now lost jobless benefits.

Now, some house Republicans are using jobless benefits as a bargaining chip
for their right-wing agenda. They are demanding the building of the
keystone pipeline, repealing of provision of the health care law that would
cause a million Americans to lose insurance and repealing the medical
device tax without a plan to pay for the lost revenue. This is what they
are bargaining with as they hold up unemployment insurance.

BASS: Well, exactly. And, Rev., you know that every time there is a piece
of legislation that is critical like this, they have the same shopping
lists. The keystone pipeline comes up all the time. It came up a couple
of weeks ago when we were discussing Ukraine, so there`s about ten items
that essentially would hurt working people that every time it comes to
something, they put this forward.

And so the idea that we have two million people who have lost their
unemployment for no reasons except for an ideological reason, the bill that
passed, that was in the works in the Senate, would be retroactive, and not
only do we need to restore these benefits, but people need their back pay.
You know that they lost their benefits right after Christmas. It`s just

You know, if you think about the economy, Rev., the economy should be
roaring right now. The only reason it isn`t is because of self-inflicted

SHARPTON: That`s right. Congresswoman Karen Bass, as always, thank you
for your time tonight.

BASS: Thanks for having me on.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Republicans opposed to the health care law are on
notice. New numbers show their repeal obsession is backfiring in a big

And Rand Paul has a Ronald Reagan problem. Got you is next.


SHARPTON: It certainly looks like senator Rand Paul is gearing up for a
White House run, and the Kentucky Republican will have a very important
primary on his hand. No, not the New Hampshire or South Carolina
primaries, the Reagan primary, the fight to see who in the Republican party
can prove they love the Gipper the most.

Senator Paul invoked President Reagan`s name three times in a recent op-ed
he wrote for "the Washington Post." And early this month, he sang Reagan`s
praises on job creation.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: When is the last time in our country we
created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.


SHARPTON: Actually, millions of jobs are being created under President
Obama. But I get it, Senator Paul needs to prove his devotion to the 40th
president. You can`t win the GOP nomination if you don`t win the Reagan

But today a big bump in the road. "Mother Jones" unrecovered footage of
senator Paul from before he was a senator saying President Jimmy Carter was
better on the budget than Ronald Reagan.


PAUL: Domestic spending went up greater under Reagan than Carter.

Domestic spending went up more rapidly in the `80s under Carter.

When we have Reagan, we were fiscal conservatives. One point (INAUDIBLE).

Domestic spending grows faster under Reagan than under Jimmy Carter.
Spending rose more dramatically under Reagan than it did under Carter.


SHARPTON: Louisville! We may have a problem. But now that he`s thinking
about running for president, Senator Paul is running away from those old
talking points. He`s running as fast as he can. His office sent out a
statement saying, quote "I have always been and continue to be a great
supporter of Ronald Reagan`s tax cuts and the millions of jobs they
created. Clearly spending during his tenure did not lessen, but he also
had to contend with democratic majorities in Congress."

Did Senator Paul think we wouldn`t notice he`s trying to change his tune
now? Nice try, but there you go again. We got you.


SHARPTON: Do you remember the show "Happy Days"? You know, the fonz and
the gang?


I was thinking about "Happy Days" today, because it`s the origin of the
phrase "Jumping the Shark." It means you`re coming to the end of something
and it comes from this episode.

Yep. "Happy Days" went on a while longer, but after the fonz went water
skiing, the show was past its prime, and today it`s official, the GOP`s
jumped the shark on health care. A "New York Times" poll finds even in
southern states, where voters are skeptical of the law, they still don`t
want to repeal it. Sixty percent of North Carolina voters want to improve
the law. It`s 52 percent in Kentucky and 52 percent in Louisiana. And
Republicans who can`t stop talking about repeal, they are not doing too
well. Take Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Here`s what he said about the


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Every governor`s got two critical
decisions to make. One is, do we make up these exchanges and secondly, do
we expand Medicaid. I know, in Louisiana we`re not doing either one of
those things. I don`t think it makes sense to do those. We don`t need the
government running our health care.

Full repeal and full replace are the better way to go.


SHARPTON: "The New York Times" finds Governor Jindal has got a negative 14
percent job approval. I wonder if blocking health care to people was a
factor. He`s refused the Medicaid expansion in Louisiana, denying 242,000
people insurance. Senator Mary Landrieu`s even calling it the Jindal gap.
And a local paper says taking the money would be a, quote, "financial and
moral no-brainer." The governor needs to face facts, the American people
are sick and tired of Republicans constantly talking about repeal. It`s
time for them to knock off this pointless fight or, as fonzy would say,
"sit on it."

Joining me now are former Governor Ed Rendell and Susan Milligan. Thank
you both for being here.


SHARPTON: Governor Bobby Jindal`s approval is sinking, and so is the
support for repeal, so has the GOP jumped the shark on repealing health

FMR. GOV ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, there`s no question about it.
And they get mixed up all the time. By the way, you can remind Rand Paul
that the biggest period of economic growth in this country in the last 60
years was under Bill Clinton, who raised taxes, didn`t cut taxes, he raised
taxes and we created 25 million jobs in the next seven years. But on the
question you asked, Rev, there`s no question about that. Look at two other
southern states where the governors, both Democrats, Governor Beebe in
Arkansas, Governor Beshear in Kentucky, where they took the Medicaid
expansion and set up their own exchanges. They are popular. They are both
20 points up in positive versus negative as opposed to Governor Jindal
being 14 points down.

So, I think the Republicans are in deep trouble. In Kentucky -- in
Kentucky, think about Kentucky. For 113,000 people signed up by the DACA
(ph), of which 75 percent were previously uninsured and more than 50
percent were under 35. The law has worked beautifully in Kentucky. Mitch
McConnell is calling for its repeal. He`s in trouble.

SHARPTON: You know, Susan, check out these numbers, and this is what the
Governor`s referring to. Check out these numbers from "The New York
Times." Most voters approve of Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and Kentucky
Governor Steve Bashir. Southern Democrats who work to implement the
Affordable Care Act, but Republican North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and
Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who fought it are in much worst shapes. Now
these are all southern states, so what does this show us, Susan?

MILLIGAN: Well, I think that people, you know, people have had problems
with the law, either they have problems with it ideologically or of course,
the technological rollout wasn`t very good, but I think a lot of people
don`t understand why their governors would just turn down free money from
the feds to provide health care to poor people, which not only helps those
people, but ends up helping everybody else, because they are not going to
the emergency room and, you know, not paying bills and then the rest of us
end up paying for it.

So I think that that is starting to come home to roost for a lot of these
governors. I also think it makes a weaker argument for the Republican in
November in the Senate races. The Democrats are still in serious danger of
losing the Senate. But I don`t think it`s a function of the health care
law, I think it`s a function of the seats that are up, the retirements and
so forth, but I think this mantra of repeal and replace isn`t really
playing as strongly as it used to. Particularly since they haven`t really
come up with a replacement at this point.

SHARPTON: You know, Governor, let`s go back to Governor Jindal for a
minute. The New York Times spoke to a Louisiana voter for the poll, and
the voter said, quote, "I`m a Republican, but I`m tired of them saying
repeal, repeal, repeal. They need to make it better." The people in
Governor Jindal`s own party don`t buy his own argument. How bad is that,

RENDELL: Well, it`s real bad. Number one, they are sick and tired of them
playing games and the 51 repeal votes are viewed by the American public as
just nothing more than a political game, and number two, they are tired of
the Republican Party obsessing about this health care law and not doing
anything about the central problem facing America, and that`s creating more
jobs. They haven`t done anything on infrastructure, nothing on research,
nothing on education, and people are finally getting the message. I`m a
little more optimistic than Susan. I think with the Republican Party
overplaying their hand, I think, Democrats have a chance to hold the Senate
and maybe wind up with more seats than anybody expected.

SHARPTON: More than 50 votes, Susan, 50 votes around repealing and
replacing this law. And a new study from the Center of Budget and Policy
Priorities find over the next ten years, the federal government will pay 95
percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion. It will raise state spending by
just 1.6 percent, Susan. I mean, doesn`t this show us it`s not about
money, this is about ideology?

MILLIGAN: I think it is. And I also think it`s about fear. I mean, you
know, we saw this, Governor and I both saw this in 1992 during the
campaign, there was such a public demand for health care reform and we
thought, well, it`s going to happen, it has to. And then, you know, people
got scared and they ran ads kind of, you know, flipping people out about
what it was going to mean. This happens a lot, and the same thing is
happening now, and I think you see people kind of calming down, you know,
the sidewalk didn`t open up and swallow everybody up.

It does seem to be moving along a little bit better. A lot of states are
having tremendous success with it. Kentucky being one of them. Of course,
the states that ran their own exchanges and really embraced the Medicaid
expansion, those states are the ones that are doing better, but, you know,
I think at this point people have accepted the law, more people have been
covered. People like the fact they can keep their kids on until they are
26 years old. They don`t want to give that up.

SHARPTON: Governor, is the politics of this beginning to change going
forward as we see new governors coming in? And in your opinion is the
politics changing?

RENDELL: Sure. And I think incumbent Republican governors who are running
this year for re-election like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, like Tom Corbett
in Pennsylvania who haven`t had the Medicaid expansion, they`ve got some
explaining to do to the voters. In Pennsylvania, the Medicaid expansion
would cover 600,000 people, would bring $1.2 billion into the Pennsylvania
economy, and $110 million to Pennsylvania hospitals. Now voters want to
know why, in view of what you just said, that report, Rev, why in God`s
name would the governor not have taken the Medicaid expansion?

So, incumbent Republican governors who didn`t take the Medicaid expansion,
who didn`t run their own exchanges, have got some serious questions to deal
with which I think are very dangerous. Because all the Democrats have to
do to say to all those people, those 600,000 people in Pennsylvania, the
democratic candidate promises to take the Medicaid expansion the first day
he`s in office. Under the law, the new governor can choose to expand
Medicaid even if the previous governor didn`t.

SHARPTON: Well, these governors up for re-election we`re certainly going
to be asking that question. Governor Ed Rendell and Susan Milligan, thank
you both for your time tonight.

MILLIGAN: Thank you.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Justice Sotomayor`s blistering descent on affirmative
action and the affirmative action ruling is met with conservative backlash.

And Attorney General Eric Holder is calling her comments courageous.

Plus, Gabby Giffords called it the most extreme gun bill in America, and
moments ago, Georgia`s governor signed it. Why we must fight back. Stay
with us.


SHARPTON: Now to the conservative attacks on the Supreme Court Justice
Sonya Sotomayor. The court upheld Michigan`s ban on affirmative action at
public colleges and Justice Sotomayor wrote a very candid descent saying,
quote, "We ought not sit back and wish away rather than confront the racial
inequality that exists in our society." She went on to say leaving race
out of the picture and letting the voters sort it out is a sentiment,
quote, "Out of touch with reality." Some on the right went on the attack.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This was a decision written by somebody who was writing
about emotion. In terms of what she argued, it was intellectual hog wash.


SHARPTON: And the National Review ran an editorial saying, quote, "Justice
Sotomayor has revealed herself as a naked and bare-knuckled political
activist with barely even a pretense of attending to the law. In the years
she has left to subvert the law will be a generation-long reminder of the
violation the Obama administration has done to our constitution order."
Yes, I think the justice had it right when she said they are out of touch
with reality.

Joining me now is James Peterson and Viviana Hurtado. Thank you both for
being here.


SHARPTON: Viviana, let me go to you first. These are very tough attacks
on Justice Sotomayor. What`s your reaction?

HURTADO: Well, I have to say, Reverend Al, I was not surprised, because I
remember covering Justice Sotomayor`s nomination and confirmation hearing
and a lot of this came up with just the whole comment of the wise Latina.
What is actually really baffling to me, though, is that she is being
demeaned, her intellectual capacity is being undercut. It was called
intellectual hog wash, but she wrote a 58-page dissent out of a 108-page
decision and she really took us down the trip of constitutional, historical
memory lane, focusing on the importance of checks and balances in our
constitution and for our government, as well as our principle of process
and of equal access and protection so that we can have a fuller society
that is participating and protecting against the majority, oppressing the

I really don`t know how that`s intellectual hog wash, and if anything I
think what she`s doing is taking a very hard look at our path, based in
constitutional law in order to not only understand what this decision
means, but really how we can move forward, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: You know, James, in his concurring opinion, Justice Scalia
slammed Justice Sotomayor saying, quote, "In an accompanying footnote, he
referenced Sotomayor`s opinion and added, and doubly shameful to equate the
majority behind the Michigan ballot initiative with the majority
responsible for Jim Crow." He`s calling her opinion shameful. Isn`t that
a little personal for a Supreme Court Justice James?

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: It`s way too personal, also inaccurate.
Actually, if you want to go through the intellectual history here, we can
draw parallels that connects us between the kind of racism, institutional
racism that we see in America today and trace it back through the prison
industrial complex, into Jim Crow laws, into the institution of slavery.
So, it`s not as intellectually flawed as it suggests here. Rev, the
pundits and the conservative journalists who are screaming about activist
judges, referring to Justice Sotomayor have not one leg to stand on because
they don`t say anything when Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas in their
opinions or in their sort of personal lives engage in very, very specific
political actions and political rhetoric, and so the reality is since this
ban has been in place, African-American attendants and matriculation in
Michigan institutions is down 33 percent, Rev.


PETERSON: So, the data is very, very suggestive, that we still need the
federal government to have a role in terms of equal opportunity and equal
access, not just for education, but remember it`s also government
employment in the state of Michigan, as well. So, very, very important
issues here and we took a tough loss with this high court decision this

SHARPTON: Well, it`s not only in Michigan. If you look, Viviana, in
California, nine percent of the state`s college-age students are black, but
at Berkley, only two percent of the freshmen are black. In Florida where I
am tonight, 24 percent of college-aged students are Black, but in Florida
State, only seven percent of the freshmen are Black. And in Michigan, as
said, 19 percent of college-aged students are black, but at the University
of Michigan, only five percent of freshmen are black. There are similar
numbers for Hispanic students. If affirmative action isn`t necessary, why
then are we still seeing such a large gap in the enrollment numbers?

HURTADO: Well, certainly these policies were put in place with the thought
that by increasing the participation of these students on our campuses,
it`s going to feed right into our local economies and into leadership
roles. And so when all of a sudden you see, as James was just talking
about, that you have a 30-plus percent drop in the six years since the
University of Michigan law went into effect, it is not just that these
students are not able to participate at the University of Michigan or
University of Texas or Cal Berkeley, which is my alma mater, it`s the
effects that it`s going to have in the future on our local economies, as
well as the laws that are written.

There is data, Rev Al, that shows that when students go not just to the top
state schools, but particularly to those flagship institutions, the Cals of
the world here at the University of Maryland --


HURTADO: Certainly at the University of Michigan, they are going to occupy
leadership roles in government, as well as in the private sector. And so,
you know, it`s interesting that the business community, as well as military
leaders, have signed amicus briefs in favor of some of these laws, for
example, the University of Texas, because they see that these students are
increasingly not just part of the student population, but also of the
workforce and the tax base. They realize that a top educated workforce and
tax base is going to strengthen our neighborhoods, our local economies, our
nation, and our global competitiveness.

SHARPTON: Yes. James, you know, Attorney General Eric Holder himself came
to Justice Sotomayor`s defense today. Listen.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As justice Sonya Sotomayor said just
yesterday in her courageous and very personal dissent in the Michigan
college admissions case, we ought not, and I quote, "wish away rather than
confront the racial inequality that exists in our society. This great
country still has a great way to go before our founding promise of equal
justice and equal opportunity is fully realized."


SHARPTON: What is your quick response to the Attorney General`s statement,

PETERSON: The Attorney General was so on point here, Rev. This is a
mistake that a lot of us make, which we see the success of the emergence of
President Obama or Attorney General Holder himself and we think we`ve
accomplished the task of racial inequality. We absolutely have not and we
can`t be destructive by the exceptional cases that prove like excellence
but don`t necessarily prove racial equality and gender equality in our

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. James Peterson and Viviana
Hurtado, thank you both for your time this evening.

HURTADO: Thanks to you.

PETERSON: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, it`s being called the guns everywhere bill, and Georgia`s
governor signed it today. How we fight this.

But first, the breakout star of "Twelve Years a Slave" gets a big honor
today. That`s next.


SHARPTON: It`s the list everyone in Hollywood wants to be on, "People"
magazine`s most beautiful list, and this morning, they announced the most
beautiful person of them all, naming Lupita Nyong`o the academy award
winning star of "Twelve Years a Slave" as this year`s cover girl. It`s
been a whirlwind of a year for the 31-year-old actress. She took home the
Oscar in February for her first feature film and last month cosmetics giant
Lancome announced Lupita would become the first black beauty ambassador,
but "People`s" most beautiful person didn`t always feel that way. She
recently spoke personally about that at "Essence`s" magazine`s black woman
in Hollywood luncheon.


LUPITA NYONG`O, KENYAN ACTRESS: I remember a time when I, too, felt
unbeautiful. I turned on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and
taunted about my night-shaded skin, and my one prayer to God, the miracle
worker, was that I would wake up lighter skinned. My mother again would
say to me, you can`t eat beauty. It doesn`t feed you. And these words
played and bothered me.

I didn`t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was
not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just
had to be. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and
for those around you. That kind of beauty -- excuse me. That kind of
beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.


SHARPTON: Now the whole world knows Lupita Nyong`o is beautiful inside and
out. Congratulations on the well deserved honor.


SHARPTON: Today, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia signed what is called
guns everywhere law. It allows in Georgia guns now to be at churches,
schools, even parts of airports. This is a real step in the wrong
direction. It even expands the stand your ground laws. This morning I was
in Chicago where over the weekend over 40 people were shot. In this
climate, we do not need more guns everywhere, we need stricter gun laws and
governors that are committed to turning the tide against gun usage.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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