Guests: Dahlia Lithwick, Clarence Dupnik
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks very much, man. Good
to see you.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.
In 1976, the Supreme Court of the United States said that it was OK
for states to kill their prisoners. The government could take somebody who
was already in jail, remove them from their cell, walk them down the hall
to a room set up specifically for the purpose of killing people and then
they could kill that prisoner there. That was 1976, that Supreme Court
It was not until 12 years after that that the Supreme Court said, OK,
even though it is legal in America to kill our prisoners, you can`t kill
our prisoners who are children. You can`t kill people who are under the
age of 16 when they committed the crime for which you want to kill them.
That decision was made in 1988.
If you were 16, if you had turned 16 when you committed the crime, if
you were 16 and one day, after that ruling in 1988, it was still OK to kill
you for that crime, but if you were less than 16, that was the line that
was drawn there, 1988.
Seventeen years after that, in 2005, was when the Supreme Court said,
actually, no, the cut-off now is 18 years old. You cannot kill teenagers
in America as punishment for crimes they committed before they were old
enough to vote.
So that`s where we were up until a couple years ago in this country.
Constitutionally speaking, kids cannot legally be killed by our government.
The state can`t actively take a kid`s life.
But kids could still be sentenced to die. They could be sentenced to
die in prison. That`s called life without the possibility of parole. It`s
a sentence to never get out of prison. It`s a sentence to die behind bars.
In 2010, a legal office called the Equal Justice Initiative, which is
in Alabama. It`s run by a really remarkable guy named Bryan Stevenson.
Bryan Stevenson argued a case about the constitutionality of
sentencing American kids to die in prison. The outcome of that case in
2010 was a ruling that said a kid could not be sentenced to die in prison,
unless he had committed murder. Well, this year, 2012, Equal Justice
Initiative and same Bryan Stevenson went back to the Supreme Court again.
We talked to Bryan Stevenson on this program back in march, right
after he did the oral arguments in this case. What he was arguing this
time around was that even if your crime is murder, if you commit that crime
when you are a kid, the government should not be able to sentence you to
die in prison.
And today, the Supreme Court ruled in that case. They said there
cannot be mandatory death in prison for a crime committed by a child. In
America now, if you`re a kid when the crime is committed, you must at least
get a hearing on what your sentence ought to be. You must at least be
allowed to argue that you should not be sentenced to die in prison. No
more mandatory death in prison sentences for people who commit crimes when
they are kids.
There are about 2,500 people in the United States who were sentenced
to die in prison for something they did as a child. By virtue of today`s
ruling, those people will now get hearings about whether or not they ought
to die in prison or whether they should get some lesser sentence that`s
offers them a chance of getting out ever.
The United States is one of only a few countries that even has or uses
the death penalty for any of our citizens. More than two thirds of the
countries in the world have gotten rid of the death penalty either by law
or by practice. We here in the United States are still one of the world`s
top five enthusiasts of using the death penalty. That puts us on a top
five list with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.
For the record, on the juvenile side of this, we`re also the only
country in the world besides Somalia, which isn`t really a country anymore,
that has not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child.
But even though my lifetime so far has basically been a generation of
the United States being willing to be an international anomaly, almost a
rogue state on issues like this, sometimes even in this lifetime, the Bryan
Stevensons of the world win. Sometimes people swimming against that
incredible tide win. Sometimes they make progress.
And now, even though, it has taken until the year 2012, we have
concluded that the explicit constitutional requirement that we not be
inhumane, that`s in the Bill of Rights, no cruel or inhuman punishment,
right? That`s in the Bill of Rights.
And we have decided now in 2012 that that constitutional explicit
requirement that our government not act in an inhumane manner when
punishing people, that requirement means that someone at least ought to
consider thinking about it before sentencing an American child to die in an
That said, all of the conservatives on the court were against this
ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts all but shouting from the pages of his
angry dissent that it couldn`t be cruel and unusual to sentence kids to die
in America because we do it to so many of them.
If you sentence 2,000 kids to die in prison, that`s no longer unusual,
right? Am I right? It`s frequent.
Justice Samuel Alito was so angry in his dissent that he read it from
the bench, out loud, at volume.
Anthony Kennedy was the swing justice in this case. These days,
Anthony Kennedy sides with the conservatives on just about every, but on
the issue of sentencing American children to die, either in prison or on
the lethal injection gurney down the hall from their selves, Anthony
Kennedy has sided in the past and today again sided with the liberals.
The liberals are not lucky however to have that same swing justice
with them on issues of democracy and corruption. Justice Kennedy was the
author of the decision in the most justly famous radical Supreme Court
decision since Bush v. Gore, Citizens United. That case, of course, struck
down decades of anticorruption election law and said that corporations need
to be able to spend in an unlimited fashion to be able to dominate the
political discourse in our country as much as they want to.
At a time when corporate profits are at an all-time historic high and
American wages are at an all-time historic low, no literally, both of those
happening at once, one might think that corporations are doing OK getting
what thaw want -- doing just fine dominating American politics and policy
on their own without this big assist from the Supremes.
But giving the opportunity to partially reverse or at least limit the
impact of the Citizens United ruling by letting states guard at least their
own state elections from being outright bought, today, Justice Kennedy
sided with the conservatives again and proclaimed that Montana`s century
old anti-corrupt practices act be overthrown. Citizens United stands not
only at the federal level, but at the state level. There`s no bulwark
against that decision.
Both of these decisions today, the Montana decision and the sentencing
kids to die in prison ruling, were frankly overshadowed by the ruling that
mostly struck down Arizona`s anti`s immigrant papers please law. We`re
going to be talking about that a little bit later on in the show.
But even these overlooked decisions today, the Montana decision and
the killing kids in prison decision today, even those ones, even those were
overlooked today, they even got a heck of a lot more attention than another
decision that came down last week, last Thursday, which you should
definitely know about, particularly given what just happened with this
Montana ruling today.
Now, the supposed free speech argument in favor of Citizens United in
this Montana ruling and all these other rulings that are overthrowing the
anticorruption laws, the supposed free speech argument, right, is that
corporations are just like people and money is just like speech. And so,
just as you can`t limit people`s speech rights, you can`t limit
corporations` money rights. You can`t limit spending.
The idea is if you don`t like the idea of the Koch brothers spending
$400 million to help Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama this year, if you don`t
like that idea, the remedy to that is easy. All you have to do is spend
$400 million of your own money on the other side from them.
See, if money and speech are locked in a sort of murderous analogy
here, then the way you balance somebody else`s speech, right, is with more
speech of your own. That`s always been the free speech argument.
But if the money is analogous to the speech here, the Supreme Court`s
argument is that the way you balance somebody else`s money in politics is
with more money of your own.
What if you don`t have the money? Who has more money than
corporations and the superrich to spend on politics to get more policies
that benefit them more than policies already do? I mean, by definition,
nobody has more money than the super rich, right? And the only aggregate
source of money that might conceivably compete with the aggregation of
money that can come from corporations, conceivably, I guess that`s unions,
So, even though all corporations` money in American politics basically
goes to one side, hugely to the Republican side, we`re not supposed to see
Citizens United as a partisan thing because at least theoretically, the
same decision frees up unions to spend a lot of money, too. So maybe that
equalized everything, right?
As this conservative court has been twisting itself into really
admirable gymnastic legal radicalism in order to flood corporate money into
politics which always goes to Republicans, they have also been limiting how
unions can spend in politics.
Last week, and nobody really noticed it at all, but last week, the
Supreme Court erected elaborate new barriers to participation in elections
by public sector unions, requiring that unions get affirmative approval
from their members before making dues assessments to fund campaigns
This is John Nichols writing about this today at "The Nation." John
Nichols -- this is coming right after John`s year and a half of dedicated,
day-to-day, passionate reporting about the partisan effort to dismantle
unions in Wisconsin because unions in Wisconsin help Democrats. That was
the whole Scott Walker controversy, right?
So, how level is this playing field that`s been set up by the Supreme
Court? Corporate money has been absolutely unleashed. Union money,
getting clamped down on.
So here`s a hypothetical for understanding how that works. If
Walmart, say, wanted to support candidates who promise to eliminate all
taxes for Walmart, that corporation, Walmart, could spend unlimited amounts
of money to do that -- unlimited, in any level election that it wanted to.
It would not need to gain stockholder approval. It could just go for it.
But let`s say AFSCME, let`s say a public sector union wants to counter
that argument from Walmart, saying that eliminating taxes on a big out-of-
state retailer might save consumers a little bit in the short run, but
ultimately, it will undermine funding for schools and public services, if
the union wants to do that kind of spending, the union, unlike Walmart, has
to go through this laborious new process of gaining permission from tens of
thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of members. And even after it goes
through the process of gaining permission, even then it faces additional
reporting and structural barriers imposed by the court.
So, it`s very, very, very free speech for corporations, but it`s not
free speech for unions.
And the whole first amendment argument here is supposedly this frees
up unions as much as it frees up corporations. No.
And now the states can offer you no shelter from this totally
legalized unlimited corruption in elections that has been green lit by
Citizens United, which means we will have elections whose choices and
outcomes are materially predetermined by politicized billionaires and
corporations for the duration, from here on out, at every level of American
democracy, until we amend the U.S. Constitution as a way of overturning
this ruling -- or conceivably, I guess, until we get a new Supreme Court,
substantially reconstituted, that wants to reverse this precedent just set
by these rulings.
But it will be harder for state governments to kill American children
now. So, there`s that.
As we await the Supreme Court`s health care ruling on Thursday, this
week, on a day like this, we need advice and guidance from somebody who
knows these things. And so, we turn to Slate.com`s Dahlia Lithwick. She`s
"Slate`s" senior editor and legal correspondent. Dahlia watched today`s
proceedings at the Supreme Court.
Dahlia, it is great to have you here. Thank you.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: First of all, tell me what I got wrong. You watch these
things very closely. You`re a trained lawyer who gets these things. I`m
sure I mis-explained something.
LITHWICK: No, I don`t think you mis-explained anything.
And I think just do connect up what you just talked about, it`s
probably worth noting that it was Justice Sam Alito that did that far
reaching decision last week with regard to union speech.
And to kind of close the circle or to open the circle, it`s important
to remember you started with Bush V. Gore. Let`s just remember that Bush
v. Gore is the reason we have changed over from Sandra Day O`Connor to
Samuel Alito at the U.S. Supreme Court, and that`s the vote that flips in
Citizens United on campaign finance.
So, it`s not just that Sam Alito -- and we`ve talked about this before
-- is hugely, hugely consequential fifth vote in abortion decisions in
campaign finance, is soon to be in affirmative action. But it`s that
really, really what happened to change the entire landscape was Bush v.
MADDOW: Dahlia, you wrote today about the sort of politicization in
the way that we talk about the Supreme Court right now, about how the
Supreme Court ideally shouldn`t want to be in the headlines at all. But
right now, not only are they headlines, they`re continually putting out
these very, very, very consequential decisions that have big partisan
Do you see that elevated the Supreme Court into playing a more
prominent role in election year politics? And do you know if the Supreme
LITHWICK: It`s a very, very strange set of events that leads the
court to say continuously and I think across all ideological lines, Rachel,
that they`re not partisan, this is not junior varsity politics, that they
are umpires, that they try to apply the law. And then they turn around and
do things like, you know, we saw the argument in March in the health care
cases and we heard those broccoli sound bites. Again today we heard as you
said very, very angry, quite personal dissent by Samuel Alito -- a dissent
read from the bench also in the Arizona case by Justice Antonin Scalia that
was again not just furious but went after the president himself on
So it`s an amazing thing to see a court that is: (a), says it wants to
be out of the spotlight, and (b), suffering from the lowest poll ratings
this court has seen in a long, long time, doing things that seem to
deliberately promote the idea that the partisan rift at the court is worse
than it`s ever been.
MADDOW: On the issue of the campaign finance stuff, I realize that
Citizens United has been famous since it was decided. It`s getting more
and more famous with each passing day in American politics as we see its
It`s interesting to see the Montana attorney general put out a
statement in response to this ruling. Montana lost. Their state law is
getting overthrown by virtue of this decision. He seemed to signal he does
not think this fight is over yet.
He said, "Despite this disappointing decision, the last word has not
been spoken on the issue of how we preserve a viable democracy in which
everyday people have a meaningful voice," Steve Bullock, the attorney
general of Montana.
Is that happy talk or is there a next step? Is there anything that
happened in terms of people wanting the Citizens United ruling reversed?
LITHWICK: One of the most insightful things I read today, Rachel, was
Rick Hasson (ph) at UCLA, saying be grateful that the court did not take
this case because if they had taken it, they might have made Citizens
United a lot worse.
LITHWICK: The chance of Justice Kennedy flipping and saying you know,
I was wrong in 2010, was about zero. The chance of them changing the law
in some way that is even more egregious was not inconsequential.
And so, I think there is some reason to think that between the
reprieve that we have from the possibility of it getting worse and also the
idea that the public hates Citizens United and things like the DISCLOSE Act
are in place, attempts to get the regulators to do their jobs are in place,
I think there`s a sense more good could be done legislatively and through
the regulatory branches than through the Supreme Court.
It might not be happy talk. It might be the truth.
MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for
"Slate" magazine, Dahlia, you have been doing great work explaining this
stuff, but also putting it in a broader political context in a way I think
more clearly than anybody else writing about this. Thanks for being with
us. I appreciate it.
LITHWICK: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: And, you know, there was thought one other case at the
Supreme Court today -- something about papers and Arizona and please.
We`ve got details on that one coming up including we`ll be talking with a
sheriff in Arizona whose an important part of what happens next in Arizona
on that case.
And Michigan, the state of Michigan has gone crazy in a whole new
really personal way and it`s all about you. That`s ahead.
MADDOW: Busy week, really busy week. Today, you got the Supreme
Court invalidating most of Arizona`s papers please law. You`ve got the
court solidifying and incasing in concrete and steel their Citizens United
ruling, which renders most individual human participation in our democracy
a moot and theoretical point.
And on Thursday, this upcoming Thursday, we now know we`ll get the
Supreme Court`s ruling on health reform.
Also, and also on Thursday, NBC News confirming that Republican
controlled House of Representatives will vote on contempt charges against
Attorney General Eric Holder in the "Fast and Furious" investigation.
There was a video of Eric Holder playing over me when I said investigation.
But yes, if you could hear it, you were right, I did put air quotes
around the word investigation.
The head of the -- in "Fast and Furious", Republican Congressman
Darrell Issa this week. He appeared on three of the Sunday morning shows.
The right is furiously trying to mainstream this story, and, look,
they got their guy on three network morning shows on the same Sunday
morning. The mainstream is taking the bait.
But the problem for Republicans on this is that when you ask them to
explain what they think the scandal is, they go right to their crazy
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you really think that there`s a possibility
they were sending guns across the border, not because they were trying to
get people into Mexican drug cartels, not because they were trying to
figure -- I mean, gun trafficking, but because they were trying to push gun
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Two things, quickly. First of
all, this was so flawed you can`t believe they expected to get criminal
prosecutions as a result of it. So, the level of flaw if that`s a word,
here is huge.
But here`s the real answer as to gun control. We have e-mails from
people involved in this that are talking about using what they`re finding
here to support basically assault weapons ban or greater reporting. So,
chicken or egg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Republicans really are going to vote on holding the
attorney general of the United States in contempt this week. And if passed
is prologue, it`s going to be a party line vote.
And the basis of the vote is a conspiracy theory that the Obama
administration was secretly fomenting gun violence in Mexico so Americans
would have bad feelings about gun violence so they would have bad feelings
about guns so then the Obama administration could get on with their secret
plan to eliminate the Second Amendment and take everybody`s guns away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ISSA: What were they thinking of? Could it be what they really were
thinking of was in fact to use this, this walking of guns in order to
promote an assault weapons ban. Many think so and they haven`t come up
with an explanation that would cause any of us not to agree.
REP. JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: They try to put the violence in Mexico
on the blame of the United States, so they concocted this scheme and
actually sending -- our federal agents sending guns down there and trying
to cook some little deal to say we have to get more guns under control.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The whole point -- don`t forget
-- the whole point of "Fast and Furious" was to create mayhem in Mexico
among drug cartels with American made weapons easily procured so that you
and I would stand up in outrage and demand tighter gun laws.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Remember when Republicans in Congress during the Clinton
administration tried to prove that a White House staffer had been murdered?
And they tried to prove it by Congressman Dan Burton from Indiana shooting
a pumpkin in his backyard as if the pumpkin were a human head?
Dan Burton who shot the pumpkin to try to call President Clinton a
murderer, he had the same job in that Republican-controlled Congress that
Darrell Issa has now. Darrell Issa who says "Fast and Furious" is a secret
Obama plot to kill Mexicans in order to take your guns away -- except 15
years ago, all the Republicans in Congress didn`t vote with Dan Burton, the
pumpkin shooting guy.
This year, this Thursday, we will see if any Republicans in the House
decide not to vote with Darrell Issa on this conspiracy theory -- Thursday.
It`s a busy week.
MADDOW: The Supreme Court ruled on Arizona`s anti-immigrant law
today, SB-1070, the papers please law. They considered four parts of the
law. Three of them they struck down. And the fourth part they said --
well, we`ll wait and see.
It`s weird how poorly this ruling was reported on today because it`s
really not that complicated. The one specific part of the papers please
law the court did not strike down, it wasn`t like the court upheld it as
definitely constitutional. The court just said on that part, we have to
wait and see.
Specifically in the ruling, they said, "It would be improper to enjoin
it before the state courts had an opportunity to construe it." In other
words, once it`s implemented and we see how it`s going, we might rule on it
Maybe the reason this got misreported today is because if you liked
Arizona`s anti-immigrant law and you didn`t want to see it struck down, you
might not have made it that far in the ruling. Because to make it that far
in the ruling, you would have to get through the little love song to
immigrants that the justices wrote in the paragraph right above that.
Sometimes the Supreme Court is petulant and whiny and impenetrable and
boring -- and sometimes they write a little poetry. Look at this, this is
from the very end of the ruling today.
Quote, "On May 24th 2012, at one of this nation`s most distinguished
museums of history, a dozen immigrants stood before the tattered flag that
inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. There they took
the oath to become American citizens.
These naturalization ceremonies bring together men and women of
different origins who now share a common destiny. They swear a common oath
to renounce fidelity to foreign princes, to defend the Constitution and to
bear arms on behalf of the country when required by law.
The history of the United States is in part made by the stories,
talents, and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts
to come here. The national government has significant power to regular
immigration. With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of
national power over immigration depends on the nation`s meeting its
responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching,
thoughtful rational civic discourse.
Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused
by illegal immigration while that progress continues, but the state may not
pursue policies that undermine federal law," end quote.
That is directly from the Supreme Court ruling today written by
Sometimes you can tell when the justices like their jobs.
You`ve got news on the Supreme Court and news not on the Supreme
Court, much more ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on
the Senate floor, would you vote for it?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It won`t. It won`t. That`s why we
went through the debate.
MODERATOR: It did.
MCCAIN: No, I would not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I would not vote for my own proposal. Of course not.
As president of the United States, there are a few very specific tools
you have at your disposal in terms of influencing the national opinion and
the news cycle influencing national priorities. You have some tools as
president that other politicians just don`t have.
You can convene a joint session of Congress, which President Obama did
toward the end of the health reform fight in order to help get that
legislation over the hump.
You can call an impromptu press conference at the White House that
guarantees you road block coverage.
You can just unexpectedly drop into a normal daily press briefing at
the White House, which in addition to scaring the bejesus out of the White
House press corps, usually allows you to set the agenda for it day`s news.
But there`s one thing you can do that kind of trumps all of those
others. It is bigger than the joint address to Congress, and it`s bigger
than the White House press conference. It is the big kahuna of the bully
pulpit, to mix two metaphors horribly. It`s the prime time address to the
nation from the Oval Office. That`s the big one.
And that is setting that President George W. Bush chose to address the
nation on the evening of May 15th, 2006.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 15, 2006)
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Good evening. I have asked for
a few minutes of your time to discuss a matter of national importance, the
reform of America`s immigration system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: George W. Bush, halfway through his second term, saying he
would make it his top priority to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
And soon after he did that, something completely expected and
something completely unexpected happened. The expected thing was that
Congress said no. Congress could not find a way to get its act together on
that. That was expected.
The unexpected thing that happened was this. It was President Bush`s
own party. It was the Republicans in Congress who said no. Republicans
banded together as a group, along with a couple Democrats, and they
filibustered the president of their own party`s immigration reform.
The bill itself was bipartisan. It was the McCain-Kennedy immigration
bill, standing alongside John McCain and Ted Kennedy in the press
conference in which the bill was unveiled were other Republicans like Jon
Kyl of Arizona and Johnny Isakson of Georgia. And yet, when it came time
to vote, both Jon Kyl and Johnny Isakson voted to filibuster their own
There has been a really weird battle for the soul of the Republican
Party on this issue for the last 20 years. And the once upon a time George
W. Bush/John McCain/Lindsey Graham wing of the party, those guys, lost the
fights within their own party. They either got out of politics or they
reversed their position on the issue or they now just refuse to take a
position on the issue or work on it.
Now when it comes up, they just hope nobody remembers what their
record on the subject used to be when they said it was important and they
want to do something about it.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, he was one of the original
sponsors of the DREAM Act, a bill to grant legal status to immigrants who
complete a couple years of college or join the military. Orrin introduced
it in 2001. He reintroduced it in 2003. He went on to become a de facto
national spokesman for it as recently as 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: With regard to the DREAM Act, a lot of
these kids are brought in as infants. They don`t know they`re not citizens
until they graduate from high school. If they led good lives and they`ve
done good things, why would be penalize them and not let them at least go
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Orrin Hatch, eloquent spokesman for the DREAM Act.
Then after it became clear he was going to get primaries in his own
party from the right, Orrin Hatch changed his mind. He turned against his
own DREAM Act. Senator Hatch does face that primary in his own party
tomorrow. He`s favored to win, but had he stayed with his old position on
the issue of immigration, he would likely be in much more trouble in this
primary than he is, because right now, it is Republican Party orthodoxy
that being willing to do anything constructive on the subject at all is
essentially a mortal political sin.
Mitt Romney is often stylistically credited with seeming like a
moderate Republican, but he has plated his trough on this issue and it is
not with the George W. Bush side of the party. It is not with the guys
that John McCain and Orrin Hatch used to be before they got afraid and
changed their minds.
Mitt Romney has both feet firmly planted on the super anti-immigrant
side on this fight within the Republican Party. Remember, he picked as his
immigration adviser the guy who wrote the papers please law in Arizona.
Mitt Romney then called that law a model for the nation.
The Supreme Court ruling on that case today, on Arizona`s SB-1070 is
described in the Beltway process like a mixed bag or a compromise ruling,
both sides getting something.
Despite spin to that effect from the right, that is not at all what
this ruling was. There are four provisions of this law that the Supreme
Court decisions -- on three of them, struck them down entirely. On the
fourth one, on the part where Arizona police officers are directed by this
new state law to demand to see your immigration papers if they stop you for
something else, the court did not green light that and say, oh, yes, that`s
firmly constitutional. The court just said they can`t strike that part of
it down now because it hasn`t been implemented yet and then they very
overtly held the door open to reconsidering the constitutionality of that
law, too, if and when Arizona does try to put it into effect.
This was not a mixed bag of a ruling. This was a ruling striking down
the Arizona papers please law.
The Republican Party used to have two wings on the subject of Arizona
-- subject of immigration, excuse me. It`s only within the last five years
or so that the anti-immigrant side really won the fight within the
Republican Party. The result of them winning that fight was policies like
this, policies like SB-1070, and that has been gutted by a Supreme Court
majority which included the ultraconservative Chief Justice John Roberts.
John Robert was on the anti-Arizona side of the ruling.
Arizona has been a guinea pig on this issue for national Republican
politics for a long time now. And now, the people in charge of enforcing
the law in Arizona have to figure out what they`re going to do next.
Joining us now for the interview is Pima County, Arizona sheriff
Sheriff Dupnik, thank you very much for being here. I know this is
very busy time for you.
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: My pleasure.
MADDOW: As sheriff of a county that has a large border with Mexico,
can I get your personal reaction, your reaction as sheriff to the Supreme
Court`s decision today?
DUPNIK: Well, I was surprised by it because what we have been hearing
from the media and others was that they were going to support Senate Bill
1070, so we`re kind of pleasantly surprised. And from our point of view,
it really doesn`t change how we do business at all.
MADDOW: Do you think the kind of policing that that law tried to
mandate in Arizona, do you think it would have made the people of Arizona
safer, or would it have made your job any easier as sheriff?
DUPNIK: Well, it would have been a nightmare for law enforcement to
try to implement.
One of the things that people don`t understand that right now, when we
encounter aliens in conjunction with other stops that we make, we call the
border patrol and turn them over immediately and that`s the end of it.
This law would have required us to charge them with a state
misdemeanor, put them in our local jail, overcrowd the jail overnight, and
then subject them to the local criminal justice system and overwhelm that
system overnight, and then put them back in the Pima County jail for a
sentence and then call the border patrol and turn them over for the border
patrol. And then we`d have to send a huge tax bill to the local taxpayers.
People really didn`t understand what this law was all about. They
thought we needed this law to arrest illegal immigrants. The fact of the
matter is we have been detaining for the Feds for 54 years that I have been
a cop, illegal immigrants and turning them over to the border patrol.
MADDOW: I know you have been -- as you said, you have been a cop for
more than 50 years. I think you`ve been sheriff for more than 30 years,
how would you -- how would you characterize the magnitude of the illegal
immigration problem on your part of the border right now compared with
previous years? Is it better? Is it worse? Is there a noticeable trend
DUPNIK: In 19 -- well, I should say two years ago, there was a study
done by the government which showed that 12 years ago, we were arresting 80
percent more aliens than we are today. And that`s in spite of the fact
that we have increased the border patrol`s presence threefold. So you
would anticipate that they would be arresting more people.
The fact of the matter is with the exception of narcotics, drug
smuggling, the border is more secure now than it ever has been in the past.
Does that mean something to the right? Not really, because they have taken
the position that they`re going to try for the rest of their life that
until the border is secure, we`re not going to talk about reforming the
And if you look at Berlin, they built this huge wall, put people with
guns up there and shot people that tried to get over, and they couldn`t
secure the border.
MADDOW: Sheriff, there is one portion of this law that has been sort
of left hanging by the Supreme Court ruling. I think it was misconstrued
in the press as having been upheld as firmly constitutional. My reading is
that the court wants to see how it`s implemented and they may revisit it.
In terms of that portion of the law going forward, do you anticipate
that there`s going to be lawsuits over that? Do you anticipate there`s
going to be complications over implementing any portion that remains?
DUPNIK: I can`t imagine there won`t be. You know, when they first
passed this bill, there was an outcry from people like me that they were
going to coerce law enforcement to in fact profile people. Law enforcement
officers are taught newt to profile people but to profile behavior. And
they put in the law something I have never seen before in any law anywhere
that says anybody who believes their law enforcement agency isn`t enforcing
this new state law can sue them.
So, they put a cop in a position of you`re going to get sued no matter
what you do now. Because we get sued by people who think we`re profiling
them and now we`re going to get sued by people who think we should be
MADDOW: Pima County, Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik -- thank you for
helping us understand how it would have worked on the ground and a
continued complications. I really appreciate your time tonight, sir.
DUPNIK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. On the one hand, the health of seventh graders
for the rest of their lives. On the other, maintaining political
ideological purity, even in the face of looking like you don`t know what
you`re talking about. How do you think it turns out?
Your only hint is this is from South Carolina. That`s next.
MADDOW: A Republican state official has resigned in Michigan and
decided his parting words are directed at you, at you personally. He did
it for you. He resigned for you who is watching the show right now and he
wants you to know it. He`s very specific about it. I`m serious.
That`s coming up.
MADDOW: For about six months, through the fall and winter of last
year, right, the Republican presidential primary debates were the best show
on television. It was like a really compelling reality show. During its
heyday, there was a new episode every week and then there would be madcap
antics and/or outrage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I`m not going to eat
Barack Obama`s dog food. All right?
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I will tell you it`s three agencies of
government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the --
what`s the third one there? Let`s see.
I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry. Oops.
HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Take a loaf of bread.
It does have five taxes in it right now.
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Oh, yes, I need the government to take care
of me. I don`t want to use heroin so I need these laws.
ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking.
And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States,
you`ve got to let both people speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One of the weirdest moments of the run of the Republican
reality TV show came during a debate in September when Texas Governor Rick
Perry took a brave stand against cancer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: I hate cancer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: "I hate cancer." Bold.
Also, I like puppies and good weather and afternoon naps. I think
your mom`s nice. I`m willing to say that in full view of the American
people and take the consequences.
In declaring his hatred of cancer, Rick Perry didn`t seem to be taking
a particularly controversial or courageous stand, but it turns out that
actually is a controversial position for him to have taken. It hurt him.
During that particular episode of the Republican debate reality show,
Rick Perry was being denounced by his fellow candidates for trying to
require Texas girls to get vaccinated at the age recommended by the CDC
against the virus that causes most cervical cancer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Forcing 12-year-old girls to take an inoculation to prevent
this sexually transmitted disease, this is not good medicine. I do not
believe. And not -- it`s not good social policy. And therefore, I think
this is very bad to do this.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: To impose something like an
inoculation on an innocent 12-year-old girl, I would certainly oppose that.
PERRY: I hate cancer. We passed a $3 billion cancer initiative that
same legislative session, of which we`re trying to find over the next 10
years cures to cancers. Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. We wanted to
bring that to the attention of these thousands of -- tens of thousands of
young people in our state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Rick Perry ultimately backtracked on that policy of
vaccinating for HPV. But frankly, he was the odd man out in the Republican
presidential field, simply for ever having tried to do something about
preventing cervical cancer, which is preventable.
And this week, the aversion to preventing cervical cancer, the idea
that trying to prevent it is a scandal, that idea seems to be spreading.
South Carolina`s Republican Governor Nikki Haley had a chance last week to
sign a bill that would greatly expand access to the cervical cancer vaccine
for girls in her state. Back in 2007, when she was a state legislator,
Nikki Haley had co-sponsored a bill that would have required this
vaccination for South Carolina girls. She sponsored that bill, but it
never became law.
Now, as of last week, the legislature in her state passed a watered
down version of her same bill from a few years ago. And as governor, she
The earlier version that Nikki Haley had sponsored, like the one Rick
Perry did in Texas, would have required the vaccination. The new bill
didn`t require it. It didn`t require it. It just allowed the health
department to offer the vaccination.
So, it would not require anything. It would just make the cervical
cancer vaccine much more accessible in a state that is ranked in the top
ten for cervical cancer deaths in the United States. It`s just a weaker
version of what Nikki Haley herself wanted a few years ago.
But it is 2012 now, and so Governor Haley vetoed that bill -- because
being against cancer in the Republican Party is a scandal now. At least
being against cervical cancer is a scandal now.
What, because there`s a lady cancer, maybe? There is a vaccine to
prevent this kind of cancer. What is the problem?
MADDOW: On February 29th, in Michigan, a group of voters drove to the
capital with more than enough signatures for a referendum on Republican
Governor Rick Snyder`s souped up emergency manager law.
It`s that Michigan law that lets the state install a single overseer
to replace all local elected officials. So your vote for mayor, your vote
for city council, your vote for school board, null and void. The governor
will put someone in charge to overrule whoever you voted. No more local
In February, they delivered the signatures to the board of state
canvassers, to place a repeal of that emergency manager law on the November
ballot. Now, the deadline for challenging those petitions to put the thing
on the ballot was April 9th at 5:00 p.m. And, hey, on deadline day, April
9th at 4:08 p.m., in comes a challenge.
The challenge says: stop there. We don`t care how many voters signed
these petitions. The font size on one line of the petition is too small.
And because this is Michigan, where democracy has gone a little
cockeyed, the group challenging the font size on the petitions turns out to
live inside the office of a member of the board of state canvassers -- the
board that is deciding on the challenge, the board that decides whether the
referendum lives or dies.
That member, one of two Republicans on that board of canvassers, was
on both sides of the play, right? He`s both the pitcher throwing the pitch
or the umpire calling it a ball or a strike.
Now, again, because this is Michigan, and democracy there is
apparently a wobbling drunk, one of the Democrats on the board of
canvassers also has a conflict of interest. She is associated with the
people who brought the petitions in, in the first place.
Now, the powerful people in Michigan, a lot of the Michigan press says
they`re OK with this. They`re good with this kind of government by
mutually assured conflict of interest. Maybe so. I`m not so sure whether
the citizens of Michigan are all that good with it.
On April 26th, the board of canvassers deadlocked on party lines,
throwing the petitions out, saying there will be no referendum on the
ballot for that controversial Michigan law. Since then, this thing has
been in and out of the courts and in and out of the courts with the last
ruling being that the board of canvassers actually has to put it on the
ballot, but not until there`s a chance for one more appeal.
So, in the midst of all of this, with the clock ticking, with multiple
cities and school districts under emergency manager authoritarian rule,
which could be stopped if this thing`s going to be on the ballot, in the
midst of all of this, there is confusion in Michigan over what that board
of canvassers is doing now, when they`re going to meet, what they`re
planning, how they`re going to deal with these court rulings.
And in the midst of all this confusion, on this really important issue
in Michigan, very quietly, last week, the Republican board member who had
that giant, obvious, conflict of interest, resigned. Very quietly.
It was first reported on "Ecletablog" out of Michigan. We wanted to
check it out. So one of our producers wrote to the guy who was reported to
have resigned, Republican board member Jeff Timmer. We asked Mr. Timmer if
it was true he had resigned and when he had resigned. His answer to us,
quoting the whole thing, "True, June 18th."
When we followed up by asking why he quit, Mr. Timmer wrote this,
quote, "I just want to be liked by the tens of people watching your show."
Michigan, this is your state government at work. This is it, one
sentence, 14 words.
Mr. Timmer, we have tens and tens and tens of viewers, maybe even
dozens, and still, we would like to know why you quit. Really.
Incidentally, the remaining Republican says he`s happy on the board,
but if he, too, quit, the board would have no quorum and could not do
anything until the governor appointed a replacement, which could run
another month off the clock. In its court fillings, the secretary of
state`s office says this matter needs deciding by August 27th in order for
the repeal to make it on to the ballot.
The repeal campaign is running out of time. They do not have weeks to
burn here. And they know it. And so do the people who want to stop them.
We are expecting the people who want to keep this law and who want to
keep Michigan from voting on it to appeal their case to the state Supreme
Court by the end of the week. We will keep you posted and we will look
forward to the insults we will endure from the good people of Michigan who
are involved in this matter while we cover it.
Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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