THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
March 4, 2013
Guests: Sandra Day O`Connor, Kevin Murphy
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening. Happy Monday. Thank you for
sticking with us this hour.
This weekend at Harvard Law School, the official who just stepped down
as the top lawyer in the Pentagon weighed in on the next big civil rights
cases that are coming up before the Supreme Court. This month, the court
is going to be hearing arguments on same-sex marriage under the law.
And former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson told the Black Law
Students Association at Harvard, quote, "Our gay brothers and sisters who
are in the struggle for marriage equality right now in the state
legislatures and in the courts of this country are marching step by step
the same road toward equal treatment under law that we know so well. Their
cause is our cause."
The went on to explain his view that the impact of laws banning equal
marriage rights would be particularly and are now particularly cruel and
unfair in his words to people who are serving in the U.S. military.
The same argument is made by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
in a brief that they have filed, along with a number of other former
military officials with the Supreme Court about one of those forthcoming
marriage cases. They`re arguing that service members and veterans are
treated unequally under the law because of bans on recognizing same-sex
marriages, and they say that should be fixed.
It was 1960 when Frank Kameny petitioned the United States Supreme
Court to get his job back with the Department of the Army after he was
fired for being gay. The court declined to hear his case.
In looking at Frank Kameny`s papers this weekend, I was thinking ahead
towards those cases coming out before the Supreme Court later this month, I
came across this rather amazing image. Look closely at what this picture
It`s Frank Kameny, who is standing at the lectern there. He`s at the
American Psychiatric Association. He is making the case that they should
stop saying homosexuality is a mental disorder.
But look at the guy sitting next to him. Crazy, right? He is wearing
a mask with an attached wig. That man was himself a psychiatrist, a member
of the American Psychiatric Association. And he too took the lectern to
advise the association to stop listing being gay as a mental illness. But
he had to disguise himself in order to do to keep his job.
So, he wore a mask and a wig and a big baggy tuxedo jacket. And he
disguised his voice when he took the microphone. He described himself as
Dr. Anonymous. That was 1972.
The distance between then in our country and now in our country seems
like a million years, and like we have come a million miles. But we are
still fighting over many of the same things. Only this time the political
inertia, the weight of who is on each side of the "V", who is on side of
the argument in a lot of cases is reversed. It was veterans organizations
and many former senior military figures, and more than 200 major
corporations and dozens of senior Republican figures, including former
governors and former cabinet officers, and with the administration itself
all weighing in on the pro-gay rights side in those forthcoming civil
rights cases later this month.
Here is the big question: does the Supreme Court care? When there are
big social shifts in the perception of what is just in our country, how
does that weigh on the nine un-appealable finite judges who get to decide
these things for us as a country when nobody else does? Does it matter to
them to know how the country feels about these issues that they get to
decide? And should it matter? Particularly when on something like gay
rights opinions are changing fast.
On the other side of that question, how cognizant are the justices of
how their actions shape the country`s view of the court? The country`s
view of that institution that they represent and its legitimacy in our
system of government.
A couple of months ago, former Justice Sandra Day O`Connor did a
interview in parade magazine of all place in which she was asked about
public approval ratings for Supreme Court justices. Public approval of the
justices had dropped from something like two-thirds, roughly 66 percent in
the late 1980s down to 44 percent now.
Justice O`Connor responded by saying she thought that drop was
disturbing, and that, quote, "I think Bush v. Gore may have been a turning
point. It was seen by the public as political."
In Justice O`Connor`s new book, "Out of Order: Stories from the
History of the Supreme Court," she publishes a remarkable photograph that
have I not seen anywhere else before I saw it in this book. It`s
photograph taken on inauguration day this 2001. Justice O`Connor, you can
see on the foreground, her husband on the right, Justice Scalia and Chief
Justice Rehnquist are waiting for the inauguration of George W. Bush to
start. An inauguration made possible by virtue of the decision Bush v.
And I just find the looks on their faces and the overall mood of this
photograph to be amazing.
And so, how does the country look from the perspective of an
unreviewable panel that is charged not with arbiting public opinion, but
was arbiting the reach of the Constitution as our country grows older and
changes. How do they see us, and do they care what we think? And should
they care what we think?
If part of their responsibility as justices is to maintain the
prestige of the court, to keep us all respecting the court, to keep us all
in agreement that their word is final and ought to be, how does that factor
into which cases they choose to decide and how they decide them? If it
factors in at all.
Joining us tonight for interview, I`m honored to say, is former
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O`Connor. She is the author of "Out of
Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court", which comes out
Justice O`Connor, thank you so much for being here.
SANDRA DAY O`CONNOR, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Well, I`m glad to
be here with you, thank you.
MADDOW: I know that you cannot discuss the legal particulars of any
matters that are still before the court. But am I asking an appropriate
question here? Is it worth considering how changing political views,
changing social mores are felt within the court?
O`CONNOR: Well, the members of the court are human beings. They read
the newspaper and they probably watch a little of the news from time to
time. They`re not immune or restricted from being aware of what is going
on around them.
But I certainly think they are conscious about not letting that
determine their decisions. They`re not running a popularity contest there
against other government actors at all. They`re trying to do what they are
there to do, which is determine the law as it affects certain questions
that the court has agreed to resolve.
So I think that`s determinative for them, not public opinion. And I
don`t think the court does or should be governed by public opinion on how
an issue should be resolved or whether to take a case.
MADDOW: There is a lot of political impact outside the court of the
kinds of briefs that different groups and individual file with the court on
an issue like this controversial cases about same-sex marriages.
MADDOW: Do the justices care what is in those briefs? Does it
O`CONNOR: Oh, the justices read them, and it isn`t that you read it
and you care because such and such a group filed it. You read it for its
content. Is what the brief says important to you in terms of resolving a
If it`s all fluff or you know, drama? No. But if it gives you
intelligent -- an intelligent look at the legal issues, then it might be of
some value to you, as a justice.
MADDOW: In terms of the two-way street of public opinion, one of the
things that is clear in this book, and I actually saw some parallels with
Justice Breyer`s last book which I read before this and Justice Stephen`s
book which I read since he retired -- all of you very clearly concerned
with the view of the court as an institution with its perceived legitimacy.
MADDOW: Do you feel that that`s threatened?
O`CONNOR: At the moment -- well, I mean it`s threatened always to
some extent if there is some highly visible issue out there on which public
opinion is divided, that you`re aware as a justice that there is an
important issue that many people care about. And so, therefore, you want
to be particularly careful as you decide it. Not to unnecessarily offend
people by what we say or do. But it doesn`t govern the decision.
The fact that a great many people care about an issue is not a
governing factor in how the decision comes down, what the legal theory is.
MADDOW: When you diagnosis the impact of Bush v. Gore on public
opinion as having been perceived as political, do you believe that the
justices should take care to comport themselves while they`re sitting on
the court in ways that don`t allay themselves with any particular political
O`CONNOR: Well, they don`t. But having taken a legal position, it
might put you on one side or another of an issue because of your view of
the law will affect the outlook of some people about you as a justice.
They`ll think oh, you did so and so, and therefore draw conclusions from
And that can`t be helped, I guess, because justices are forced to take
a position on the legal issues that they`re there to decide. They have to
MADDOW: But should Supreme Court justices be governed by the same
ethics, advice that applies to lower court justices?
O`CONNOR: Yes, of course.
MADDOW: They`re not --
O`CONNOR: What you thinking of?
MADDOW: I`m thinking of Justices Thomas and Scalia giving speeches to
groups that frequently take one side in court arguments and portraying
themselves I think as activists in the political atmosphere.
O`CONNOR: Well, I don`t think that many of the members of the court
want to be perceived as political activists. I don`t think they do.
But at times, justices are asked to speak, and maybe they express a
view on something that is also a topic of political activism one way or
another. And so I`m sure in doing that, the justice doesn`t want to be
perceived as being a political activist at all because they decide the
cases not based on their personal views, but on their perception of the
legal doctrines that govern their decision.
MADDOW: And it`s important that we see them that way?
O`CONNOR: Yes, it is.
MADDOW: Do you wish that you were still sitting on the court?
O`CONNOR: No, I had 25 years there, and that`s a good long-term on
MADDOW: I`m going to -- I`d love to play one sound bite for you,
which will be familiar to you, because it is from your own history. And it
is not President Reagan announcing that he is choosing you, but it is
President Reagan as a candidate for president. So, candidate Reagan
promising that he will pick a woman for one of his first Supreme Court
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Now, I`m announcing today that
one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration will be
filled by the most qualified woman I can possibly find, one who meets the
high standards I will demand for all court appointments. It`s time for a
woman to sit among our highest jurists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was just a few weeks before the election.
O`CONNOR: I know he said that because he was running for the
presidency, and he felt that the time that maybe he wasn`t getting as much
enthusiastic support from women voters as he would like to see. And I
think he saw that as a potential issue! That might help him in the
MADDOW: It seems.
O`CONNOR: And I knew he had something like that. That`s the first
time I had seen or heard exactly what it was he said. But I knew he had
said something along those lines.
MADDOW: At the start of that press conference, at the very top of it,
he expresses himself in exactly the terms you just said, where he says, I
think I have been unfairly tarred as being not a great candidate for women.
And so I would like to announce.
O`CONNOR: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: Did you have any idea he was talking about you?
O`CONNOR: I don`t think he was because he didn`t really know at that
time when or if there would be a vacancy during his period as president, if
he became president. And so, he had no way of knowing that he would be or
that he would fairly soon after taking office have a vacancy to fill.
MADDOW: Do you think that candidate Reagan who then later became
President Reagan was right to privilege the characteristic of gender in
looking for a nominee? I mean, we can see the political logic to why he
did it, but was he ethically right to do that?
O`CONNOR: Well, he certainly was entitled to do it. And I don`t see
any unethical that you were going to include women in a group that has
never had one as a member. I don`t see anything unethical than at all.
MADDOW: What is it about a more diverse bench that results in better
decisions, if it does in fact result in better decisions?
O`CONNOR: It may not. You don`t know. That would depend very much
on the qualities of the person appointed. And it didn`t -- it wouldn`t
rest on gender normally. But we tend to think of ourselves in this country
as being open-minded on matters of gender and race.
And so it would not be unusual to have someone say, look, on a body
that represents the whole nation and has to make critical decisions, we`d
like to see it racially balanced, and we would like to see it gender
balanced in some fashion. That`s not a surprising action for a president
to take, for me, particularly in a country where half the voters are
MADDOW: And sometimes more.
O`CONNOR: Sometimes more.
MADDOW: I want to ask you about the photo that I showed from your
MADDOW: Page 16 of the book, worth buying the book for this alone.
I`ve never seen this photo before. I don`t know if it`s ever been
published anywhere before. But it`s you and Justice Scalia and Chief
Justice Rehnquist --
MADDOW: -- on Inauguration Day in 2001.
O`CONNOR: On those days, the justices typically have space over in
the Capitol building where they can sit around until their presence is
required. And so that was what was going on.
MADDOW: So, those are long days, but there is a lot of waiting?
O`CONNOR: Long days, a lot of waiting.
MADDOW: Is that what we`re seeing on your faces in that picture?
O`CONNOR: What page is it on?
MADDOW: Page 16.
And so this is about a month after Bush v. Gore was decided.
MADDOW: Because that was decided in mid-December 20. This was
January 20th, 2001.
O`CONNOR: I think people are just sitting around being a little bit
bored, waiting to go out and do something, to move around. You can see
that. I can see that in all the faces. There they are, just agh, what do
we do now?
MADDOW: Well, how did it feel to you to know that you effectively
with your vote, I guess you could say any one of you, who were the five who
decided with the majority in Bush v. Gore had effectively decided who would
be president? How did it feel that day?
O`CONNOR: I don`t recall any special feeling about it at all. I
mean, we just were dealing with cases like we`re required to do. And that
was a dramatic one, but it didn`t -- it didn`t cause you to feel
differently somehow when you were waiting for the inauguration and killing
MADDOW: When you saw the tens of thousands of people protesting the
inauguration, defying its legitimacy, did it make you feel any differently
about the weight of that decision?
O`CONNOR: No, it didn`t. We all knew it was an important decision
for everybody. I mean, you couldn`t fail to know that.
MADDOW: Yes. Justice Sandra Day O`Connor, you`ve been there for so
much history and you made a lot of it yourself in this book is both very
fun and a great catalog of Supreme Court history. Thank you so much for
taking the time to be here.
O`CONNOR: Well, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you very much.
All right. This weekend there was a very moving postscript added to
one of the most notorious confrontations of the civil rights movement.
Five decades after the fact, the right thing was done. It surprised
everybody. And the man who did it is going to join us from Montgomery,
Alabama. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: OK, the United States Senate, an image problem, and a yacht
club. Guess how these things fit together. That story is next.
MADDOW: As of today, we have an all but official lineup for the
Senate election in Massachusetts to fill John Kerry`s seat. Today was the
deadline for certifying signatures for candidates who are trying to get on
the ballot. Now, on the Democratic side, Congressman Ed Markey and
Congressman Stephen Lynch both got their signatures certified and turned
Congressman Markey is still considered to be the favorite.
The more conservative Congressman Lynch was really hoping to cut into
that perceived advantage by getting the AFL-CIO to endorse him. But that
did not happen. He did not get enough votes from the executive board of
the AFL-CIO. So, Stephen Lynch`s hopes have been dashed, and the biggest
labor group in the state is not going to endorse anybody in the Democratic
So that means practically that Ed Markey is more favored than ever in
the Democratic primary. That`s the Democratic side.
On the Republican side, three candidates are trying to get on the
ballot. It now seems as if they are all on their way to doing that. And
with three Republicans likely to be on the ballot and the primary set for
next month, the Massachusetts Republican Party decided that they should
hold a straw poll in the race.
This is kind of the first official word from the party on this big
occasion, right? This is a high profile occasion. No other Senate race in
the country is going to be going on when this happens. This is
Massachusetts Republicans picking somebody to run for the United States
Senate. Who is going to be the next guy after Scott Brown? How are they
going to follow that up?
This is a really high-profile moment for Republicans in Massachusetts.
And so, the Republican Party in Massachusetts scheduled their straw
poll at a yacht club, lovely, because nothing brands a party trying to get
over its Thurston Romney III problem like local news reports having to
describe the multiple glittering chandeliers under which the Republicans
choose their favorite candidate in their straw poll that they held at a
If you are thinking the whole gathering beneath glittering chandeliers
at a yacht club thing seems like the wrong face forward for the party at
this point, you are thing along the same lines as the guy who won the straw
poll under the glittering yacht club chandeliers.
"The Boston Globe" reporting that Republican State Rep. Dan Winslow
slipped out from the yacht club before the votes were even counted, before
even finding he had won the straw poll. Quote, "But before he left, he
said he thought the event set the wrong message. They gave us three
minutes to speak today. Three minutes is longer than I ever wanted to
spend at a yacht club. I am not a tea and crumpets Republican. I am here
because there are activists here. I am running a grassroots campaign."
Which is probably closer to the right message for Massachusetts
Republicans, even if he might be exactly the wrong messenger for that
message, because even though candidate Dan Winslow says he did not want to
spend three minutes in a yacht club, and really even that was too many,
candidate Dan Winslow himself has a apparently been on the board of
directors of a Massachusetts yacht club as recently as 2011, he disclosed
he was deserving on the board of directors for a very nice yacht and tennis
club. That`s according to this disclosure form uploaded by the Center for
American Progress. We have a link on our blog if you would like to peruse.
But the bottom line is Mr. Winslow is not to be confused with a tea
and crumpets yachting Republican. He is in fact a yachting and tennis club
Republican, and I guess that`s a whole different thing.
And I guess there is nothing wrong with, that unless, of course,
you`re campaigning for office by in part telling people that you are not
the kind of guy who would voluntarily set foot inside a yacht club. If
you`re that guy, then the fact that you`re on the board of directors of a
yacht club is embarrassing.
The primaries in Massachusetts are next month. They happen on April
30th. The special election is going to be in June. And from the looks of
things so far, this is going to be a fun one to watch.
MADDOW: Programming note: there are those among us who cannot help
but be up early in the morning. Tomorrow, I will join that merry flock of
early birds because I will be on the "Today" show on NBC in the 7:00 a.m.
hour, which means if I am smart, I will go directly to sleep at 10:01 p.m.
I will be on the show to talk about my book, "Drift" which gets
released in handy dandy paperback form. It comes out tomorrow. And in
honor of the paperback release, I`m psyched to get back on the road on a
little book tour adventure.
My first stop is this coming Sunday. I`ll be speaking at South by
Southwest in Austin on Sunday afternoon. Then, I`ll be heading over to
Houston to speak at the Progressive Forum later that same night.
So the book is out as of tomorrow. You can see the whole list of tour
dates at Maddowblog.com, as well as links and stuff to help you score
tickets for the places that still have some left.
And tonight, we are about to come back with the police chief who you
probably heard about this weekend, and who you could not believe he did the
thing he did. He is our guest, next.
MADDOW: As the Supreme Court decides whether or not to dismantle one
of the main pillars of American civil rights law, the Voting Rights Act, we
had on the show last week, Congressman John Lewis, whose near fatal beating
on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 was part of the inspiration for the
Voting Rights Act in the first place.
As you know, it was March 7th, 1965, John Lewis and Hosea Williams set
off with 600 protesters. They were trying to walk in a nonviolent protest
from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. They were trying to march
this 50-mile distance. It was a march for the right to vote.
Well, the marchers never got far out of Selma. They were set on by
police with billy clubs and tear gas. John Lewis was clubbed in the head
violently enough that he is lucky not to have died. Two days later the
marchers came back with not 600 people this time, but 2,500 people. And
they crossed the bridge. The following Sunday, they marched again, and it
was not 2,500 people, but 25,000 people by the time they walked all the way
to the Montgomery state capital.
And President Johnson had by then convened a joint session of
Congress, citing Selma, citing those beatings on that bridge and demanding
the legislation that became the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is what
the Supreme Court is now considering gutting.
Yesterday, they marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge again. It has
become an annual event, with members of Congress and elected officials and
community leaders and civil rights workers, all celebrating the courage of
the people who first made that trip half a century ago.
Vice President Biden was there this year. At the event he apologized
personally for not having made the trip to Selma the first time when he was
a young man. The vice president said, quote, "I should have been here 48
When Congressman John Lewis was hurt so badly on that bridge 48 years
ago, that was not the first time he had put his life in danger for that
cause. Four years earlier, in 1961, he took part in the freedom rides --
two integrated busloads of people, black and white passengers traveling
together, trying to make the trip from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans.
The Supreme Court had ruled the year before that it was unconstitutional to
have forced segregation in interstate bus and rail stations.
So that segregation was unconstitutional, but it was still happening
in the South. So, the Freedom Riders were trying to make that ruling true.
They were testing in effect whether the Constitution and the rulings of the
United States Supreme Court stretched even into the South.
In Rock Hill, South Carolina, Mr. Lewis and the others were attacked
by a mob for trying to use a whites only waiting room. Farther down the
road in the town of Anniston, Alabama, one of the buses got firebombed.
And when the passengers on board tried to get out of the burning bus, the
mob held the door shut and shouted that the Freedom Riders should be
roasted to death inside. They were lucky to escape with their lives, and
they traveled on.
The second bus made it to Birmingham, and a white mob attacked them at
the bus depot. Police responded by arresting not the mob, but the bus
rider, including John Lewis. But still, they traveled on.
Think about this for a second. The Freedom Riders had been beaten in
Rock Hill, South Carolina. Their bus had been set on fire and they were
nearly burned to death in Anniston, Alabama. They were beaten again in
Birmingham before they left for Montgomery.
So given this kind of trajectory so far, what kind of welcome do you
think was waiting for them in Montgomery? What kind of welcome do you
think was waiting for the Freedom Riders in May 1961 when they reached the
Greyhound bus station in Montgomery, Alabama? You can imagine, right.
It was this kind of a welcome. Freedom Riders attacked by whites in
Montgomery. This is John Lewis standing with fellow activist Jim Zwerg.
Mr. Lewis had been hit in the head with a wooden Coca-Cola crate. Mr.
Zwerg I think in this picture is feeling out what he has left for teeth.
Because even though the whole world knew the danger they were in, the
police department in Montgomery chose to do nothing. When that very easy
to predict mob descended on the bus station in Montgomery, the Montgomery
police department did not show up. They did not try to prevent the
violence. They did nothing.
Well, this weekend as part of this commemoration where they once again
marched across the bridge in Selma, with so much more weight on it than
usual because of the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court right now, this
weekend, at the commemoration of this events, something happened that
surprised everyone. It happened in Montgomery at a church service.
It was the chief of police -- the chief of Montgomery`s police
department now is named Kevin Murphy. He had not yet been born when the
Freedom Riders were attacked in his town. But he is the chief there now.
And he says he grew up in Alabama hearing the stories about how wrong it
Well, on Saturday, that chief stood in the First Baptist Church in
Montgomery and apologized to John Lewis, now Congressman Lewis, for the
inaction of his police department way back then. Watch this. This just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF KEVIN MURPHY, MONTGOMERY POLICE DEPARTMENT: When you got off
the bus in 1961, you didn`t have a friend in this part. And you`re good
friends with the president of the United States.
And I want you to know that you have friends in Montgomery Police
Department, that we`re for you, we`re with you. We want to respect the law
and adhere the law, which is what you were trying to do all along. This
symbol of authority which used to be a symbol of oppression is a symbol of
Fifty-two years ago, what you stood for has made a difference. The
world that we live in today, this city that I get to serve as police chief
is changed for the better because I wouldn`t be standing here right now if
it weren`t for you.
And this is a token of that appreciation, Congressman, because you
changed this city. You changed this state. You changed this country.
And as Pastor Moore said, you changed the world. And for that we are
truly grateful to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The police chief gave him his badge.
History cannot be changed. What happened happened, right? Before
Chief Murphy, at least, the past is worth still wrestling with for the sake
of what comes next. At least that`s how it seems.
Joining us now is Chief Kevin Murphy of the Montgomery, Alabama,
Chief Murphy, thank you for joining us.
MURPHY: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: How did you reach the decision that you would offer this
apology in those terms for your police force in this way?
MURPHY: It was a very easy decision to make. Congressman Lewis is
one of the most decent, brave men that I think I have ever known. And, you
know, he has stood in the face of danger, scorn, and ridicule. He is a
nonviolent man, a man of peace, but a man of great conviction.
And as I told him, a badge is an officer`s symbol of trust. And he
said to me he didn`t think he was worthy to receive it. And I said he was
worthy more than any man I`ve ever met, that what he stood for and it`s
changed our city for the better. And I`m most indebted to him.
The citizens of Montgomery are indebted to him for his acts of bravery
and courage. And I wanted him to know that we love him in Montgomery. We
want him to come back. Montgomery is his city.
Fifty-two years ago, it wasn`t the case. He was a 21-year-old man at
the time. He had no idea that he was going to be a United States
congressman one day. But he put his life on the line for our country. And
that means an awful lot to me.
MADDOW: Have you had much reaction to your apology in Montgomery,
either positive or negative, anything unexpected?
MURPHY: All positive. Hundreds of e-mails, a lot of phone calls.
I`ve been stopped on the streets. It`s been overwhelming.
MADDOW: Chief, I know you have been chief for a couple of years now,
and I looked into what you`ve been doing as chief. I know that one of the
changes you made when you got the job is you started a class for the entire
force that`s called "policing in a historic city." You teach every officer
about the city`s place and its civil rights movement, its history with race
relations both during the movement and for decades after into the present
What are you hoping that education will do for police officers of
MURPHY: Well, it`s a critical analysis of the Montgomery Police
Department`s role during the civil rights movement. And, you know, it`s
unflattering at times, some of the things that the police department did or
Case in point, we weren`t there to protect the Freedom Riders when
they arrived in Montgomery, and they were brutally assaulted. The police
department`s job, fundamental function is to preserve lives and property.
They failed to do that that day.
But we go through a case analysis throughout the years and it`s an
educational effort to try to show our officers, especially the very young
ones, who -- some were born in 1991 and are now wearing a badge, that, you
know, we can`t repeat the mistakes of the past. We have to be very
receptive to our public.
You know, part of the things that happened back this that era to this
day still have a wall between us and the community that we serve. But I
will say with this new class, we have actually started to break that wall
down. There is a greater trust with our department and members of our
community. But we have to continue to work at it.
I don`t think that that work will ever be done. It`s a work in
MADDOW: In terms of getting that work done and moving forward, how
does -- how does the apology function? You`re obviously thinking about
this in long-term -- with long-term horizons both historically and looking
ahead. What do you think that you can move on to once you have covered
this specific ground with making the apology?
MURPHY: Well, I think Montgomery and Alabama and the United States
for that fact needs to heal. And segregation was a horrendous institution
that scarred this country for many years. It scarred Montgomery. But it`s
a new day.
And, you know, people are working together more than they ever have in
the history of our country, in the history of our state, certainly in the
history of our city. And we need to continue to move forward. But I think
the apology was very important because you even heard Congressman Lewis say
he had never been apologized to for all the things that he had been
through, the mistreatment and the indignities that he had suffered -- that
had never happened. And I think it was very appropriate and quite timely
that he received that apology.
MADDOW: Chief Kevin Murphy of the Montgomery, Alabama, Police
Department -- thank you so much for talking to us.
MURPHY: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: If you would ever do it, I will come steal away and sit in on
that class some time about policing in such a historic city. It sounds
like an incredible piece of work.
MURPHY: Well, thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks, sir.
MURPHY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. OK, sin in haste, repent at leisure. Let the
cutters` remorse commence. That story is ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: President Obama`s second term cabinet is almost complete. He
took a while to get going on second term nominations. We`re weeks into his
first term before he nominated anybody. But now the cabinet is actually
Earlier today, the president nominated three people to cabinet-level
positions. First, he nominated Sylvia Matthews Burwell to run the very
important Office of Management and Budget, OMB to its friends. She`s
currently the head of the Walmart Foundation.
Then, the president nominated a nuclear scientist with amazing hair
named Ernest Moniz to run the Department of Energy. He will replace his
fellow physicist, Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu.
And then, Gina McCarthy, the president nominated her to run the
Environmental Protection Agency. Gina McCarthy is currently a deputy at
the agency. At EPA, she heads up the Office of Air and Radiation, because
that`s one office.
In the last few years, she has made quite a splash. She helped write
new pollution rules related to lung-killing things like soot and mercury.
Power plants spit that stuff into the air, and it was Gina McCarthy`s job
to say hey, let`s do that less.
Not to over-generalized, but environmental groups at least seem to be
pretty happy with an EPA pick like Gina McCarthy, which means environmental
groups had a much better Monday than they did a weekend. And that`s
because of what happened in the Friday afternoon news dump.
At 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday, or as most people call it, 90 minutes
until the weekend o`clock, somebody at the State Department decided it was
time to release that department`s long-awaited news that they figured would
upset a lot of people. It goes without saying that if you want something
to get a lot of attention, if you want the media to pay attention to it,
you want stories and blog posts and TV shows about it, release it on a
But if you want something buried, we suggest the later in the day
hours on a Friday, like the State Department did with their report on this
big pipeline, which would bring tar sands oil into the United States from
Canada. Hence the need for the State Department to be involved since it
crosses a border. It`s an international matter. The pipeline crosses the
border at Montana and then runs clear down to the bottom of Nebraska.
For this pipeline, there is the meta-environmental issue of whether
tar sands oil is the future we want given the global warming consequences.
But also, there is the less meta-environmental issue which is all about the
land this pipeline runs through. All those ranch lands and those fresh
water aquifers and lakes and homes, honestly, we do not have great
technology to clean up normal oil spills. But tar sands oil spills? We
really do not know how to clean those up.
That was the problem with the big disastrous Kalamazoo River oil spill
a few years ago, because tar sands oil it turns out is harder to clean up.
We`re bad at all oil spill cleanup, but we are really bad at tar sands oil
cleanup because we don`t know how to do it. So what happens if and when
something goes wrong?
The State Department and ultimately the president will have to
consider those kinds of questions when they make a decision on whether or
not to sign off on construction of the Keystone pipeline.
The pipeline, of course, has its boosters, Republicans tried to make
it an issue during the election against the president because he had not
approved the pipeline. But it`s also easy to find people opposed to this
thing, both locally where the pipeline is supposed to go and nationally.
In August 2011, there were two weeks of anti-Keystone protests.
Protesters doing civil disobedience outside the White House. Two weeks,
more than 1,000 people arrested. Two months after that, anti-Keystone
protests in San Diego, California.
A month after that, November 2011, a big protest outside the White
House, thousands of people at the White House gates. November 2012,
protests in Texas and more protests in Washington, D.C. December 2012,
activists climb into the pipeline and blockade themselves inside it.
January, the start of this year, anti-pipeline protesters in
Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Texas occupy the offices of the company that
is building the pipeline. The following month, February, more protests in
Texas and California. That`s San Diego, California you`re looking at.
And then also last month, big protests in Washington, D.C. This was a
large protest. Organizers claim there were tens of thousands of protesters
There`s been a lot of protests overall, including a lot of civil
disobedience on this issue. Activists say more than 1,500 people have been
arrested protesting the pipeline in less than two years.
And so, then, on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and almost time to go
home, the State Department released its environmental impact report on the
pipeline. And according to the report, the pipeline won`t have too much of
an impact. Won`t have too much of an impact on the environment or at least
seemingly, it won`t have enough of an impact to warrant the State
Department scuttling the deal on those grounds.
Environmental groups as you might imagine are not psyched. The State
Department will be taking comments on whether you think it should be
approved or not for the next 45 days. The environmental group 350.org says
they are still training more people in civil disobedience techniques, which
means I expect we will be seeing more of this kind of thing over the next
few weeks and months.
MADDOW: Just before 9:00 on Friday night, the White House issued a
presidential order, "By the authority vested in me as president by the laws
of the United States of America, I hereby order that budgetary resources in
each nonexempt budget account be reduced by the amount calculated by the
Office of Management and Budget in its report to the Congress of March" --
what it means, the sequester -- or as we like to refer to it around here,
congressional storm Earl -- has arrived.
Earlier that same day, President Obama convened a meeting with the
congressional leaders of both parties to try to stop it, to try to stop the
$85 billion worth of cuts from going into effect. He said the cuts would
hurt the economy and cost people their jobs. He called the cuts dumb and
arbitrary. And then pretty much right after he got done calling them dumb
and arbitrary, he had to go sign this boring presidential order executive
ordering them into law.
President Obama was not saying these cuts are dumb and arbitrary
because he personally does not like them. These cuts are dumb and
arbitrary by design. Both sides agree they are dumb and arbitrary, the
whole point of the sequester was that they would be dumb and arbitrary so
nobody would want them.
The cuts are dumb and arbitrary and purposely hurtful in a bipartisan
fashion, because the whole design was about it being equally unpalatable to
both parties. That was the whole idea, right? That was on purpose.
Democrats were supposed to hate the sequester, because of the dumb and
arbitrary cuts to stuff like housing programs for the poor, and early
childhood education, and WIC, the women, infant and children nutrition
program which provides food and baby formula for low income families. Not
to mention cuts in funding for things like national parks and scientific
Republicans on the other hand were supposed to hate the sequester
because of dumb and arbitrary cuts to national security spending. It was
supposed to be a "sword of Damocles" hanging over the Defense Department.
No way Republicans were going to let that happen, right?
Well, all of this collective hatred of on-purpose, dumb and arbitrary
cutting was supposed to force both sides to work together to avoid the
cuts. That, of course, failed. The sword of Damocles failed.
And now, we`re budgeting what the government spends its money on using
mandatory cuts that every hates, that were never supposed to happen in the
Well, what happens now? As you might imagine, they`re trying to
retroactively undo it, but in a very specific way.
Today, House Republicans introduced retroactive efforts to get rid of
these dumb and arbitrary cuts, to get rid of some of these dumb and
arbitrary cuts. It turns they just want to fix the parts related to
national security and defense spending. The stuff put in there
specifically because it was supposed to be unpalatable to them.
So, their plan would not just ease the cuts on the Pentagon, it would
give the Pentagon $2 billion more than the president asked for in non-war
So, Republicans -- think about this -- would keep all the austerity
for the programs that the Democrats don`t want to see cut. But the cuts
that they don`t like would be mostly reversed. That`s how they`re going to
To review, the sequester was supposed to be the equal pain for both
parties -- bipartisan dumbness. Bipartisan arbitrariness. That was the
whole point. That was the design.
Today, House Republicans said the parts we do not like, we think we`re
going to undo them.
But all the rest of it, the reduction in funds for housing programs
that could leave more than 100,000 people homeless could force people in
emergency shelters out on to the street. The reduction in WIC funding that
could leave three quarters of a million low income women and children
without benefits. When you`re talking about WIC, that means without infant
formula. Or 11 percent reduction in unemployment benefits for people who
have not been able to find a job.
All of that will stay gone away. It`s fine for all of that to have
gone away. Those cuts must be seen now as permanent. But the things that
the Republicans will miss, they`ll come back.
House Republicans today advancing a plan to undo the part of the
sequester their party doesn`t like, while keeping the part Democrats do not
like, which is just strategic genius, such a deal.
Why didn`t I think of that? If every time I had to make a deal with
somebody, the part they didn`t like about it, they could undo afterwards
and leave the part I didn`t like intact, I would make a lot more deals.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow morning on
the "Today" show and then again tomorrow night for this show.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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