THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 6, 2014
Guest: Stuart Milk, Dustin Lance Black, Michael Weiss, Robert Gary, Cecile
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I wish this wasn`t true, and
I do have a prediction for you and that is that you have not done your last
segment about a Republican who believes there were weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq.
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: I have some other things to say about
Joni Ernst. You are correct.
O`DONNELL: No, no, I`m saying there`s going to be more. She`s not
the last -- I`m saying 10 years from now, you maybe using that Bush tape.
MADDOW: She`ll be the leader on the caucus on this subject in new
Senate. Oh, my God. Thanks, man.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
So, what is the most important thing at stake in the midterm
elections? It is, of course, the control of the Senate. You`ve heard that
already. But the Supreme Court showed how important that is once again
today, because the Senate controls judicial appointments, and the courts
have the final say on the important laws of our land.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you woke up this morning, 19 states allowed
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As of yesterday, there were 19 states that granted
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A major surprise by the U.S. Supreme Court --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major breaking news out of the Supreme Court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- on the very first day of its new term.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The justices decide not to hear five same sex
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The justices denied appeals from five states.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, the number of five.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeking to ban same sex marriages.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All now legal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those five will soon become 11.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With an immediate liberal effect for couples
across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, North Carolina, South
Carolina, and West Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just think about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we can expect marriage to start soon in those
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State officials began issuing marriage licenses
to same sex couples for the first time in Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you woke up this morning, 19 states allowed
same sex marriage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The total ban now stands at 30 states.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All as a consequence of what the Supreme Court
didn`t do today.
O`DONNELL: Today`s decision by the United States Supreme Court will
bring marriage equality to 11 more states. The Supreme Court declined to
hear appeals to federal court decisions that overturned bans on same sex
marriage in five states, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin.
That means marriage equality is coming to those states almost
immediately. There are challenges to bans on marriage equality from six
more states. In front of those same appeals courts. Those bans will also
be overturned. That will leave just 20 states with bans on same-sex
marriage, meaning more than 60 percent of Americans will live in states
where marriage equality is legal.
Ted Cruz released this statement, "The Supreme Court`s decision to let
rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic
and indefensible. The Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the
Constitution. This is judicial activism at its worst.
I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the
federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state
Oklahoma`s Conservative Republican Governor Mary Fallin said, "The
will of the people has now been overridden by unelected federal justices,
accountable to no one. Rights have once again been trampled by an
arrogant, out of control federal government."
But Wisconsin`s Republican Governor Scott Walker simply surrendered.
"For us, it`s over in Wisconsin. The federal courts have ruled that this
decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land, and we
will be upholding it."
Louisiana`s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I`m a believer in traditional
marriage. I know that polls show that people`s views are changing on this.
On this issue, I`m not a weather vane like President Obama or Hillary
Clinton. I happen to believe that marriage is between a man and woman. I
continue to believe in traditional marriage, but the ball is in the court`s
court if you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In Virginia where marriage licenses were granted today,
shortly after the court`s action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are joined in marriage as wife and wife.
You may kiss your bride.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Pete Williams, NBC News justice
correspondent, Stuart Milk, the nephew of Harvey Milk and president of the
Harvey Milk Foundation, and Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winner and LGBT
Pete Williams, take us through what happened in the court today and
how predictable this was. It seems Justice Scalia predicted this when the
court did their original decision.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Predicted the eventual
effect of it. I`m not sure he predicted this was going to happen.
Here`s how it works -- we get an orders list. This is it, at the
beginning of the new turn, with all the cases that have piled up over the
summer. Buried in it are the simple one lines-in the list of cases the
Supreme Court is not going to take.
And on these two pages were the marriage cases from the five states.
So, that is all the Supreme Court said, no reasons. No explanations.
That`s the way it normally works.
So, you know, what happened here, I think, we have to do a little
guessing on. It takes four votes to grant a case. So, for example, the
four conservatives might have been expected to say we need to look at these
lower court rulings that struck down bans against same-sex marriage in
these states, but they would only do that, likely, if they thought they had
a fifth vote to win, and that is Anthony Kennedy, and they may have well
decided they don`t have him.
So, what about the liberals? Why did they not want to take these
cases up? And I think there we have to sort of give our tip of the hat to
Ruth Bader Ginsburg who practically told us if we`d been listening hard
enough when she said if there`s not a split in the circuits we probably
won`t get involved or we shouldn`t. And, of course, there isn`t a split in
the circuits. All the appeals court decisions that came to the Supreme
Courts from those five states unanimously said that the bans had to be
So, they may well simply say, sit back, let more states join the
party, and then ultimately, the Supreme Court either won`t have to rule, or
when it does, the liberals may well have thought, it will be a much shorter
road for us to get all the way there.
Now, as for the effect, you`ve talked about it pretty clearly.
Immediately, marriage will go ahead in those five states where the bans
have been challenged. They`ve already started their marriage licenses,
they`ve already been issued.
In the other six states in those other federal circuits, it`s a little
less of a clear picture. The laws of those circuits now, those are the
green states here. The law for example, that`s Tenth Circuit you`re
looking at there in the west, the Utah and Oklahoma decisions, we know what
that is, the Tenth Circuit also applies to Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas,
and, by the way, New Mexico but they already have same sex marriage.
So, that`s the law of the circuit there now. Colorado was already
starting to issue same sex marriage licenses. Wyoming and Kansas say
they`ll wait and see. They`re going to continue to fight it.
Similar sentiment in some of the other states in the fourth circuit
clustered around Virginia. And Wisconsin and Indiana, where the seventh
circuit. The other state, there`s Illinois, they already have same-sex
So, I think, you know, what would the ultimate effect be if a lower
court ruled the other way, and said, yes, a state can ban same-sex
marriage? The Supreme Court might well then decide to get involved. But
what would it do? Would it really be in a position where it says, today,
we`re going to let marriages continue, go ahead and get married. But then,
in a year or so say never mind? That -- it seems less likely now.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Pete, it certainly does seem that the opposition to
marriage equality on the court is thin. And it makes me wonder, is there
any speculation that it is possible that they didn`t even have the four
votes that they really didn`t make it even to the threshold of four to
admit, to consider these cases?
WILLIAMS: Four votes to grant a case, as you say. We just don`t
know. I mean, my guess would be that they probably did, but they just
weren`t sure that if they did grant the case they would have Justice
Kennedy for the all-important fifth vote to win the decision.
But, you know, you`re right. Maybe Chief Justice Roberts said now is
not the time. Who knows? Maybe they were unanimous in saying they didn`t
want to take the case. We just don`t know.
O`DONNELL: Dustin Lance Black, your home state of Utah now, marriage
equality is legal. I can`t imagine what that must feel like for you.
DUSTIN LANCE BLACK, FILMMAKER: Well, I have a lot of family in Utah.
I have a lot of family in Virginia, and most of my family in the Texas. So
it`s a day of celebration, I`ll tell you that. And a lot ever phone calls
back to Utah and Virginia and congratulations. But what about Texas?
You know, there`s a lot of people who were left out of this today, and
they`re wondering how much longer they have to wait.
So, I am celebrating today and it feels wonderful. I love that we
have equality in Utah and equality is creeping into the South. But there`s
a side of me that really, really wishes the Supreme Court had taken this
up, to make a sweeping decision to once and for all say that the 14th
amendment of the Constitution applies to gay and lesbian people.
Because let`s be real, Lawrence, at the end of the day, you can get
married in Virginia. But if you put your wedding photo up at work, you
could still legally be fired. So, the protection of that Constitution,
that piece that could have come with the sweeping decision, we didn`t get
even the chance at today.
So, there`s a little disappointment. We`ll get to that tomorrow.
BLACK: Celebrate tonight, and get back to work tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to what Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said
she thinks is going to happen tomorrow. She does believe that the court
will eventually have to take this up directly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Sooner or later, yes, the
question will come to the court. But the remarkable thing is how attitudes
in this country have changed on that issue, and I attribute it to gay
people ready to stand up and say who they are. When they do that, people
look around, and it was their next door neighbor of whom they were very
fond. It was their child`s best friend, even their child. So people began
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stuart Milk when I see a Supreme Court justice say that
and say people looked around and people began to understand, I got to
believe that she`s including in those people possibly some Supreme Court
STUART MILK, PRES, THE HARVEY MILK FOUNDATION: Well, I`m not going to
go there, but, you know, certainly history has shown us that that can be
true. But, you know, the piece that, where she said we`re going to have to
actually take this up. And this actually piggyback on what Lance said, is
that we do the Supreme Court to take this up, because what we do want them
to do is include sexual orientation under heightened scrutiny, a
classification that would be similar to race and sex. And this would then
strike down all of the laws that discriminate on LGBT people.
But this is definitely a day of celebration, Lawrence. I`ve got
pictures coming in of same sex couples getting married in the South. I was
just in South Carolina yesterday. I was with Equality South Carolina.
These were folks who didn`t have much hope. And now, they are going to
have marriage equality.
And I got an e-mail from Rufeld (ph), Georgia, a little town where a
very young gay couple said, we now feel that we have hope because South
Carolina has it.
You know, my uncle gave me this little book, the U.S. Constitution.
And, you know, he told me that this prevents the majority from
discriminating against the minority. And this Constitution is being
Now, it`s never fast enough. Justice and equality never moves quick
enough. But I have tremendous respect that not only is the country moving
ahead, but that this court is going to take up this question. But today is
definitely a day of celebration.
O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, as you look at the horizon and Ruth Bader
Ginsburg saying at some point, they`re going to have to take that up. When
do you think that will be and in what form?
WILLIAMS: Well, there`s two places that could well lead -- have
contrary decisions. You could say that a state can constitutionally ban
same sex marriage. It`s -- the Fifth Circuit, the Texas case isn`t very
far along yet, but, you know, that could well be one of them.
The other case everyone`s watching is the sixth circuit, Ohio and
Michigan cases. That could come out any day now. It did look at the
argument like there was one vote on each side with maybe the deciding vote
being Jeffrey Sutton. Now, remember, he`s a Republican appointee, but he`s
also one of the judges who voted to uphold Obamacare. So he is, he is
somewhat unpredictable. He`s probably the least pleased person in America
right now. Because it means he`s going to have to go ahead and write that
If the Supreme Court has said it was going to take the case, it would
have taken a lot of pressure off of him. Now, that court has to deliver.
How will it go? Who knows?
But in terms of timing, I think, if a court now does reach a contrary
ruling and say, yes. This state can ban same sex marriage, then I don`t
think it`s going to come before the Supreme Court this term. We`ll
probably have to wait a year, and then, who knows how many states will have
decided to accept same sex marriage in the year intervening time.
O`DONNELL: Dustin Lance Black, we might be a year or two away from
that final moment where the Supreme Court does rule. And it seems, judging
by the momentum of where this is going legally, rule in a 50-state ruling
that legalizes marriage equality.
BLACK: Yes. That looks like where we`re headed, and I frankly have
to say, it`s life saving to think that people -- young gay and lesbian
people when they fall in love know that they`re no longer second class
citizens because of that beautiful feeling in their heart, that is truly
life-saving and empowering.
But guess what? That day is coming. I think we all see it`s
inevitable now. There`s work to make sure that it is a reality. But we
have to get to work in this country, making sure that gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender people are not discriminated against at work, can
hold a job, and can keep their home. Then, we will be getting closer to a
place where I`m ready to celebrate.
O`DONNELL: Dustin Lance Black, Stuart Milk and Pete Williams, thank
you all very much for joining me tonight.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
O`DONNELL: Coming up: Vice President Joe Biden spent his weekend
apologizing to U.S. allies for telling the truth about them.
And as the Ebola outbreak worsens in Africa today, the first case
contracted outside of Africa was reported.
And in the rewrite tonight, a federal judge writes new rules for the
police in Ferguson, Missouri.
O`DONNELL: An Illinois teenager is now charged with attempting to
join the Islamic State. Nineteen-year-old Mohammed Hamza Khan appeared in
federal court this morning where he was charged with one count of
attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Khan was arrested Saturday night at O`Hare International Airport in Chicago
by members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force while he was attempting to
board a flight to Turkey. Federal agents say they recovered multiple
handwritten documents from his home that appeared to be drafted by Khan and
or others, which expressed support for the Islamic State, including a
letter that read there was an obligation to migrate to the Islamic State
now that it has been established.
Coming up next, Joe Biden has to apologize for the worst thing he can
do in his job -- telling the truth.
O`DONNELL: Vice President Joe Biden is in trouble once again, for
telling the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our allies in the
region, the Turks are great friends, and I have a great relationship with
Erdogan which I have spent a lot of time with, the Saudis, the Emiratis, et
cetera. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad
and essentially have a proxy, Sunni/Shia war, what did they do? They
poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of
weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people
who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist
elements of jihadists coming from other parts of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The White House issued a statement after Vice President
Biden called the Turkish president, the vice president apologized for any
implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had
intentionally supplied and facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent
extremists in Syria.
Joining me is Michael Weiss, columnist for "Foreign Policy" magazine,
and Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for "Atlantic" magazine, and
an MSNBC contributor.
Steve, that`s what he gets, the vice president, for speaking at
Harvard, to those Harvard students, where clearly someone gave him truth
serum before he stood up there.
STEVE CLEMONS, ATLANTIC: I think Joe Biden sometimes forgets the
camera is on. I know there are differences of opinion about this, but Joe
Biden is a deeply informed person about national security and foreign
affairs, has had decades in this business, dealt not only with top leaders
of the world today but layers of them.
And so, when he makes a comment like this that opens up -- you know,
well, you debate it`s right or wrong, and people want to call it a gaffe,
he nonetheless has an understanding of the tectonics of these issues, and
there is great truth in much in my view to much of what he said.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Josh Earnest today about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact that he called
the leaders of these, or at least those senior officials, in both of those
countries to apologize is an indication that he himself wishes that he had
said it a little bit differently, but the fact of the matter is, we are
pleased with the degree of coordination, cooperation, that we`re getting
with countries around the globe, including countries in the region on this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michael Weiss, these allies who are cooperating do have a
complicated history with this. And I`m sure they don`t like being reminded
MICHAEL WEISS, COLUMNIST, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: Well, and also,
look, diplomacy 101, you want to build a coalition to go to war, the worst
thing can you do is to say to the members of that coalition, you`re to
blame for this war and I`m going to humiliate you and embarrass you and --
O`DONNELL: Yes, but, look, you`re at Harvard University or anywhere
and you`re asked some questions about what these people have done, what
these countries have done. You can try to lie about it.
O`DONNELL: But the truth of it is the history of it is so blatant,
it`s so bad that, you know, what else is he supposed to do? And what`s
wrong with them hearing that they`ve done things pretty badly in the past?
WEISS: They`ve been hearing nothing but that. If you read, the
international press lately is -- all it seems to be concerned with is
saying our problems in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and
on occasion, Lebanon and Jordan. The problem with what the vice president
is there was a conspicuous absence of the actors that worthy of blame for,
as he puts it, our problems in Syria.
The actors that he forgot to mention are Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic
Republic of Iran that`s been propping him up and Russia. Remember, this
crisis is kicked off because Assad opened fire on peaceful protesters.
Now, look, I`m second to none in criticizing the Turkish government
for having an open border policy, which is indeed allowed foreign fighters
to pour into Syria, and Erdogan had this farcical response to the Vice
President saying, oh, no, they didn`t enter Syria with arms. They were
just tourists who then went into the -- look, there had been he fundamental
truth is, the U.S. did not really have a Syria policy.
In 2011, the president said Bashar al-Assad is still a reformer, he
still has the opportunity to sort of put the genie back in the bottle here
and to save this country from ruin. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state
said we don`t know who this opposition is. They could b Hamas, they could
be al Qaeda.
And, really, because the U.S. just wanted this problem to go away,
guess what it did? It`s outsourced its policy to Turkey, Saudi Arabia,
Qatar. That`s the reason for instance, Lawrence, that the political
opposition in Syrian coalition, the national council as it was called,
consisted mostly of Muslim Brotherhood front organizations because Turkey
and Qatar took the lead in putting that thing together, right?
So, now, we`re saying because we didn`t want to get involved, because
we didn`t want to be bothered, and because we said to all our friends, OK,
you sort it out. And because they have their own ideological and national
interests to pursue, and they`re sort of, you know, it`s like herding cats
to get them all to work together and kind of unify in concerted passion,
now all of a sudden, well, it`s our problem and not ours. I would finally
add, we still don`t have the Syria policy.
These airstrikes are not working. The best I`ve seen is we`ve managed
to pound something like 60 Humvees that belong to us in Iraq which ISIS has
stolen. That makes the current Arab campaign the most expensive repo
opposition in mankind, in human history. I mean, we`re really pursuing a
policy in Iraq and we`re going about that by going through Syria. So,
there is no strategy to contain, as the president puts it, degrade and
ultimately destroy ISIS in Syria, it`s about minimizing that capability
that they bring to bear in Iraq.
And the Pentagon has said this.
O`DONNELL: Well, Steve Clemons, there are hotspots in the world of a
complexity level that defy anything you could call policy. I`m -- I just
think the very phrase foreign policy in the modern world has become an
absurdity. It is a situation game played day to day that depends on all
sorts of circumstances. It`s circumstance management, not policy.
CLEMONS: Well, I think that`s absolutely right. I think the
tectonics of the entire region are very fragile. I think Michael has
described I think a very good picture or parts of this.
But you have to remember that Syria has really been a civil war on top
of which there have been regional players wanting to influence the middle
of that, including Iran and Russia, and I think he`s absolutely right that
Joe Biden should have referenced those. That said, that didn`t mean the
United States had an obligation, nor an opportunity in my view to actually
come in and own this in anyway. There`s a comment that Hillary Clinton and
others have made that they could have gone and done this.
But when you look broadly what`s happening around the world, there`s
doubt in America`s power in the world. That`s for sure, because not only
are enemies moving their agendas, but allies are changing the way they
behave. And in that world, there`s no sense of equilibrium.
And so, you`re absolutely right, we`re responsive and episodic rather
O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons and Michael Weiss, thank you both very much
for joining me.
CLEMONS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the freelance cameraman working with NBC News
who contracted Ebola in Africa arrived in the United States this morning
for treatment. But back in Africa, the epidemic is moving more and more
out of control. Today, President Obama called the international community
for not stepping up.
And later, the Republican Party says it is against regulation of
business. But if that business is a woman`s clinic -- well, that`s a whole
different thing. Cecile Richards will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It is important
for Americans to know the facts, and that is because of the measures that
we`ve put in place as well as our world class health system and the nature
of the Ebola virus itself, which is difficult to transmit. The chances of
an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the fight against Ebola.
Tonight, Thomas Eric Duncan remains in critical condition in a
hospital in Dallas, Texas where he is receiving an experimental anti-viral
drug to treat the Ebola virus. Duncan is from Liberia. He is the first
person diagnosed with the Ebola virus here in the United States.
Meanwhile, the sixth American infected with Ebola, a freelance
cameraman who worked with "NBC News" crew in Liberia was able to walk with
assistance from a plane to an ambulance after arriving in Nebraska today.
His father told "NBC News" that he will receive an experimental treatment
to combat the disease.
Earlier today, President Obama said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In recent months, we`ve had thousands of travelers arriving
here from West Africa, and so far one case of Ebola`s been diagnosed in the
United States, and that`s the patient in Dallas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Three hundred and fifty U.S. military personnel are on the
ground in Liberia now helping to build a hospital for sick medical workers.
President Obama plans to deploy another 3,200 troops to West Africa by the
end of the month. This will be part of the $1 billion to the Defense
Department is setting aside to fight the Ebola outbreak.
The Military also hopes to build 17 Ebola treatment units in Liberia,
a first of which is expected to be operational by October 28th. President
Obama says the international community needs to do more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`ll be very honest with you. Although, we have seen great
interest on the part of the international community, we have not seen other
countries step up as aggressively as they need to. And I said at the
United Nations, and I will repeat that this is an area where everybody has
to chip in, and everybody has to move quickly in order for us to get this
Countries that think they can sit on the sidelines and just let the
United States do it, that will result in a less-effective response, a less-
speedy response, and that means that people die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Doctor Robert Gary, a Tulane University
neurologist who has conducted research on Ebola cases in Sierra Leone.
Doctor Gary, how much more and what specific things would you expect
other countries could do?
DOCTOR ROBERT GARY, NEUROLOGIST, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Well, for one
thing, we need to put some more resources into Sierra Leone. It`s great
that we`re going to put some hospitals up in Liberia, but there are other
countries, in particular, Sierra Leone that also need has resources put in.
We need to put treatment centers there as well.
O`DONNELL: And the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest talked
about the fact that the Administration is not considering any kind of
travel ban here in the United States. What`s your reaction to that?
GARY: Well, I think that`s correct. I mean, we can put some
technology into place. We can put some information technology into place.
We can tell where people have been and where they come from, so that should
be one thing that we can do.
We can measure their temperature. We could even put some other kinds
of technology in place if somebody came in with some symptoms, like some
rapid tests that could diagnose the disease on the spot.
O`DONNELL: We see in African in Liberia and other places that people are
getting their temperatures taken very quickly and as a screener. Is there
any argument for doing that, with, say, people getting off of international
flights here in the United States?
GARY: Well, if they come from the areas that are affected by Ebola,
it makes some sense to me.
O`DONNELL: And the -- there`s a hospital in Liberia, the JFK General
Hospital that it said, there they said instead of 3,000 troops, it would be
better to send 300 doctors. Talk about the supply of doctors and how you
could get more doctors into the action there.
GARY: Well, obviously, we need more doctors, but the military can
serve a role. Nobody does logistics like the U.S. military. So if they
can help like getting in things like fuel, vehicles and food, water, if
we`re going to put people into quarantine, they need the basic human
resources. So this is one thing the U.S. military can do better than
Getting doctors in is something that needs to be done. Let`s hope
that the United States (ph) vaccine program works well so we can protect
those people when they -- when we put them on the ground there.
O`DONNELL: What that in you when you talk the positions about
possibly going over there, what are their inhibitions?
GARY: Well, I mean, it`s a dangerous situation, when you`re treating
Ebola patients. There is no cure right now. There`s no protective
vaccine. So you really are putting it all on the line when you go to a
treat or care for an Ebola patient.
O`DONNELL: And a physician who`s already practicing anywhere is
leaving some patients behind wherever they`re working in order to go do
that, which is not an easy thing, I assume, for doctors to do.
GARY: Well, that`s true, too. But this outbreak in West Africa needs
to be addressed, as the President has said. The whole world needs to step
up. We need to shut this down.
O`DONNELL: Doctor Robert Gary of the Tulane Medical School, thank you
very much for joining us tonight.
GARY: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a federal judge rewrites the rules for police
and protesters of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
And next, another episode of good cop. A good cop does a great thing
for a woman who thought he was going to arrest her.
O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. Good cop news.
On Saturday, Police Officer Ben Hall of Emmett Township Michigan
pulled over a car with a young girl riding in the back seat who was wearing
a seat belt, but not in a booster seat, which is required for children
under four years of age in Michigan.
Her mother, Alexis DeLorenzo was in the passenger seat of a friend`s
car and explained to the officer that her car recently had been repossessed
with the booster seat still in it. Alexis said she couldn`t afford a new
booster seat. Officer Hall then met her at a nearby Walmart where he
bought her a booster seat. Officer Hall said, quote, "it was the easiest
$50 I ever spent."
The "rewrite" is next.
O`DONNELL: As I said at the beginning of this program, the most
important thing at stake in the midterm Congressional elections now less
than 30 days away, is control of the United States Senate. And the most
important reason to control the United States Senate is the confirmation
On a recent Sunday morning television discussion on what at stake in
control of the Senate, not one of the participants mentioned the
confirmation process. The conclusion of the panel was, there isn`t much at
stake in control of the Senate because legislation passed by a Democratic
Senate will never become law with a Republican House to block it. And
legislation passed by a slight Republican majority in the Senate and a
Republican House would then be vetoed by President Obama.
And so in either case, very little is likely to happen, legislatively,
no matter who controls the Senate, and that`s true enough, but governing
includes much more than legislating.
Citizens United is not the name of legislation passed by Congress and
signed by the President. It is the name of a Supreme Court decision that
changed campaign finance law in America in hugely important ways. Roe and
Wade were not members of the House or the Senate, there were litigants
whose historic case made abortion legal in all 50 states. A presidency
lives on after its term of office in the federal Judiciary.
When a new president comes in, he or she can replace virtually
everyone in appointed office except judges. And so the continuing
governing influence of the President Bill Clinton was felt today in
Missouri when Federal Judge Kathryn Perry who was confirmed by the Senate
exactly 20 years ago today ordered new rules in how protesting crowds
should be treated by police in Ferguson.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RON ALLEN, CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: What are the rules tonight?
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, HIGHWAY PATROL, MISSOURI: The rules are people
we`re going to get people to come on our parking lot area here. This is
where we would like them to be. I just talked to a group. And we want
them to come here whenever they are tired of walking. And we want to come
here and congregate here.
ALLEN: But if they don`t, if they gather on city streets and corners
JOHNSON: We`re not -- we`re not going to allow them to gather on city
streets. We`re not going to allow to gather them in streets.
ALLEN: But how do you stop them from gathering on city streets?
JOHNSON: We have institutes rules here, that you must continue to walk or
you can gather here.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
O`DONNELL: It was because of that improvised rule that we saw
protesters constantly moving in Ferguson less they be arrested for
exercising their constitutional right to not walk.
There was so much that was outrageous in the police response to
protest in Ferguson. That none of us in the media raised the obvious
protests that the keep-moving-rule is obviously unconstitutional.
But the ACLU knew it was unconstitutional on August 18th, the night
that Captain Johnson told Ron Allen and the protesters are going to have to
continue to walk. One of the ACLU Associates on the streets in Ferguson
was told he could not stand still. On that same day, the ACLU used that to
bring a lawsuit against the police.
And today, Judge Kathryn Perry said the police improvised rule is
unconstitutional. In a 25-page decision she wrote, "The keep-moving policy
as it was applied, prohibited citizens from peacefully assembling on the
public sidewalks. The rule provided no notice to citizens of what conduct
was unlawful and its enforcement was entirely arbitrary and left to the
unfettered discretion of the officers on the street."
She quoted a 1976 federal judge and a federal case as President.
"The loss of first amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of
time unquestionable constitutes irreparable injury."
They are four days of protest coming up this weekend in Ferguson,
Missouri and thanks to a judge appointed by Bill Clinton 20 years ago and
confirmed by a democratically controlled Senate, protesters will be able to
exercise their constitutional right to not walk.
O`DONNELL: The "New York Times" is making a new push for the
legalization of marijuana. In an editorial published on Sunday the Times
argued that the proposed ballot initiatives to legalize the recreational
use of marijuana in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia quote "Are
all worthy of passage. The sky over Colorado has not fallen and the
prohibition has proved to be a complete failure. It`s time to bring the
marijuana market out into the open and end the injustice of arrest and
convictions that have devastated communities."
Up next, Cecile Richards joins me to talk about that court decision in
Texas today about women`s reproductive rights.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, Texas abortion providers filed an application
with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking to put a hold on a decision by a
Federal Appeals Court. That decision last Thursday allowed Texas to begin
enforcing one of the strictest provisions of the state`s new law, closing
13 more facilities that perform abortions in that state.
Since the restrictive package of laws was passed in July of 2013, half
of the States 41 clinics have closed because of the provisions that
requires medical providers to have admitting rights at a local hospital.
Thursday`s ruling allows the provision of the law that says all abortions
must take place in a facilities that meets the requirements of ambulatory
surgical center. This ruling leaves only eight clinics left in the entire
state. All are in major cities, and none are in west Texas or south of San
On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Chuck Todd asked RNC Chairman Reince
Priebus about that decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: One of the things about
the Republican parties, you don`t like a lot of regulation on businesses,
except if the business is an abortion clinic. Eighty percent of these
abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because
of this new law. Too much regulation? Is that fair?
RIENCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: But I mean -
- you obviously have to talk to someone in Texas, but the fact of the
matter is if we believe that any woman that`s facing an unplanned pregnancy
deserves compassion, respect, counseling. Whatever it is that we can offer
to be --
TODD: But 80 percent of those place are gone. So they have to drive
PRIEBUS: No look -- the issue --
TODD: Two or three 300 miles for that compassion?
PRIEBUS: Listen Chuck -- the issue for us is only one thing and
that`s whether you use taxpayer money to fund abortion. And that`s the one
issue that I think separates this conversation that we`re having.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining now, Cecile Richards, President of Planned
Parenthood Actions Fund.
Cecile, so much to talk about here. But ought of the last thing that
Reince Priebus just said, he says that the only issue for him and for
Republicans is using taxpayer funding to pay for abortions. That is
absolutely not true. They want to make all abortion illegal.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Right. It had
absolutely nothing to do with this matter. In fact, you know, as you
report earlier what they`ve done now in Texas is essentially closed down
almost every abortion provider in the State. Passing the legislation it
has nothing to do with women`s health and really created a public health
We had Planned Parenthood are focused on the safety and care of women.
And we have been flooded with calls, women showing up on the doorstep whose
doctors have been closed down because of this most recent court ruling.
O`DONNELL: And this is the passage of the law gave us what is now the
gubernatorial campaign of Wendy Davis. Let`s take a look at when she was
protesting trying to fill buster this bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. WENDY DAVIS (D-TX), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The true
intention of these bills is to attack a basic human right. This is 2013.
And any woman who lives in Texas has the ability to choose her own legal
and medically safe choices, guaranteed by the Supreme Court of the United
States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The phrase there, medically safe, which is what the law
pretends to be addressing when they say, you know, we need it to be
affiliated with major hospitals, all those kinds of things that they`re
adding. They couldn`t produce in the legislative debate about this all the
horrible medical outcomes that were happening in these facilities that they
were trying to pretend were unsafe.
RICHARDS: Correct. And look, this is a series of laws that have been
passed now in Texas. First Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, they closed down
women health centers that provided family planning services, cancer
screening. Then they shutdown the women`s health program. Now, they`ve
passed these bills that are meaning essentially many providers have closed
You have women living in south Texas and west Texas that live hundreds
of miles from the closest health care provider. It is a crisis in Texas
and its creative because these politicians have put their own political
agenda ahead of the health care of women.
O`DONNELL: West Texas, I mean, it is an area bigger than New England.
It is just, you drive --
O`DONNELL: You drove through west Texas once in my life.
RICHARDS: And never forgot it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean you can`t exaggerate what kind of distance
and burden this placed on people when you say none of these are in west
RICHARDS: Correct. No, and I think this is a cautionary tale. Look,
we`re talking about Texas. But there are folks running for office in many,
every single close Senate race in the country who are proposing very
RICHARDS : Supporting person Cory Gardner in Colorado wants the
personhood, which would make abortion outlawed in the country. Look at
Thom Tillis in North Carolina running against Kay Hagan pass through very
extreme measures in North Carolina as well.
So I think Texas is a cautionary tale for folks about how important
who we elect to office is when it comes to women acts to health care.
O`DONNELL: I go back to the Reince Priebus quotes there where he
seems to trying to suggest that the Republican party that it is not part of
their platform, their presidential party platform to outlaw abortion and to
outlaw it in all cases, rape, incest, that is the standard Republican party
RICHARDS: Absolutely. And it`s so interesting to see, none of them
want to talk about it. I don`t see any of them, you know, proudly running
on their record to end access to birth control, to end access to safe and
legal abortion. In fact, they`re trying to pretend it`s something else.
But we`re seeing in Texas that who we elect matters and it matters to women
and matters to families.
O`DONNELL: They know that the rape and incest position that they
hold, that that, that every woman who is raped and becomes pregnant from it
or every woman who is a victim of incest and becomes pregnant from it.
Every one of those girls, frequently, teenage girls must and should carry
that baby to term. That is something they never want to publicly say,
despite the fact that it is their position.
RICHARDS: Well, it`s pretty clear, I mean being look at Reince
Priebus, they clearly don`t even think about the impact.
RICHARDS: They`re running on this for a political platform. Planned
Parenthood, we`re a health care of provider. You know, we provide health
care to 3,000,000 folks every year. We see women from all walks of life
who need access, not only to faith and legal abortion, but birth control
which Republicans have also fought. It`s time that we actually get back to
take out politics out of women health care issues in this country and you
O`DONNELL: It`s just an extraordinary to see this reversal of
progress in this area. While we`re watching such relatively easy progress
now on marriage equality which seemed so much more controversial, it`s just
Cecile Richards, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
RICHARDS: Good to see you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Chris Hayes is up next.
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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, October 6th, 2014
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL