tv Washington This Week CSPAN January 5, 2015 3:54am-6:01am EST
>> up next, a discussion on some of the possible top economic stories of 2015. after that, a conversation with elena kagan. and then q&a. the president of la raza. >> the 114th congress gavels in on tuesday. tracking the gop led congress and have your say as events unfold on the c-span networks, c-span radio and www.c-span.org .
new congress, best access. >> a look of some the top economic stories of 2015. from washington journal, this is 40 minutes. >> "washington journal" continues. host: roben farzad is a talkshow host. where can people hear you on the radio? guest: on some cloud, on twitter radio, and wrir. host: we want to talk about gas prices __ now down. the stock market continues to reach more highs. what can we expect in 2015? guest: who would've thought when we are so low in 2008 2009, people said oil will never fall below $100 per
barrel. people thought the united states would never look comparatively well vis_à_vis other markets. here we are, the most desired stock market. host: what does this mean long_term? especially as far as gas prices, many expected to stay low. guest: no one really expected this gusher of shell oil to come out of the midwest. north dakota is bigger than the smallest member of opec __ ecuador. who would have thought. host: what does this mean for the keystone debate?
guest: if you're flooding the plane with all these cheap fuels __ you do not need this artery heading up to canada. if we have it here in the united states, it will open up an argument thaat we have so much natural gas as a byproduct of drilling for oil __ that we should build an infrastructure to export. it is about further weakening opec, and make yourself indispensable. host: how do you gauge consumer confidence? guest: consumer confidence numbers are substantially higher. it is like an immediate tax rebate when you go to the pump.
that gives you as much as $25 they can spend each week __ back into retail, entertainment. the idea is that will be course back to people being employed feeling more comfortable in their jobs. the employment number is of utmost importance. host: the other number the dow. an indirect impact for those who have 401(k)s or pension plans that are tied to the market. guest: that is right. no shortage of people opened up their statements for the first time in years to start the year. it's funny, you have to think, what is my login?
we saw many people liquidate their accounts, had held on, now we see the market at a record again. host: where does that put the economy? guest: you would think it would strangle the economy more. traditionally, if that is so crippling, it would crowd out other forms of investment. what is really change the time __ the federal reserve flooding the plane with 0% interest rates in 2008, and monetary policy. everybody is benefited. companies have been able to borrow for pennies on the dollar.
this idea that americans could refinance their mortgage if they were eligible. host: the final news conference of 2014, giving some indication on where interest rates could be heading __ [video clip] >> employment is rising at healthy rates. the u. s. economy is strengthening. of course, inflation has been running below our goal of 2%. we project that gap to close gradually over time. as progress in achieving maximum employment continues, at some point it will become appropriate to begin increasing
policy accommodations. host: policy accommodations likely going up by the end of the year. guest: i love that fed speech __ you move markets so much. i do not envy her task. you have the economy that has been encrypted to 0% interest rates. take money from people close to nothing. the question is __ what is our memory to bond hits. to certain extent, we had a bit of it in 2007. many people do not remember 1994 when alan greenspan had to slam the brakes. we've never seen this magnitude
of monetary stimulus. imagine taking away $4 trillion in terms of interest rates. it is not an easy thing to do. host: the possibility of a market correction. guest: we have not had a market correction in a long time. certainly, many people are trying to repress the memory of 2008 and 2009. in two dozen 14, then it it did not even hit the 10% threshold. i think it speaks to how short_term our memories are.
into the stock market recovery, many people were traumatized by 2008 and 2009. now, it seems like many people do not remember that markets can correct. the question is does the bubble burst when they just rates go up. the question is __ is another black swan moment out there. nobody last year predicted oil prices getting cut in half to. we do not know. there are known unknowns, unknown unknowns __
host: i think we understand your point. a tweet from one of our viewers __ but we know in a period of stagnation? guest: there's no evidence of inflation. you have seen it in certain years as far as food prices. spiral inflation, what we saw in the early 70's, it has not been there. something a broken record __ people do not have wage power vis_à_vis their employers. there's so much slack in the labor force.
caller: it seems to me that if we opened a window of tax amnesty to bring offshore money back into this country we could offset it by taking away a lot of corporate giveaways and welfare. on top of that __ it would be manufacturing back into the country. we cannot compete with wages across the ocean.
american makes the best profits __ tthat is why the other countries by our cars. that is why they seek out our products. we make it with the best material. we make it the right way. i cannot tell you how many times i bought something from china or another country that is made out of an incredibly bad material that falls apart within years.
yellen is manufactures wares chiefly in china. wall street enabled it through massive debt deals to bring off-shore cash home in a synthetic way. what apple did was plow that into stock buybacks. could you possibly structure the tax code to see say we will give a tax holiday in the united states if you promise to reinvest that money in human capital. i just don't see that happening. >> this is from another james, james ard in a twitter question the baby boomers will start demanding the government give them higher interest rates on their savings. who knows where that will lead? guest: you should be able to walk out of a bank indignant right now. are you kidding me in? these guys put up a poster saying there is a jumbo super safer cd for .2%? >> less than rate of inflation. if people take pitch forks and
be ticked off about interest rates, there is lots of time to do that. there is this overwhelming desire tofor return of capital on return of capital until you see where people feel like they can safely and prudently earn a higher rate elsewhere, there will be this push for the u.s. government to push up interest rates. moreover, what looks bad is the readout of safety the world over. when there is instability in japan, europe international invest orders park trillions in u.s. bonds. >> brings daughterown our yields. host: we welcome viewers and listeners on the parliament channel. matthew is joining us from the u.k. good morning. caller: good morning to you sir. back on the charges for 2015 here in the u.k.
the point i would like to put forward is i think that, you know, a lot of people especially in what i call the pa.p petro dollar countries, they have seen year on year, the rich getting significantly richer. i know the word you hate in america is "austerity." but they are under austerity measures as well as the u.k. and much of europe. we don't seem to see any policies, not just in the u.s. but, also, in our own countries where we would see a balancing act or at least a rebalancing between the rich and the poor. for example, there are massive increases in the u.k. of banks and people having to go hand -- hat in hand to charities and other organizations. >> that's hamming in the united states. i know that, you know the media
on both sides of the atlantic we see movies like downtown abbey and you showing the white picket fence and the successful american family and doing good. at a time is for millions for tennessee of millions of people in the western world. i would say hundreds of millions of people. the money is not there. people's debt is increasing. and i am just wondering whether or not it's about time that we actually see policies from leadership in the western hemisphere to actually deal with what seems to be this crushing debt that people are facing because, you know, it's not, you know if the rich just keep on getting richer, something is going to break. and, you know, there is already talk in europe about people simply refusing to go to work national days where people just refuse to pay for transportation
and things of that to really put the squeeze on government and international institutions. i am just wondering what the american "viewpoint" on that would be, please. host: matthew from berry, eke land, thank you for the call. go ahead. guest: there is no monoli. hic viewpoint in the united states over the last six years. it has been the federal reserve, record monetary stimulus and the expansion of the balance sheets. there is lots of evidence that is disproportionately helped people who own financial assets. >> if you were able to afford to ride out the stockmarket, the junk bond market able to buy property the fees would swell vis-a-vis labor costs which have not gone up significantly. >> that's just the nature of the beast. the federal reserve has certain blunt instruments and floods the map with capitalists, force people out of the safety of safe
assets and cash. and that on the margin does not help the employment outlook as much as they thought. you see janet yellen talking about the measure and if it were to hit 6% or 5% or closer to a natural rate, i think a lot of people would argue it's significantly worse than that. you have a record number of veteran employees who have dropped out of the labor force. they are not exactly saying but i lost my job but the dow broke 18,000 so my 401(k) will be okay. i am not getting income but capital appreciation. you are not seeing that. you are seeing more evidence of income inequality and the have did having more and the have-nots having less than we have seen in thesince the 1920s. there has not been a populist backlash with this. there is still this sense of learned helplessness across the country. people who have jobs want to hang on to the jobs.
host: the issue of under employed, left the marketplace, but let me share this one tweet from a viewer who sends this comment a lot and it's recommend vant to what we are talking about today with $18 trillion in fed debt. servicing that debt paying interest rate at below 1% interest eating up 6% of the budget he says. guest: 6% of the budget but imagine if rates were higher, the prevailing interest rate of the 1980s or 70s. there is no way we could afford that debt load. we are subsidized by foreign invest orders, chinese, european institutions that don't trust their institutions. if rates are lower here, the fact that the european central bank has effectively neutralized all of these rich countries that brought rates closer to zero forces more people in the united states treasuries and that is a connundrum for us. a lot of people think it's a great problem to have if you are going to be, you know the easiest borrower on the block,
you might as well borrow up to the hilt and build a high-speed train, have a second tennessee valley authority. i think the window for significant fiscal stimulus has since past. there isn't much unani. y between the congress and the final obama two years in. so again, i just don't see the ground groundswell saying guys, figure it out. we had a debt ceiling crisis and a debt debacle that forced interest rates lower. when people freak out, when they panic, suddenly, the united states is unique. or borrowing costs start to fall host: he has written for the boston times "wall street journal," bloomberg businessweek and now heard on fulldisclosureradioed.com as we look ahead at a time economy. pauline from knoxville, republican line. good morning. caller: good morning, c-span.
happy new year. i called in because of the economy situation but mostly because of scal partners and i was reading in national geographic january 2014 issue on this program and it focuses on dubai. i would like to read something because i am nervous about talking on the phone with you but it's better opportunity is as hold as human history. today, it's likely more people are living outside their countries of birth than ever before. at every hour of every day, matses of people and money are in motion. a global flux is shipping and nations with fewer resources off loading their working poor and relying on the money that comes back in their place remittance is what economists call these
family transfers. by electronic banking services or hand delivered by cure years. host: do you want to respond? guest: that's an important part of the economy right now. it seems like people countries who do have goodress "united states you see service industries especially like you look at the cruise ship industry, the nursing industry in the united states." i think this is understated. how much is dependent on filipino expat tree yacht labor and people who come here from man ill a sebu and send dollars back to the philippines workers who end up in dubai, you know, there is al flip side to that though, and that countries that are seeing a brain drain. those in venzuela and argentina who are really worried about their money being ex
propoperated by the government or moving it to miami and storing it in real estate. you see people in russia worried about the situation. there has been a huge brain drain out of iran. when you have intelligent people who used to be able to earn a living wage seeing 30 or 40% inflation, they are doctors in the daytime and have to moonlight as taxicab drivers, there is this push to get out, i think, into a marketplace where there is their skill set is valued more. >> that's an argument that you are seeing a lot of tech companies, the back tos of the world, goolingz of the world seeing we need better immigration policy that allows motivated, high-tech workers to come in from india pakistan russia on special visas. a lot of that has been gummed up by national security concerns. good luck on capitol hill . host: hot speaking of tourism as we try to normalize things with cuba, what impact would that have on the cruise lines if they look at cuba as an easy
jumping-off .90 miles off of the coast of south florida for tourism? guest: uest: there is a great book about how the mafia won and lost cuba. pretty much cuba in the 1950s was just this playground of this hemisphere casinos, drinking gambling, all manner of hedonism. that's kind of bet shut off since castro came to power. all of these multi-nationals have been raring to go back. governors and senators in the midwest saying we need to get our grain to cuba. cuba needs our rice desperately. there is a lot of fruit. virg exports apples for cuba. there is this demand out there for it. tourism is going to be a huge jump-fall up for grabs if you can imagine. going to miami, fort lauder daily, there are shingles airlines are hanging for havana that looks surreal. there isn't that infrastructure there. you are going to see hotel
companies, marriott the hiltons, the, you know, the middle eastern and international leisure companies jump on that opportunity. there are hotels that have not been significantly retrofitted on the waterfront in heavy anna now for 60 years. so that's an enormous opportunity. i think in a broader sense, it could suggest this enticement that any part. administration of the united states can dangle until front of a rogue nation. if you play ball if you come back to the league of nations these are some of the fruits that, you know we can unleash on your economy. host: some speculating whether iran may be next. carolyn in san antonio, texas. good morning. caller: good morning, and happy new year to you gentlemen. i have one comment: usually, about two weeks before the end the year, my husband and i go through our finances. and we came to the unusual conclusion that a little over 50% of our fixed income is being spent on taxes.
>> that's a lot. i was wondering if your guest could comment on the tax rates, both corporate and individual and i will hang up to listen for the answer. thank you. host: could i add to that also, the debate over tax reform this year but first to carol's point. guest: you could argue it's the fact that rates are down and companies and governments can borrow for so little that you are getting a little in the way of income. there is there isn't much evidence i think these tax rates are accelerated over, you know rolling 10, 20, 30 year history. there is a lot of evidence rates have not been held this low for this long for a long time. and people get sticker shock when they open up their statements and say is that all we are getting when in the back of your mind, you are used to a 4 or 5%. yield. before the crisis, i think the fed funds rate the main interest rate was at 4 and a quarter %. it's been at year zero since december of 2008. >> affects everything. there are companies out there that can borrow for 30 years and
pay you 21/2 %. i saw a sign for a chase bank cd, you know 10 years will give you 2%. you don't know what's going to happen over 10 years. so, i think that this actually this illustrates how the situation is in fixed-income land. if the short-term rates are liked, are people ready for the possibility they can lose money in bonds. forget the fact that you are not making much on it. have you ever seen the par value of this debt fall into the low 90s or something like that? a lot of people out there don't remember a time when they lost money in bonds. there has been a 30-plus year bull market in bonds since paul voelker was ratcheting up interest rates in the early '80s. there has been this great moderation of interest rates. there was a shock back in 1994, a brief hiccup in 2013 with the taper tantrum in ben bernadette's final days. but we have not generationally
felt a true bond market blow-upbernaki's final days. but we have not generationally felt a true bond market blow-up. >> one of the issues we expect to hear from the president in his state of union address slated for january 20th, live coverage on the c-span networks. tax reform and streamlining the u.s. tax code. is that an area you think both parties can come together? guest: i am not opt mistic. i don't know whether there is leverage. i don't know whether the white house has leverage with congress. congress feels en boldened. could you reduced the earned income tax related, lower the capital gains rate? could we offer again, preferred taxation on dividends? what is the white house going to get in return? we have seen everything in this economic calamity cash for clunkers, various tax rebates. we have done everything but kind of print out gift cards to
appleby's to people. it has to be something creative to move the economic needle in this country. host: steve on the phone, republican line good morning. caller: yes. the first $100 billion stimulus project, of that 100 billion, 90 billion went to contributors of barack obama or actually lost 10 billion. we don't know where it went to. and what is in effect we have destroyed the value of the united states dollar by about 60%. i mean we can't really note inflation because it's just an assertion of the dollar and intrinsically affects the poor people. the rich people of course with making out like bandits. the government is doing, if you follow their dog whistle slogan is: do what is in the government's best interest. guest: you know the weak dollar is an argument of the
obama administration fiscal policies. but that's something that the bush 43 administration as well. if anything, the dollar had a huge year last year against international currency. gold had a bad year. come commodityies at as stored value they had bad years. they are in bear markets. so king dollar is far from dead yet. it is still looked at as the foremost currency reserve and redoubt of safety. this illustrates there is so much beyond the power of obama and his pen in the white house in fiscal policy. you have janet yellen the european central bank, which is moving orders of magnitudes huge trillions of dollars of euros of currency flows coming here. we have china. we have weak e merging market economies like russia and brazil. the united states treasury and the dollar remains an indispensable conduit of
currency. >> is linked to what we feel here at home. host: you mentioned markets, indonesia, philippines, the president travel to go india. are you follow that closely? guest: yes. this is a great, you know emerging story. pardon the expression but, you know emerging markets had a pretty bad year last year when you consider them writ large, russia and brazil china's economy is decelerating. certainly, venzuela is on the hook. argentina is in trouble. greece has issues. but there are these secondary and tertiary things called frontier economies such as the philippines, such as indonesia, which are really kind of coming in to their own. in many cases, they were fiscal and monetary basket cases a decade ago. now, they have demography on their side. they have the united states low interest rate policy on their side. when you are keep rates this low for so long, every country seems to get the benefit of the doubt and capital poors to places like
indonesia. you have heard of the brick construction, bralz i will, russia, india china as being the pillars of emerging market powers. there is a lot of argument now that it should be diic brazil indonesia, china. indonesia taking russia's place. russia is getting no shortage of criticism with policies in the ukraine and crimea. the cloud is falling as oil prices fall. there is going to be inevitably a shake-out. nobody dare put these four countries together when goldman sach's coined it in 2001, 2002. 2010 may call for a different organization of countries. i said it a thousand times who would have thought colombia would have been the economic envy of south america. things change r578d host: we will talk about india in the coming days. a few more minutes with our guest, robert farzad with
bloomberg businessweek. doug from talorsville, kentucky. thank you for waiting. caller: good morning. happy new year to you guys. my question, mr. farzad now that we have the republicans in control and they slipped in on the new budget the, they stripped out the derivatives part and everything and mitch mcconnell even commented that when they do get on the first of the year that they are going to strip dodd-frank completely and everything. does people not remember back in 1998 when they did away with what they did that just gave the banks a freehand? and i am looking for an explosion again of our economy if they get a republican president that goes right along with them and explode our
economy again which is going good. and these policies that the president and our country has come back from falling off a cliff bointo agression and here we are today. would you please comment on that issue with the dodd-frank? host: thank you. guest: i find the pendulum swings between over regulation and under regulation in this country. and excesses then lead to a recursion of over regulation. there is a perception out there now with tarp and the bail-outs nominally repaid. general motor having paid, i think, all of its debt back to the government that corporate america is no longer morally beholden to washington anymore. it's not like obama's first 100 days where he could wag his finger correctly at the ceo did of wall street and say you messed this up. it's time for you to be con try to. wall street got its groove back.
people don't need to feel -- the sources i have on the street feel like they won, they have healed themselves. they are out there. they are too systematically important to be cow. owes and ex coriated like that anymore. there is going to be a push to bring, you know, to water down some of the regulations that you saw in the immediate wake of the financial crisis. and again none of these blow ups ever substantially resemble the previous blow-up. what did the united states learn from the savings and loan crisis that could have been applied directly, you know, in lockstep to the great financial crisis of 2008? i am not sure that there was that much. we are always kind of looking back at the last crisis. then there is something else for a momenting out of left field completely that will blindside us no one said the next blow-up was going to come out of the united states. we were looking at china, vietnam. i mean could you
imagine that all of this stuff was tied to kind of come placency with the real estate market in the united states? we always thought real estate would be real estate. there was so much more attached to real estate. the question is: does it become russia that has another blow-up like it did in 1998, when oil prices crumbled? is venzuela capable of bringing the entire system down? if there is indeed oceans of hydro car bons under the united states, is it something that could destabilize certain emerging markets, that major french or swift banks have loaned to? we do not know where those bodies are buried. host: peter in valley cottage new york, republican life. caller: good morning, steve. haven't spoken to you in a while. host: good to hear from you. caller: this is the thing that concerns me. i never hear anybody talking about the agenda behind the oil situation. saudi arabia and the 130 pay
check country-- opec current trees. here in the united states, we are obsessed with this free market situation with oil. but as far as our competitors are concerned, they do what's in the best interest of their country and themselves even though the saudis are pumping more oil because they don't want to lose market share. i think their main intention is to knock out the independent oil drillers with shale oil but, also, i believe there is an agenda here in the united states. our politicians want to raise gasoline taxes and also they want to eliminate the ban on exporting crude oil in this country. so, the low oil prices, i believe there is some co lucien. there is no evidence to prove that. i am merely speculating on this. i believe they want to eliminate the limits on oil the xl pipeline will help to eliminate the glut in north dakota and colorado and will eventually
raise the oil prices up. i believe the politicians are using this as their agenda to raise taxes and gasoline because these oil prices not going to last that long. i believe there is an agenda involved. i wish you would address that. host: thank you for the call. we will look at where crude is and has been going over the last several months. it's been on a downward spiral now well below $55 a barely. guest: it's amazing. i think it speaks to the strength of the supply side in this case. saudi arabia's motivation is not just to recap the players in the united states oil cap but it wants to weaken iran. if you look at the dialogue within opec and energy ministers pleading with each other for austerity and saudi arabia a looking back saying we are comfortable where the price is now, comfortable with market share and everything getting cut and a half in the meantime. it's pretty amazing.
there are current trees. i mean the thing is it cost saudi arabia maybe a couple of dollars a barrel to actually extract this oil from the earth. it costs these other economies, i think, a break-even price to their budget along the order of $8,090,100,100 plus a barrel of oil and they can't balance their books unless oil prices are that high sustainabley. this is a problem the world over when you are convinced and you have your advisors out there telling you that we are not going to see the end of triple digit oil against and that was plausible if you think back to 2008 when oil hit $140 a barrel and there were all of these cries of drill drill, drill in the united states. oil is suddenly $55 a barrel and is that a flash in the pan, or is this telegraphing that oil prices can fall even further? there isn't any precedent for all of the stuff that we are extracting in the united states and to what extent we can use it to break opec's back. there is a great argument
however, and i have seen it actually argued on both sides of the aisle that this is an opportune time to kick in a gas tax where at least you would, as the united states and the taxpayer taxpayer, you would capture a big part of the windfall when and if gas prices go up again. it's not just a net loss going to the opec members. but there is no desire right now to do that in washington. i mean people are riding this because you are seeing it all over facebook and twitter. people are pumping for a dollar 80 a gallon in some parts. and it's something that you are very reluctant to take that bone away from people if you are a lawmaker host: robin farzad heard on the radio, again, a reminder to our listeners and viewers where they can hear you. host: guest: sound cloud and go to wuir public radio, every wednesday from 4:00 to
time to offer a bill. what will the chairman do in response to that? will that force him to move more quickly or put i am in a position where he will have to do some trading and nellingshations? that's not clear yet. we'll be watching early in the year. >> i'm expecting the f.c.c. will come out with some final rules. president obama came out in support of reclassifying broad band service under title 2 of the communications act which would treat it like a utility. of course the groups are fiercely opposed to this. so a lot of pressure on chairman wheeler to go that route. we'll see what happens there. and then the rules once are oncht book the fight isn't over. there will be lawsuits from industry groups like verizon and comcast especially if chairman wheeler does what the
president wants. >> we're talking about neutrality, a big multiyear effort which republicans in congress have undertaken. they kind of have that working as well. the republicans in the house said they want to get pen to paper starting in january. that's a tool for the congressional republicans to use to kind of push back on any net neutrality rules they think are an overreach. >> coming up, a conversation with supreme court justice elena kagen. then q&a. live at 7:00 a.m. your calls and comments on "washington journal." [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
>> i want to thank all the university staff who have been involved with this. princeton class of 1981 has had a distinguished career of proffesor of law at the university of chicago and harvard and as council and domestic policy advisor to president clinton and solicitor germ of the united states under
president obama. she has served as dean of harvard law school from 2003 to 2009 where she was a bridge builder in that institution. during her four years on the supreme court, she has emerged as the court's more liberal wing and continued her efforts as a consensus builder and her hunting trips with justice scalia. they shoot skeet and other things â [laughter] >> as former vice president cheney been involved in any of these?
if he is, stay behind him. [laughter] >> it has been said that the role of the supreme court of the united states is to speak on behalf of justice for the american people. constitutional self-government written by a princeton vice president. he is an authority on constitutionalism and the supreme court. constitution and the court and justice in america than the two people to my right, princeton president and associate justice of the united states supreme court elena kagan. [cheers and applause]
>> good to be here. >> let me start off by thanking you to have you here. by the extraordinary audience to welcome you back. thank you for making time. >> i was thinking the last time i was back and it was my 25th reunion and i spent a little part of the afternoon walking around princeton and seeing all the new things on campus and it looks fantastic. >> woodrow wilson came back when he was in the white house. and might give them butterflies. any time we get you back. steve wanted to hear us talk about the court and the constitution. i want to give an opportunity these rumors about these hunting trips with justice
as a kind of -- there are rules about what you can ask at these kind of sit-downs and what i could say and they couldn't ask me direct questions about what i thought about particular issues. the proxies were along the lines of, do you hunt? and i went through the views. and it was -- and my answers were pathetic. no. do you know anybody who hunts? not really. i was sitting with one of the
senators from a senator from idaho and he was telling me how important it was to many of his constituents and i totally understand why and why many senators would want to know these kinds of things. and it was late in the day, my 93rd interview and i say said, if you would like me to hunt, i would be glad to come. and this look of abject horror passed over his face. i said, senator, i didn't mean to invite myself to your ranch but i will tell you that if i'm lucky enough to be confirmed, i will ask justice scalia to take me hunting. i group up in new york and i understand why this matters to you and i would commit to do that for you. and when i got to the court, i went over to justice scalia's chambers this story and he thought it was hilarious and i said this is the single promise i made in 82 office interviews. he said i will have to let you fulfill that promise.
and he started with skeet shooting and we went and did the real thing and couple of times a year, we go out and shoot quail and pheasant and once went out to wyoming where i shot a deer. >> you enjoy it? >> i do like it. i'm a little bit of a competitive person, you know. [laughter] >> you put a gun in my hand and you said the gun is an object, let's do it. >> long before you were a supreme court justice or a hunter, you were a student on this campus. how do you remember princeton? >> i love princeton. all of you folks who go to princeton are incredibly lucky. i suspect it's better. but i was a history major.
i had fantastic professors. how many of the faculty were so generous with their time whether in out of office conversations. i saw think these is adviser, a little bit before this and i'm a little bith nervous he is in the audience, i think he is going to take out his red opinion pen. >> don't worry about it. we repealed the grading policy. >> he edited my thesis four times over and i learned it here.
i have friends who will be my friends until the day i die. i did activities that were important to me. i spent time fee "daily princetonian.â and i feel warmly about it. and what it did for me. >> did you occur that you wanted to be a supreme court justice? >> i never had that thought. i did an event earlier with some students and a woman asked me, did you know you wanted to be a lawyer and i had to admit to her that i didn't. the law did seem all that interesting or exciting to me. my dad was a lawyer and i look at what he did and i understand why it was deeply meaningful to him. he was not a courtroom lawyer. as a kid, i didn't get what was interesting or exciting about it. and i went to law school for the wrong reasons.
and the kind of -- i don't know what else to do and i want to keep my options open reasons. and i got there and loved it. and i was glad i made that decision. life takes you on different paths. honestly, i had come back -- my 25th reunion, eight years ago, if you said what are you going to be doing with the rest of your life, i said i was going to be cries iseberger and thought i was going to be a university president. fluky way life works. and takes twists and turns and don't know where you are going to end up. >> are you enjoying it? >> it's a good gig.
as much as i say all of that if you had said to me in law school, you have a chance to be a supreme court justice, i would have said yes. >> you did clerk for two extraordinary judges. can you say a bit about how those experiences shaped you? >> the person i am and the lawyer i have been, not just like in the last five years, i started thinking about those two men. they have had a long-lasting impact on my life. the judge, next week is getting the national medal of freedom, and that will be just wonderful. had this really interesting
career. he ended up serving in all three branches of our government. he was a congressman from illinois for a lot of years before he became a judge and left the bench and went into the clinton white house and how i got into the clinton white house and he said come work for me again and a lot of my life has been shaped by that experience. but he knew all kinds of things about how law worked and government worked. and he was also the world's most decent human being and i learned about that, too. justice marshall. there your 27 years old and kind of experience, generally, as you know, you clerked on the supreme court, too. you are young and there you are in this institution where all
the cases are being decided and kind of a trip, but then in addition to that, there you are in thurgood marshall's office, the person i think was the greatest 20th century lawyer and he was a story teller. and he was nearing the end of his life. he turned 80, the year i clerked for him. and kind of old 80. he was looking back on his life and however much a story teller he had been, he became more so and more so and we walked into his chambers and talked about the cases and do all our work and at a certain point, he talked about stories about the extraordinary career lawyering at the trial level, a.m. at level, constitutional cases,
being this the forefront of everything that was most important in the second half or actually in a significant period of time, eradicating jim crow. and he was funny. but he also told the stories to have a point and we got that. and if you wanted to spend a year at a relatively young age talking to somebody who could tell you something about justice, that was the man to do it with. i will be very grateful for that experience. >> let me fast forward from your time as a law clerk to arrival at the supreme court as a new justice. were you welcomed, were you hazed or looking at things that were new or familiar? >> little bit of both.
>> did they hayes you? >> ok. i tell you how they hazed me. this is true. they said, very particular rule for the junior justice, junior justice is the junior justice and they refer to the junior justice as the junior justice. you have specific jobs. they put you on the cafeteria committee. it's not a very good cafeteria. they haze you all the time actually. the food isn't very good. >> ok. that counts. >> when we go into conference, it's just the nine of us, we don't bring in any clerks, any assistants. only the nine of us. so somebody has to do two things, the first is that
somebody has to take notes so you can go out and tell people what just happened. and i take notes. that is the junior justice's job. and you have to answer the door when there is a knock on the door. literally, if there is a knock on the door than i don't hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move. they will stare at me and i figure out oh, somebody knocked on the door. these two jobs, the note taking and the door opening, you can see how they can get in the way of each other. >> even one sounds like a lot. >> and some of my colleagues you say what doll people knock on the door for? knock. knock. i'm not going to name names. knock, no, ma'am, someone
forgot their gases. knock. knock. justices forget their coffee. all that said, all that said the warmth with which i was greeted by all my colleagues was striking to me and here's the first indication of that. my confirmation vote happened in the middle of the afternoon here in the united states in july. and i say in the united states the chief justice was in australia was at the time. it was 3:00 in the morning there. and literally, the moment that that vote occurred and i watched it in the solicitor
germ's office with all my colleagues and one of the assistants came into the room and said the chief justice is on the line for you. it was like, and he said, i want you to be the first to welcome you on board and congratulate you and he said you know, i guess we are going to spending the next 25 years together. [laughter] >> which is a little bit scary, really. but i said, really, only 25? really? but he and everybody else has been warm and welcoming from the start and in ap way that is to a great credit of the institution and it is a great institution. what did it seem like when i got back, how lit will it changed. i clerked there about 25 years earlier.
but it was still like remarkably the same institution, using the same procedures, almost a little bit laughbly. in those 25 years, it has been a communication revolution, but seemed to have passed the supreme coordinate by a little bit. but in great ways, that the institution operates ellie efficiently and collegiately. the first day on the job. the chief justice took me all around to the different offices in the court, the clerk's office, the library, the publications office and every single place i went into somebody said, i remember you from when you were a clerk. it is a great place to work. little bit nervous about that, too.
what was i like that back then. so it didn't seem surprising in the way it operated and just warm and welcoming. >> let me ask you about how it is that you interact with the justices, your colleagues outside of conference when you are not having to take notes and open the door and the communications revolution. when you have a legal issue or a concern about a particular spin that has been circulated, how do you talk to your fellow justice eggs, are you walking down the hall and shooting emails or different from that? >> often you write, and that is write rather than talk. especially if you are commenting on or criticizing a
written piece of work or an opinion, you know, it often takes a writing to explain what you mean and why you think something needs to be fixed. and the precision that you can get through a written memo is actually a good deal higher than if you just walked in and put your feet in and say here is what i'm thinking about your opinion. once an opinion has come in, is in writing. people will say, i really hope to join you, but there is this aspect of the opinion that i don't quite agree with and here's a way that would make me feel comfortable. and literally, we send these memos -- somebody from the
chamber whose job is to walk them around the building. >> they are being walked around the building. >> yes, email has not yet hit the united states supreme court. >> i find that astonishing >> i find that astonishing, they have a set of lawyers interacting with colleagues. >> it is an attachment to tradition, it encourages -- there has been a lot of emails that i have sent and i don't know about you that i just pushed the send button.
>> i try not to do that. >> do you do a memo and write it and look it at again when someone brings it into you to sign and worst case scenario you have the opportunity to say no way, stop. so, that's part of the way we communicate. but, different ones of us talk more or less. i'm a schmoozer. i do. i wander around and talk to people. sometimes it's about opinions and sometimes it's just about life. but, you know, i'll go into you said steve breyer, we are on one end of the court and the carpet might be getting worn between our two offices. we go back and forth and talk br things that strike us in cases. >> that's reassuring in a way. i want to turn now to ask you some questions about how you decide cases.
before doing that and in 30 minutes or so, we will have time to have people from the audience to ask questions, but begin by asking you, what sorts of topics you think are fair game in scenarios like this. david suter was unwilling, where blackmon was telling tales. what is your boundary? >> we speak best when we speak through our opinions. so it tends not to i'm not going to talk about any pending cases or any case that might come before me as i look down the road. but i tend to think that we put our opinions out there, the
whole idea of the way we operate, we give reasons the way we make a decision and those reasons are the best statement we could come up what of why we have done a certain thing and unlikely to be improved upon as you do the lecture circuit. doesn't mean i don't talk about some past opinions that i have been a part of. but i tend to like a bit more talk about the institution and how it operates as opposed to opinions. >> are you interpreting a statute? might have one set of things to say how one should interpret statutes, are you interpreting
the constitution and like to hear about the equal protection clause and due process clause. when you get these grand abstract clauses, how do you approach those? >> this is hard. when i think about a statute the first thing and the absolute most important thing is to look at the text of that statute, trumps everything that the text is clear. when you go to the constitution and think about those kinds of clauses and those kinds of clauses speak in abstract even vague terms, not all the constitution does this. if the constitution says you can't be president unless you are 35, you know what that means. but when the constitution says you are entitled to due process of law and equal protection of law, trying to give that content meaning, it can't be done by just staring at the words. how do you it?
one possibility is you try to figure out what the drafters thought that it meant and what it would have meant living in that time and for the constitution it is 1789 and you come up with a list of practices, here's what they thought that this prohibited and here's what they thought did not prohibit. i think that's not a good way of going about the enterprise. and one way you know that, it leads to results that are simply untenable. what do the framers think that equal protection meant or not meant to desegregate schools or we know those things. and any things that get you to results that get untenable can't
be a good method. but one of the reasons why some people are attracted to that and this is really important, is that did they think it provides a way of discipline for judges. they say i think this and it's my personal values and personal preferences. there have to be ways of confining the inquiry and it's not going to be that, it will be something else. what are those things? you start with the original meaning. there is in some sense we are all organizationalists. it is important to what the history over time has been. it's not the history over a particular moment but the history of our republic in a certain sense.
we had not these clauses but an interesting case involving the president's recess appointment power. and justice breyer's opinion was how much does it look at the broad sweep, and how this clause has worked in our country for two-plus centuries. that's important. and i, myself, am a big precedent person. some people call it a common-law constitutionist. but i think hard about the way the law of interpreting the due process clause or equal protection clause has developed over time in case after case after case after case and try to think about the principles that have emerged in all of those cases. and that is not departing from
precedent where it's set, but partly trying to understand what has underlay all of that precedent and how the principles that have emerged over many, many decades thinking about these provisions, apply in a particular case. >> another phrase that gets thrown around when people talk about judicial philosophy and that is judicial restraint. do you consider yourself an advocate for judicial restraint and what does that concept mean to you? >> yes, sometimes, but no, other times. this is one of the hardest things about being a judge, you have to know what judges should not be getting into. you have to say, i have my job and it's not this, it's not a legislative job, not an executive job and to let those
institutions do what they are supposed to do and what they do a whole lot better, you have to let them operate in their spheres, where they have confidence and legitimacy. a very significant part of any judge's role, especially at the highest court, is to decide when a particular act, a legislative act or executive act goes too far, goes beyond the boundaries where the law has been set where in the law or the constitution and you can't abdicate that rule. it is an important part of why you are up there. when a legislature dose something that violates the best understanding, as it's emerged over many decades of say, the equal protection clause, you
have to say, sorry, you went too far, and that's part of my job and that will involve invalidating a piece of legislation. but it's appropriate for me to do so. >> let me ask you a more specific question about how it is you that consider that justices can consider the relationship between the court and the political branches. suggestions have been made that supreme court justices ought to think about the political reaction or the backlash that a particular decision might generate and arguments that justice ginsburg published, the supreme court moved too fast when it decided roe versus wade or the court's use of the all deliberate speed formula in brown versus education. there was an article published by david cole urging the court
in gay marriage cases not to move too fast. is that something that justice may think about and should in these cases? >> i don't want to talk about it in any particular issue, but i will say this. it's super rare that the justice do or that they should. you have to apply the law as best you can. and probably in most cases these issues don't come up at all or if they come up, it's not worth thinking about. if you said to me, is it ever worth thinking about some of these things, i don't think i would say no to that. it seems to me at least some part of being a judge -- you say what makes a great judge, there
is something about sort of wisdom and wisdom might say something about the kinds of issues that you are talking about. but i don't want to -- i think for the most part, when we think about the sort of questions you are talking about, aren't fettered any way, and you have to have a lot of humility about your ability to know about any of these kinds of predictions, this is the way it will turn out, that's the way it will turn out. and you know, we have one job to do, which is to apply the law as best we can. that job is really hard. there is going to be differences of what it means in a given case. but it's differences in the
realm of legal interpretation. and i think -- i think we should be wary of going beyond that. >> a lot of people today when they look at the court, see a court that seems more polarized among liberal-conservative fault lines than in the times we clerked, do you agree with that judgment about the court and if so, should we be concerned about it? >> so, i think people overstate it. and one think to think about this, how much we agree on, we actually agree an incredible amount of the time. hard to get nine people to get agree on anything. last year, all nine of us agreed 60% of the time, which is quite something, because we only decide the hardest cases. almost all of our cases are ones that have produced splits in the lower courts and notwithstanding
that, all nine of us unanimously decided on the right answer. and add to that, you have a lot of a-1's and 7-2's. but not divided along the stereotypical lines. but all of that said, it is absolutely true that in some number of cases every year and we do about 80 cases a year and let's call it about 10 cases and often these are the 10 cases that are the most profile and no getting around that, that we are going to split on pretty predictable lines. four of us who think one thing and tour of us who think the other thing and we wait and see
what justice kennedy does. [laughter] >> it's unfortunate now. there has been that kind of split for a long time that people have not been able to say has anything to do with republicans and democrats, bus folks like your boss, the person you clerked for, justice stephens was appointed by a republican president. now people can talk about it as though it has something to do with democrats and republicans. i don't think there is a single one of us that experiences law in that way and experiences what we are doing. it doesn't have to deal with politics in the way you would find across the street and in congress. but it has to do with the kind
of issues we were talking about more, judicial med the thod dolly and how you read some of these very abstract provisions in the constitution. and there is no getting around the fact that we are split in that way in some of those cases. they tend for that reason not to be the cases that i most enjoy. but i love it when he were -- when we are really all in there trying to persuade each other and you know that persuasion is possible, and that you know that that kind of stereotypical split is not going to happen. that's like the most fun part of the job. >> a lot of people would think the marquee cases are the most fun part of the job. >> my first conference, and
walked in and there were two cases on the agenda and one was a high-profile case, won you knew was going to be on the front page of the "new york times" once we decided it and the other was a dinky procedural case. some are important, this one was dinky. laughter] >> and the high-profile case and it was a 5-4. the way we operate is we -- it starts with the chief justice and he goes first and reminds us all what the case is about and gives us his views and he says i vote to reverse or affirm and goes around in seniority order. there is a rule that says that nobody can speak twice before anybody speaks once, which is a
very good rule, but -- and then after that, we can, if we want all break out in conversation together and it's not stylized and just kind of all talking together. this high-profile case came in and everyone wept around the table and said his or her bees and got to me and i said my piece and the chief justice who runs these things incredibly well said, ok, i support this and he went onto the next case. and the next case, we did the same thing, went around the table. everybody had like somewhat different views and it wasn't clear where we were agreeing or disagreeing. but at any rate, the first case took us no more than 10 minutes, the next case took us 40 and i walked out and i thought, if they were a fly on the wall,
they would say what is going on with these people, 10 minutes on this and 40 minutes on that. but as i now have been there, it makes all the sense in the world, that there are the occasional cases where you kind of know that there is not going to be a lot of persuading done in the room. everybody walks in and has a certain view, experienced people, they have seen the problem more of before and you say what you think, but if you keep say on what you think, it's going to annoy and it's important that we don't annoy each other. but when there's real persuasion that can be done, everybody really pitches in and tries to do it. as i said before, that's the most fun part to me. >> let me ask you one question
and prepare the audience, we will be going out to you for questions. so here's the last one, a week ago, paul krug map wrote a "new york times" piece accusing the court of being corrupt because of its willingness to take cases that attack affordable care act. how americans should respond to that accusation. any reason to worry about corruption at the supreme court? >> no. [laughter] >> there is not a day in my job that i have ever thought that anybody was not doing everything that they do in utter, complete good faith. and you can disagree with people and you will disagree with people.
but everybody is trying to get it right. and everybody is incomplete good faith and that is ridiculous language, honestly. when i was solicitor general, i would argue with the court every sit-in, but i would go and watch the court whenever the people in my office argued. i just sort of watched about 70% of the cases. and i used to think, man, this is how an institution of government should operate. and people saw it. day in and day out. all these people, who are coming to the bench, ultraprepared, really having thought through things, really understanding the issues and the arguments. and asking really penetrating, excellent questions and just
trying to -- trying to persuade each other as we sit on the bench, but also trying to get it right. it's an institution of government that really works. and i could not disagree more. >> i'm very glad to hear you say that. i have studied this institution for most of my life and i have often disagreed with it and with particular justices on it, but i believed all cases are deciding on good faith. justice kagan has been great. and i want to remind folks that what should be coming from the floor are questions, questions and with a question mark sometimes the raising of a voice are typically shorter than the answers that you expect to hear from justice kagan.
with that sort of reminder or warning, i don't know if we have someone at the top. i will say one of the things about this stage, there are bright lights. back row, all the way at the top. introduce yourselves. >> i'm a freshman. my question is, should, in your opinion, foreign or international decisions have bearing on any kind of rulings on the supreme court? should you cite these international decisions? >> this is the kind of -- this issue is a lot more heat than light. there are a lot of people who feel strongly about this and i don't understand why. sometimes everybody agrees that we should look to international law, foreign law, in deciding particular case.
if you deciding case about a treaty, it's important to look to international law and to look to foreign law about how that treaty operates. i take it nobody would disagree with that. and what some instead think is that one should never look to foreign law with respect to peculiarly domestic issues. and you know, on the one hand, i kind of think -- the way i see some of my colleagues do that, i don't quite -- i think it's kind of mischaracterized that nobody in our court would use those decisions as binding or that they are precedent or anything like that. but they are more using those decisions in a way you might cite a law review article, like, here's what somebody thinks and
now i'm going to tell you whether i agree with that or not. so i think on the one hand that people get a little bit spun up about this more than they should. but i will say on the other side, this, is that, you know, i don't think i have actually cited one. and there are times when i had the opportunity to do so when, you know, maybe some other person who was writing the decision might have. and i think the reason for me is, i think we have -- we are trying to interpret our own constitution and our own laws. and we have a very rich constitutional tradition and
also in some ways a distinct constitutional tradition. if you can't find grounding for what you do in our own laws, you shouldn't be doing it. and the foreign sources come in, just to gild the lily, if you will. and i guess my choice has been not to use them that way, not to use them at all, but to use my best judgment about what our constitutional tradition and what our constitutional cases indicate. and unlike lots of countries -- there are new countries that look to older countries' laws, but we have a pretty long tradition. for me, that's kind of enough. and i tend not to, and i'm pretty sure will continue not to
except for when there is an obvious reason because of the law or case involved some question of international or foreign law. >> let me say, there is a hand in the middle here of this section, can we get a microphone there? >> it blinds you. >> introduce yourself please. >> my name is katherine. and actually, i'm a huge fan of notorious r.b.g. if anybody heard the phrase before is ruth bader ginsburg. >> i'm a huge fan of her, too. >> i was watching an interview the other day where she was commenting on the hobby lobby
ruling and she said that she thinks that historically, the supreme court has had a blind spot when it comes to women. and i would like to know what your reaction of is to the gender politics and do you think it is stabilizing, progressing what are your thoughts? >> you are putting me in a tough position there? i had to choose between one colleague and some other colleagues. i don't think i quite want to do that. and i'm trying -- you know, it's a good question when i need to figure out what i'm going to say. look, i think -- you know, that's a case in which there are -- i mean, it's actually a perfect
example of the way even when the divide in this kind of 5-4ish way that we did in that case that it is important to understand that there are strong arguments on both sides of the issue. so, i, myself, do not think, are you with women or not with women kind of case. the question of how far religious liberty extends, there, it was under a statute rather than under the constitution, the question is under the statute and when people should be able to opt out of general commitments, is one of the most dim cases -- difficult areas of constitutional law and one where people spoke pation naturally on
i don't say blind spot or not blind spot. i look at a case like that and say, this is what makes constitutional law so hard, is there are clash in values and principles at work. and in that case is a perfect example of it. >> why don't we go down here to avoid blind spots in our own eyes. >> talking about blind spots -- >> i'm a sophomore. you are often in the dissent on a lot of critical opinions. do you have the frustration of not getting your way and the majority, is that outweighed of writing the dissent and ruled into the majority like plessy versus ferguson?
professor robert george said who a in constitutional law is sitting on the supreme court. >> i can guarantee you it's not true. [cheers and applause] >> but your question, is it hard to lose, is that what your question is? of course it's hard to lose. i just told you i'm a competitive person. i like going out shooting things. i was recently -- there was a big convention, a convention of all the a.m. at judges and someone asked me what is your best time and what is the worst thing.
and i thought what is the worst thing, coming back from conference and not being in the majority on an issue that you think is important and you have strong views about. and the days i come back from conference in that position, you know, sometimes i could punch a hole through the wall. so, is it mitigated? is it sort of mitigated by your opportunity to raise a fierce dissent, not really. [laughter] >> but i enjoy writing dissents, except for the fact that they are in dissent, which is annoying. i like writing them for different reasons. different kind of dissents and the ones in the important cases where you do feel in the way
that you said, i'm writing for the future, that i hope that this issue will remain on our legal agenda, so that some years down the road, people will come back to it, and if not, overrule this case, you know, go in a different direction with respect to with respect to constitutional position it. when you are writing a dissent like that, you know, you do feel -- a little bit of a sense of responsibility. i want to make the best case i can. so our audience in the current state understands what's wrong with this opinion and also to some future audience understands what is wrong that opinion and maybe that will include five members of the supreme court.
and, you know, and i do think about those things, how do i convey to people, what's so wrong about what my colleagues have done, how do i convey in a way that suggests what the options are for the future. >> look at top, we have -- couple of them here, but a person who has a grayish-greenish shirt. i'm making things difficult for our runners. >> i'm a law professor at the university of iowa and a member of the institute of the advanced studies. >> you are a ringer. >> you look very young. >> the chief justice has said some things fairly dramatically about the role of scholarship in his decision-making in references to approaches to 18th
century bulgaria and so forth and i would like to ask you what you think about the conversation between the legal academy in general and the court? do you read things that academics write about the laws do they influence your decision-making process? >> i think he is right as to one thing, that there are just many things that law professors write about that aren't particularly relevant to us. that's ok. we aren't the only audience for law professors. law professors should not think of themselves as supreme court clerks. often, law professors are speaking to legislators, to real-life practicing lawyers. law professors are speaking to
other communities within a university you want the legal historian to be speaking to the other legal historian. there are a whole range of audiences ear than the supreme court. and that's not only inevitable and that's how it should be. it would be a much narrower conversation in our law schools if the law professors were commenting on the 80 cases that the court takes every year. now, so -- that's the fact of the matter that for many law professors there is no dialogue, but that's ok with me and it should be ok with them i guess. there are people who do really engage with what we do. and i often find things that are coming from the law professor world, whether an article or you
see people blogging about these kinds of things and not writing full length articles but going on a whole number of sites and talking about the kind of cases we get in the issues we see. i sometimes think that what is written there is very useful and very interesting leads me to think about things i have not thought about. i suggest some other things are at issue in a way that i think is valuable. i think it's a pretty happy story actually that law professors are not just focusing on us to the next and that they focus on us. i think they are contributing to the dialogue. >> down here, if there is a
question in the front row behind the camera? >> hi, i am kennedy and i am a freshman. my question is two parts. what was the toughest decision you have been a part of? which decisions are you most proud of? >> i will tell you the toughest one, it was earlier in the day and it was a case about violent video games. i will preface by saying i am usually pretty good at decision-making. i work hard and i read a lot and i think through things i hold and i talked to my clerks and other justices. it is not as though i may snap decisions for i am not usually an agonizer. i get on the information i think i need and make a decision. i do not a lot of hamlets. [applause]
but, this one case i did, i was all over the map on. everyday i looked up and thought, i would do a different angle or i was in the wrong place. it was a case about whether kids could buy violent video games without their parents permission. which everybody thinks, not easy because kids can not going to violent movements. the movie system is a private system and not a government system. california had passed a law that says kids can buy violent video games. it do not defined violence all that well which was a problem. even if he had, there might be other problems, first amendment problems. i have to say, everything -- it should be that you should not be
able, if a parent doesn't want her kids to buy violent video games, it should be the parent -- efficiently that this law is ok. i cannot figure how to make the first amendment to make this ok. the distinction, that's usually a higher subject to stricter scrutiny within a very good evidence not of the kind no one would normally need that the viewing or playing a violent video games was harmful. and so i cannot make it work under the first amendment doctrine that we have and have had for a long time. i kept going back and forth and we ended up being sort of 5-4 on that important issue. i was in the five that said that the law should be invalidated.
that is the one case where i think i'm just to not know. i just don't know if it's right. what did you say? proudest of? i don't -- i'm not -- like which of your children do you like best? you write to these opinions and you are proud of. i am not going to give a talk one. >> right in the very front here. >> i'm a freshman.
after hearing you talk about the respectful of different opinions that you guys take pride in on the court, i was wondering how you think you can apply it to the political sphere of spreading respectful disagreement? >> i would not presume to say. i am like into this little institution it may be it is better because it is a small institution, very personal institution, only nine of us and we know each other super well. and -- i -- i -- you wish that all of government -- what i really experience this institution today and there are great friendships and that there is an enormous amount of respect even in the face of disagreement. you wish that were so in all parts of our government and honestly, you got me at how to make it happen. >> let me look up, my eyes have recovered enough from the light.
a head right back there under the bright light again. there we go. >> i didn't even see these. >> my name is isaac. i am wondering how the court thinks about presidents -- precedence. >> i do not know what policies the ability so i will save my answer for precedent. we taken really seriously. precedent, predictability is an important value of the law. people should be able to rely on the law should not feel as if he keeps changing depending all gets to the particular court is a moment in time.
part of the way to prevent the court's politicization. and finally, it is part of what i view as a kind of judicial humility which is important that even if you think something at one moment in time, the facts that others that have gone before you thought something different should be a constraint on your. you may not be right they might have been right. and so i think, it's important for that reason, too. it cannot be the only question that you asked when it comes to reverse a decision was not a good decision or a bad decision? if that was the case, then the doctrine of precedence would have no real force. it has to overrule precedent and
there has to be something more than that it is wrong. next to the a variety of things. if you believe that the doctrine all around the president has changed over time and the precedent is out of whack with the rest of the legal universe. it could mean that the world has changed in some fundamental way that makes this precedent work differently than anybody ever thought it would. it could be because the precedent is unworkable in the sense of administering that you lay out a rule and expect judges to follow. and it turns out it is a very hard line that you have strong the judges -- drawn and judges are all over the place. it can be any of those things were more. there has to be some really good
reason beyond the fact that i think they got it wrong that would lead you to overturn something career i am sure there are times in the years i served as a judge where i will vote to overturn a decision, but i hope it happens pretty rarely. >> yes? >> hi. i'm a freshman here. you spoke about one justice has -- ivy league institution. when loretta lynch was nominated for attorney general, i began to wonder where she graduated from. i looked it up and she has not
one but two degrees from harvard. what did you think this says about the accessibility of education institutions of graduate students who attend elite colleges? is it fair to students who do not graduate from these elite schools that this type of essex facility is not available to them? thank you. >> i am a little bit of partisan all harvard law school. when loretta lynch was nominated, i thought, ok another one. but, that said, you raise a serious question. is there are asked -- there are aspects that everybody focuses on with all of our institutions, people always think about racial and economic diversity in people
always think about gender diversity and sometimes people talk in the court of our religious diversity as well. but there is this a way in which the court is an incredibly un-diverse concert -- courts. one way has to do with where we all went to law school which is even more than you say. 1/5 of us went to harvard and five of those graduated from harvard in one graduated from columbia. and three -- privileged everybody is a harvard/yale person. and just as real is extremely coastal court. if you count up the number of hours, the number of life years we have all spent on the --
it is superhigh. [laughter] a couple of people from california, justice kennedy is from california and justice breyer grew up there. and then a lot for easterners, a lot of new yorkers specifically. justice thomas from georgia and justice -- and the chief justices from the midwest. i got a lot of law schools. not just the harvard once. [laughter] if people ask me about this all of the time and you can get people think, well, how about us? shouldn't we have access to this institution and should we feel as though this institution is seeking -- speaking to us?
i think that is important. i do not think any of these metrics of diversity have all that much to deal with how we decide cases. i think it's pretty rare that they do. the face who present to the world, i think people should think about how their government institutions a look to the world and whether they reflect the diversity of our country and diversity of our citizenry. this is one way in which this court clearly does not. and you would -- i think hope for it to be different from i am putting together funny story. i hope senator reed was not mind my telling you this. when i got nominated, you go through and they are ordered in
this rank kind of way. never written the first person i spoke to was senator reid and the majority leader of the senate. i walked into his office and he said to me, "delighted to meet you." i told the president "i need two things in a supreme court justice. you are one of them." i said, all, hope that isn't all that important. i said what are the two things. the first when he said we have to have somebody was never in a court of appeals judge. i was not a court of appeals judge. check. he said, i told the president will do have any more harvard or yale people. i definitely do not make that one. [laughter] >> you didn't say i am a princeton person? right into the center.
>> last one. make it a good. >> i am a masters student. i want to go back to the issue of health care for a minute and just ask you about the process around it. there were so many different opinions, different source of coalitions and justices joining, can you talk about the roles that justices, a will or in dealer within the court of informing these coalitions and how it works? >> i will not talk about that is. but often, things and do not break down neatly. sometimes, as i said a lot of the times, we all agree. but when we do not agree
sometimes it breaks down easily and sometimes it doesn't. sometimes it breaks down particular issues. sometimes we fracture so there is no -- we try very hard not to have that happen because when that happens, we do not spend good a coherent signals to lower courts about what they should be doing. there is a lot of trying to prevent that sort of fracturing. if the chief justice is exceptionally good actually to figure out when we are not altogether and trying to figure out how to get five people to say something so we can actually speak coherently in a case and the judges dependent on our guidance. but, that's sometimes hard. offered in these cases have a
lot issues into them. often people things different things -- think different things about different issues. trying to figure that out does take work. it is work that we engage in in conference and out of conference as well. sort of trying to guess to at least a majority. >> i speak for everyone here is that we have high expectations for this event if you waited better than we expected and we hope you return frequently and we welcome you back with open arms. >> it feels absolutely wonderful to be here. >> great to have you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> coming up, " q&a." live at 7:00, your calls and comments on "washington journal here." there was a discussion about u.s. policy in the asia-pacific region. they will examine what the white house and congress can do to strengthen security and diplomacy. that is live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> this week, our guest is janet
murguia. >> president and ceo of the national council of all rosso it is interpreted several different ways. >> it has many interpretations as many words do. our interpretation of it is community and representing the people. for us, it has been an understood term within the latino community to represent community. we have used that word as one of our values moving forward. it's a very inclusive term. it's one that we think represents the work we do.
>> when does it mean race? >> it can if people want to attribute it in a different context. as we embrace the term to represent the organization and its work and our history in this country, it's been to represent a voice for the hispanic american in this country. we represent our mission, which is to create opportunities for everyone at, including the latino community and open the doors for the american dream for those who are seeking it. >> speaking of the american dream at, i must start with your family. start with mom and dad. >> i had the great privilege of experiencing the american dream
here in this country. i was born in kansas. my parents came to this country in the early 50's. they came from mexico with no money and very little education. my dad had an eighth grade education and my mom had a fifth-grade education. they believed in the promise of this country and they were seeking better opportunities for their children the. they work very hard and sacrificed as so many latinos and hispanics have done in this country. they wanted that better future for their children and they believed in the promise of this country. they taught us important values that have been our guide for our lives. i have six brothers and sisters.
they taught us the importance of family and faith and community. they told us that, for us education should not be a goal but a value. we were eager to have that opportunity. a lot of us decided we would buckle down and take advantage of that opportunity. so my parents were able to live and see that my parents were able to live and see my brother ramon graduate from harvard law school. they saw my brother carlos become a federal district court judge, the first hispanic in the state.