tv Democracy Now LINKTV March 24, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
known as the "frozen trucker." alphonse maddin was fired after he abandoned the truck he was driving because he was on the verge of freezing to death. >> it is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire choiceause he made the of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle. that is absurd. amy: we'll play excerpts from senator al franken grilling judge gorsach about the case during his senate confirmation hearings, and we'll speak with the labor lawyer who represented maddin. then t to florida. >> currerently, do o have discrn
to pursusue deaths senentences. i hahave determined dodoing so s not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice. amy: aramis ayala, the first african american state attorney in florida history, has received death threats since she announced she will not pursue capital punishment, even in the case of a man killing a police officer. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. it is a showdown on n capitol hl today. house republicican leaders calld ofoff a vote thursday on a billo overhaul the u.s. health care system after failing to win enough support from their party's ranks to overcome democratic oppososition. the delay prompted president trump to issue an ultimatum -- hold a vote friday or lose the opportunity to repeal the affordable care act. republican house speaker paul ryan emerged from thursday night talks with obstinate lawmakers,
telling reporters in a terse statement he'd comply with trump's call for a friday vote. >> 7.5 years, we have been promising the american people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it is collapsing and failing families will start tomorrow we are proceeding. amy: house speaker ryan exited without answering questions about whether he believed friday's vote would succeed. at the white house, president trump gathered members of the right-wing freedom caucus for negotiations, promising to roll back requirements that health insurers cover basic services, including mental health, mammograms, maternity, and newborn care. the meeting was attended exclusively by men, prompting ridicule from democrats, including washington senator patty murray, who tweeted a photo of the event with the caption, "a rare look inside the gop's women's health caucucus." it's unclear whether the bill has the votes needed to pass today's vote. more than 30 house republicans
have threatened a "no" vovote, d the bill's supporters can't afford more than 21 republican defections. outside the white house thursday, protesters opposed to the republican healthcare bill defied a police order to vacate a sidewalk and were arrested. >> 24 people are getting arrested today and they represent the 24 million americans that will lose health insurance if the aca is repealed. >> we want to make sure health care is not taken away from 24 million people and that it is not -- that the new health care plan does not act as a tax benefit for the rich and forget the poor again. >> to make health care ,ffordable to low income people our senior citizens, and make the medication of affordable for poor people. that is why we are here. amy: the protest came as the congressional budget office released its estimate of the impact of the revised republican health plan, finding it would still add 24 million people to the ranks of the uninsured, while reducing the deficit by
just $150 billion over 10 years. that is down from about a third and20 and dollars -- 120 deficit reduction in the dollars original plan. house democrats pushed thursday for anan independent probe into alleged ties between top trump officials and russia's government, saying house intelligence committee chair and former trump transition team member devin nunes can't be trusted to lead an investigatioion. califofornia congress member adm schiff, the ranking democrat on the intelligence committee, told cnn thursday he's uncovered further evidence that trump officials may have actively colluded with russian officials. >> the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation. it is not what you take to trial jury we're trying to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. we are the beginning of the investigation. and giveven the gravity y of the subjectt matter, i ththink the evidence warns us doing a thorough investigation. amy: congressman schiff's charges came after house intelligence committee chair
nunes apologized to his colleagues for his actions wednesday when he traveled to the white house to personally brief president trump on allegations that he's uncovered evidence that u.s. intelligence swept up communications by trump's transition team after the november election. the apology took place behind closed doors and didn't satisfy democrats, who questioned whether nunes revealed classified information to the president -- who's the subject of an fbi investigation. on thuhursday, democratic congrs member elijah cummings of maryland said on cnn nunes himself shshould be investigate. >> what he did was basically to go to the president, who is being investigated by the fbi and others and by the intelligence committee, to give them information -- give him information. basically, h he has scuttled and put a cloud over his own investigation. and he has become the subject, basically, he should be, of an
investigation post of amy: it is not only democrats who are resizing nunes. arizona republican senator john mccain blasted the actions of representative nunes, saying thursday he wants a congressional select committee or independent commission to take over the investigation into alleged ties between russia and the trump campaign. the senate's top democrat said thursday his party is prepared to block the nomination of neil gorsuch to the supreme court by filibuster. the move by minority leader chuck schumer sets up a confrontation with senate republicans, who've threatened to invoke the so-called "nuclear option" to push through gorsuch's confirmation. the move would change senate rules to allow confirmation with a bare majority of senators, rather than the 60 now needed to overcome delaying tactics. we will have more on judge gorsuch aftegorsuch after the h. secretary of state rex tillerson tighten dramatically rules on issuing u.s. visas. in diplomatic cables lastly, the state department ordered u.s. embassies to ask detailed questions to be's applicants
about their personal history. the rules also require a check of phone and email contacts as well as the social media history of anyone who is traveled in a country where isis controls territory. the restrictions will not apply to most european countries or australian, new zealand, japan. in a white the fbi says it's , investigating death threats directed at u.s. district judgde derrick watson, the judge who ruled against trumps ban on travelers from six majority nations and refugees. cbs reported most of the threats were phoned in from the mainland. spanishediterranean, a charity said thursday at least 240 migrants are feared dead after their boats capsized off the coast of libya. members of the group said they pulled at least five bodies from the sea without finding any survivors. the disaster came amid a sharp spike in the number of migrants and refugees attempting the dangerous voyage from libya to italy. aid groups say the increase followed last year's agreement by greece and turkey to
effectively seal the two cocountries' border to migrants. in britain, police have identified the man responsible for wednesday's violent rampage outside parliament as khalid masood, a british citizen with an extensive record of violent crimes. investigators say the 52-yeaear-old changed his na from adrian n russelell ajao afr he c converted to islam in pris. in a statement posted online, isis hailed the killer as a soldier of the islamic state, but did not cite masood by name, suggesting the killer was not in direct contact with isis. meanwhile, the death toll among masood's victims rose to four thursday after a 75-year-old man died from his wounds. in israel, a video has emerged of an israeli police officer brutalizing a palestinian truck driverer in occupied eastt jerusasalem. thvivideo showows the offificer hehead-buttiting, slappingng, kg , and punchihing the m man befoe turning to attack k a pair of mn seeking toto restrain him.
the video drewew calls from arab-israeli l lawmakers to arat and prprosecute the officer. israel's public security minister promised an investigation. meanwhile, israeli police have arrested palestinian rights activist omar barghouti over alleged tax evasion, seizing his passport and forbidding him from leaving the country. barghouti is a leader of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, or bds, an international campaign to pressure israel to comply with international law and respect palestinian rights. in a statement, the palestinian bds national committee called the charges bogus, noting a haaretz investigation that found israel has set up a dirty tricks or tarnishing unit to target bds supporters. the group said -- "the fact that this investigation includes a travel ban and that it comes a few weeks before omar barghouti is scheduled to travel to the u.s. to receive the gandhi peace award jointly with ralph nader in a ceremony at yale university
proves its true motive -- repression." elsewhere in israel, police in the southern city of ashkelon on thursday arrested a jewish -- an israeli american teenager with dual u.s. and israeli citizenship, charging him with making more than bomb threats 100 against synagogues and other jewish community buildings in the u.s., australia and new zealand. the threats came as amid a broader wave of anti-semitic threats against jewish institutions over recent months, which included the desecration of jewish cemeteries in pennsylvania, missouri, and new york. an egyptian court freed hosni mubarak from prison today, six years after the former dictator led a crackdown on protests that killed hundreds of people opposed to his 30-year rule. the 88-year-old mubarak left a military hospital in southern cairo and returned to his home in the city's northern suburbs. mubarak's release after his acquittal on murder charges contrasts with the fate of political activists opposed to the country's military government. amnesty international reports
more than 1400 people arere currently being held in prisons beyond a two-year limit for pre-trial detention. in washington, d.c. the justice , department has opened a criminal probe into california republicican congress member duncan hunter, who's accused of raiding his campaign funds for personal use. the investigation follows a finding by the office of congressional ethics that hunter may have used the funds for family travel, flights, utilities, health care, school tuition, jewelry, groceries, and other expenses. in mexico, a gunman shot dead jojournalist miroslava breach thursday as she was leaving her home in chihuahua. the 54-year-old reported on organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption for the national newspaper, la jornada. the committee to protect journalists said it was the third deadly attack on mexican journalists this month. the press freedom organization article 19 has called mexico the
most dangerous nation for reporters in the western hemisphere. in chicago, an indictment unsealed thursday charges police officer jason van dyke with 16 counts of aggravated battery -- for each of the bullets he fired one into 17-year-old laquan mcdonald in october of 2014. the killing g was capturured ona ththethe killing wasas captureda police dasashcam video releleasd undeder court order,r, which cly contraradicted police claims abt the shooting. the vivideo showththe teenagerer posing no ththreat and walkingng away from the officers beforee officer van dyck opens fire. van dyke still faces first-degree murder charges, but some legal observers believe the special prosecutor brought the additional charges to give jurors the option to charge the officer with a lesser offense. in breaking news, the trump
administration has approved a permit allowing transcanada to build the keystone xl pipeline, which would carry oil from canada's tar fans the gulf coast refineries in the united states. the pipeline was the subject of a years long fight by environmental groups to convince the obama administration to deny a permit following a l long campaign of civil disobedieience and lastst protest. memeanwhile, thehe national snod ice data center reported wednesesday arctic c ocean sea e ew last wiwinter to the e lowest maximum extent ever recorded, in ananother sign t thahuhuman-drin global w warming is irirrevocaby changing the planet. the recordrd low extent t of the followed a number of recororhigh temperatatures in the e arcticir the winter, with meaeasurementst the north pole repeatedly climimbing by as m much as 50 degrees fahrenheit above normal. and lifelong community organizer bob lee has died of cancer at his home in houston, texas. lee, also known as robert alwalee, was born on december 16, 1942.
he served as a field secretary in the illinois chapter of the black panther party. he was also an organizer of the original rainbow coalition, an alliance between the black panther party, the young lords, the young patriots, and othther groups. lee appeared i in the documentay "t"the black panthers: vanguardf the revolution." amy: that's bob lee, in the documentary "the black panthers: vanguard of the revolution." lee died on tuesdaday at the age of 74. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president trumump has issued republican lawmakers and ultimamatum. if the republican don't pass a health care bill today, he will leave the affordable care act in place. trtrump made the threaeat on thursday hours after house speaker paul ryan called off a vote on their plan to overhaul the u.s. health care system,
after faililing to win enough support from their party's ranks to overcome democratic opposition despite heavy lobbying from the white house. on thursday night, ryan said a vote will take place today even though it remains unclear if he has enough votes. >> for 7.5 years, we have been promising the american people that we will repeal and replace this rogan law because it is collapsing and failing families. tomorrow we aree proceeding. >> you have the votes? amy: in recent days, republicans have been scrambling to rewrite the legislation in order to appease members of the right-wing freedom party. the latest version of the bill strips away provisions that would require health insurers to provide basic services including maternity care, newborn care, emergency services, mental health, and addiction treatment. on thursday, white house press secretary sean spicer faced questions about cutting maternity care benefits. >> potential benefits
protections, among those is maternity leave. how would removing that jive with the presidents promised an accounting to expand maternity leave? obviously, this would take it out and insurers would no longer have to provide that. >> i don't want to get into a benefit by benefit discussion here, but i think there's a lot of concerns. i just said to blake, part of the reason that premiums have spiked out of control is because under obamacare, there were these mandated services that had to be included. what happened was, older men, older women who had gone past maternity age were buying benefits that were not necessary for them. people who are at the younger end of this age scale e were buying end-of-life benefits. amy: pushing the charge to eliminate maternity care has been the freedom caucus, an all-male group of right-wing lawmakers. on thursday, vice president mike pence posted a photo on twitter with the caption --
"appreciated joining @potus for meeting with the freedom caucus again today. this is it. #passthebill." in the photo, pence was surrounded by 25 lawmakers and white house staffers -- all white men. prompting washshington senator patty murray to tweet a photo of the event with the caption, "a rare look inside the gop's women's health c caucus." on when a reporter asked thursday republican senator pat roberts if he supports scrapping essential health benefits, he responded -- "i wouldn't want to lose my mammograms." roberts later apologized. democratic congresswoman judy chu responded on twitter by saying -- "cancer is no joke. mammograms save lives. same reason we pay for prostate exams. government shouldn't decide what care women can access." the democratic caucus has been united in opposition to the bill which is projected to o leave 24 , million fewer people uninsured by 2026 than under obamacare.
the bill also includes over $275 billion in tax breaks for wealthy americans. for more, we go to boston, where we're joined by john mcdonough, professor at the harvard school of public health. he is the former executive director of health care for all in massachusetts, which played a key role in the passage of the 2006 massachusetts health h refm bill which was known as romneycare. he later became a top aide to the late senator ted kennedy and worked on the development and passage of the affordable care act. he's also author of the book "inside national health reform." welcome to democracy now! thank you for joining us again. can you talk about this latest bill that is expected to be voted up or down today in the house of representatives? billll, amy, so the latest is still a work in progress. as of last night, the house republican leadership was
throwing concessions to the freedom caucus and concessions to the moderates. so what is actually in or out is still seemingly work in progress. the rules committee is preparing to allow this without any real delay in time. but what has gone on since last evening is a reframing of this issue in a way that may play to the trump and ryan forces advantage. they are reframing this as, do you or do you not want to get rid of the affordable care act? and that reframing kind of moves it away from the fracas around this provision or that provision. it is highly uncertain -- i would say the odds are against its passage today. the one really has to because us about that because there is a shift in terms of the nature of the conversation within the republican caucus. they are at a cliff right now.
they're either going to jump over the cliff or not. and there are forces going in both directions right now, which makes it hard to predict what will happen six to eight hours from now. amy: so this never, 24 million americans will lose health care. the quinnipiac whole out on president's handling of health care says 61% disapprove. the question they ask, do you approve or disapprove of the gop health care plan, 56% disapprove. gallup approval poll of trump, 56% disasarove. what will happen now? you have 24 million americans who woululd lose health care ovr ththe next decade. and then you have got what many are calling the mommy tax. explain the current plan where the essential benefits would be
pared down to exclude maternity care, newborn care, mental health services, and other services, professor mcdonough. in the affordable care act in title i, the private insurance part of the law, there is a provision for what is called essential health benefits -- which are the 10 core medical care services that need to be included in just about all health insurance. that is sold in the united states were provided. drugs,udes prescription inpatient/outpatient services, mental health and substance abuse, maternity care, rehab services, other kinds of things. this makes sure when people buy health insurance, it includes the kinds of things that one would normally expect to see in that kind of policy. the freedom caucus, which is the renamed form of the tea party, is determined to take apart most
of those secure provisions in the law, and other things as well beyond essential health benefits, which is the conflict right now between them and the house leadership. and in so doing, they would degrade health insurance so that people could by health insurance and much more affordable rates. but it would be policies that are not worth the paper it is written on. it would bring back lifetime and annual benefit limits. it would not cover things like maternity, mental health, or other kinds of essential services. it would be a degraded form of health insurance. people that have the freedom of choice. that is what they refer to when they use words like "patient centered care." i think most people are getting a wonderful education over the past 24 hours of what we mean by what is health insurance and what is not. people are looking
at the list and saying, you want to take that away from me. i think people are alarmed. for whatever we can say, this has been a phenomenal education over the past four months in what health insurance is, how it works, and what is at stake when you try to change one thing versus another. and the stakes are very high. but it is also clear that there is a national momentum all across the country in red and blue districts of people rising up in standing up and saying "no, we cannot except this to grading." for me, the number is only 17% of people in that poll you referenced say they support the gop health reform legislation, the american health care act. so it has been a really remarkable turn of events in a very short period of time. amy: you talk about the momentum
across the country. a number of activists descended on washington, d.c., thursday to protest the new american health care act. organizers said 24 people were arrested in order to represent the 24 million people who will lose her health care over the next 10 years according to this bipartisan congressional budget office report. this is construction worker alex followed by protester. >> i work in construction. if i did not have health insurance and had to rely on the emergency room, everything after the election has been so stressful for all of us. i have invested more heavily in safety equipment. i have turned down some contracts because they seem more physically risky. and i might not get to keep the health coverage that i have, so i've had to turn down work. i've had to turn away some income, which does not make it anyy easier to afford the insurance. >> we are protesting and rallying for the health care
reform bill, to make health care affordable for low income people , our senior citizens, to make the medication affordable for people. that is why we arere h here, to fight the health care insurance bill because we don't know what is going to happen after that. amy: professor, can you talk about -- you are referring to what they call the skinny plan, and why you say it is not worth the paper it is written on. i think the average american will pay $3600 increase for the health insurance. what is the skinny plan? >> the skinny plan is a health insurance policy, the premium will attend to be more affordable, but the the dock doubles and the copayments will be sky high, far above what we're seeing today. it has all kinds of limits in terms of what it covers. it does not cover maternity care. it does not cover mental health
and substance abuse disorders. it does not cover prescription drugs. that is what most individual health insurance was like prior to the affordable care act. and people had very degraded coverage and found that coverage, but then they were unable to use it. we have some of those problems .ow for people in the aca there is a real effort -- there was a real effort in the campaign last fall to articulate an agenda to get at some of those problems, but the republican agenda takes all of those problems and tries to make them sububstantiallyly worse. amy: president trump promised to help people have affordable health care. this looks like a corporate welfare bill for ththe insurance companies. how did the insurance companies benefit from this and did they write this bill? had a seat aty the table in terms of giving advice.
i would -- - i would cautioion an insurancebeing industry plot. the insurance induststry is jujt businessss, and they want busins that will enable them to do well financially. far more important in driving this legislation are the tax cuts included as a centerpiece of it for wealthy americans. the 400 wealthiest families in the united states will get a tax break from this law of, on average, $7 million a year. and the 160 million families with incomes below $200,000 a year will get absolutely nothing, except higher premiums, more cost sharing, and fewer benefits. that is really what is driving this, and as much were the focus rather than the health care industry itself. i think the insusurance industry
is looking after its own bottom line, nothing else. what is more i important is you look at who is lined up against this law. the american hospital association, the american medical association, the american nurses association, aarp -- and those are just four examples of literally hundreds ,nd hundreds of organizations national and state, who have lined up against this. the insurance industry is not even in public in favor of this law. there is honest no one standing with president trump and speaker ryan saying, "we endorse this law." the u.s. chamber of commerce, the medical device industry because they are getting a tax cut -- you go after that, and there is nobody him and not even the far right groups like the americans for prosperity and the heritage action. even they are against it. it is really extraordinary how this legislation has brought
together organizations all across the country from both ends of the political spectrum, the very much the people in the health care sector who focus on patients, medical care, are almost unanimously lined up, strenuously against this republican agenda. amy: john mcdonough, thank you for being with us, causing many to call this. a health care bill, but a wealthcare bill. jojohn mcdonough, professor at e harvard chan school of public health served as a senenior , adviser on national health reform to the u.s. senate committee on health, education, labor and pensions. also served as executive director of health care for all in massachusetts, playing a key role in passage of the 2006 massachusetts health reform law. known as romney care. also the author of "inside national health reform." he was a c chief agent former senator ted kennedy. when we come back, a filibuster is being promisesed around the supreme court confirmation of
[music break] amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report.. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to the confirmation hearingsgs for supreme court nominee neil gorsuch, which wrapped up thursdayay on capipitol hill as senate democrats vowed to filibuster his nomination. ththis is sesenate minority leaderer chuck schumer.. >> the supreme court matters a great, great deal. it matters for workers who want to protect both their lives and their jobs, for employees who need to be ablble toto seek redress for discrimination, for parents who want their kids to get a fair shake in thehe education system. it is with all of this in mind that i have come to a decision about the current nominee. after careful deliberation, i have concluded that i cannot support judge neil gorsuch's nomination to the supreme court.
his nomination will have a culture vote. he will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. my vote will be no, and i urge i colleagues to do the same. amy: senate rules require 60 votes to break a filibuster, meaning gorsuch would have to earn the support of eight democrats to overcome the democratic effort to block his nomination. in return, republicans have threatened to activate the so-called nuclear option of eliminating the filibuster entirely for supreme court nominations. throughout this week's four days of hearings, one of the most contentious issues was gorsuch's ruling in a case known as the frozen trucker. the case involved truck driver alphonse maddin, who was fired after he disobeyed a supervisor and abandoned his trailer that he was driving, because he was on the verge of freezing to death. this is maddin speaking at a recent event in washington, d.c.
>> i was working as a commercial truck driver for transam inincorporated of olatathe, kan. i was s haulining a lo o of mt through the state ofof illinoi. after stopping to resolve a discrepancy of the location to refuel, the brakes on the trailer froze. i contacted my employer and they arranged for a repair unit to come to my locatition. i expected that help would arrive within an hour. i woke three hours later to discover that i could not feel my feet, my skin was burning and cracking, my speech was slurred, and i was having trouble breathing. the temperature at night was roughly 27 degrees fahrhrenheit low zero. the heater in the cabin was not producing heat, an attempt to gauge in the truck was reading -7 degrees below zero.
after informing my employer of my physical condition, they responded by telling me to simply hang on. as i sat there physically suffering in the cold, i started having thoughts i was going to die. my physical condition was fading rapidly. i decided to try to detach the trailer from the truck and drive to safety. when i stepped out of the truck, i was concerned that i may fall because i was on the verge of passing out. i feared that if i fell, i would not have the strength to stand up and would die. i walked to the back of the trailer to place a lock on the cargo doors. the distance that i walked to the back of the trailer seemed like an eternity as my feet absolutely had no feeling at all. i evenentually was able to detah the tractor from the trailer. before i left, i called my employer to notify them that i had decided to head to shelter.
and they ordered me to either drag the trailer or stay put. in my opinion, clearly, their cargo was more important than my life. my employer fired me for disobeying their orders. i would like to make it clear that although i detached the tractor from the trailer, i returned and i completed my job and i wasas still fired. ok, i disputed my termination from transam trucking and ultimately won. this w was a seven-year battle. seven different judges heard my case. one of those judges found against me. that judge was neil gorsuch. amy: that was alphonsese maddi. for more, we're joined by h his attorneney in his wrongful termination lawsuit. robert fetter is a labor lawyer,
and he joins us from detroit, michigan. welcome to democracy now! this is an astounding case. this happened -- as alphonse maddin said, this case wawas heard by seven judgeges. only one ruled against him and that judge was ththe current supreme court nomiminee judge gorsrsuch. can you explain the coururse that t this case took? >> yes. thank you for having me on. this case goes through an administrative prococeeding to the departrtmt of labor -- that is wherere it starts ininitially -- through an i investigationon of the deparartment ofof labo, thenen to a trial befofore an a administrative law judgd. the cocompany had appealed our v victory at trial to the administrativee review board,, which found unanimously now in favor. they then appealeded totohe 10t0th circuit t -- because the trucking company is headquartered in kansas,
which is in th1010th circucuit. we were assigned a a three-judge panel, whicich includeded judge goror. amamy: explain what hahappened there. there were three judges anand they all ruled in his fav, that he could be reinstated and get backck pay? >> the initial judge, the trial judge, ruled in his favor. the three-judge panel of the admdministrativive reviewew board all ruruled in his favor.. two of the three judges on the 10th circuit ruled in his favor. it seemed like it was a relatively uncomplicated legal issue up until itit got to j judge gorsusuch. amy: s so described that day. you were there in court. when wasas it? described the scene in the courtrtroom.. >> in january 202016, i traveled from detroit to denver r to oral arguments for the 10th circuit.
when you appear, you appear all at one time with several cases and you all get called when your turn comes up. we hapappened d to be the laste of thamornining sessioion. i was s watching the judges because e it is all l the same three-jujudge papanel, as to what theheir demeanor w was. i looked with particular interest at judge gorsuch because i knew he was a very conservative judge. and i wawatched when boboth of ese e cases, which were uncontroverersial, and he was seemingly either disinterested or pleasant to the attorneys. this seemed like that was a stark change when our case was called. judge gorsuch wawas incredibly hostitile -- as attorneys on appelellate panels, you u have some judges ththat are hostile. i have lititigated many cases in appelellate couourts. he stood outut becausese he mayave e be the e most hostitile judge
i have ever appeared before. in fact, it ca b back to me,e, ininterestiningly, when i watcheded senator frananken'quesestioning of judge gorsuch, whicich some hasas describebed as hostile. but t that is a similar r type of totone that judge gorsuch took with me when i w was arguing mr. maddin's case. amy: you were ththere withth anotherer lawyer from the d dol? you shared t the time yoyou h? >> that's right. because the dol at that level, once against of the 10th cicircuit, is actually the partrty. it was transam trucking versus s the dol.l. i inintervened to reprpresent the ininterest of mr. mamaddin in that case, so i had to spsplit the titime with the departmenent of labor attorney.y. i believe we each had 10 minutes. judge gogorsuch was so hostile to the depepartment of labor attorney that i in thmimiddle of a a quen
that the department of labor attorney essentially concnceded the rest ofof his timime to me, indicated, you knowow, i hahave agreed d to split my time with mr. fetter and he couould have the rest of my time. it was so difficulult on the department of labor attorney frfrom judge gorsrsuch that he essentiallyy gave up timeme thatat he had in the oraral argument, whwhich as a attorneysys, appellllate time coming of susuch little time,, you don't nonormally gigive it up. amy: i i want to turn to senatoror al franken who questioned judge gorsuch on the alphonse maddin, the so-called frozen trucker, case during gorsuch's coconfirmation hearing. >> a couple of hours goes by. the heater is not working in his cab. it is 14 below zero. 14 belelow zero. he calls in and says, mymy feet -- i canan'fefeel. i can't feel m my feet.. my torsoso -- and beginning to not be able to feel my torso.
they say, hang on. wait for us. ok, now he actually falls asleep. at 1:18 a.m., his cousin calls in and wakes him u up. his cousin says thatat he is slurring his speech and he does not -- mayo clinic in minnesota says that is hypothermia. he had f fallen asleep. if you fall asleep waiting on 14 below zero w weather, you can freeze to death. you cacan die. he calls them back and his supervisor says, wait. you got t to wait. so he has a couple of choices here, wait or take the trailer out with frozen brakes onto the interstate now.
when those brarakes are locked and you're pulling that load on a trailer with brakes that are locked, you can go maybe, what, 10, 15 miles an hour? what i is thatat like on the interstate? say you're going 75 miles per hour -- someone is going 75 miles per hour, they come over a hill and slamming to that trailer. also, hypothermia. he is a little woozy. probablyly figures that is n t too safe. i don't think you woululd want to be on the road with him, would you, judge? >> senator -- >> you would or not? it is a really easy yes or no. >> would i want to be on the road with him wiwith a fixed trailer or unhitched trailer, senator? >> well, either. but especially with the hitched trailer with the locked brakes. >> no, i don't ---- >> i w would not want to be there, either.
so what he does is he unhitches it and goes offff in ththe cab. >> then i believe he comes back 15 minutes later. >> he comes back after he gets warm so he e can be there when it gets repaired. ok. he gets fired. he gets fired. the rest of the judges all go, that is ridiculousus. you can't fire a guy for doing g th. there were two safety issues s here. one, the possibilityty of freezing to death. or d driving with that rig in a very, very dangerous way. which wowould you have chosen? which would you u have done?e? >> senator, i don't know what i would have done in issues and i don't blame it all for a moment for what he did do. i empathize with him entirely. >> ok, we've been talking about this case.
you haven't t decided ---- you hahaven't t thought for r ad what y you would have e done in thihis case? >> i h have thought a lolot out thth case.e. i totally empathize -- >> i'm asking you a question. please answer. >> i was notot in the man's shoes -- >> i would have done exactly what he did. i ththink everybody here would have done exactly what he didi. and i think that is an easy answer. frankly, i i don't know what yu have difficultlty answerinthata. ok, so you decide and right dissent. if you read your dissent -- you don't say it is subzero, you say it was cold out. the facts you describe in your dissentnt are very minima. but here is the law and you go to the language
of the law and you talk about that. i go to ththe law. "a person may not discharge an employee who refuses to operate a vehicle because the employee has reasonable apprehension of a serious injury to the employee or the public because of the vehicle's hazardous, safety, security condition." that is the law. you decided to have the right to fire him, even of this law says yoyou may not dischaharge an employee e refuses toto operatete a vehicle because he did operate a vehicle. is that right? that is how decided, right? > that is the gist of it. >> well, no, that is what you decided. >> therere are more words and opinions both in the majority by my colleagues and in dissent, but i'm happy to agree with you if that is the gist of it. >> right. that is what you said. look, i amam not a lawyer.
but i have been on this committee for about eight years. and i paid some attention. i know w what you're talking about, here is the plain meaning rule. here's what the rule means. when it is clear on its face, when it's meaning isis obvious, the courts have no business looking beyond the meaning to the statute's purpose. and that is what you used, right? >> that is what was argued to us by both sides, senator. >> but that is what you used. >> both sides argued theplain meeting supported -- >> and you used to to come to your conclusion. >> both sides -- >> but the plain meaning rule has an exceptionon. when using the plain meaning rule would creaeate an absurd resul,
courts should dedert fromom the plain meaningng. it is absurd to say this company is i in its rights to fire h m because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly a dririving an unsafe vevehicle. that is absurd. now, i had a career in identifying absurdity. and i know it when i see it. and it makes me -- you know, it makes me question your judgment. amy: that is senator al franken, former comedian before he was a senator, questioning judge neil gorsuch about the alphonse maddin case, the so-called frozen truckerer case.
judge gorsuch was alone among seven judges to rule ththat the company was right to fire alphonse maddidi. as we wrap up, we are still with maddin's attorney robert fetter, i want to talk abobout the t tig of judge gorsuch's dissent. when the candidate donald trump gave his list of supreme court justices that he would d choose if you were to be president, gorsuch was not on that list. that wasas in may. bob fetter, the decision was handed out, when was it, that is intended out by jujudge gorsuch august 8 lasast year on the frozen trucker case. when the second list came out in september, gorsuch was added to trump's list. can you tatalk about ththe significance o of this?
>> yeah. it certainly is a set of circumstances that after he was nominated, is certatainly rang a bebell wie that he was not on the initial list. he has this case on his desk whwhere he can showw justst how uncompassionanate he c can be and how far he is able to take extreme textualism in order to o rule in favovor of a a company and d corporate inrerest. certainly, if i were the chamr r of commercrce or other busininess interest and i saw that decision, that signanals to me that this s is my kikind of g. then he appears on the seconond list, which of course, we all know it now that decision was outsourced to the federalist society and heritage. anand those e groups certain he wouldld have saw that decisi, a very recent decision,,
and saidid this is the type of y we wanant on the supreme court. because he igogoing to be pro-busisiness. and theyey have inindicated th'e very happypy with hihis nominan because e he is prpro-busines. pro-business is not a judicicial philosophy. it is fine for a legislator toto be pro-business if you can get elected on that basis. and offer a judgdge. when you're pro-business as a judge, you are just biased. we c cannot accept biaias on thu notice state supreme court. amy: robert fetter,, thank you for being withth us, labor lawyer and d partner at mililler cohen from in detroit, represented truck driver alphonse madaddin in his wrongful terminatation lawsuit. whenen we come back, we go souh to floridada ta ststate attorny who says she will not impose, call f for the death penalty in any case. ststay with
us. [music break] amy: this is democracy now!, demomocracynow.o.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we end today's show in florida, looking at an escalating battle over the death penalty. this month, orange-osceola state attorney aramis ayala announced her office will no longer seek the death penalty in any murder cases, including in the case of mararkeith loyd,
who is accused of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfririend as well as orlando police officer debra clayton. this is state attotorney aramis ayala. >> i would like to address how my office will be handling deathth penalty cases going forward. in just over a year, florida's death penalty statute has twice beenen ruled unnstititutional. while i currentlyy do h have discretion to pursusue debt sentences,, i've determined that doing so is not in the best interest of this community or the besinterest o of justice. after careful l review and consideratioion of the new statutute under my admdministrationn and i willll not be seseeking death h penalty in cases h handled in mymy off. let me be very clear, however, i will continue to hold people who do harm to this community y accoununtae for their r actions. i will do so in a way that is sensible, fafair, and just. amy: state attorney aramis ayala's announcement sparked immediate backlash from the police union and florida governor rick scott, who called on ayala to recuse herself
from the loyd case. she refused. the governor then signed an executive order removing her from the case and re-assigning it to another state attorney, brad king. ayala responded by filing a stay of the governor's order, arguing he does not have the right to remove her from the case. in the meantime, ayala -- the first african american state attorney in florida history -- began receiving death threats, including from local government employees. the assistant finance director of t the seminole county clererk of courts offifice, stan mcculullars, wrotote on facebebook -- "maybe she should geget the death penalty. she should be tarred and feathered if not hung from a tree." mccullars resigned after issuing the threats. the "orlando sentinel" reports that from 1877 to 1950, more than 331 black people were lynched by whites inin florida -- the most lyncnchings per capa of any state in the country. fofor more we go to tampa, florida, where we're joined by angel harris, assistant counsel at the naacp legal defense e fund.
welcome to democracy now! can you talk abobout thihis ce and the significance of state attorney aramis ayalala's s stand? >> absolutely. thank you for having me. we applaud her for standing up and saying that she will not continue to perpetuate a system that we e know has m many fla. in her interview, she pointed out, one, it is not a benefit to society, nor does it promote public safety. additionally, she says it is not a deterrent to crime. i agree with her on all of those things. we also must look at the racial disparitities of the death h penalty. i think it is very relevant when we are at the state of florida and we look k not onlyy how many individuals are on florida's death row, but when we look at exonerations. there are a total of 157 exoneratations from death row. so those are individuals who were sentenced to death,
told they deserved to die, and then years later they werere exoneratated for various reasasons. of that 157 anand a 2% of those are african-americans. when you look atat florida specifically, 26 of those 157 exonerees were f from the state of florid. nearly 60% of those are african-american. when you add that on top of the already inherent shortcomings of thehe death penalty, it is not a surprise to me that she would make such an announcementnt, particularly when we look at the hearst v florida case that was recently in the supreme court where the e supreme court struk down the way thahat florida's administering the death h penalty. formally florida, a judge would make a decision over the jury about whwhether or not someone would get the death penalty. florida lawmakers then changed that law to h have nonunanimous juries, so 10 to 2, a jury to give someone death.
the e florida supreme courtt struck that down. there's been a legal battle over the death p penalty as it is administered in florida. so i think i in good conscienc, shshe felt she could not d do t. and we have really -- it is ironic whenen you heaear about her also receiving death threats. whenen you think about the legay of lynchings in this country, and as you stated, when you think about the legacy of lynchings in the state of florida, at the naacp legal defense fund, we r represented the boys were accused of raping a white woman and they were essentially called to be lynyned during that time. there is repeat history of black men in this country being lynched. lynching was used as a form of social control, which is what the death penalty is being used for now. so it is time for us to really pull back the curtain and look at the shortcomings of the death penalty. it is not accomplishing what a lot of folks
are being told it is accomplishing. amy: critics say ayala isis breaking the law by saying that she won't seek the death penalty. is this true? >> absolutely not. the state attorney has the discretion to make thatat decision. there is mandatory death sentence -- that is not an option in the united states any longer. amy: very quickly, the difference between the response to the killing -- his killing of thehe ex-girlfrid and the police officer? we only have 15 seconds. >> i think that also shows another inherent shortcoming of the death penalty. it really depends on the victim. when there was the accusation that he killed his ex-girlfriend, there was not a manhunt. people were not calling for him to get the death penalty. but when there is the killing ofof a police officer, there is the calling of a death penalty. it just shows it is an arbritrary system