tv PBS News Hour PBS April 21, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: runners by the tens of thousands breathed new life into a century-old tradition today, braving the long trek to the boston marathon finish line that was the scene of tragedy just one year ago. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this monday, the justice department will make it easier for prisoners serving time for non-violent drug offenses to receive clemency, part of a broader push by the obama administration to change drug sentences. >> woodruff: plus, our conversation with former supreme court justice, john paul stevens. why he's pushing for changes to our constitution, on
redistricting, the death penalty, and guns. >> the effect of the second amendment as it's now construed is to make federal judges the final arbiters of gun policy, which is quite, quite wrong >> woodruff: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i've been around long enough to recognize the people who are out there owning it. the ones getting involved, staying engaged. they are not afraid to question the path they're on. because the one question they never want to ask is, "how did i end up here?" i started schwab with those people. people who want to take ownership of their investments, like they do in every other aspect of their lives.
>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: u.s. drones were back in action over yemen today, after a weekend of heavy strikes aimed at al-qaeda. the government of yemen announced the attacks have killed at least 55 militants, including three senior members. the main target was a major training camp in the country's mountainous south. attacks in towns just outside baghdad killed at least 33
iraqis and wounded nearly 80 today. in one incident, bulldozers had to clear burned-out wreckage after a suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint 25 miles south of the capital. five policemen and seven civilians were killed there. in syria, the government set a date to hold presidential elections: june 3. incumbent president bashar al assad is expected to win a new, seven-year term, but the opposition dismissed any election as a farce. and on twitter, a u.s. state department spokesman said the vote would be a "parody of democracy." the confirmed death toll in the south korea ferry disaster has reached 86. divers recovered more bodies from inside the sunken vessel today. another 220 people were still listed as missing. this report comes from jane dodge of independent television news. >> the same captain, the same route. this trip was filmed a few years ago. the captain's advice now
brutally ironic. >> as long as you follow the directions given by our crew members, i believe the ferry is safer than any other form of transport. >> reporter: these passengers on the sewol didn't do what they were told it saved their lives, many more stayed below deck as instructed and browned. new footage shows the captain being treated after abandoning his ship. according to the doctor who saw him, he didn't disclose his true identity. >> i didn't ask him directly but i remember seeing a list stating he was passenger. i think he said so when he was questioned. we weren't told he was the captain. and we never thought he was. >> reporter: condemnation from the country's president couldn't have been stronger. >> the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unbe fathomable from the viewpoint of common sense and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated. >> the sewol bought from the
japanese by south core yen company is 20 years old. the korean tv channel has claimed the ferry nearly capsized last may. the ferry owner has insisted the vessel was inspected recently and passed safety checks. but this national disaster has become a test of the president's leadership. and parents like im seon mi whose daughter is still missing said the rescue raise has been too slow. >> the government is just pretending to work but it's just for show and the media played a game. this is a 100% man-made disaster. if the government had acted quicker all the children would have been saved. >> the last visible path of the sewol disappeared underwater on friday. in an attempt to keep it from sinking further three inflatables have been a teached to the keel. five guide lanes have benefited to the sight to help divers, more than 500 are involved. each one only able to stay inside the ship for 15
minutes at a time. >> the unrelenting nature of this tragedy has left even the messengers lost for word. the cover of darkness, no mask for the procession of bodies that just keep coming. >> ifill: a high-ranking south korean official was forced out today, after he took a souvenir photo at the rescue operations center. the incident infuriated the victims' relatives. an agreement reached last week in geneva showed no sign of defusing tensions in ukraine today. instead, pro-moscow separatists still refused to give up their occupation of government buildings in the east. meanwhile, vice president joe biden arrived in kiev. he's expected to announce a technical assistance package for the ukrainian government. mazda is the latest auto maker to announced a major recall. the japanese car company today pulled back more than 100,000 tribute sport utility vehicles.
parts of their frames may be prone to corrosion that could interfere with steering. the vehicles were made from model years 2001 to 2004. thousands of children and their parents descended on the south lawn of the white house today for the annual easter egg roll. the president and first lady presided, alongside a giant bunny. and mrs. obama used the day to promote her healthy eating and exercise campaign. >> we love this event. this is the largest event that we do on the south lawn, we have more than 30,000 people on the lawn today and we're just thrilled that this theme is focusing on an issue near and dear to my heart, and it's making sure our young people are active and healthy. >> ifill: the obamas oversaw the 136th egg roll on the lawn. the president also gave his annual reading from the maurice sendak children's book, "where the wild things are." wall street started the week with modest gains. the dow jones industrial average picked up 40 points to close at
16,449. the nasdaq rose 26 points to close at 4,121. and the s-and-p 500 added 7 to finish near 1,872. still to come on the newshour: the boston marathon returns in a show of record-breaking speed and resilience; the justice department's move to expand clemency for federal drug offenders; how one of the supreme court's former stalwarts would change the constitution; the brewing fight over voting rights; plus, remembering a prizefighter forced to battle for his own freedom. >> woodruff: more than a million spectators turned out in and around boston on a beautiful day to watch and cheer for a race that had more at stake than most years. >> please join us for a moment of silence. >> woodruff: the morning began with a moment of silence at the
starting line before the 118th boston marathon officially got under way. then, the mood quickly shifted to celebration and resilience, amid extremely tight security along the 26.2 mile route. 5,000 police officers were on hand, including 500 working undercover. the u.s. secretary of homeland security jeh johnson monitored the race. >> we remain vigilant. we're all dedicated to this coordinated effort and we're here to support a secure event. >> woodruff: more than 100 cameras were installed to keep a close watch along the course. some 50 observation points were also set up near the finish line. >> anything of trouble and any person that's presenting a concern to us may be monitored very quickly. >> woodruff: all the added security seemed to go down well with the estimated million-plus spectators who turned out. >> i think it's great.
i happen to believe those that say it's the safest place on the planet today. >> there's a lot more security and if you pay any attention to what's happened over the last year, i mean if you have any interest in running, this is where you want to be today. >> woodruff: especially this year. >> we'll be ready and it wa was-- it's more joy than anything else. >> organizers expanded the field to some 36,000 athletes from around the world. the second most in the race's history that was partly to accommodate those who raced to honor the three killed and more than 260 wounded in the bombing. >> it's very special and it's special because she wants to run for everyone that can't so it's very special, especially after last year. >> woodruff: as well as another 5,000 who couldn't finish the race last year because of the bombings.
banners were also displayed across the city's main public park, boston common, allowing spectators to sign them as a show of support for today's racers and last year's victims. in the end, an american man won for the first time in three decades. meb keflizighi, a naturalized u.s. citizen by way of eritrea, finished in a little more than two hours and eight minutes. he wrote the names of the bombing victims, in black, along the corners of his race bib. and, rita jeptoo of kenya captured the women's title for the second consecutive time. she also smashed a 12-year course record in the process, finishing just under two hours and 19 minutes. >> woodruff: given the anniversary, the ramped-up security and the running records, it was indeed a memorable patriots day in boston. we check in with two who were out there for it. maria cramer of the boston globe. she joins us this evening from
the boston common. and adam reilly of w.g.b.h. public tv in boston. maria cramer, how did the day go overall? what would you say? >> it was, i mean there were so many police officers out there i would have to say it was very calm. the crowds were very well behaved. they listened to the instructions which were don't come in with backpacks. please abide by these rules and the day should go pretty well. and in boston so far from what i hear there is only one arrest for disorderly conduct. it looks like it's been a successful day in terms of security. >> woodruff: adam reilly wa, did would you add, how did you feel went. >> i would echo the point maria made. the mood in copley square where i was right by the finish line, the mood was extremely relaxed. i tried to find people who might take issue with the enhanced security. and i wasn't able to find anyone. much like the people you quoted in your settup piece, people basically said to me this is probably the single safest spot in the country or maybe on the planet right now. and if this is the price we
have to pay to feel safe and to be able to conduct marathon a year after what happened, we're fine with it. so very relaxed. and it was interesting. the enhanced security sometimes things like presidential nominating conventions, you will detect a little animosity between say members of the media and security personnel or security personnel sort of wear their authority heavily, at least which was that was not the case today it was very low key. i think probably more effective as a result. >> woodruff: maria what did you feel, see that was different about security this year. what was visible that was different? >> there were a lot more dogs. and there were streets that were closed that are normally not closed. and boilston street which is a street where people can go back and forth very easily that have a lot of fro dom and access to that area, that was closed by noon. no more pedestrians were allowed on to that street. to the annoyance of some people who were trying to get on from nearby newbury street. like adam state, most people
understood this is what it has to be like. so it was very, very tight in terms of where you could walk. that's not the kind of marathon most people in boston are used to. and i done know if that's what is is going to look like next year. it will be interesting to see if they replicate this. but i think the police really feel like this was the way to handle it and most spectators agreed with them. >> maria -- >> adam, go ahead. >> i'm sorry for jumping in. i was going underscore, to have boilston street closed off i believe from the boston public garden to massachusetts avenue, that's a big deal. i was trying to connect with my cameraman earlier this morning. and it took me a good 45 minutes to basically do the equivalent of crossing a street in two minutes. now that's not a big deal because it was an inconvenience for me. but as maria mentioned, i think a lot of spectators were kind of thrown. there were times when it was a little unclear about how you were supposed to get from point a to point b. but again general accept an-- acceptance was the rule. >> maria, you go ahead.
i want to hear what you have to say. >> well, you know, i was going to say exactly what adam said. basically people, they have been advertising for a while, the police have been pretty vocal about what they were going to do, especially in boston where the marathon struck-- excuse me where the bomb struck last year. they told people, you know, be prepared for this. so people weren't prepared, many of them were perplexed and cursing under their breath a couple of times. so you know, you had some surprise on that level. and it was confusing. but the goal was to have a few people on boilston as possible so that police and anti-crime units, plain clothes officer kos move around and that is what they seem to have accomplished. >> maria, did you sense there was an effect on the runners themselves it? i know there were what, 9,000 more than last year. >> i think in a way there was because the crowds are usually a little thicker along boilston street. you saw some runners sort of throwing their hands up trying to get the tears and the screams to be a little
louderment and i was asking some spectators who come year after year, yeah, usually you have more people along boilston street, they said it seems like people are more subdued and i don't flow if it is because they are looking for things f they are looking on the street to see if any bags have been left behind, if there was any fear. so there was a calmness to this marathon that you normally don't see it is normally a much rowdier event. and i think there was a sort of feeling of let's just see if everything's okay. >> woodruff: adam -- >> before we get too excited. >>it is interesting that maria said that, i had heard something different from a couple runners at the finish line. hi one woman tell me that the crowd, which is known for being an incredibly supportive crowd that it was sort of even more passionate and supportive this year than in previous years. but that just goes to show you that these things are subjective. i think that a lot of the runners i talked to decided that they were going to run because of what happened last year. that was why they were here today. or a big part of the reason. but they also told me that
once the race began, by and large they put the fears out of their mind. >> woodruff: and adam, is it-- did you get a sense from people that they hoped that this kind of security is not there indefinitely? >> i did not hear that from a single spectator or a single participant. but it will be really interesting to see maria mentioned what subsequent marathons are going to look like. i think that is the huge unanswered question. the security going to become standard is there going to become a point after which people start to chafe at this. this year, everybody was a little bit anxious even though we all assumed it was a safe event, i think there was still sort of a collective sigh of relief when it ended without anything weird or unpleasant happening. twoiers from now, photograph years from now, 10 years from now, that discussion may be different. >> adam riley, wgbh, maria cramer of the "boston globe" joining us, thank you from the boston commons. >> thank you.
>> ifill: the justice department announced today it would expand the criteria used to decide which drug offenders are eligible for presidential clemency. hundreds, if not thousands, of inmates could qualify for suspended sentences. in a video released online, attorney general eric holder said more details would be announced later this week. >> they went into effect, we expect to receive thousands of additional application for clemency. with the department of justice will meet this need by assigning potentially dozens of lawyers with backgrounds in both prosecution and defense to review applications and provide the scrutiny that all clemency application require. >> ifill: jeffrey brown picks up the story from there. >> brown: we look at the new guidelines with bill mccollum, former attorney general from florida and-- he is now a lawyer in private practice in washington and vanita gupta
of american civil liberties unit and from the aclu center for justice, what is the problem addressed here by the president and attorney general holder. >> sure, well, vince 1980 our federal prison system has grown by about 800%. and about half are serving time for drug offenses. the attorney general put it better than anyone, our nation's top law enforcement ferr, back in august, when he said too many people are serving too much time in our federal prison system for low-level o february-- offenses. it's coming at a huge cost to taxpayers. the federal prison system right now is about 35 to 40% overcrowd. and it's over 70% ofs this serving name our federal pli sons are black and hispanic. the federal prison system has been racially disproportionate in its impact so this is part of the problem that the attorney general is seeking to solve. >> brown: bill mccollum, do agree there is a problem and if so, is this its right
approach tox expand the number of clemencis? >> i think clemency is in order for certain cases right now that has not been done in the past. i think the federal government more than the states where i served on florida's clemency board for a number of years as attorney general. in the federal area they've had very few. the president hasn't pardoned very many people, haven't had very many come outation of sentences and the sentences in the past have lead to certain cases which really do need to be addressed, where people were oversentenced in 2010 those sentencing goid lines were reduced significantly, especially in the drug area. and if the procedures that the attorney general is going to follow will indeed track those changes, and let some people out of prison who have been in there a long time that shouldn't be there, then i'm all for it on the other hand i don't want anybody to be left way false impression there are people who commit very serious drug-related crimes, trafficking in large quantities of drugs. and if you traffic in enough hair winn, cocaine, are you killing a-- heroin and cocaine are you killing a lot of people.
and the mandatory sentencing is very valid for you and you haven't have your sentence commuted. so i believe that probably attorney general holder will do the right thing but we have to wait and see. >> brown: vanita gupta, that really is the question of the criteria here. what is used, what should be used to decide who is eligible? >> sure, the attorney general's announcement today follows an announcement by the deputy attorney general back in february who said that they were seeking increased commutations for people serving very long sentences for low level crime with good prison time, it will be a very highly screened scrutinized process to select the right number of people. unfortunately n our federal system there are hundreds if not thousands of people who actually fit that criteria. and so there is no shortage but it is a very select group of people that the attorney general is targeting for commutation recommendation. >> brown: bill mccollum what
concerns you, i guess, as you look at those numbers. because they do use-- they do talk about using-- looking at people for nonviolent crimes. >> well, nonviolent can include a drug trafficker who is not used a gun or a knife or anything. if you are a drug smuggler and you are shipping large gaunts-- quantities, a kilo of heroin, 5 kilos of cocaine, some huge quantities and those are huge quantities of the drugs in the united states and distributing them, then you may be doing it without violence. and you have got to take that into account. it's not just a question of violence. it's a question of quantity and whether you are a dealer or whether whether you are a mule as they used to call it when i was in congress and chairing the subcommittee on crime. you are just going along as i side player, or maybe you got caught up as the girlfriend as some cases demonstrated of a drug dealer and you didn't turn states evidence so the prosecutor decided they were going to throw the book at you. those kind of case does need to be addressed. but the major drug traffickers shouldn't. and the other thing about the federal system, it's
very important, it's not addressed really at all. many states it isn't either. and that's rehabilitation, getting prisoners ready to go back out again into the streets. and giving them job skills. giving them training. something that i have long advo cade. and it just is hearing, you know, falling on deaf ears many times in the federal prison system. so the return to prison rate is very high. and if we take a lot of these folks and put them out on the streets then my concern in part is going to be if they don't have this just right, you're going see people returning to prison, committing other crimes and then returning to prison, it is a public safety issue then. >> do you want to respond to that? >> i think the-- department of justice will be carefully scrutinizing the kinds of petitions that mr. mccollum just spoke about. >> brown: they did say they will put more attorneys assigned to this. which means the use of resources which is another issue. >> absolutely. they're going to have to. because the response is going to be overwhelming. but you know, the reality is mandatory sentencing has completely hamstrung the
federal system. federal judges have been unable to do their jobs in the system. and there is a real need for reform so while we are very eagerly anticipating a very robust greening and scrutinizing process in this clemency announcement today, the reality is we need to actually see action from congress. and see congress enact the smarter sentencing act to really kind of enact the kinds of reforms that we're seeing take place in red and blue states around the country, reforming mandatory minimum sentencing lieus and keeping crime rates on the decline. so that's going to necessarily be a part of the effort on criminal justice reform for the next few years. >> what, do you have a sense now of the impact of this step. i mean we're talking about thousands of people potentially out there. >> well, i worry about the numbers. we're going to have to wait and see. but what i am concerned about is what i just heard her say and that is the idea that you can take this example and suddenly say mandatory sentences all together ought to be done away with and judges should
have discretion thax is where we were in the 80s and 90s when we put these in place. and we were getting widely disparate sentences, different sentences in the federal system judges and how they sen tensd. how i think there have been abuses and some statutes need to be adjusted. the idea of doing away all together of mandatory sentencing for major traffickers or for people who commit crimes with guns like in my home state where there is a 10-20 life precision for using a gun or committing, firing the gun in the commission of a crime, think think it would be a big mistake to do away with those. we don't need to go back to that system that failed before. we need determinate sentencing where we can and adjust it so we don't have harsh and wrong outcomesment and use the clemency laws where it is appropriate that is why they are there. >> brown: very brief response. >> i don't think that we're actually that far off. the reforms that are on the table really apply to nonviolent offenses and that is where judges need to have more discretion to be able to tailor sentences in nonviolent drug cases. >> brown: okay, we will watch the next step, vanita
gupta, and bill mccullum, thanks very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now, a former supreme court justice takes on the u.s. constitution and the court he stepped away from. john paul stevens was known in his 35 years in office for views that evolved from the time he was appointed by republican president gerald ford, to one of the court's most outspoken liberal voices. today, four years after retiring, the 94-year-old continues to make waves, with an ambitious new book, calling for it's titled, "six amendments: how and why we should change the constitution." i talked to him last week in his chambers at the supreme court. just fis john paul stevens, thank you for talking with us. >> i'm happy to be here. >> woodruff: you're asking to amend the constitution six different ways. how practical is that? >> well, it certainly would
take time to do that job completely, but there's no reason why one or two amount amendments might an don'ted before the others. and i think the issues in each of the ones i discussed, are sufficiently important that it's worth spending time debating and thinking about it. >> woodruff: you single out rules, justice stevens, that were handed down as you point out by a slim majority of the court over the last 40 years, that you say and i'm quoting you now, have had such a profound and unfortunate impact on our basic law, that resort to the process of amendment is warranted. you're essentially taking on the modern supreme court. >> well, of course i've been trying to do that for many years. but i think there were incorrect decisions that were profoundly unwise and really contrary to a lot of things that our country
stands for. and i think they should be changed. >> you're speaking in a mild mannered way, justice stevens but i can tell you feel pretty strongly about this. >> i do. no doubt about that. >> let's talk about some of the ways that you would like to see the constitution changed. among other things, you want an amendment that requires the states not to draw legislative or congressional districts in a way to increase partisan strength. we know clearly there is partisan redistricting. but most redistricting is done around real populations live, whether it's an an urban area, suburban area, why isn't this something that is better left to the political process? >> well, because the political process has misfired. and a number of states the dominant party has redistricted with its own objective of strengthening its control of the state in the future. and congressional delegation
at the time by drawing bizarre districts that have no purpose whatsoever other than to enhance the political strength of the party in power. now it's my very profound view that-- the primary duty to follow to make impartial decisions not motivated by personal profit or personal gain or-- just to the political party of whom, which he is a member. >> so you're saying take it out of politics. >> well, not entirely. but don't allow districts to be drawn for no reason other than police call advantage. there are times when political consideration conditions taken into account in making certain mineary justments. but the examples that i talked about in the book, are examples of districts
that are bizarre in shape and have obviously no justification other than the impermissible justification of partisan advantage to those who drafted the districts. >> you also want to amend the constitution to abolish the death penalty. people who have always opposed the death penalty lament how long they say it took you to change your mind. from the time you came on the court in 1975 number 2008. why do you think it took you as long as it did to change your mind and was it for humane reasons or constitutional reasons? >> well, i think that what has happened in the period that i have been on the court is that the court has used death penalty litigation to develop rules that make conviction more likely than it should be. that rules governing the selection of the jury, for example. rules governing the admissibility of victim
impact evidence at the penalty phase of the trial. those rules have slabted the opportunity for justice-- in favor of the prosecutor. and i think it's particularly incorrect to do it in the capital context because the cost is so high f you make a mistake in a capital case there is no way to take care of it later on. and the risk of an incorrect execution in any case to me is really intolerable. and the system should not permit that possibility to exist. >> another controversy you're jumping right into is campaign finance. you believe congress should be able to put limits on the amount of money candidates spend on their campaigns. >> yes. >> and that the supreme court has made mistakes in several decisions allowing corporations, labor unions to advocate and spend money on candidates. considering all the court has done, justice stevens,
to open the door for huge none to pour into american politics including the recent mccutchen decision what effect does all this have on american politics? >> well, i don't think it's a healthy effect. and i think it's a change from what the people who frame our basic government enfigures. for the-- as the chief justice said i think in the first sentence of his opinion in the mccutchen case the our day there is nothing more important than participation in electing our representatives. but the law that developed in that case and in a number of other cases involved not electing the representatives of the people who voted for them, but electing representatives of-- in other jurisdictions where the financing is used. in other words, that was a case that involved the right of an individual to spend as
much of its money as he wanted to, to elect representives of other people. he didn't use any of that money to elect his own representatives. and i think that's a disportion-- distortion of the concept that he started with many, many years ago. >> the last area that i want to ask you about is what this country should do about guns. you would change the wording of the second amendment to the constitution to say the right of people to bear arms to own a gun should apply only when serving in the militia. is it your ultimate hope that there would be no right to own a gun for self-defence. >> well, it would be my ultimate hope that legislature was decide the issue and not be hampered by constitutional restrictions. because clearly legislators are in a much better position than judges are to decide what could be per missable in different context. and the effect of the second amendment as it is now
construed is to make federal judges the final arbiters of policy which is quite wrong, i think and quite contrary to what the framers intended when they drafted the second amendment to protect states from the danger that a strong federal armed force where able to-- the states of their own militias. >> when you look at all of these changes that you would like to see in the constitution, and whether it's campaign finance, redistricting or something else, do you believe the more conservative members of the supreme court have a partisan agenda? do you think they are actually trying to get conservatives elected? >> no i don't think so. i wouldn't question their motives at all. i think they have come to the incorrect conclusion but i do think they have-- or they have had chances to take a different tact, i
think they have acted increase correctly but i would not suggest that any of them were improperly motivated do you think you should have stayed on the court longer. >> no f anything i stayed on too long. >> how does a justice know when it is the right time to retire, what gow think? >> well n my face i can remember the events that triggered the specific decision. -- i announced it orally and stumbled in my announcement. i had a little difficulty expressing myself that that was out of character, and i took that as a warning sign that maybe i had been around longer than i should. justice john paul stevens thank you very much for talking with us. the book 16th amendment, how and why we should change the
constitution. >> thank you it's been a pleasure being here >> ifill: the supreme court's rulings continue to resonate on any number of critical issues. and as the midterm elections approach, we turn our attention tonight to one decision that could have immediate impact. >> ifill: in the nearly a year since the supreme court struck down a key portion of the voting rights act, five states have tightened access to voting. from texas to virginia, state and local governments have taken steps to require voter identification, eliminate same- day registration, and to limit voting hours and locations. the obama administration is now pushing back, launching its own investigations into polling place complaints. the president himself has led the charge, here at the johnson
library in austin earlier this month. >> the stark, simple truth is this: the right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the voting rights act became law nearly five decades ago. >> ifill: former president bill clinton, also speaking at the l.b.j. library, suggested the supreme court decision was a setback for civil rights. all of a sudden there are new barriers to vote an making it harder to vote. is this what martin luther king gave his life for s this what lyndon johnson employed his legendary skills for? >> >> ifill: 11 states now have strict voter i.d. laws on the books. while seven others are working to loosen restrictions. officials in the affected states long argued that justice department scrutiny is no longer needed, and a bigger threat is posed by people who abuse the franchise by voting under duplicate names or at incorrect locations. part of the backdrop in senate the debate: who votes. non-whites make up 37% of the
u.s. population. but in 2012, they made up just 28 percent of the electorate. the percentage was even lower, 23%, during the 2010 midterm elections. that's the year republicans took back control of the house. >> ifill: we take a closer look now at a state where the fight over voting laws has been gathering steam, north carolina. we get two different views from republican state representative david lewis. and kareem crayton, a professor at the u.n.c. school of law. so since its supreme court professor crayton ruledas june how have things changed in your home state. >> a number of things agoed fairly quickly after the court adopted its decision. one thing was, an omnibus voting bill was adopted that essentially undid a lot of the progress that north carolina made over theas decade or so in making voting easier for citizens
to cast the ballot. and the omnibus bill did among other things rolled back same day registration t limited the number of days that one could access early voting and most significant in what is in courts right now, being litigated is the effort to impose new requirements on voter i.d.s. >> representative lewis as someone who presumably voted for that legislation, explain why. >> well, thank you so much for the chance to be with you and as i have said repeatedly during the debate t has been our goal to make sure that every person who is eligible to vote is fully able to vote and encouraged to do so. we felt like that there were some additional procedures, some common sense things that needed to be passed to improve the overall integrity of the process, to make sure that everyone who wanted to vote was able to vote and that those votes
cum latifly determined who wins and who loses elections. >> as you probably are away, president obama and attorney general holder, even former president clinton spoke in the last couple of weeks saying it this was a setback for voting rights. what is your response to them? >> i would have to respectfully disagree. as i have said all along it is our intent that everyone who is eligible to vote be able to go to the ballot box and exercise their sacred right to participate. but it's important to point out that if we don't have logical safeguards, like the professor pointed out in his opening remarks, that we no longer have same-day legislation. well, the reason we don't is taos there was no way to have enough time to do the mail verification process to make sure that someone who registers and votes on the same day is, in fact, entitled to vote. so the election would be over, the election results
would be in, and then we find out that perhaps this person shouldn't have been able to vote at all. so i would respectfully say that i think a lot of the noise out of the left right now on voting rights is more of a political issue meant to energize their base and to agitate, maybe even to scare some folks. certainly it is our intent as i said all along that everyone be entitled to vote who wants to do so. >> let me ask professor crayton to respond. there is a lot to respond to. take your pick. >> i think everyone who is entitled to vote, every citizen in the state of north carolina has been entitled to have the right to vote. and it shouldn't be limited-- it seems to me, the court decisions have supported this view unless they're really significant issues or rationals on the other side.
i think the problem really is reflected in the legislature omnibus bill is that some of it doesn't really fit the evidence that is on the record as to what the problem is they're trying to solve. not really a great deal of evidence at all of the kind of corruption or fraud that seemingly is motivating the legislature. but i think the other thing about common sense that the representative raises, i think everybody that likes to encourage decisions that are reflecting common sense values. but when a voter i.d. bill, for example, says we want you to show valid photo i.d., that they don't permit, say, at the university of north carolina where i work, a student who has voter i.d. but shows his picture and who he iss, that is not commit permitted to be used in the voting polls if seems to be not really reflective of the common sense that i think most north carlinians expect. >> ifill: so what do you think is the motivating force behind these laws? >> well some of it, of course, is, you know, i think most people recognize the republicans are take over the legislature and you know, just as democrat does
in some case, they want to have structural options that make it more likely that their voters come out and others that don't. but i think the other element of this that is troubling, more troubling to me, frankly, when there is evidence that there are disparate levels of access to the ballots by having some of these rules in place, particularly disparrate levels with respect to race where african-americans are less likely to be able to get access to the ballot because they've used early voting in the past, when you put those in the place that make that less available t creates problems that i think require greater attention. and the voting rights act made legislatures pay closer attention to it without having such-- review in place, we now have to litigate in order to get that attention. >> ifill: representative lewis, that is a lot on your plate now. he talked about race. he talked about fairness, he talked about partisanship. how much do any of those things play a role in this debate? >> well, as the professor knows, why yes, citizenship is the threshold that must be met in order to be able
to vote. so the courts have ruled that things like requiring voter registration are in no way an impediment to being able to exercise that right. and as far as the number of days that are allowed for early voting, i would encourage the professor and all of your viewers to look across the country at the average number of days and will you find that most states across the country have eight days, north carolina has ten. we also passed language in the legislate that said we had the same number of hours in which that the voter kos go to the polls and exercise their right. the thoughts were compaqly like in my own home county, that more one stop sites would be opened up in order to meet that. so that the person who wakes up early in the morning and gets their kids ready for skol and goes to work and works all day and picks the kids up from day care and has just enough time to get home and-- .
>> ifill: but let me ask you this. is it fixing a problem that you have evidence that fixed a problem that existed? >> well, we definitely have evidence as i said that some folks that registered to 1r0e9 on the same day were never able to be verified. we don't know if they were actually eligible to vote or not. we think it does make sense to present a photo i.d. that the photo matches the name to say who you say you are. the professor referenced student i.d.. doesn't make sense that if are you going attest as a constitution of trt carolina call force that you are a res dent the state that you would have taken time to have gone to the dmv and to get your driver's license or to get your nonoperator its licence f this is true, this is the gnome which are you going to exercise that precious right to vote, certainly being able to obtain an i.d. at no direct
cost to you can't be considered an impediment to voting. >> well this sounds like this is an issue that the administration is certainly not going to give up on. and the supreme court may have just tarted this argument. kareem crayton from the university of north carolina and david lewis north carolina house of representatives, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, remembering a fighter whose battle for justice became his touchstone. and back to jeff for that story. >> there's the bell in round two. >> brown: middleweight- prizefighter rubin carter knocked out 19 opponents in the early 1960s, earning the nickname "hurricane." but his boxing career came to an abrupt end in 1967, when an all-white jury in new jersey convicted him of a triple murder in a patterson bar. 19 years after his imprisonment, a federal judge dismissed the charges and freed carter, citing
a racist prosecution. >> they sentenced me to a life of living death, and there was no other way to describe the nature of a prison. prison destroys everything that is valuable in a human being. it destroys family, it destroyed mine. it destroys one's dignity, and >> ifill: while in prison, carter became a symbol of racial injustice, his story made famous by a 1975 bob dylan song. ♪ here comes the story of the hurricane ♪ the man the authorities came to blame ♪ for something that he never done >> ifill: his fight for freedom was introduced to a new generation by the 1999 film "the hurricane," starring denzel washington as carter.
if we take the new evidence before the federal judge he's got to look at it before he throws it out, right? i believe that once he looks at it he'll have seen the truth. having seen the truth, can't turn his back on me! >> ifill: in his later years, carter founded an organization, "innocence international" to help prisoners it considered wrongly-convicted. he wrote a recent op-ed in the new york daily news on behalf of one such prisoner. of his own life, he wrote: >> brown: rubin carter died from prostate cancer at his home in toronto. he was 76 years old. >> brown: selwyn raab was an investigative reporter for the new york times who covered rubin carter for 30 years. his reporting in the seventies helped eventually prove carter's innocence. thanks for joining me.
fyke take us back to that home in the 1960s. how did this become such a major cause that engaged so many people? >> the importance of rubin carter's case is that it spotlighted how extensive racial prejudice was in the criminal justice system. and it occurred at a time when there were wide spread civil unrest throughout the nation. and this case didn't occur in the bastions of the south where all this anti-integration fights it occurred presumably and supposedly in the north n new jersey. just a short hop over the george washington bridge in the suburb of new york so that attracted a lot of attention. further further more carter because of his celebrity as a well-known boxer almost won the middle a championship, he attracted a lot of attention. attention from other boxers like muhammed ali, a lot of
show businesspeople like bob dylan, so you just couldn't bury this case. >> brown: you met him back then. tell us a little about him during that time and what happened when he was convicted. >> well, even though he had this reputation of being a ferocious boxer and a radical militant, he was a very soft-spoken, well thought, well articulated, charismatic character. and there was never a sign of bitterness out of him, even though all of the trouble that he had gone through and the idea that he had been sentenced to life in prisonment, very well-spoken, very well-read, self-educated. somebody who knew what he wanted to do and how to accomplish it. >> brown: and he set his own terms in prison, didn't he. the way he served his time. >> yeah, the first thing he said to me was they can imprison my body but they'll never imprison my mind. and he felt if he had ever
agreed and kported with the institutional regulations, that would be evidence of his guilt so what he did was he stayed by himself most of the time, reading and thinking. and at the same time we not eat in the prison lunchrooms. he had small band of supporters who brought him in canned food and soup and he had an electric coil. and he would never comply. they asked him to teach boxing. they asked him to participate in boxing matches. and to that, to him that would have been an indication that he was guilty. and so he never did that. he was always his own man. >> brown: a lot of complications to this story that we can't walk all through the details. but just remind us, the federal judge when he through this out, what was he saying in essence that had happened in the prosecution. >> well, the federal judge said that rubin carter and his codefendant john artis, the forgotten man in this
story had been framed not once but twice. at both trials, at the two trials that he underwent, the first trial there was a-- jury and there as racial prejudice and perjury against the two main witnesses. at the second trial they introduced a racial motive without any evidence and they also withheld again important evidence that would have cleared carter and artis about the main witness against them. so both times he was con be fronted by this kind of situation where prosecutor was go to almost any length to convict him. >> brown: and very briefly we mentioned that right up to the end he had founded an organization so he stayed with this issue until the end. >> yeah, he never forgot the other people who were in prison. so that was really the calls forth rest of his life after he got out of prison. and he dedicated himself to that. so it is another example of how he was forthright and he
wasn't totally selfish. and he was always worried, always talking about the other inmates. he knew there were many of him who had been convicted wrongly. now of course there were plenty of people who say they have been railroaded. carter knew about that but he made sure that he wasn't going to be railroaded. >> brown: on the life of rubin carter, thanks sop much. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. nearly 36,000 runners took part in the boston marathon, a year after bombs at the finish line killed three people. and south korean teams pulled more bodies from a sunken ferry, with more than 200 people still missing. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, what happens when a country says goodbye to it's pennies? it's been just over a year since canada stopped minting it's one- cent coins. now comes the hard part:
collecting and recycling all of that copper and steel. you can read about that on our homepage. all week long we'll be focusing on any number of items, from pennies to microbes to cursive writing, remember that, that are also going "extinct." all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, scientists try to bring extinct species, like the wooly mammoth, back to life. plus, the supreme court hears arguments in a case that could determine the future of t.v. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪
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