tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC June 27, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
that for us is our broadcast on a busy wednesday night. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from msnbc headquarters here in new york. he was the tallest ever member of the united states senate. 6'9" and his nickname big luther. not an original nickname which your name is luther. he play the varsity basketball back in his college days. back in the day of short basketball shorts and ended up as the attorney general for the great state of alabama when the governor found himself in a particularly visceral sex scandal. this was the governor. there were publicly released
audio recordings of the governor with his mitt rstress alongside sex scandal part of it but misuse of public funds that went along with the sex scandal. that scandal lead to an impeachment investigation. this was a serious thing and started an impeachment investigation against him until big luther, state attorney general intervened to stop t. came to the legislature and said hold off and it was a law enforcement matter. he and the attorney general's office would be handling that. so toent let the legislative
inquiry get in the way. they stood down and stayed they will wait to hear how they are going to handle it. we will put impeachment proceedings on hold. meanwhile, the united states of america had a presidential election with the surprising result that donald trump was elected president. one effect of him being elected was perhaps more shocking result that jefferson sessions the third once rejected from the consideration because he was seen as racially bias for alabama and that was by a republican controlled congressional committee. senator jeff sessions would ascend to become attorney general of the united states. perhaps, more shocking than donald trump becoming president. to see eric holder and loretta
lynch to be succeeded that hit america like a 2 x 4 upside the head. jeff sessions becoming the attorney general had the consequence of opening up the senate seat where the governor of alabama in the midst of the horrific sex scandal and the bipartisan impeachment proceedings that was halted by the veintervention of the attory general. looked around in that moment and frankly looked up in that moment and decided that of all of the good people in the great state of alabama, the one who should get named to the newly vacant senate seat was big luther. the attorney general who took over the investigation and stopped him from being impeached. there didn't have to be an
election, the governor got to pick whoever he wanted and pecked big luther. he was sworn in and announced his office never really had the governor under investigation and didn't know why anyone had that impression. that's how big luther strange got to the united states senate. that's how they do things in alabama republican politics. when something like that is on origin story, it is almost inevitable that the story will end as badly as it began. and indeed, luther strange still holds the record to be the tallest ever person in the u.s. senate but he is gone from the senate and the governor is no longer governor. this is the smiling creepy mug shot is and these are the charges brought against him and as the door prize in the roll,
mr. strange got to hold on to the u.s. senate seat for a few months even after the governor was forced out and the people got a say and alabama republicans held a primary last summer and a run off last fall in both elections and this incumbent senator who was appointed by the disgrace governor, got beat both times by a supreme court justice who was thrown off of the court for violations of ethics. he was the senator who filled jeff sessions and didn't make it a year. he was out by december. the republican candidate who beat him in the primary faced multiple multiple allegations of child molestation and when it came time in december for not just
republicans but the whole state of alabama to vote for a full term senator in the special election, alabama decided they were going to pick a democrat. thanks to big luther change and he is weird fake pledge that he was investigating the sex scandal governor, thanks to the sex governor himself and roy moore and i'm a republican too and you need to know about this guy and his thing with little teen girls. the alabama republican men and thank you to democrats we know it is alabama but we might be able to compete there too. thanks to all of the unlikely little stars aligning. jeff sessions is now held by a democrat doug jones.
and with senator doug jones of alabama in that seat, the ballots of power in the united states senate is that the republicans have 51 seats but democrats have 49. with a republican president in office, with this particular one, a reasonable observer might reasonably have predicted that justice anthony kennedy would choose this time to retire. we're going to talk about some of the reasons he night not retire and some stuff about president trump you might think would have given him pause about who he would trust to choose his successor. she a republican and president trump is a republican. that's all you need. anthony kennedy retiring has been predictable ever since the republicans won the white house in 2016. under no circumstances could anybody have plausibly predicted
on election day in 2016 that jeff sessions seat would be held by a democrat. it took a lot of almost unbelievably strange things to happen to get a democratic u.s. senator in 2017 and 2018. and because of that, i know there is a lot of mashing of teeth and anxiety among democrats saying oh, god all that is lost with anthony kennedy retirement. if you don't look at this in the abstract and if you look at it in the specific, we are on day one on what is going to turn out to be a super fascinating fight and i mean fascinating in the sense that this is about to be suspenseful and hard-fought and exciting in the way they are
exciting when they are important and you don't know how they are beginning to turn out and this one has additional excitement because this one might turn out in a way that has something to do with how hard you work on it and there aren't many political problems that are specific and have a clear outcome and you might be involved. this is one of them. the reason anthony kennedy's retirement felt like a earthquake, the biggest since the election of trump and the subsequent revelation that a foreign adversary had a role in electing trump. it is a once many nyc a lifetime show stopping political moment for democrats, is not necessarily because of anything about anthony kennedy but because of this. conservative justice died of february 2016, president obama picked a nominee to succeed him.
described by everybody as a centrist and a moderate and described as the kind of person seen as a consensus nominee. someone who republicans could not have a conceivable rejection too. decided to do something without precedence and hold his seat open for a year and refused to meet with the nominee, hold a hearing, vote or consider a nomination. specifically because they said president obama should not be allowed to name a justice to the court. no nominee no matter who it was. have to wait for a new election. new rule. had that not happened and pointed to fill that open seat after scalia died, today would be an important day with anthony
kennedy but it wouldn't not be anywhere near the consequential cross roads. the weight this moment and the weight is because of what they did to president obama. he did it without any hesitance or shame and they just declared new rule, this president isn't going to get to name a new justice. nope. no nominees considered until after the election. that is how we got to this moment. as of today, democrats have a decision to make. and republicans do too. everybody in this country who has a senator has a decision to make on this too. it is simple. democrats, presumably, are not in this circumstance, the door mats that republicans want them to be.
democrats know what happenedthe. democrats know what happened to them. democrats know what happened to president observe, having lost a democratic supported nominee, presumably, democrats realized they should not ratify it by going back to regular orderer and let the republicans have this next one too. if the justification from blocking president observe ama that -- it is june of an election year why not make republicans hue to the same standard. democrats are either doormats or insist on consistency. insist that the kennedy vacancy will be treated the same, right? i know it sounds blunt but the
democrats are already there. >> our republican colleagues in the senate should follow the rule they set in 2016. not to consider a supreme court justice in an election year. senator mcconnell will tell anyone who listened that the senate had the right to advise and consent and that was every bit as important as the president's right to nominate. millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote or confirm or reject the nominee and the voices deserve to be heard now as leader mcconnell thought they should be heard then. >> that was him on the floor of the senate responding to the anthony kennedy resignation. no vote on a successor until after the election. same rule should be applied now. and republicans wouldn't hold
hearings then. same rule should apply. senator fine stien. she said the same thing. there should be no consideration until the american people have a chance to weigh in. the senate should follow the mcconnell standard. senator elizabeth warren of massachusetts a likely democratic president the -- mitch mcconnell should follow the rule. >> senator mcconnell set the new standard by giving the american people their say in the upcoming election before court vacancies
are filled. >> also on the judiciary committee seen as rising star, she makes the same case. the american people who are set to vote in less than four months deserve to have their voice heard. we should not vote on confirmation until they have voted at the ballot box and then this from senator chris murphy, he was right out of the gate with a statement calling this a red alert moment for the american people and explained what he meant to reporters. >> it is absolutely hypocrisy for them to move forward on a vote now when he wasn't willing to do that in the 2016 election. >> we hold mitch mcconnell to the precedent he set in 2016, it is not something that i agreed
to, but he should expect to be consistent. >> senator murphy will be joining us here live in a moment. that is what the democrats are saying. you wouldn't consider president obama's nominee until after the election in 2016 then your nominee will not be considered until after the election in 2018. which gives them the right to say yes or no to the nominee. i know what you are thinking, oh, democrats right up on your hind legs. what can you do? you're in the minority. all right. two things to keep in mind here. number one, is big luther, who is not there anymore. the junior u.s. senate seat held by big luther strange republican last year when the senate -- big luther strange is gone and
replaced by a democrat, doug jones so the democrats have 49 seats and with senator john mccain out for health reasons, if democrats hold together in one big we're not door mats caucus, the only thing they need is precisely one republican vote. that's one thing to know here. that's number one. here is the other one. this last election defied lots of expectations and broke political norms and through out political rules. although, it didn't get a lot of attention at the time, one rule that was abandoned and broken and left behind in the 2016 election was the no litmus test rule. for decades, there is no one
single issue on which a nominee's decision is a deal breaker as to whether or not they are going to get appointed to a court. for decades, will you rule that the -- come now, i have no litmus test for any judicial nominee. mr. candidate will you appoint judges to make abortion legal and the candidate says when you know what the answer is, oh come on, i have no litmus test on any one issue for any potential judge. that's the way it has been for decades. in this past election that went away. on both sides. on democratic candidates said they would appoint nominees to the court that would over turn citizens united. >> and said he would only appoint judges who would
overpledge to make abortions legal. >> do you want to see the court overturn. >> if we put another two or perhaps three justices on that is what -- that will happen and that will happen automatically in my opinion because i'm putting pro-life justices on the court. >> anthony kennedy who announced the retirement was the last publicly appointed supreme court justice that voted to affirm abortion rights. when it came down to the basic question whether or not abortions should be legal, he was a no. a fire wall and making abortion illegal in this country. now, unlike previous elections
where presidential candidates refused to say they had a litmus test or any specific pledge from an issue. in this last election, candidate trump pledged and has since affirmed this programsed that he would appoint supreme court justices that would flip that vote. if he gets that nominee, say good-bye to abortion. trump-republicans will want to the bring back. kennedy was the decides vote. if you look at that overturn, row versus wade pledge. look at that part. and then do the simple math again. bye-bye luther strange. democrats at 49 seats.
they need one republican to peel off. no matter the specific policy po positions or any democratic senator. no democratic senator has a reason to volunteer to be a doormat on the issue of the supreme court. they have no reason to go along with any meetings, hearings or votes on the supreme court nominee before the election simply because that is the standard republicans insisted on and democrats can reasonably insist no matter the rest of the politics can and should and must reasonably insist that the same standard will happen this time around too. right? i mean every democratic senator is about to hear from every constituent everyday until the election and the democrats will be unified on that no doormat caucus point. if democrats, if the 49
democrats hold together on that plan and there is no reason they should not, thanks to trump's promise that the nominee will be the decides vote to make abortion illegal, what it means is that democrats need one republican vote to stop his nominee from getting through. what happens next, is there one republican in the u.s. senate who might not want to be the deciding vote that made abortion illegal in this country? is this one? senator susan collins of maine received the barry bold water award in partnership and recognizing her and fighting to ensure the rights granted to women. senator lisa of alaska, a
pro-who i say and senators voted no on a piece of republican legislation that would have been an abortion ban and instituted a 20-week ban coast to coast would not be allowed to access abortion plans. >> anti-abortion judgess and in this case, what they would be doing is providing the deciding vote literally and directly to overturn it and make abortion illegal in america. it is not theoretical and not complicated. you only have to count to one. and all that either of them have to do to avoid casting the vote, what was fair for the scalia seat is fair for the kennedy seat, let's vote after the election. that's all.
so what happens next? as of today, we embark on a four-month sprint of everybody in the country having a stake in this. everybody having a thing to focus on and a thing to aim for. if democrats are going to do this, every democrat will need to agree to not be a doormat and every senator including the pro-choice ones will have to decide if they are going to be the decides vote to over turn row versus wade and over turn abortion in the united states. i know it seems nuts, but is it more nuts than in alabama getting democrats to 49 seats. this is america, weird stuff happens. if democrats pull this off and stand together and fight this for the next four months and win it. they will stop the supreme court trump nominee and save legal abortion and prove themselves
not to be doormats and give themselves a chance to win back control in congress which will give them a thumbs up or thumbs down. they have four months starting today. no fuss, easy peasy. this is emily's third nomination and first win. um...so, just...wow! um, first of all, to my fellow nominees, it is an honor sharing the road with you. and of course, to the progressive snapshot app for giving good drivers the discounts -- no, i have to say it -- for giving good drivers the discounts they deserve. safe driving!
. here is what democratic senator chris murphy had to say. he called third-degree a red alert moment for the american people. saying senator mcconnell set a precedent when refusing to hold the rule. shouldn't consider the nominee until january and i respect republicans to honor the rule. if mcconnell insists on starting proceedings, i will do everything in my power to stop him. what is in the senator's power. senator, thank you for being with us tonight, it's appreciated. >> thanks a lot. >> so the standard that was set
by senator mcconnell when refusing to allow a vote on president obama's nominee after the seat became open and you sit cited it as something you didn't agree with but it should be followed. do your democratic agrees with you on that. >> every one of them agree so far, it was made clear by mitch mcconnell and he had 50 other republican senators who agreed with him. when you are that close to an election, you need to let the american people speak. we are focussing our energy on him and all of his colleagues agreed as well and you are right to point out that maybe we are able to get one or to republicans to break based upon
what would happen to the issue of choice if trump was able to get a new justice and we only need one republican to be significantly enough worried about the mind blowing hypocrisy of having a different standard for trump than you have for obama to stand up and say we should wait until after the election. >> with the senators i can look at them and see what they said about choice and the mixed records have been on abortion rights and this is something they might not want to be the dedie sieve vote. -- decisive vote. when it comes to a republican uncomfortable with rough bare hypocrisy in terms of the treatment of democratic and republican presidents, i don't know what to look for to recognize that. >> i think you are right.
i'm ready to make this argument anywhere and everywhere that mcconnell set a precedence that he has to hold to and for collins and hmu murkowski, the representative repeal of the affordable care act something that most people thought it was a foregone conclusion. that lead to those two senators going in and casting courageous no votes. they voted no as well. we have to walk and chew gum at the same time. build a grassroot this army that are going to make case that there's going to be a price to pay ott the poll if they push a
radical nominee through. we have to go out there and build a movement at the same time making the argument to our colleagues. >> i feel like the reaction yesterday this week to the muslim ban ruling and the reaction today to the supreme court's ruling on union rights. in term of protecting union rights. tho those were depressing developments for democrats and centrists. not necessarily unexpected but nevertheless depressing when the kennedy retirement news came out, they thought maybe clarence thomas might retire and an opportunity to have him replace him. in your tone, i hear not just a desire to fight but i hear optimism on how the fight might go. >> i'm fired up and everybody i talked to is fired up.
the highlight here will be about the future of choice in this country. we are at a moment between democracy and plu tok ra si. the only thing that stops is -- the ability of individuals to politically organize. they have been taking away the right, to vote or vote in clean elections or collectively bargain and the idea that you are going to now have five supreme court justices that are going to continue to take the rights away sending us into a downward spiral into a world which regular people have no ability to affect outcomes in washington. if that doesn't get you fired up, i don't know what does. there is a lot of things at stake. and i think we have to go out and build that army while we argue with our colleagues. >> senator chris murphy of
connecticut, thank you for being here. >> thanks. >> i want you to bring in the conversation a senior editor for slate.com. i'm going to read it to you and then tell people how they should feel. quote, many of us prekicked that kennedy would not allow trump to replace him. many of us believed that a the rule of law would not want the work tarnished by a president who attacked judges and the notion of a independent judiciary, we were wrong. you are not totally surprised that he retired, though, am i right? >> no, i mean we had heard rumors even a year ago that he was tired and wearing out. his wife wanted him to step down. we knew it was coming. i think i was one of the folks who thought justice kennedy is
the lynch pin for too much, gay rights, affirmative action, abortion rights, and so many criminal protections and elements of racial justice. he is not going to walk away and let donald trump replace him with judge judy, that is crazy. i believed that the idea of encroaching trumpism would hold him solid and i was dead wrong. >> the ruling or the opinion that he wrote, the con surring opinion in the muslim ban case was short. one-ha one-half pages. he was either giving up or that he was in agreement with the way the country is going and the type of successor that president trump might pick? >> it was such a profoundly strange concurrence. it was him alone essentially saying i'm adding my voice to
the majority of opinion and the president is within his executive power rights to do this and national security and blah blah blah but we are kind of worried and somebody should really hold these branchs in check because it is not the judicial branch. he had a line about anxious countries watching for signs of the decline of democracy. you have a sense, of him saying well, best of luck, i'm out and it read like that a little. for somebody who is always saying the courts alone can fix it and i alone on the courts can fix it. it was a change of tone that i think it signals some kind of sense that whatever is going on right now, the judicial branches not beginning to be the bull work that we thought it was. >> we spoke with senator chris murphy before we brought you on talking the plan, an active plan
by democrats to try to push a vote on the successor to justice kennedy until after the midterm it is. obviously, that was the strange new standard set by senator mcconnell when justice scalia died and they didn't want president obama to name a successor and democrats are going to try to insist that the same standard will be followed and not hearings or a vote on this new nominee until after the midterm elections and could put the senate in democratic's hands. >> you nail it had in the beginning, you said this is a power problem. democratsen don't control the sthaet or t-- senate or the judiciary committee. they are going to need behind them the folks who didn't
prioritize the supreme court in 2016 when there was an open seat and democrats just didn't prioritize the court. republicans did 2 to 1 and broke for donald trump. we can now say holy cow, our grandchildren are going to live in a world where their voting rights, labor rights, reproductive rights, lgbtq rights and children at the border is on the hook. if we don't organize around the courts in the way we failed to do in 2016, it is not on the senate t is on us. >> it is not abstract anymore, it is four months. it is put up or shut up time. that is going to make the difference. senior editor and legal correspondent for slate, we appreciate you being here thank you. >> thank you, rachel.
>> we have other big news unrelated to the supreme court that we have to get to. stay with us. lots coming on. the game" with uncle drew. this is the moment. you gonna run away from it? or are you gonna step up and take it? now introducing, aleve back and muscle pain. only aleve targets tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. so you can leave it all on the court. coach: no, kids, don't you do that! uncle drew: i could do this all day. yes, way to finish man! aleve back and muscle. all day strong. all day long.
what if birth control was illegal? what would you do? it used to be illegal and then griswold versus connecticut. that case decided 7-2 in 1965 gave marry couples the right to access birth control regardless where they lived. over the next decades, supreme court over turned laws for unmarried couples and teen na a. abortion rights guaranteed by law in all 50 states. some old bans on abortion that
existed before the supreme court rule, some old bans are in ten states the only stopping them to be active are supreme court dgs. and in some cases instantly, the second the supreme court over turns the law. the people who fight anti-abortion laws in court, they did a study last year and found if it is over turned illegal abortion will be on the chopping block in 33 out of 50 states. >> a clear majority of americans expect abortion will be legal in the country. the supreme court is about to change radically on that issue specifically and this sometimes feels like a per rential right.
to access abortion services, this may be the pull the fire alarm moment you have been expecting. i think. joining us now the former president of planned parenthood. thank you for being here. >> good to see you. >> is this the pull the fire alarm moment. >> yes. i guess what i'm hearing in the last few hours. it is going to have enormous implications for the midterm elections. >> what does that mean in terms of the organizing and activism. >> 20% of america has been marched and number one issue was women's rights. women have been organizing and
running for office and upsetting elections. women are highly motivate the right now to run for office and turn out to vote and deeply concerned about the future of le productive rights and the future of row. this is the first time we had a presidential nominee and the president saying that he will only appoint judges to the courts that want to make abortions illegal. >> this really is different. the president said yeah, he has a litmus test. it is row versus wade and won't consider a nominee who wouldn't over turn it. when the nominee gets to a hearing in the senate, the nominee will be asked if they will pledge to over turn it. the nominee will refuse to
answer. should we see that pledge from president trump for the answer regardless of what the nominee says? >> we have to look at the record of the nominees. but the folks put forward already are the most extreme right wing nominees. and that was said by several senators. i hope whoever is nominated people will look at the record. look at it with a skeptical eye about women's rights. this is a right women have had for more than 40 years and it is unpopular to think you will take away the right for women today and generations to come. >> in terms of the strategy, we are about four months away from the midterm elections. democrats have high hopes. it is an uphill battle to win the house or senate. what do you make of the strategy in which democrats already talking today that they should be able to peel off one
republican senator who doesn't want to be the vote effectively to over turn row and there should be a delay until after the midterm vote and the new congress is seated before any hearings happen. that's what the republicans did and democrats outraged by it and the represents did it, should democrats do it? >> absolutely. >> do you think they can? >> i think that is what everybody is saying, and i think it is right. we are four months away from an election that controls the future of the united states senate and they should do the same thing, this is what mitch mcconnell wanted before and do the same thing now. let the american people speak. american voters know what is at stake. it is women's rights, and lgbtq votes where justice kennedy is the deciding vote. we are not going to wait. folks at planned parenthood, we
are not beginning to wait, we are going to be mobilizing to make sure senators know you cannot support a justice to the supreme court that will over turn row versus wade. two women republicans and supportive of row. know how important it is to women. and hearing from women in those states and as will every other republican. women are on fire. they are the most important political force in america and i have confidence -- they are already organizing. my phone was blowing up today. women are ready to make sure that they protect their rights and make progress and turn the country around in november. >> the author of "making trouble" thank you for coming in. much more tonight. stay with us. ampers swaddlers is the #1 choice of hospitals
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they tried blocking him with protests and letters and visual effects. >> could have the last word on your rights as citizens. but the senate has the last word on him. please, urge your senators to vote against the nomination, if he wins a seat on the supreme court, it will be for life, his life and your. >> ronald raegon picked him for a supreme court seat, the opposition was multifaceted and
including that ad. mass protests and vigils and organized phone banks, letter to the senators and one of the most intense fights for a supreme court seat ever. the opposition to him was successful. bork did not end up on the court. 58-42. the fight to replace anthony kennedy started today and this is without knowing the nominee to replace him. joining me new presidential historian. thank you for being with us tonight. >> my pleasure, rachel. >> what are you thinking about this moment? the unprecedented nature of the republicans action last year in 2016 when they held open a seat
so president obama couldn't name a nominee. it makes me feel at sea as to how to compare this to history. how are you looking at this today? >> that was a stolen seat. school children 50 years ago will read about the stolen seat that caused this to happen when donald trump was elected in 2016 and what mitch mcconnell did. it is poet i can that anthony kennedy has the seat that bork was denied and then there was another one who was found using marijuana and then anthony kennedy. we are living in the age after bork. before then, the senate mesa the nominee can't be confirmed because there's an ethical problem. ever since bork, we have a right
to say that a justice is not fit for the court if the person stands opposed to central things that americans believe. >> in this case we don't know who the nominee is and knows the president trump has a litmus test and will only pick one who will over turn row versus wade. is there anything we should look to to try to push and delay the vote until after the midterm elections as pay back on what happened to garland and give democrats a chance to win back the senate and have say over the nominee is. >> absolutely given the importance of this, that's the way the system operates that people feel so strongly. we are about to see one of the most intense political struggles in american history and for my point of view, that means the system is working. >> nbc news presidential historian.
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kids older than five, 30 days and policy on the border has been chaos, the chaos is part of why the judge kids while the u.s. government holds their kids here. now the federal court told the trump white house to fix this immediately, put these families back together now, you are ordered to. now the question is can the administration get that done? could this court order work? it started ticking late last night. but it's a legally binding order. that's time for us. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" good evening, lawrence. >> good even, rachel. we're going to have more on that order in a moment. but we'll also have the latest video of a child talking to his mother in guatemala. it's another painful conversation to listen to that has become this uniquely