tv Washington Week PBS May 6, 2022 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
yamiche: bombshell supreme court leak. >> this completely ignores the reality of women's lives. yamiche: a leaked draft supreme court opinion signals justices are poised to overturn roe v. wade. setting off an emotional debate over abortion. >> hoping more babies will be saved, that's what i'm looking for. yamiche: as conservatives celebrate the news, republican lawmakers focused on the source of the leak. >> the republicans have been working toward this day for decades so they could have a majority of the bench who would accomplish something that the majority of americans do not want. yamiche: meanwhile, outraged democrats look for ways to protect abortion rights and rally voters ahead of the midterms, next. ♪
>> this is washingtonweek. corporate funding is provided by -- consumer cellular. additional funding is provided by the u.n. foundation. robert and susan rosenbaum. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, from washington, moderator yamiche alcindor. yamiche: good evening and welcome to washingtonweek. this week a leaked draft supreme court decision sent shockwaves across the nation. the bombshell by politico revealed five justices
support overturning roe v. wade. since 1973 the landmark case federally protected a woman's right to an abortion. justice samuel alito in the document wrote "roe was a graciously wrong from the start. it is time to return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives." chief justice john roberts confirmed the authenticity of the text, but said it is not final. he also announced an investigation into the leak. if roe is overturned, about half of the states in our country would likely ban abortion or heavily restrict it. opponents of abortion rights applauded the news. >> ultimately you are murdering a child when you make that choice to abort. we don't believe that murdering a human is a choice. yamiche: president biden had this to say about the draft decision and the conservatives who support it. pres. biden: what are the next things that are going to be attacked? because this maga crowd is the
most extreme political organization that existed in american history. yamiche: joining me to discuss this and more, a justice correspondent for nbc news, josh gerstein, senior legal affairs reporter for politico. he is one of the reporters who broke the scotus story and upended the week for all of us. and joining the in studio, jonathan martin, national political correspondent for the new york times and co-author of the new book "this will not pass." that book has been moving us around this week in washington. and abby phillip, anchor of inside politics sunday and senior political correspondent for cnn. thank you for joining. this has been a busy week. josh, we have you to thank for that. talk about what the significance of this decision would mean to women across this country and to our nation. josh: it would basically end a federal constitutional right that has been recognized for
almost half a century, since roe v. wade became law of the land in 1973 there has been a guarantee that someone seeking an abortion had the right to do so. over the years the limits on that have gotten stricter, but there was still a federal constitutional right in every state in this country. in justice alito's draft opinion -- if justice alito's draft opinion becomes the final word on this issue, you would have a situation of abortion haves and have nots across the country, states where abortion is relatively available and about 26 states where abortion is banned or very sharply restricted. you would then have women trying to get medication abortions in those states or possibly travel through what might develop as a kind of underground railroad to get them out of those states and
into other states where they could get legal abortions. it would be a pretty dramatic change in the availability of abortion across the country. yamiche: it would be a generational change. i want to also ask about other reporting, that chief justice john roberts said there will be an investigation. you told our reporters it is easier to say there is an investigation than to carry one out. talk about how vigorous you think the court will look into this. how worried are you about being targeted? this is your reporting they will be looking into. josh: well, the reason i say it is difficult is leak investigations are always difficult in any type of situation. they are the kind of things that most people in law enforcement don't like to carry out. it's a lot of work and often times they end unsuccessfully. this up in court is in a particularly awkward position to do this -- the supreme court is in a particularly awkward position to do this because they don't have an internal branch to do this.
it is not clear there is any legal violation, any criminal violation. it's not clear whether the justice department or fbi are interested in getting involved in this investigation. the mechanics of how the court will go about carryinghis out are entirely unclear. they have a relatively small police force, but they basically patrol the grounds and keep order in the court during arguments. we don't know how it will play out. as far as politico itself, we are committed to defending the story and the anonymity of the person familiar with the proceedings here that provided us a copy of this alito draft opinion. yamiche: julia, you are a justice correspondent as well. i wonder what you've heard about this investigation, but also the standingf justice roberts, the one pushing for this investigation. julia: i was standing outside the supreme court in the throes of that crowd tuesday when we
heard from the chief justice, saying indeed what josh had reported was authentic, although verifying it was not final. this calls into account is what is the chief justice's power? it shows it is waning. not only does the supreme court not have the ability like other agencies would to investigate and prosecute someone, but also his ability to control the court is waning. with this leak, unprecedented in the history of the court, we have seen leaks of opinions before, but never leaks of drafts like this, which gets inside the court and disrupts their deliberative process. that is what the supreme court prides itself on. it is why we have not been able to get cameras in the supreme court because they want to keep this a sacred space where they can continue to have their own internal deliberation and not issue an order until its final.
as far as chief justice robert'' power, it is beginning to change. you saw it was alito who wrote this majority opinion, as he was asked to do by justice thomas. you really see the influence at all of justice roberts in this because the bench has changed with the loss of ruth bader ginsburg and gain of amy connie barrett, he is no longer the swing vote in the middle. he is in the left of a majority right court. yamiche: what does this leak decision, especially with john roberts calling it a breach of trust of the court, signal about the overall health of the supreme court? abby: the supreme court is driven by a lot of political divides. ere is no going away from that at this point i think. the court has been tainted by a
political process involving putting the justices on the court in the first place. now what we are seeing with the leak, though we don'know about where it came from, is that someone within the court, which is known for its secrecy, is trying to influence that process by leaking. i think that tells us a lot about how the court sees itself and the role that it plays in american society. no matter which side it came from, there was an attempt to, as julia put it, to disrupt the deliberative process. that disruption was intentional. i'm not sure whoever did this, the outcome may be as they expected, because when things become public like this, the political consequences are more unpredictable. yamiche: and john, you told our producers it is sort of a myth that the supreme court is above
politics. talk about where this leaves the court given how partisan the issue of abortion is. jonathan: look at the recent history of the country. this notion has taken hold that these are these apolitical figures who don a black robe and become totally above the political fray and don't even think about politics. obviously that is not true. you look at who appoints them and their voting records, they tend to fall on fairly partisan lines. it's also fairly factually inaccurate that the court has been apolitical. we had a former president who served on the supreme court, william howard taft. we had figures, earl warren was the governor of california who became a chief justice of the court. we have long had a political influence on the court. the appointees of the court have
been shaped by political calculations of the president at the time. it is unsettling to have this gesture that this is not a political institution. of course it is. it is part of the government so it is political. if the decision does come in june and is basically what we read here, that is going to offer democrats something they have lacked this year, which is a lever to energize the voters who have shown very little interest so far in this midterm. and the voters that have faded from joe biden too. joe biden won the election on younger voters. a poll by donald trump had rallied to him. without the trump comparison, younger voters have not been terribly enamored with joe biden inhe past year. this could be a way for democrats to get younger voters back to the polls, more engaged in democratic politics in a way
that has not happened in the last year. yamiche: i do want to ask josh, friday night justice clarence thomas said the coat "cannot be -- the court "cannot be bullied." josh: chief justice roberts said something similar a day earlier. he called the leak absolutely appalling, but he said it would not affect their deliberations or anything along those lines. with due respect to the justices, the notion that this won't affect the process completely possible to me, even if it does not sway any votes. justice alito now has to confront the fact that any change he has to make to his opinion from here on out, we are going to know. people can put these documents up side-by-side when the decision comes out, probably at the end of june, and see what was changed and which justices agreed or did not agree with that portion, even down to the
footnotes people will be examining them. it is an observer effect situation. simply bringing your eyes onto the process alters the process. maybe it does not change the outcome, but there is no question the deliberations the justices have from here on out have to be affected whether they want to admit it or not. yamiche: we have been talking about the politics of it, but this week i was in mississippi and louisiana talking to americans about the draft decision. shannon brewer is the director of the only abortion clinic in mississippi. it is the one at the center of this case. shannon: i don't have any hope with anything to do with art judicial system -- our judicial system. i have no hope in congress right now because this should never be. it should never have been. we should never have gotten to this point. yamiche: in louisiana, i talked to a 32-year-old. she has had three aboard i -- three abortions and had since
become a worker at the clinic who provided her her care. >> had i not had abortion access when i was at the age of 24, 25, debating my life path, i would have been completely lost. i don't know how i would've made it through an unplanned pregnancy. yamiche: i also talked to opponents of abortion rights, who told me they want to provide more resources for women to deal with unwanted pregnancies. abby, what is your sense of who will be most impacted if roe v. wade is overturned? abby: there is no question that the women who are in a position to want an abortion in the first place are going to be affected. we have already seen the effects of that, most recently in the state of texas, where they passed a restrictive abortion law. it resulted in women leaving texas and going to other states. there is a practical impact of it, whether you support abortion
rights or you don't, there is no question women are caught in the middle here. there was kind of a debate happening among some conservatives about whether overturning roe would have a significant effect or not. some argue there are not that many abortions happening in this country anyway, so rolling back roe is not going to make a difference. there is a reason this debate has dominated american politics for 50 plus years. it is because there is an impact to this that deals with women and people on both sides care deeply about. i don't think it is true that the effect of rolling back roe would be nonexistent. it's there are over a dozen states where they have laws already on the books that would completely outlaw abortion, and many more that would be able to pass those laws.
the effect would be pretty sweeping and significant. >> i think it would add to the red versus blue dynamic we have been living with in this country for the last 15 years, which president trump accelerated, this patchwork of not just laws, but culture and values between red and blue of their -- and b lue america. we have a book of this week, we talk about in the book what this country has become and how the two parties have pulled further apart. they are talking in opposite directions. i think this will be a vivid example of a country in which he would have entire regions where abortion is illegal and people would obviously have to get on a plane for abortion access. that really captures two americas dynamic. abby: to be clear that is not how the country operates right now because most americans have
some access to abortion and most americans are in the ideological middle on this issue. yamiche: i want to ask a quick follow-up, the director of the only abortion clinic in mississippi who she says overwhelmingly serves women of color, women low the poverty line, she says she has no faith in congress, no faith in washington. i wonder what you make of that given that jonathan is talking about this red and blue america, and this woman says while politics are not going to help us at all. abby: she is not wrong. in the 49 years roe has been the law of the land, neither side has been able to codify a federal law that either restricts abortion or codifies the tenants of -- tenets of roe. why is that even though we have gone through periods of super majorities in th senate and the presidency held by one party? it is because they have not been able to come to a consensus on this issue.
she is not wrong that the political process has been very broken on this issue and roe has deferred the country dealing with that for 49 years. yamiche: julia, you were outside the supreme court. use all the energy on both sides. -- you saw the energy on both sides. i wonder what you make about the ability to sustain that energy on the democrat and republican side. julia: this is a foreshadowing of what is to come, whether it is in june or when we get this opinion, when it's finally final. what i saw was a deep division, people getting in each other's faces. i stood there as the police at the request of the supreme court police put up barriers, which split the two sides. they asked everyone for abortion access on one side and pro-life, the antiabortion activists, on the other side. they felt they had to separate this crowd. that is so indicative of what
jonathan is saying, not only on this issue, but the president is trying to rally voters, saying even if abortion is not going to get you to the polls, the way this leaked opinion was drafted shows that this could happen to other issues. basically if you have the supreme court going back on long-established precedent on things like gay marriage, for example, although that could be up in the air and left to the states. the president is hoping that will get people to the polls. if you look at how the draft opinion was structured, alito says this is a specific issue and that there is no right other than abortion that they think it is time to roll back precedent on, that they see this as a specific topic that there is a right to do that. there is a lot in play here. i think it will continue to
galvanize voters. there are a lot of other issues. there is the economy the ongoing -- the economy, the ongoing war with no end in sight, inflation, so much that can bring voters to the polls. lindsey graham commented that there are very few single issue voters out there. this could be one that energizes people. i think the biden administration is hoping as a result of this that midterms will not such a referendum on resident biden, but a -- on president biden, but a referendum on what values voters will hold. yamiche: this week we saw former president trump's grip on the gop was in full display in ohio and indiana. most candidates he endorsed won key primary races, chief among them jade events, -- j.d. vance, and author and venture capitalist. president trump is not taking this victory lap, he's saying i'm going to wait and see what
happens. what does that say about how conservatives are approaching this? josh: there is this nervousness all of a sudden on the part of republicans, both you talking about trump seeming to be a bit nervous about which races he should take credit for as we go to the general election. you have to wonder if political advisors are telling the candidates that in the general election he might be a liability. we are seeing this with republicans in washington over this potential revocation of the roe v. wade precedent. it was fascinating that republican lawmakers only wanted to talk about the leak and whether it was illegal and did not seem to want to talk about this historic victory that the conservative legal movement seems to be on the verge of, turning over a 50-year-old president. are they concerned may be the poll numbers don't look that good for them? yamiche: your reaction,
especially with great reporting in this book? jonathan: i wanted to link roe v. wade and the results of the ohio primary. i think there was this expectation among a lot of americans that after trump is gone, everything is going to be ok and that is yesterday's news. this potential opinion from the court and trump being able to engineer the ohio senate primary shows this will not pass, that trumpism and the larger forces of polarization shaping our politics today are ongoing, the story has not ended. that is part of the reason we wrote this book, to capture the fact that this didn't end on election day when biden won. it is now and tomorrow. it is the biggest story of our time. yamiche: abby, i wanted to turn to another subject.
there was history made this week apart from the big scoop of the supreme court, that the white house announced that the first black openly gay woman will be the first white house press secretary. abby: this is a year of a lot of significant firsts for black women in particular, the supreme court justice catania brown jackson who will be seated this year. -- ketanji brown jackson who will be seated this year. a spokesperson for the united states wil be a gay black woman. this is progress, having these major roles in government, in politics, in law, being more representative of the whole country. the biden administration i think, president biden trying to make those significant moves, a black vice president, black
woman vice president, supreme court justice and now press secretary, it is meaningful and perhaps a nod to who he knows is a force behind him sitting in the white house in the first place, which is black women. who, as you know, really are the fuel behind a lot of the democratic machine, especially in the south but all across the country. jonathan: for joe biden especially. yamiche: there was a lot of talk about and i'm so grateful that all of you were here at this table. we will be condemning to talk about the politics of abortion and everything going on in the midterms. thank you to everyone for joining us and for sharing your reporting. we will continue our conversation on the washingtonweek extra. jonathan and his co-author talk about their newly released book "this will not pass." you can find it on our website, facebook and youtube. on saturday on pbs news week and, a report from on the ground
in ukraine. this week marks one year since i became the moderator of washingtonweek. i am so way full to you the viewers and the great journalists who join our program every week. here is to many more fridays. >> corporate funding for washingtonweek is provided by -- >> for 25 yearrs, consumer cellular has been offering no contract wireless plans designed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can find a plan that fits you. visit consumercellular.tv. >> additional funding is provided by -- committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. robert and susan rosenbaum. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
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