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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Hundreds of Thousands March in Support of Immigrant Rights; Supreme Court Weighs in on Anna Nicole Smith Inheritance Case
Aired May 1, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you all for joining us at this hour.
We are nearing the end of what could be a pivotal day in the fight over America's future and who ultimately will be future Americans.
From coast to coast, in city after city, immigrants are staying away from work and joining huge protest marches, like this one in Los Angeles, still going strong at this hour.
Now, some of the biggest rallies on what is being called a day without immigrants are just now winding down. And we are watching all of them from -- for you from our control room.
It was rainy in Chicago, but police say at least 300,000 people turned out. Signs like "We Are Workers, Not Criminals" reflect people's anger at a proposal in Congress to make felons out of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. today.
California has more illegal immigrants than any other state, at least 2.5 million. In addition to the L.A. protest, there were big marches in Oakland and Sacramento. Tens of thousands also turned out in Texas, the state with the second highest number of illegal immigrants. Mexico accounts for more than half of the illegal immigration into the entire U.S. Congress may eventually wall up 700 miles of the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexican border.
Now, by going to the marches, people stayed away from work and school. And, in Los Angeles alone, 72,000 middle and high school students skipped class today. That's about roughly 25 percent of the student body population.
Right now, let's go straight back to L.A., where that massive rally has inundated the downtown streets around City Hall.
Chris Lawrence has the very latest for us right now -- Chris.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, there were two major rallies here today.
The first one brought tens of thousands of people right here to City Hall. Take a look behind me. This is what's left of it. The LAPD came in here just about 30 minutes ago and literally moved tens of thousands of people out of the area peacefully, I should add. Most of them have made their way to the other rally here, along the Wilshire Avenue corridor.
We will take you now for a live look at that from an aerial viewpoint. You can see just the incredible crowds of people that showed up here today. As you mentioned earlier, about 72,000 students did not show up at school today. That came because organizers had urged them to boycott school, even while L.A.'s mayor and other leaders warned them that they would show up.
Obviously, in this case, the organizers' viewpoint won out. We saw a lot throughout the day. As you're seeing now in that picture, and as we saw here on ground here earlier, tens of thousands of people marching through the streets, a big difference from earlier rallies, in that where, once before, we saw a tremendous amount of Mexican flags, there were still those Mexican flags, but they were greatly outnumbered by American flags, perhaps organizers now playing to Middle America to get their point across.
We heard people chanting, "Unidos estamos," "United we stand." Talked to one student, who said that he was here -- he was born here in the United States, but that his parents were immigrants. And, so, that's why the issue was so important to him.
As the organizers look back on what happened today, many will be trying to flex their political muscle. A lot of them have been trying to register voters here, and, again, trying to take what's happened here and extend it from the boycott to the ballot box -- Paula.
ZAHN: Chris Lawrence, one thing, though, that didn't happen today was a massive roundup that some of those marchers were fearing. Really appreciate the update there.
There has also been a late afternoon rally here in New York, where we have seen the effects of immigrant workers staying away from their jobs. A number of small businesses were closed today, and gathering points for day laborers were completely empty.
Let's check in with Allan Chernoff, who has been among the protesters all day long. And he has been listening to a lot of their stories.
What do they tell you, Allan?
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula.
Well, nearly everyone who has participated in these rallies around New York City has a story of struggle, the painter from Guatemala, the construction worker from Honduras. And, in Long Island, we met the auto mechanic from El Salvador.
CHERNOFF (voice-over): Wilber left his village in El Salvador nine months ago. He says he was willing to risk his life to come to America.
WILBER, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT (through translator): There were five of us that came together from our country. Only three of us could continue on, and two stayed behind. One stayed behind to help the other, because he fell off the train.
CHERNOFF: The boys from El Salvador took a month and included a treacherous crossing of the Rio Grande River.
WILBER (through translator): About 10 of us crossed in a raft. It was very risky. We almost sank.
CHERNOFF: Wilber, who asked us to not show his face, now works a 60-hour week as a mechanic and makes $20,000 a year, four times as much as he did in El Salvador. He sends almost half of what he earns back to his two children and his parents in El Salvador.
WILBER (through translator): This is a dream that we all have, to be OK, to support our families, because, in our countries, everyone is very, very poor, and it's hard to find work.
CHERNOFF: The immigrant movement gives Wilber some hope that he can move out of the shadow economy and the constant fear of deportation. And he's happy that he can attend today's rally without missing a day's work.
That's because the auto shop where he works closed down for the day. So did over 100 other businesses in the New York City suburb of Hempstead, giving up a day's revenue to show support for immigrants.
FRANCISCO, AUTO SHOP CO-OWNER: But we have to be part of this movement. We need to. Just because we are legal, that doesn't change anything. I mean, we're still immigrants.
CHERNOFF: A co-owner of the auto shop where Wilber works feels special sympathy for immigrants. He himself was forced to immigrate from El Salvador 26 years ago, during a civil war. All of his employees are immigrants, some documented, some not.
FRANCISCO: They need our help. And we need to help them, because we -- we -- we were helped before.
CHERNOFF: Wilber can't imagine being sent back to his village in El Salvador. He wants to work, learn English, and, one day, become a citizen of the United States.
CHERNOFF: Yet, even with that hope is the nearly constant fear of deportation, which is why so many of the people who came to rallies today feel that they engaged in an act of courage -- Paula.
ZAHN: Allan Chernoff, I guess they will find out in weeks to come what the impact will ultimately be.
Will today's protests make any difference at all? Will they pressure Congress to find some common ground, or divide people even more? We are going to get two very different viewpoints now, starting with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who has been covering this afternoon's rally here from New York.
Thanks so much for joining us.
As you know, the majority of Americans think the folks who marched today are hurting their cause with these demonstrations. And you even have some immigrant right groups who were against these marches, because they think that, ultimately, it's going to trigger some -- some very bad fallout.
What, in the end, do you think they accomplished?
JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: Well, a lot.
I mean, CNN has been broadcasting the demonstrations and the impact of the boycott for the whole day. Two months ago, Paula, for instance, it would have been impossible to think of the possibility of legalizing 12 million undocumented immigrants. But then something happened. On March the 25th, we had these huge demonstrations in Los Angeles.
And, today, with the boycott, and we will see that -- what the impact the economy of the boycott in -- in the U.S., because with a -- such a huge economy, who knows. Definitely, it's going to be minimum.
But what's so important, I believe, is that these demonstrations have made visible what has been invisible to millions and millions of Americans. Immigrants are very important, not only for the agricultural industries and for tourism and for construction. But they pay taxes. They create jobs. They pay for the Social Security of the rapidly aging population.
ZAHN: All right.
RAMOS: I mean, in the next 15 years, the white working-age population is going to decrease in five million, Paula.
ZAHN: All right. So...
RAMOS: So, who is going to replace them? Immigrants.
ZAHN: Yes. And, Jorge, the point you're making, I think everybody has to agree with.
They certainly have established some visibility for themselves. But you have to also acknowledge tonight many of the folks marching all across the country are here illegally and were breaking the law.
All of them, the undocumented immigrants, broke the law. But, at the same time, we have to take into consideration that they are here for a very simple reason. Millions of Americans and thousands of American companies are hiring them. And we all benefit from their work. And that's why there is a lot of interest, not only in those who are demonstrating today, but in the organizers, to change the law, because the immigration system, the way it is right now, it simply is not working.
So, it is true that they broke the law. But, at the same time, if that's the case, if many people call them criminals, then the American people and thousands of American companies are their accomplice, because we eat the food that they harvest. We live in the homes that they built. They take care of our children.
So, in a way, what we have to do, if you do not want to give them a legalization process for humanitarian reasons, we have to do it for national security reasons. It makes sense just to know who is living in this country and to know exactly what to do with those that are coming every single year.
ZAHN: We're going to leave it there this evening. Thank you so much for your perspective. We appreciate it.
We're going to move on now to Jim Gilchrist, who also has some very strong opinions about illegal immigrant. He's the founder of the Minuteman Project and actually volunteers -- or its volunteers help patrol the U.S.-Mexican border.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight, sir.
JAMES GILCHRIST, FOUNDER, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: You heard what Mr. Ramos just said, that you have got millions of American companies that are hiring these folks, even though they're here illegally, but the president himself saying that they are filling jobs that many Americans don't want to do. Do you acknowledge any of the contributions these illegal immigrants are making to the United States?
GILCHRIST: Yes, they're making some contribution, but the contribution is so dwarfed by the cost of maintaining a multimillion population of impoverished economic refugees that are literally imported and exploited into the United States by unscrupulous 21st century slave traders.
ZAHN: All right.
But you look at what a bunch of well-respected economists say, and they say that you can't even find figures that -- that would show that they're suppressing wages for the rest of America.
GILCHRIST: I disagree. I happen to know several people who continue complaining, either through my Web site or to me personally, that they are either underemployed or unemployed because of the depression of -- of wages.
When someone comes into the United States to work for one-half, one-third or one-fourth of what an American citizen work -- would work for, that not only puts that person into the ranks of the economic dependency class, but also the American citizen that was displaced from their work, Paula.
ZAHN: Do you really think it's possible to stop illegal immigration and deport all those illegal immigrants that are here today?
GILCHRIST: Not overnight, and not with jackbooted, shoving- people-into-railroad-car type of -- of scenarios that you hear these -- these -- well, I -- what I call "anarch adversaries," protest about.
No, but through the normal operation and enforcement of the law, something we haven't had in 40 years regarding immigration laws, through the application of the universal enforcement of all the immigration laws, yes, it would be a natural phenomenon. This trend would reverse itself.
Now, those who do want -- do not want to leave voluntary, eventually who are detained by police authorities, would be deported and probably waive their rights to -- forfeit their rights to ever migrate here legally again for 10 years, or maybe forever.
They should either -- we have to be a nation of governed by the rule of law to sustain ourselves and preserve our -- our great stature as -- as this great country and this great society. If we -- if we abdicate the rule of law and buckle under the pressure of mob rule, we become a nation that is ruled by mobs.
ZAHN: All right.
GILCHRIST: It's called mobocracy. And that's not what our founding fathers had in mind.
ZAHN: Sir, we have got to end there tonight.
GILCHRIST: Thank you.
ZAHN: I know you're thrilled these boycotts took place, because I know you think it helps recruits folks to your group...
GILCHRIST: Yes, it does.
ZAHN: ... and helps you raise money.
We thank you for your perspective, quite...
GILCHRIST: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: ... a different one from the one we heard from Mr. Ramos a little bit earlier on.
Now here are some of the other stories making headlines at this moment.
President Bush predicts some tough days in Iran, but he says that the country is now at a turning point. He didn't mention it, but today marks the third anniversary of his landing on an aircraft carrier and addressing the nation in front of the banner that read "Mission Accomplished."
The Supreme Court has sent two anti-abortion groups scrambling to find $5 million tonight. The court reduced an appeal to reduce the damage award for listing abortion doctors on wanted posters and a Web site. That closed the case that goes way back to 1995.
And, at the start of a new work week, we are tracking the average price of gasoline for you. It stands at just about $2, and that doesn't mean just about, but at $2.90 a gallon for self-serve regular. It is the most expensive across the country in these red areas on the map. The least expensive areas are the green ones, the rise slowing dramatically over the last week. We will see what the rest of this week has in store for all of us.
Meanwhile, almost 20 million of you went to our Web site today. And we are going to start out countdown now of the top 10 stories on CNN.com.
At number 10, with those gas prices soaring, secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman is now describing it as a crisis. He said that yesterday on TV, and says it could be two to three years before supply will ever meet demand.
Number nine, the recipient of the world's first partial facial transplant says she has recovered total feeling in her face. And five months after the landmark surgery, she tells a French newspaper her facial scars are healing, but she's still having a little problem with certain words that require strong vowel enunciations.
Number eight and seven just ahead in our CNN.com countdown, along with a haunted feeling in the ranks of thousands of undocumented workers.
ZAHN (voice-over): While there's a huge turnout in the streets, a rumor is spreading like wildfire. Is the government getting ready for a massive roundup of illegal immigrants?
Also, thousands of horsepower unleashed, as a monster racing machine is torn to pieces in one explosive instant. How could anyone survive this? We will ask the driver his amazing story and much more when we come back.
ZAHN: You have got to watch this. How do you survive a car wreck at nearly 300 miles an hour, when your car is blown to smithereens? Well, we're going to hear from a drag racer himself who actually walked away from this, walked out of the car himself. On to our big issue of the night -- today's massive immigration demonstrations might have been even larger, but for a mysterious rumor. It's sweeping through immigrant neighborhoods, apparently fueled by a 26-state sweep of illegal workers last month.
Now, in some cases, the rumor has illegal immigrants afraid to leave their homes, literally haunted by what could happen to them. It's a story you may not have heard.
And our Ed Lavandera takes us "Beyond the Headlines" tonight.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This creature is called El Chupacabra, the mystical character of a popular Spanish urban legend. El Chupacabra is said to mysteriously kill goats. Some are convinced it exists. But no one has ever seen it. It's like the Bigfoot of Latino culture.
El Chupacabra also symbolizes the fear of something that doesn't exist. So, when illegal immigrants talk these days of widespread raids across the country, the Chupacabra effect is in full force. Illegal immigrants are convinced they're randomly being rounded up by immigration officers.
DOMINGO GARCIA, IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They have people that are in the shadows. And they're afraid, if they come out of the shadows, that something can be -- they can be separated from their families. Children could lose their parents overnight, come home from school, and their parents are gone. And that's a really big fear.
All right. Let's get up. Let's move everybody here.
LAVANDERA: Domingo Garcia is a longtime immigrant rights activist in Dallas. He says, illegal immigrants are so scared of being deported, they're hiding, just like this couple we met making a quick trip to a grocery store. They have lived here illegally for six years. He works as a roofer. She takes care of their 2-year-old daughter. Lately, they have spent weekend in their home.
(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH) You have seen that people change the way they're living because of this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
LAVANDERA: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
She says that people are scared to kind of go out and live their lives, the way they normally do, that people on TV are saying that this crackdown on the immigration isn't true, but it is true, the way -- the way she sees it.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Immigration and Custom Enforcement Officials say they do not perform random sweeps of illegal immigrants. But the rumors persist. It seems like everyone has a story of a friend of a friend who was deported. So, 20-year-old Diana doesn't take any chances. She has lived in the United States illegally for 11 years. She asked that we not show her face on television.
DIANA, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: But now it's like, OK, we're not going to go to this certain place at a certain time or this certain area. We are not going to drive around all that much, because of the fact that, you know, you don't know what's out there.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Immigration fears really spiked on April 19. That's when Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a highly publicized raid on a company called IFCO Systems. They specialize in distributing wooden pallets. On that day, almost 1,200 people were arrested on job sites like this in 26 states.
(voice-over): After the raid, Homeland Security officials announced a new plan to strategically target employers hiring illegal immigrants. This raised fears even more.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: And, so, we have also got to focus on those who have made it into the country and now are finding a place to live and trying to find someplace to work.
LAVANDERA: That makes Diana nervous. The U.S. is home. She graduated from a public high school with honors, served on the student council, is studying political science in college, and works. So, she must take steps to make sure she's not caught.
(on camera): I mean, do you ever think that: This could be the last day that I live here?
DIANA: Yes. And, actually, I don't drive to work for that reason anymore. What I do is, my friend lives close to me, so we carpool, and we come in her car to work.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The U.S. government says, flat out, random immigration raids are not happening. But, for some, living with the perception can be suffocating.
So, for illegal immigrants, the thought of running into an immigration officer is just as scary as the Chupacabra.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
ZAHN: And there is no word of random immigration sweeps taking place tonight, but, according to one report, of the nearly 1,200 undocumented workers arrested by agents in the April roundup, one- third of them have already been released.
There's a developing story tonight. After all the controversy swirling around Duke University's lacrosse team, should they ever play again? Well, a new report came out less than an hour ago. You might be surprised by some of its details. Stay tuned. And will one-time "Playboy" playmate Anna Nicole Smith ever inherit her late husband's fortune? What did the U.S. Supreme Court have to say about that today? That happens to be number one on the CNN.com list. We will come back to that.
But number eight on that list now is this story: An Army commander in Iraq says U.S. and Iraqi troops killed more than 100 insurgents in Ramadi last week, losing only two Iraqi troops and no Americans to those battles. Coalition and Iraqi forces are trying to shut down insurgent supply routes in that area.
Number seven -- Bruce Springsteen sounds off. He denounces criminal ineptitude after Hurricane Katrina. He happened to be performing this weekend at New Orleans' annual Jazz and Heritage Festival -- numbers six and five straight ahead.
We will be right back.
ZAHN: We have got some new developments to tell you about tonight in the Duke athletic rape scandal. Of course, the team's entire season was scrubbed this year, after an exotic dancer said she was raped during an alcohol-fueled team party.
But, just moments ago, a startling announcement for the team, a real mixed blessing.
And, for that, let's go straight to Jason Carroll, who has the latest details tonight from Durham, North Carolina.
Jason, what does the report say? Have you had a chance to look at it?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a brief chance to look at it, Paula.
Two committees dealing with this report. The good news, basically, for the lacrosse team is that these committees decided that they should be allowed to play next season. But both of these committees also decided that there was way too much partying going on with these lacrosse players, too much drinking, and not enough people monitoring the situation and trying to do enough to address it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES E. COLEMAN JR., PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: We recommend that the lacrosse program continue, but that it be carefully monitored, and that a mechanism be put in place to fairly and actually hold our athletes to the high standard of conduct their classmates, professors, families and the community expects of them.
The deplorable disciplinary record of the lacrosse team reflects the extent to which they let down a lot of people who trusted them, including their coach, their families and the university.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Now, you had one committee that was looking at the history of the lacrosse team, another committee looking at the disciplinary procedures at the school.
And, basically, they found that there was too much disorderly conduct going on. As you -- as you remember, Paula, 15 of the players on the team had been cited in the past for minor infractions, such as underage drinking, public urination, things of that matter. Basically, these committees saying there was way too much drinking going on and just not enough people doing enough about it.
ZAHN: Now, we understand there is some late-breaking information on what the defense team is asking for. Is it true they want the DA off the case now?
CARROLL: That is true, Paula.
Reade Seligmann's defense attorney filed a motion today, basically asking for the recusal of the district attorney, Michael Nifong, saying -- quote -- "that he created an actual conflict between his professional duty and his personal vested interests in getting elected."
As you know, tomorrow is the primary election for DA. I had an opportunity to speak to the district attorney today. He said, look, a lot of this is just defense posturing. He said, just because someone introduces a motion doesn't make it so.
I asked him how he feels about the election. And he said -- quote -- "I feel as cool as the other side of a pillow" -- Paula.
ZAHN: I'm not sure whether that's really cool or not. But I guess we will find out after we know the results of this race.
Jason Carroll, thanks so much. Appreciate the update.
There happens to be a new twist in the saga of the 89-year-old millionaire and his much, much younger "Playboy" playmate wife. How much of her late husband's fortune should Anna Nicole Smith inherit? Well, a big ruling has just come down the U.S. Supreme Court. We will have all the details for you.
And pictures that are shocking, brutal and for real -- will this frightening fad make it across the Atlantic?
Plus, check out these pictures. How in the world did a drag racer walk away from a crash like this? He was going almost 300 miles an hour at the time of impact. Well, I will ask him a little bit later on tonight.
First, though, number six in the CNN.com countdown -- the first woman to pilot and command the space shuttle says she's leaving NASA. Eileen Collins says she wants to spend more time with her family. She piloted Discovery back in 1995 and, last year, commanded the first mission since the loss of Columbia in 2003. No. 5, the TGIF, that would be Friday's, restaurant chain is apologizing after a diner found a piece of a human finger in a hamburger. It happened in Friday's in Bloomington, Indiana, after a kitchen worker accidentally cut themselves. Hope you weren't just eating dinner now. Sorry folks. No. 4 coming up.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Here's what's happening at this moment. A high-ranking state department official is on his way to Africa, another push to try to end the violence in Darfur. Protesters fill the streets of Washington over the weekend, calling for the U.S. to step in.
Sources are now telling CNN tonight that al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi came very close to being captured in a U.S. raid in Iraq just last month. Suspected insurgents captured in the raid told interrogators Zarqawi was in a nearby house.
And reporters are waiting to get their hands on logs that show just how many times Jack Abramoff visited the White House. The Secret Service had tried to block the release after a conservative watchdog group filed a freedom of information request for them.
Well, tonight it sounds like a modern day American fairy tale. Mrs. Smith goes to Washington meets the supremes and wins a stunning legal victory. But in this case, Ms. Smith is Anna Nicole Smith, a former Playboy playmate and stripper and younger widow of an elderly Texas billionaire.
And today she won a Supreme Court ruling that may bring her closer to her goal, which is getting a lot of her late husband's rather hefty estate.
Here's entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson with today's developments.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The paparazzi did not show a lot of respect for Anna Nicole Smith when appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in February, but the justices gave her a respectful hearing. And now they have given new life to an ongoing saga, Smith's legal fight with her stepson for a share of her late husband's estate worth as much as $1.6 billion.
Today's ruling doesn't put money in her pocket, but it does mean that Smith can now go back to the federal court of appeals. That could resolve contradictory verdicts from courts in Texas, which left Smith with nothing, and California, which gave her millions.
A statement from Smith's attorney, Kent Richland, said his client was pleased with the decision, "Anna Nicole Smith's claim existed years before her husband died and years before thoughts of probate even began." The story goes back more than a decade. It was 1993, "Playboy Magazine" had named a Marilyn Monroe-esque blonde as "Playmate of the Year," a former topless dancer from Houston named Vickie Lynn had officially made it. The world met Anna Nicole. This was her fairy tale moment.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH: To have all this fame and fortune, it is a Cinderella story to me.
ANDERSON: Smith had met J. Howard Marshall, one of the wealthiest men in Texas. After a few years, they married. She was 26. He was 89. Rarely photographed together, the now-budding starlet regularly professed her devotion to her spouse.
SMITH: I want to tell my husband, J. Howard Marshall, that I love him very much, and I wish he was here. And I miss you. And all my love to you.
ANDERSON: Marshall died in 1995, 14 months after the wedding. Court papers indicate the will and trust do not give her a part of the estate. That's when the legal battle began. For 10 years in both state and federal courts, Smith has fought her late husband's family for part of his estate, saying Marshall verbally promised her a share.
The family feud eventually landed in the federal system because Smith filed for bankruptcy in a California federal court. She would later be awarded $88 million of her husband's fortune. But a court of appeals threw out the entire amount, arguing that the case should be settled in Texas.
Even today with the Supreme Court saying that a federal court does have jurisdiction over the dueling state courts, E. Pierce Marshall, Howard Marshall's son, vowed that, quote, "I will continue to fight to clear my name in California federal court. That is a promise that Vickie and her lawyers can take to the bank."
And so far that promise is the only thing Smith can take to a bank.
Brooke Anderson, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: I am sorry, Jeffrey Toobin, that is an image that's hard to get out of anybody's mind here, as we're trying to cut straight to the chase and talk about what really happened in court.
Welcome. Would we be talking about this if it weren't for Anna Nicole Smith being involved?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not a chance in the world. This opinion is -- I am going to make a superlative here -- the most boring opinion I've ever read. And I have read a lot of Supreme Court opinions. This was an incredibly obscure issue.
First of all, there are so few people whose wills go to probate at all.
TOOBIN: Then the number of people who have a dispute about whether it's in federal or state court -- I mean, this doesn't affect anyone except Anna Nicole Smith.
ZAHN: Do you think any members of the Supreme Court ever heard of this woman before?
TOOBIN: I think John Roberts has probably heard of her. He's 50. And Scalia is sort of fairly well versed in some aspects of the popular culture.
ZAHN: ...said oh this is quite a story when he saw it.
TOOBIN: But only after the oral argument. When they granted cert, when they accepted this case, I'm willing to bet you none of these people had heard of her. I mean, the Supreme Court is pretty -- David Suitor owns a television but has never plugged it in. I mean that is what we are dealing with David Suitor. I mean, these people, I predict, given how obscure this issue was, they never heard of Anna Nicole Smith.
ZAHN: All right. But what's going to happen from here on out? We have talked so much about the guy that was 66 years older than his wife. Is she going to get any money?
TOOBIN: This is what is going to happen. Anna Nicole Smith is going to get an enormous wheel barrow and they are going to just fill it with money. I mean, she is in such good negotiating position now. First of all, it is absurd that this case has gone on for this long. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.
Why doesn't E. Pierce Marshall, you know, the heir, just give her some money and go away? She won $88 million. Give her the $88 million, and you have got $900 million of your own. I mean, just the greed and insanity of this case is just absurd.
ZAHN: Does she have a pretty good chance of splitting that with him or is she going to get more?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, she's doing pretty well. There are not many people who win cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. So if he wants to keep fighting forever, she's -- as we know, she was 66 years younger than her husband. She's still pretty young. She can fight for a long time.
ZAHN: What difference do you think it made that she actually showed up in the Supreme Court dressed demurely? You know, you heard jokes about no one knowing where to look.
TOOBIN: It made a great difference to us because we got to take pictures of her. I assure you, it made no difference to the nine justices. These -- at that point seven men and two men, they are not impressed with Anna Nicole Smith, even at that point when their law clerks had explained who she was.
ZAHN: Well, she is one happy woman tonight.
TOOBIN: She is. She is on her way to the bank.
Jeffrey Toobin, thanks for stopping by. It was good to see you. Do you mean that?
TOOBIN: I don't know her personally. I wish her well.
ZAHN: Being cynical here, folks.
We're going to move on. The U.S. has inherited all sorts of fads from England. Here's one we don't want. It's called happy slapping and there is nothing happy about it. Can it be stopped before it gets here?
And fasten your seat belt. How did a champion drag racer get out of this crash alive? It's an amazing story. He'll tell his story in a couple of minutes.
Now number four on the CNN.com countdown. Protests in the streets of Puerto Rico because the government was effectively shut down today. The governor and legislators can't agree on a budget. Some 90,000 government workers were told to stay home. Number three straight ahead.
ZAHN: Tonight we bring you a new and sick trend, random acts of violence in which teenagers pounce on unsuspecting victims, brutally beating them. Already one person is dead. There is another disturbing part to this brutal phenomenon. These aggressive teenagers are actually recording their bloody rampages on video. Paula Newton has more now from London in tonight's "What Were They Thinking?"
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's violent, voyeuristic video, and incredibly they call this chilling craze happy slapping. Just watch what happens. One person holds the camera phone and gets the schoolboy's attention. Then there it is. Out of nowhere, he's whacked. It's brutality that passes for entertainment. E-mailed to friends, posted on the Internet, and even rated for its gotcha value. Look closely as this man is hit twice. He staggers away. His attacker so bold tells the victim to go home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home now. You're bleeding. NEWTON: Police in Britain say these are sadistic crimes.
ELLIE O'CONNOR, BRITISH POLICE INVESTIGATOR: These assaults are far from happy. They are vicious, unprovoked attacks on persons ranging from 12 years well into their 30s and 40s.
NEWTON: Attacks that can kill. Tristan Christmas died when he was smacked to a cement floor and the camera just kept on rolling.
SIOBHAN CHRISTMAS, TRISTAN'S MOTHER: Makes me ill. It makes me ill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel it's a dream. It's not real. How can people do that? It's sick, absolutely sick.
NEWTON: The attacker is now behind bars. To cope with their grief, Tristan's family has issued blunt appeals especially to teenagers.
CHRISTMAS: This isn't a joke. This is not funny. Someone died. A young, young, young man with his whole life ahead of him.
NEWTON: There is no denying the cult status of happy slapping. Again and again, thousands of people click and get millions of hits, outrageous video to be downloaded for its shock value.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to go happy slapping.
NEWTON (on camera): It used to be that some just craved their 15 minutes of fame. Now it's 15 megs of fame and it's really easy to get. You shoot just a few seconds of video and within hours, you're a star all over the Internet.
(voice-over): What some seem to forget is this is assault, a crime, but one that goes largely unreported. That makes attackers bold enough to broadcast the slapping, just for kicks.
DR. GRAHAM BARNFIELD, UNIVERSITY OF EAST LONDON: If you were a career criminal, the point is to make the evidence disappear. If you're a happy slapper, you're manufacturing evidence against yourself. It's that use of humiliation as entertainment that makes it so disturbing.
NEWTON: Disturbing and so outrageous some of the video has captivated millions. Take this footage, it may have been staged, but even so it got the whole country talking. Watch as this happy slap victim turns the tables.
Just the thought that one brave soul slapped that happy slapper back consoled many. They called him the have-a-go-hero and it speaks to how fed up and fearful many now are about a prank that sounds innocent and is anything but. Paula Newton, CNN, London.
ZAHN: Be great if they could reverse that, these folks taking the slappers on.
Just about 12 minutes before the hour now. Let's check in with Larry King to see what he has coming up for us tonight. How are you tonight?
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Hi, in concept with what's been going on all day today, we'll devote the entire program to immigration. Lou Dobbs will join us. Other journalists as well. And we'll have a senator, a Congressman, a governor, a reporter, the head of a major organization and your phone calls, all at the top of the hour, 9:00 eastern, 6:00 pacific. An in depth look at immigration, the number one issue of the day.
ZAHN: We checked with our reporter on the ground about 45 minutes ago and he said the demonstration was still going pretty strong in one part of L.A. I'm sure you've seen that today as you tried to commute in and out of work.
KING: We circumnavigated.
ZAHN: Smart man. He know all the surface roads, having lived in L.A. all those years. Thanks, Larry. Look forward to your show tonight.
Still ahead, I'm going to ask the man behind the wheel of this drag racer how he survived this terrible crash. Look at this. The impact against that wall was at 300 miles an hour. That's ahead.
But first, the business headlines for you now. Consumer spending fueled inflation fears on wall street today, pushing stocks down. The Dow lost nearby 24 points and Nasdaq closed up to about 18 and S&P 500 was also down.
Social Security will go broke in the year 2040, one year earlier than expected. That's the word tonight from the Social Security trustees. They also say hard times will hit Medicare in just 12 years. They say by 2018, Medicare will only be able to pay 80 percent of its expenditures.
Guess who had a birthday today? The Empire State Building, 75 years old. New York's tallest skyscraper is being renovated for the anniversary and get this, how much is it going to cost? $75 million. And those are tonight's business headlines.
Now let's move on to number three on the CNN.com countdown, our lead story. Hundreds of thousands of people rally all over the country against a proposed crackdown on illegal immigration.
Number two on the countdown still ahead.
ZAHN: In tonight's "Eye Opener," you're about to see a miracle caught on tape. Take a look at this, from a professional drag race Friday night in Bristol, Tennessee. Popular driver Cory McClenathan was more than midway through his run at nearly 300 miles-per-hour when his race car broke apart, going up in the air, exploding into a fire ball and then slamming into a retaining wall. No chance the guy got out alive, right? Wrong.
Cory Mac actually climbed out of the smoldering wreckage all by himself, not even a scratch on his body. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital shortly afterwards, just in case. But doctors pronounced him fine and he was back on the track yesterday and certainly fit enough to talk with me about this tonight.
I don't know, Cory, I have watched this over and over again. I can't believe you're alive. Can you believe you are after you've seen the video?
CORY MCCLENATHAN, DRAG RACE CRASH SURVIVOR: Well after seeing it more times than I should have, I definitely feel like there's an angel riding on my shoulder during that point in time.
ZAHN: Take us back to the race and describe to us the moment you knew something had gone wrong.
MCCLENATHAN: Everything seemed fine, good. Got to half track, got just past half track and just about past there. I mean, it happens a split second. Next thing I know, I'm completely inverted, looking straight down at the ground.
And at that point in time you're thinking, boy, you better get small really quick here because this is going to hurt. And I'll tell you, it was an eye-opening experience for me.
But at the same time, during the crash itself, I was thinking, "Well, just get stopped so I can get myself unbuckled and get out of this thing." And amazing enough, I was able to crawl out by myself.
ZAHN: But before you did all that, you actually hit the retaining wall. So how fast were you going when you slammed right into it?
MCCLENATHAN: Well, pieces of the car crossed the finish line at over 270 miles-an-hour.
MCCLENATHAN: We figured at the time the speed was close to 300. I tell you one thing, I felt it and I feel it more today than I have in the last couple of days.
ZAHN: Do you feel like you cheated death?
MCCLENATHAN: Oh, definitely, Paula. I mean, I stand before you today very lucky. I think God was with me on that one and a lot of angels around me. And I just can't -- you know, after seeing it myself, when I got to the track tonight, just could not believe that I was able to walk away from it.
ZAHN: But Cory here's what I don't get. After seeing it that night, you wanted to get back into a car right away. In less than 48 hours, you were racing again.
MCCLENATHAN: Well, that's what I do. I love that part of it. That four and a half seconds at over 330 miles-an-hour is something that I've enjoyed for quite some time now. This is my 16th year in this style of car. And it's one of those things where I wanted to get back on the horse as soon as possible. All my friends out there, including Kenny Bernstein (ph), who leaned on the inside of the car right before we started and said, "Remember, this will not happen again." And I looked up at him and said, "OK, I agree with you buddy, let's do this."
ZAHN: It better not happen again, Cory McClenathan. You are a very, very lucky man. And we will continue to watch you and hopefully those little angels will continue to stand on your shoulder.
MCCLENATHAN: Well thank you and thank you for having me, too. It's been a privilege being on this show.
ZAHN: Thank you so much, stay safe, Cory McClenathan.
MCCLENATHAN: Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate you sharing your story.
Cory also happened to mention that he credits the safety equipment that is on board his car, including his fire-proof suit with saving his life. None of us can believe he survived when you see that car breaking into so many pieces. The only thing, honestly, he's complaining about tonight is he said his back is a little sore. We are just minutes away from "LARRY KING LIVE." Tonight Lou Dobbs joins Larry to talk about immigration reform. Will today's natiowide protest change any minds at all or will it spark more fallout?
No. 2 on the CNN.com countdown, this one I was kind of surprised by. Folks are really jazzed about this, drama behind the scenes of "Desperate Housewives." The show's top producer Tom Spezialy walked off the job last week after an unspecified falling out with management. He's back at work but may be replaced next season. No. 1 on our countdown is next.
ZAHN: No. 1, the Supreme Court sides with Anna Nicole Smith. That wraps it up from here, have a good night everybody, thanks for joining us.
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