Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Supreme Court Nominee; Republicans Promise 'Thorough' Vetting of Sotomayor; California State Supreme Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban; Hausers Return to Minnesota Court; Deadline Looming For General Motors

Aired May 26, 2009 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: We're pushing forward as another barrier falls in America. Federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor is getting ready today to make her case for confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. She was said to be on President Obama's short list for nomination, almost from the moment David Souter announced his retirement.

Today came the announcement, the first African-American president alongside a woman who stands to be the first Hispanic justice on the nation's highest court. Here's a portion of Sotomayor's comments today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Mr. President, I greatly appreciate the honor you are giving me. And I look forward to working with the Senate in the confirmation process. I hope that as the Senate and American people learn more about me, they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences. Thank you again, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Now to the GOP response, not exactly a ringing endorsement. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says, "We will thoroughly examine Sotomayor's record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences."

Sotomayor's last confirmation was to the federal appeals court bench. That was back in 1998, and the confirmation process took about a year. But Sotomayor was ultimately confirmed, 67-29. All 29 who opposed were Republicans. Part of that GOP resistance came from Sotomayor's prospects even then as a potential high court nominee.

Nobody knows the high court better than our own senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. He's the author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," and he joins me this hour from New York.

Hey, Jeffrey. Good to see you again.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Alina. CHO: Always great to get your perspective.

I want to talk about Sotomayor as a person, because she's Bronx- born, raised by a single mother, ended up going to Princeton and Yale, two of the best institutions in the land. In her own words she said that. I don't think there wasn't a dry eye in the room when she talked about her mother and said, "I'm half the woman that she is."

So how important was her personal story to getting her nominated?

TOOBIN: Apparently, it was very important to the president, because she combined two things he was looking for. The first thing was academic distinction, judicial experience.

She's been a federal judge for almost 18 years. She has this very distinguished education, as you mentioned. So, the traditional qualifications were in place.

But the other thing President Obama has been talking about ever since this vacancy was announced was that he wanted someone who had a connection to real people, a visceral empathy, the word he used. And that is what he found in Sonia Sotomayor's story, which is a remarkable story and interestingly, I think, not dissimilar from Barack Obama's own story -- raised by a single parent who rises up through education at elite American universities, and then devotes her life, as he devoted his life, to public service.

CHO: I want to talk a little bit about the first Monday in October, because President Obama has said that he really wants her confirmed by the Senate by then. And I want to talk about that confirmation fight.

You know, Sotomayor said herself in a speech at UC Berkeley back in 2001, and I want to put it up on the screen there, "I further expect that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartially is just that, it's an aspiration, because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others."

Now, Jeff, as you know, she also said that the federal appeals court is "where policy is made." Now, I know you call her a tough target, but is this the opening for the GOP to go after her?

TOOBIN: I think it is, because certainly the issue of qualifications is going to be a nonstarter. No one is going to say she's unqualified to be on the Supreme Court given her background. But the route to attack her, it seems, is to say that she is ideological extreme, that she is out of step. That she is someone who believes in what you might call identity politics, that you are someone that evaluates legal decisions solely through the prism of your own ethnicity, gender, et cetera, and someone who was a judicial activist. That's where the policy comment comes from.

The idea that if she said courts make policy, that's assuming too great a role for the judiciary that the -- it's the legislature, it's the people's representative that should be making policy, not the judiciary. That's the argument that will be made against her.

Now, I think there are some probably very good responses to that, but that is the argument that is likely to be made against her. Not anything along the lines of...

CHO: Jeff, I'm out of town -- I'm out of time, rather, but I do want to ask you very quickly -- you have interviewed members of the court many, many times, you know them well. Given what you know about the other justices in the court, if confirmed, what do you think Sotomayor might become friendly with?

TOOBIN: Probably Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Her politics look very similar to those of the two Clinton appointees, and she will probably vote with them most of the time, as David Souter did.

CHO: Scalia has a sense of humor, though. Maybe...

TOOBIN: Well, and this would make three New Yorkers on the Supreme Court, but the first from the Bronx. Scalia is from Queens; Ginsburg is from Brooklyn; and now Sotomayor is from the Bronx.

CHO: Always great to hear from you, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: OK, Alina.

CHO: Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst.

Jeff, thanks. We'll talk to you a bit later.

Latinos are generally overjoyed at Sotomayor's nomination, and that complicates but certainly doesn't preclude partisan opposition.

Leslie Sanchez, my friend, a Republican strategist, following all of this from D.C.

So, Leslie, I called you this morning and you said...

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And I answered.

CHO: You answered, that's first. And then you said, "What a day this is."

I mean, you are a woman, you are a Latina, so clearly this is a source of pride for you, in one sense, but let's not forget you're a Republican. So, how do you really feel about this?

SANCHEZ: Thank you, like it's a pejorative. But no, I think many in the Hispanic community are very excited about this nomination. There's no doubt about that.

As a Latina, as somebody who was raised by a single mom, I get that. And particularly for the Puerto Rican community, many kudos to them.

But the distinction is there's a lot that's going to be said in this hearing process, and I think with all due respect to this confirmation and this process, the fairer we are, the better it is for all people. The president said he wanted an empathetic judge, but what value she has I think of part of where the questioning is going to arise.

CHO: When we talked earlier today, you mentioned that the RNC is going to remain neutral on this, and it appears so far that they are. Now, given that, let's talk about the confirmation fight, because you say that the early weeks really is going to be about her record and not race, right?

SANCHEZ: Well, you know, it should. You know, Jeffrey Toobin was exactly right, identity politics is the mother's milk of the Democratic left. I think the more that we are talking about race and gender, the fact that she is looking at cases based on race and gender, I think that's the part that people are going to have a problem with. Republicans overall seem intent on looking at her record.

Look at the fact that five of the six cases that have gone to the Supreme Court with her decisions have been reversed, that there's a lot of things on paper. She's tremendously qualified, but she has said some things that make people want to pause. Those are the areas of focus that many of these Republican members -- and I think Democrats as well -- are going to be focused on in the hearing.

SANCHEZ: Leslie, I'm curious, though, because you cannot deny that her remarks this morning were emotional. They were -- there was not a dry eye in the room, I'm told, when she talked about her mother and her family and her background. She called it one of the most humbling moments of her life, and it really was an emotional short speech that she gave.

So, given her strong personal story, I mean, do Republicans really have a chance to fight this? Or is confirmation a sure thing?

SANCHEZ: I think overall, she will move through this confirmation process and we will see her as a jurist.

The bigger issue is she's talking about empathy. Nobody denies her compelling story. It's part of the American dream, it's part of the spirit of the America.

That part is remarkable. That makes us all very proud. But the distinction is, this is a very important job.

She's talking about empathizing. Does she empathize for all of the Latino community? I don't know.

You know, is she talking about entrepreneurship? Does she understand the federal and statutory regulations that are stifling small business? Does she want to protect life to the extent that that's important to the Hispanic community?

If she's going to be talking about empathizing values, what values exactly does she represent?

CHO: Leslie Sanchez, always great to see you.

SANCHEZ: Thank you.

CHO: Can't wait to see you in person in New York. So give me a call and let me know when you're in town. All right?

SANCHEZ: You got it.

CHO: OK. Leslie, thanks.

A bittersweet decision for supporters of same-sex marriages in California. The state Supreme Court ruled a short while ago on whether to uphold a ban on those marriages. We're going to go live to San Francisco for more on the decision and the reaction.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A defeat and a victory for supporters of same-sex marriage in California. The state Supreme Court has upheld the ban on those marriages, but the ruling also allows existing same-sex marriages to stand.

CNN's Dan Simon has more from San Francisco.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The crowds have thinned out behind me here at the California Supreme Court, but the hundreds of people who were here didn't just go home. Right now they are marching through the streets of San Francisco to protest the Supreme Court's decision, a decision that upholds Proposition 8.

So what this means going forward, same-sex couples here in the state of California cannot get married. But what it does mean, that the 18,000 or so couples who got married prior to the passage of Proposition 8, those marriages will still remain valid. So we're looking at a split decision here.

So let's review the specifics of Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 was a voter initiative that appeared on the ballot back in November. And what it did, it defined marriage between a man and a woman. And it was approved by California voters by a narrow majority, 52 percent to 48 percent. So, obviously California deeply split on this issue, like a lot of the rest of the country.

On terms of where we go from here, even before today, gay rights advocates had vowed to put this issue back on the ballot as early as next year.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Well, it didn't take Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger long to react to today's court ruling. Here's what he says in a statement: "While I believe that one day either the people or courts will recognize gay marriage, as governor of California I will uphold the decision of the California Supreme Court. Regarding the 18,000 marriages that took place prior to Proposition 8's passage, the court made the right decision in keeping them intact."

"I also want to encourage all those responding to today's court decision to do so peacefully and lawfully."

Well, in our last hour, we spoke live with three people who were against the ban on same-sex marriage -- Frances Nicholson and Cynthia Aler (ph), who were married last year in California, and their 18- year-old daughter, Mary-Kate Nicholson (ph).

Here's part of their reaction to today's ruling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCES NICHOLSON, PROP 8 OPPONENT: It's heartbreaking to be left in a pocket of people with a right that should be available to everybody. It's terrible.

California is a forward-thinking state, and to be in a place where -- where we were advanced a right of equality that is now denied to the generation that my daughter represents, friends of hers, people, my son's age -- he's in his 20s -- who haven't found someone yet and now will be denied the right that we were given, it's terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: The Reverend Miles McPherson supports the ban on gay marriage in California. His megachurch in San Diego has 12,000 members, and he joins me now.

So, Reverend, thank you so much. Good to see you.

I'm curious, what's your early reaction to this?

REV. MILES MCPHERSON, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE OPPONENT: Well, we're happy that the courts upheld the vote of the people. This is the second time we voted on this in California, and the courts did the right thing to uphold the law. Their job is not to create laws, but to interpret the law, and they did the right thing.

CHO: I'm just curious, though, what do you think about the part of the ruling that says that those 18,000 same-sex marriages can stand?

MCPHERSON: Well, it's unfortunate that they created more confusion for those people and for the states, because how are we going to deal with that? And I wish they would have not allowed them to get married until after this decision, because now it's going to cause a lot of confusion. I feel bad for those people as well.

CHO: But are you satisfied with the ruling, then?

MCPHERSON: Absolutely. I'm very satisfied with the ruling.

The people voted. We had over seven million people support traditional marriage. And for the record, we need to understand that 29 states have voted on this issue, and 29 states have voted to uphold traditional marriage.

The only state to have gay marriage, it has been done by the legislature or the courts. The people have always voted 100 percent for this issue.

CHO: You know, obviously people are very, very passionate about this issue. Just outside the courthouse, right after this ruling came down, one woman said, you know, it's like telling people over 50 that they can't vote. I mean, why not allow people who are in love to get married?

MCPHERSON: Well, can you -- should you allow three people who are in love to get married, or a man and a teenager? There are lines drawn for many couples who cannot get married. It's not only about love, it's about building a family.

You know, if you look at black communities historically, you see all these kids who are getting in trouble because they don't have a mother and a father in the home. And for years, until this day, we have mentoring programs so kids can have a mother and a father.

CHO: But some might say why not a mother and a mother or a father and a father?

MCPHERSON: Because God didn't create the family that way. You can't have a family unless you're a mother and a father. And kids need a mother and a father to nurture their personality and their character.

CHO: You have said that people who are for traditional marriage are not anti-gay. Some people might laugh at that, so explain that.

MCPHERSON: Well, if I say I'm for traditional marriage, there are many combinations of people who can't get married, yet none of those other combinations are arguing why can't three people get married? Because if it's only about love, why can't three or four or five people get married? Why is it only two? And the reason it's only two is because that's the way it was biblically set up in the beginning.

And so I think to be for something, there are obviously things you're going to be against, but it's all about what you're for. For 5,000 years, marriage has been between a man and a woman. For 5,000 years, the strongest families come from a mother and a father. And that's what we're for.

CHO: Senior Pastor Miles McPherson, the senior pastor at the Rock Church in San Diego.

We thank you for your perspective.

MCPHERSON: Thank you very much.

CHO: Thanks for joining us.

Well, we asked for your thoughts on Prop 8 and predictions on same-sex marriage 10 years from now. Some replies from our Twitter page -- take a look.

Stine50 says, "I hope we are done with this debate in 10 years! Give people their rights. They aren't hurting anyone else's marriages."

Gledago says, "Gays claim this is a civil rights issue. They have the same rights, marriage rights, as anyone. They want something special."

From BCBishop, "We don't take rights away from people in America, period. Prop 8 is against every principle we were founded on."

And AJP131, "I say let them get married. Only God can judge them in the end. We are only people with no real right to judge at all."

Thanks to everybody who took some time to send us a tweet. We're going to read some throughout the week.

North Korea, again thumbing its nose at the world, test-firing two more missiles, bold action that triggers heated protest in the streets of South Korea and tough words from the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: The Obama administration and governments around the world, angry and dismayed, and scrambling to figure out what to do now after North Korea test-fires two more short-range missiles. That defiant move today triggered street protests around South Korea and followed yesterday's test explosion of a nuclear device.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. warned of tough new sanctions with teeth, but the State Department toned down the rhetoric, suggesting negotiations are still possible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN KELLY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Yes. Well, patience obviously is not infinite, but we feel the door does still remain open, that we're ready to engage. And we hope that North Korea will make the right choice and choose to engage constructively.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Some analysts suggest that the North's latest actions are an attempt to win direct talks with Washington and security assurances.

North Korea's saber rattling may have backfired. One of the countries sharply condemning the nuclear and missile tests is North Korea's major supporter, China. CNN's John Vause reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the Chinese/North Korean border, business as usual, it seems, a day after the region was rattled by an underground nuclear test. Here, cargo trucks possibly carrying Chinese aid and other supplies for the impoverished North cross over the so-called "Friendship Bridge," but Pyongyang's second nuclear test in almost three years and the firing of short-range missiles may have strained relations with its only friend left in the world, China.

Much is made of the close relationships between these two countries, or the influence China has over North Korea. But despite that, Beijing appears to be struggling to effectively deal with the rogue regime next door. "I believe that such a word does not exist in Chinese foreign policy," its government spokesman says.

The Chinese could punish North Korea, severing its last ties with the outside world by stopping their shipments of fuel, food, and weapons. They could, critics say, stop protecting North Korea in the U.N. Security Council, and they could more vigorously enforce U.N. sanctions.

RUSSELL LEIGH MOSES, ANALYST: The Chinese government, I think right now, is torn between its alliance to North Korea on the one hand, and its image overseas as a responsible stakeholder that wants to see this resolved as quickly as it possibly can be in a peaceful way.

VAUSE: On North Korean television, the news reader proudly announced the tests will help defend the country. That's one way experts say Kim Jong-Il keeps a tight grip on power, by creating the perception of a strategic threat.

(on camera): So, one theory goes like this -- while Beijing is far from pleased with the nuclear test, it believes it has a lot to do with an ailing Kim Jong-Il preparing his country for a transfer of power, possibly to his youngest son. And any pressure right now from China might trigger a political crisis.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Well, it's a good thing Judge Sotomayor's mother brought a hanky to today's announcement. She knows her daughter well, but we don't know a whole lot beyond the resume. A longtime friend and fellow judge will fill us in live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Well, if it's not already, every ruling, every writing, every public utterance of Sonia Sotomayor will soon be put under microscopes all over Washington. The Bronx-born Ivy League-educated federal appeals court judge is President Obama's pick to replace David Souter on the highest court in the land. If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and only the third woman on the court.

In emotion-filled remarks at the White House today, Sotomayor credited another woman, her mother, with nurturing her talents and dreams amid very humble surroundings.

Somebody who knows Sotomayor very well is Judge Jon Newman. He's a longtime friend of Sotomayor. They worked together at the U.S. Appeals Court in New York.

Judge Newman joins me now live from Hartford, Connecticut.

So, I want to get to her legal credentials in just a minute, Judge, but first of all, explain to our viewers out there what kind of person Sonia Sotomayor is as a person.

JUDGE JON NEWMAN, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, 2nd CIRCUIT: Well, she's first and foremost an outstanding legal mind. She's a brilliant person and an outstanding judge. Those are the essential qualities that qualify her for the Supreme Court.

Beyond her professional competence, she's an outstanding human being. She's come up from, as you indicated, humble beginnings, grew up in a housing project in New York City, raised by a single mom. And by sheer dint of her talent and her personality and her humanity, overcame the odds and achieved extraordinary success on the judiciary. She's the very embodiment of the American dream.

CHO: You know, the famed attorney Alan Dershowitz called her well prepared, quite opinionated, very, very bright.

What was she like inside the courtroom?

NEWMAN: Well, inside the courtroom, she does what a judge does. She comes to the -- every case with an open mind and studies the case carefully. She's as fully prepared as anyone on our court, and decides the case fairly and evenly, with an open mind.

I'm not sure what Professor Dershowitz means by opinionated. She follows the law. She's a judge. And she does what a judge is supposed to do.

CHO: Well, obviously, Judge, you're a very big supporter of Sonia Sotomayor. You've been friends with her for 20 years. You've worked with her for a really long time.

So, I just want you to get inside her personal story and tell me, what is she like as a person? What is she like as a friend to you for all of these years?

NEWMAN: Well, she's as warm and caring a person as you could ever want to meet. She's -- I don't know anyone who knows her who doesn't think highly of her as a person, not only as a judge. She's just a delightful person to be with. She has considerable charm. She has a sense of humor. She is decent to her core. And she's exactly the kind of human being and judge you would want to have deciding your case.

CHO: I think that's what you call, "a ringing endorsement."

Judge Jon Newman, live from Hartford, Connecticut, today. Judge, thank you so much for your perspective on this. We appreciate it.

NEWMAN: You're quite welcome.

CHO: Want to move now to CNN's senior political analyst, David Gergen. He joins me now by phone from Wilmington, North Carolina.

David, I see you're on vacation, but thank you for spending a couple minutes with us.

Tell me, I just want to know, you've worked for administrations, both democratic and republican administrations, just want to know, just how important was it that she was a woman, that she was a Hispanic, how much did that play in to the decision by President Obama?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It was extremely important. We all know that on the short list now, down to a group that was all women. So, he clearly, gender was important right from the beginning. And Sonia Sotomayor - you know, we're all learning to pronounce her name, I'm afraid - you know, on paper looks the perfect candidate.

And I must tell you, I was there when President Reagan selected Sandra Day O'Connor. I was part of that announcement process and I can tell you that today felt very much like that day.

CHO: Yes, and, David, talk about that, because this is her coming-out party, if you will. Really, the first time a lot of Americans have seen Sotomayor and heard from her. How did she do?

GERGEN: I think she did superbly well. And I must say, I think you had to look at it as a tableau with the president and Miss Sotomayor. And she was, I felt a combination -- we will look back upon this day as one of the most positive in the Obama presidency. A high point in the Obama presidency, because it gave us that sense of poetry once again that he really brought into the campaign. You know, he's been involved in tough governing choices, which has seemed much more about prose here in recent weeks.

But this was about poetry. This was a chance to see a president, a black president, selecting an Hispanic woman for the highest court in the land. And you knew the world was transforming in front of your eyes. And it had a lift to it. So, I -- and I -- I remember when Sandra Day O'Connor was named and how excited we were all were that this woman of great caliber was coming to the court. I felt that same excitement today.

CHO: Well, I want to talk a little bit about the confirmation process, because as Jeff Toobin has said, she's going to be a tough target, especially when you hear her personal story. Bronx born, raised by a single mother, ended up going to Princeton and Yale Law School. She said she's half the woman that her mother is. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room, in the East Room of the White House, when she said that today.

But given that, how tough is it going to be for republicans to go after her, David?

GERGEN: Well Jeff Toobin, as always on these judicial questions, is, I think, is right on the mark. My sense is that unless something new that we do not yet know comes up about her past, that the republicans would be better off saving their fire. They can point out differences, what they don't like, but I think in terms of fighting the nomination, they would be better off waiting until the second nomination than challenging this one. Because this woman has all the credentials that we ordinarily think of as important for the court.

And after all, a number of republicans, including Orrin Hatch, have voted for her in the past to go to the Court of Appeals. And Orrin Hatch is a man of principle. He will not turn around now or -- in order to please, you know, some ideological superiority test and turn around and vote against her, unless something new comes up.

And I would think that this -- Miss Sotomayor always looked good on paper. She always looked like the best candidate on paper. And the question for the White House was -- was how is she going to check out in the vetting process. Are we going to be able to find anything? And secondly, how will she and the president hit it off. And clearly, she passed both tests.

So, the White House has already done a thorough vetting job. I would be surprised if any more is discovered of a negative way. So from my point of view right now, I think she's a very, very strong candidate to go sailing through.

CHO: David, while I have you, you know, I don't have much time, but maybe this is a naive question, but you have been an adviser to both democratic and republican administrations. I'm just curious, because her name was floated almost as soon as David Souter made the announcement that he was retiring. And I'm just curious from an inside baseball perspective, how much do administrations do this? Float those names out there, see how the media reacts, see how the public reacts, and does that at all influence the decision ultimately?

GERGEN: Yes, it does. And it's -- I don't know whether they intentionally floated her name or not, but I do know that it helps when a name floats, as hers did. Because the press then runs its own vetting process, and they've already done their initial stories on her. I mean, every major newspaper has already done a profile of her, you know, as one of the lead nominees. So, they've all checked her out already, that gives the White House some reassurance there's not anything out there that we're missing, so that helps.

And you know, she has had some glowing profiles written. And it also, you know, the other stancary (ph) is, way back when she was being nominated by Bill Clinton for the Court of Appeals, there were people who -- there were some people on the republican side who opposed her from the beginning, because they saw that she had a very, very high potential to go to the court with another democratic president.

So, I think -- I think from the President Obama's point of view, this was a -- this was a very strong move, that he's got a candidate that much of the country is going to applaud. He is making -- he will make inroads into the Latino community, which is so important for his voting base.

And the republicans knowing it's the first Hispanic, knowing that many of them have already voted for her for the Court of Appeals, knowing that "George Bush Senior" was the one who first put her on the federal bench, they're going to have a very, very hard time, you know, opposing her with any ferocity. That's why I think they're better off waiting for the next one, which is likely to be more controversial than this one. This is -- this does not seem to me, absent something new, does not seem to me to be a controversial appointment. It seems instead to be one that is an inspired appointment.

CHO: Well, David Gergen, Alan Dershowitz says the one big negative is that she's a New York Yankees fan. So, we'll have to see how that plays out.

(LAUGHTER)

David Gergen joining us by phone from North Carolina. Thank you.

CHO: Thank you so much.

CHO: You guys have swamped us with your tweets on Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Take a look here.

Edenman622 says, "Her selection was based on her knowledge of the law and case experience. I hope republicans don't short circuit a perfect selection."

Mikebates writes, "Sotomayor's record of being overturned is troubling. Her selection underscores what's wrong with affirmative action. Obama's tripped."

Fathercharles (ph) says, "I love that she is a she, a Latina, a Yalie (I'm from there) and a [Cardinal] Spellman grad" - that's the high school - "I hope life, unborn, imprisoned, all."

From Sundevilsal, "Sotomayor sounds like an activist by her own admission. When R reporters going 2 dig further into her background 4 complete picture."

Hey, we are.

And Jessed44 says, "Sotomayor: Qualified, politically sound, feisty, confirmable, expected. The second nomination will be the interesting one."

Thanks, everybody, for your tweets. Boy, they were good. A young teen, in the battle of his life. No longer on the run, but now he must face a judge about that chemo treatment he doesn't want that could save him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Later this hour, a cancer-stricken Minnesota boy and his mother are expected to face a judge about the medical treatment that could save his life. A week ago, rather than face a similar hearing, the boy and his mother fled the state. And as our Jason Carroll explains, they voluntarily returned yesterday.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alina, it now appears Colleen Hauser is ready to follow whatever course of action the court decides in terms of treatment for her son. She also explained the motivation behind taking him on the run.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): No longer in hiding, Colleen Hauser and her cancer-stricken son Daniel are speaking out, talking to a media company that arranged for their charter flight home. Hauser is saying the decision to take Daniel on the run was made to stop him from running.

COLLEEN HAUSER, DANIEL'S MOTHER: He used to run away. Danny was going to run away. Then what do I have? I mean, he was going to run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people who are saying that this was your mom's decision. Your mom was the one who basically convinced you not to do chemo. What would you say to those people?

DANIEL HAUSER, TEEN SICK WITH CANCER: I'd tell them to back off.

CARROLL: It's not clear when or where the interview was conducted, but Hauser says running was better than having her son forced to endure another round of chemotherapy.

C. HAUSER: And he knew he could not eat. He couldn't even drink. He was helpless. He was literally helpless. And then to get him to where he is today is like, why? Why would you want to do it again? Why would you want to start over again?

CARROLL: So why then did Hauser finally decide to turn herself in?

SHERIFF RICH HOFFMANN, BROWN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: I think they wanted to come back home. They want to get together with their family and they were ready to be home.

CARROLL: The Hausers arrived in Minnesota on Monday. Local law enforcement officials did not confirm where they had been, saying the family's attorney helped to arrange their return.

The company that brought mother and son home, Asgaard Media, describes itself as founded and advised by a group of forward- thinking, positive-minded individuals. Calls to Asgaard were not returned.

Once home, doctors examined Daniel. So far, no word on his condition. His father says he wants his son home, not in a hospital.

ANTHONY HAUSER, DANIEL'S FATHER: I was told that he would be back and that's what I believe should be.

CARROLL: The question now, what will his parents do next? They want to treat their son's Hodgkin's lymphoma with natural methods. Doctors say conventional treatment is his best chance of survival.

The Hausers' attorney says, "Colleen... wants to put her best case forward for her son to have a chance at alternative treatment. But if the court overrules that, she will abide by the orders of the court."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Because Hauser agreed to turn herself in, there is no longer a warrant for her arrest. Her attorney says, it is her understanding the court does have custody of Daniel, but he will remain in his parents' care as long as they cooperate with the court - Alina.

CHO: Jason Carroll reporting for us.

The 4-year-old daughter of former boxer Mike Tyson is fighting for her life in Arizona. Tyson immediately flew from Las Vegas to Phoenix when he heard about his daughter's near fatal strangulation yesterday. Authorities say the daughter was playing on a treadmill in the home, when she got tangled in a cord. Her 7-year-old brother found her and called their mother, who tried to revive her. The little girl is said to be in extremely critical condition, and on life support.

Lower interest rates, no closing costs, no fees? Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't it? Better ask CNN's Help Desk first. This might not be a no-brainer after all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARROLL: Twelve minutes before the top of the hour.

You asked, they answered. CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis and her teammates on "The Help Desk" tackle a couple of viewer questions that you might be asking, too.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: We want to get answers to your financial questions. Let's get straight to "The Help Desk."

Donna Rosato is a senior writer for "Money" magazine and Dwight Rayford is a senior financial planner at MetLife. Let's get to the questions. Jorrie and Ken ask, "We have a loan of $204,000 at 5.875 30-year fixed. Wells Fargo has offered us a refinance of the current balance of $191,000 at 5.75 percent 30-year fixed, no closing costs, no fees. Is there a downside to this that we're not seeing? My husband is a 100 percent service-connected disabled veteran."

What's your advice, Dwight?

DWIGHT RAYFORD, FINANCIAL PLANNER, METLIFE: There is a downside. First of all, there's no such thing as "no closing costs/no fees." There's an appraisal fee, probably. The house has to be reappraised.

Secondly, the difference in the interest rates will represent about a $200 a month reduction in the payment. But that's not what's going on here.

These folks have had this mortgage for some time. They paid down a lot. And why reset and reload on interest? They will be resetting for another 30 year. And remember, interest on a mortgage is front loaded. So, the earlier payments are interest payments as opposed to what they're doing now is paying towards principal.

Given the fact that the husband is probably on a fixed income, my recommendation is let's get the mortgage paid down. So, I'm not sure this is a good deal for them.

WILLIS: Freddy asks, "I'm 29 years old and I live in with my wife and kids in a rental home in Iowa. I have no investments and a FICA score of 720. However, I have two auto loans and about $7,000 in credit card debt. Our combined net income last year was $46,000. We want to take advantage of the first time buyer incentive program. We have a little over 3,000 in a CD account which we plan to use for the down payment. I want to pay off my car loans first, but I think the incentive program is just until November. What do I do first?"

Donna, I can feel what you're going to say. Go ahead.

DONNA ROSATO, SENIOR WRITER, "MONEY" MAGAZINE: Right. Well, of course, you know, you're right, the first-time home and tax buyers credit is a limited time offer, it will expire December 1st. But there's a lot of other things that you think about. It's a nice incentive, but there are a lot of factors to take into account if you're going to buy a home for the first time.

I think his instinct is right. He's got a decent credit score, but it's not great. And he's got a lot of high-interest rate debt. Go with your instinct, pay down the debt, pay down the loans. That will help boost your credit score which might enable you to get better rates. You're have more money to pay on the mortgage.

WILLIS: Great advice, guys.

"The Help Desk" is all about getting you answers, send me an e- mail to gerri@CNN.com. And logon to CNN.com/helpdesk to see more of our financial solutions.

And "The Help Desk" is everywhere, make sure to check out the latest issue of "Money" magazine on newsstands now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: How's this for a "What the ... ?"

Can you hear me now? Not good. Verizon Wireless says it has addressed an employee's handling of a police emergency last week. Authorities were apparently trying to track down a man who had fled after downing dozens of pills. Clearly a suicide risk. The sheriff apparently called Verizon to track the man's cell phone signal, and get this, the operator refused, because the man's bill was past due. The operator then told the sheriff, if he paid some of the bill, the trace could go through.

Now, while they thought about this, deputies did find the guy. They rushed him to the hospital, and we are happy to report that he is in good shape. Can't say the same for Verizon's contract with the sheriff's department, which, by the way, is about to expire.

Rain, rain, rain, and more rain. It's another day of wet weather for much of the country. Chad Myers, tracking it all for us.

(WEATHER REPORT)

CHO: As always, "Team Sanchez" is back there working on the next hour of NEWSROOM.

Hey, Ricardo, how are you doing?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Alina. How are you doing?

CHO: Good. How are you?

SANCHEZ: I'm just sitting here thinking about Barack Obama and how it is at the beginning of every week -- talk about raining on people's parades. This administration has ended up having to deal with serious issues, more than anything we've seen at least weekly. Some of them, of course, made of their own doing. We didn't expect that he was going to name Sotomayor until Thursday. He did it today. That's a huge story.

We've got some tape, by the way. Let me tell you something else, Valerie Jarrett, Valerie Jarrett, is probably, I would say she's one of the most influential advisors that the president has. And she's going to join me here, today.

CHO: Wow.

SANCHEZ: She and I will be talking about what's going on with this Sotomayor decision.

And we've got some videotape. We've got some videotape that a lot of people haven't seen. It's Sotomayor on tape saying something she probably regrets saying about whether justices interpret law or make law that can get controversial. It's -- it's pretty interesting.

But look, he's got North Korea to deal with as well and we're going to be getting into that. So, this should be a pretty good show.

Oh, and Bobby Gibbs, actually Robert Gibbs, the president's spokesperson, going to start us off with reaction to both of these stories at the top of our show.

CHO: I'm glad you're on a "Bobby"-name basis with him, Rick.

SANCHEZ: I was being facetious, of course.

CHO: I'll see you at the top of the hour. I'll be watching. All right, Rick, thanks.

Well, it could be GM's toughest hurdle of all. And if the company doesn't clear it by midnight tonight, it could go from the brink of bankruptcy right into the abyss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: It's make it or break it week for General Motors. That June 1st restructuring deadline is just days away. The automaker is slashing jobs and pressing and winning concessions from its workers as it struggles to keep its head above water.

Poppy Harlow, live in New York with the breakdown.

Hey, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alina.

Yes, it's a midnight deadline tonight for General Motors. What it has to do is strike a deal with its debt holders, with the bond holders. This right now is the automaker's greatest challenge outstanding.

GM asking these bond holders to accept a much reduced, essentially stake in the company. The proposal would give current bond holders is 10 percent stake in General Motors.

Let's take a look at what this deal entails so you can understand it. If you'll hold $1,000 in GM bonds, for every $1,000 of those bonds, you would get 225 shares of General Motors. Now, at Friday's closing price which was $1.40 a share, that's equivalent to $322, rather. So, that's what you'd be getting back to converting the debt into equity.

But here's the issue, here's the risk, stock prices always change. GM stock is up 9 percent right now. It could be down significantly tomorrow. You just don't know. And stockholders could get wiped out, Alina, in the case of a bankruptcy. That's the risk ahead - Alina.

CHO: Poppy Harlow, thanks.

Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Alina Cho. And thanks to the staff here in Atlanta for making me feel so welcome during my stay here. CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Rick Sanchez.