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President Obama in South Korea; Health Care Law to be Ruled on by Supreme Court

Aired March 26, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST: Happy Monday to you.

I`m Carl Azuz.


In a few minutes, we`re going to explore a court case involving President Obama`s health care reform law.

But we begin today in South Korea. President Obama and officials from more than 50 countries are there right now for a meeting about nuclear security. They`re going to talk about things like nuclear terrorism and how to keep nuclear material from around the world safe.

But before the meeting started, there was some tension regarding North Korea. That nation says it`s planning to launch a satellite on board a rocket next month. That kind of launch would violate a deal that North Korea made with the U.S. recently, as well as a United Nations Security Council resolution.

President Obama warned North Korea that a missile launch will not be rewarded. On Sunday, the president also made a visit to Korea`s demilitarized zone, the DMZ. This is the region that splits North and South Korea. The president was there to meet with some of the 28,000 U.S. troops that are stationed in Korea. He also kept up a tradition carried out by previous U.S. presidents.

Paula Hancocks has more on that.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, described it as "the scariest place on earth" when he visited in 1993. Ironically called the demilitarized zone, the border between North and South Korea is actually the most heavily fortified border in the world. Two-and-a-half miles or four kilometers wide, much of the DMZ is a no man`s land buffered by watch towers and land mines.

The Joint Security Area is where the 1953 armistice was signed between the North and the South. It`s where negotiations take place today. And it`s the one place U.S. Soldiers can see their North Korean counterparts up close.

It`s a tourist site for visitors to South Korea, and, of course, for American presidents. Ronald Reagan, the last American leader of the cold war, visited the final frontier of the cold war in 1983.

His assessment...


RONALD R. REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It looks like a Hollywood back lot.


HANCOCKS: Previous U.S. President, George W. Bush, visited the DMZ in February 2002, just weeks after he branded North Korea as part of his so-called "axis of evil," along with Iran and Iraq.

So why do presidents feel the need to visit one of the most tense borders in the world?

DANIEL PINKSTON, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: There is a signal that`s sent to North Korea regarding U.S. Resolve and the strength of the alliance. There`s a signal sent to South Koreans that the U.S. Is reassuring them and that it will fulfill their alliance commitments.

HANCOCKS: And just in case you thought the VIPs were just on the South Korean side, the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, visited the DMZ earlier this month, standing just meters from South Korean territory and ordering his troops to be on their highest alert.


AZUZ: Next up today, the race for the Republican nomination. There are no primaries or caucuses scheduled for this week. The next ones aren`t until April 3, but the candidates did face-off over the weekend in Louisiana.

Former Senator Rick Santorum was the winner there. He got around half the votes in the primary and picked up at least half of the delegates that were at stake, too.

For the candidates, that`s what these primaries and caucuses are all about -- winning delegates. This year, it`s going to take 1,144 delegates to win the Republican Party`s nomination. Former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney has the most delegates and more than twice as many as Senator Santorum.

We reported on the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida last week. The 17 -year-old was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain. That happened in February and authorities say Trayvon Martin was unarmed.

George Zimmerman told police he acted in self-defense and you can go to the video archives on our home page and look at last Thursday`s transcript for more details on this story.

It has led to protests and rallies across the country, like this one you see from Virginia. One person who was at a rally in the state told CNN that part of the reason he thinks there are so many protests is because people think this shooting was senseless.

In other states, like you see here in New Jersey, people took part in marches. You might notice a lot of them wearing hoodies. That`s what Martin was wearing on the night when he was shot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I`m part of the U.S. government that was established in the Constitution. My members are nominated by the president and approved by the U.S. Senate. Once they`re approved, members can serve on the bench for the rest of their lives.

I`m the U.S. Supreme Court and I`m made up of one chief justice and eight associate justices.


AZUZ: Starting today, those nine justices are going to hear arguments about what`s considered one of the biggest accomplishments of Barack Obama`s presidency. We`re talking about the controversial health care reform law that was passed two years ago. It could have an impact on just about every American.

Kate Bolduan breaks down the details of the case, why it`s controversial and the potential impact of the Supreme Court`s ruling.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March 23, 2010, President Obama signs into law the signature achievement of his presidency, the Affordable Care Act, the landmark and controversial health care overhaul.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.

BOLDUAN: Within hours, states across the country filed lawsuits challenging the law.

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is about liberty, it`s not just about health care.

BOLDUAN: Led by Florida, 26 states argued the law`s central provision is unconstitutional, the so-called individual mandate. It requires almost every American to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.

Opponents say the Constitution`s Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to force individuals to purchase a commercial product, like health insurance, they may not need or want.

Paul Clement is arguing on behalf of the states before the Supreme Court.

PAUL CLEMENT, ATTORNEY FOR STATES CHALLENGING LAW: These issues are really central to whether the federal government can really regulate anything it wants to.

BOLDUAN: The government defends the sweeping reforms, arguing medical care is not a choice, that every American will need health care at some point in their lives. They also say that tens of millions of uninsured Americans are costing everyone else more -- $43 billion in uncompensated costs in 2008 alone, according to government figures.

ELIZABETH WYDRA, CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER: No one is saying that there`s a right to freeload off one`s neighbor when you decide not to choose health insurance.

BOLDUAN: The stakes only grow larger with the Supreme Court taking the case just months before an election.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I`m president, we`re getting rid of Obama care and returning to freedom.

BOLDUAN: And the election year blockbuster has again been turned the spotlight on the justices themselves.

As with the "Bush v. Gore" case of 2000, will the justices be criticized for letting politics creep into the courtroom?

THOMAS GOLDSTEIN, SCOTUSBLOG.COM PUBLISHER: While the health care cases have huge political overtones, obviously, I think the justices are probably going to put them to the side. The legal stakes are so high, that I don`t think they`ll pay attention, that much, if at all, to the fact that it`s occurring in an election cycle. They`ve just got to get the case right.

BOLDUAN: What we`re talking about here is four separate issues being argued for six hours over three days. That rarely happens and shows just how important this case is. But even after these marathon public sessions, we still won`t know the final outcome for likely three months.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, at the Supreme Court.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the Shout-out.

What`s the name of the first powered airplane?

If you think you know it, then shout it out.

Was it the Kittyhawk, Spirit of St. Louis, Wright flyer or Spruce Goose?

You`ve got 30 seconds. Go.

Wilbur and Orville`s Wright flyer made aviation history on December 17, 1903, and never flew again afterward. That`s your answer and that`s your Shout-out.


AZUZ: One thing about me, I love all things aviation, especially aviation history, because I`m kind of a nerd like that, among other things. But here in CNN STUDENT NEWS, you know that we all especially enjoy paper airplanes. So there was no way we were going to miss out on what might be the biggest one ever made.

It`s 45 feet long. It weighs 800 pounds. A helicopter had to help tow the thing up into the sky over Arizona to an altitude of more than 2,700 feet. Once it was released, it flew -- or, maybe more accurately, it fell back to Earth at up to 98 miles per hour.

Eventually, it will be on display at the museum that`s in charge of this project. We`re impressed that the plane withstood the flight and didn`t just fold under the pressure. But what they should have done is charge money to check the whole thing out, you know, make the whole thing a Pay-Per-View event.


All right. That`s going to bring today`s show for a landing.

I`m Carl Azuz.

We`ll see you tomorrow for more CNN STUDENT NEWS.