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Supreme Court Rules on Race in Admissions; Affirmative Action Ruling; New Trouble for Paula Deen; Crucial Immigration Vote in Senate; Snowden Still Seeking Asylum

Aired June 24, 2013 - 10:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. The United States Supreme Court has now reached a decision on the use of race as a factor, affirmative action at public universities. Here is the decision. It's not an easy decision it on go through. It's page after page after page, and that's what we're doing right now. We're going through the decision to make sure we fully understand what the Supreme Court justices have decided.

Jake Tapper is standing by up at the Supreme Court with Joe Johns and Jeffrey Toobin, they're all inside. We'll go to them shortly for the decision, for the impact of this decision, but the decision has now been made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's bring back our two legal experts who are joining us, Carrie Severino and Leah Aperson.

Carrie, you don't like the use of race as a factor in admissions to achieve classroom diversity. What about geography? Would it be OK to give priority for someone from the Midwest if there aren't a whole lot of students at a major university from the Midwest, would that be OK?

CARRIE SEVERINO, CHIEF COUNSEL AND POLICY DIRECTOR, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Well, that would trigger slightly different questions under the equal protection clause. The point here is that the equal protection clause is there to provide equal treatment across races. We don't want people being selected for or against the university admission because of their race.

And so geography, while it would present some questions, wouldn't be subject to the same kind of really strict scrutiny that the Supreme Court has said is necessary. Whenever you use race as a factor in any kind of governmental decision in a state public university an arm of the government in a certain sense, they can't look at race at all unless they have a compelling reason to do so and unless it's narrowly tailored, unless it's really the only way to achieve that end.

So if there is another way to achieve racial diversity, then they can't use race. That's that what the Grutter versus Bollinger holding told us several year ago and that's the controlling Supreme Court press on this issues.

So really it's much subject too much more scrutiny as it should be because we're looking at a classification based on race. BLITZER: All right, Lia, go ahead and respond to that argument.

LIA EPPERSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW: Well, while it's absolutely true that the Supreme Court does employ strict scrutiny whenever it's reviewing any classification that takes account of race, I think one of the things that's important to keep in mind is that the Supreme Court ten years ago yesterday in the Grutter versus Bollinger decision very strongly endorsed the limited modest use of race as one of several factors in university admissions policies for the compelling interests of benefiting -- reaping the benefits that flow from having a more diverse student body.

I mean the fact of the matter is we live in a very, very multi-ethnic America now. Today's schoolchildren will grow up to live and work in a world with no racial or ethnic majority. And the broad swathe of Americans in terms of military leaders, small business owners, Fortune 500 companies all talk about the importance of the benefits of having a diverse student body for strengthening our citizenry, for creating really a strong democracy and for strengthening our position in the global economy.

So these are just some of the reasons why many people believe that there are very strong benefits to encouraging racial diversity in colleges and universities. And so the limited use of policies like the one at issue in the University of Texas case are believed to help foster that type of diversity that is so necessary for colleges and universities and sort of for creating pathways to leadership for all Americans.

BLITZER: All right stand by ladies for a moment. John King is with us as well. John, you were noting the polls, the American public according to the polls they don't like this.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORREPONDENT: The American public does not like this, but that is both relevant and irrelevant in the sense that it's irrelevant to the nine Justices we hope and assume but they make all of the decisions based on the law. They're often divided in these cases and we'll see the breakdown here this is a very contentious issue legally.

Now if you look at public opinion, a majority of non-whites think we still have the need for affirmative action. An overwhelming majority of whites say we do not and they don't like government preferences. Now that becomes an issue if the court makes a decision that changes the law dramatically, then it gets kicked back to Congress.

BLITZER: All hold on for a moment and we're going to take another quick break. When we come back, we'll go up to the Supreme Court. Jake Tapper is there with Joe Johns and Jeffrey Toobin. We'll get the decision from the United States Supreme Court on this critically important issue.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking News here at the Supreme Court. I'm Jake Tapper. There has been a decision in a case shorthanded as affirmative action but actually more broadly about whether or not race can be used as a criterion when deciding whether or not to admit a student into a university class. The case is known as Fisher versus University of Texas at Austin. The young woman Abigail Fisher applied to be a student at the University of Texas, Austin. She did not get in. She was not in the top 10 percent of her high school class in Texas. If you're in the top 10 percent, you get automatic admission into the university system there.

She was not in that. She was in the second tier. And she did not get in spite having 3.59 grade point average and an S.A.T. score of 1,180. She alleges that there were minority students who were admitted who are less qualified than she.

Her case has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court and now we have a decision. I want to bring in Jonathan Turley. Jon, it's not the decision that a lot of people expected. I think a lot expected the Supreme Court to definitively rule one way or the other about whether race can be used. Tell us about this complicated ruling. And also it's a 7-1 ruling.

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well that's what was not expected. It's a nuanced decision. It's a vintage Kennedy. Basically he said you can still consider race for purposes of diversity, but you have to satisfy a hire burden. This is going to make it tougher. He's saying you also apply the strict scrutiny burden and we're not going to accept a good faith argument that just because we're adding more African-American students, it's going to make the school more diverse. You need to show us that there is no race neutral approach that would achieve those types of goals.

It's going to be hard to meet that. And he stressed that there is going to be no difference in how strict scrutiny applies here and other areas. Now what people need to remember is strict scrutiny is a very difficult standard for any government group, any government to meet. And here the state of Texas had a system of taking the top 10 percent of students and that did bring a degree of diversity. And it's going to be very difficult for them to say in addition to that, we need to give race this type of weight.

So what you have then is a decision that's going to make it tougher to use race as a criteria. But a decision that doesn't rule out the use of race; the court in fact embraces the race factor in achieving diversity. So in that sense I think universities can take from this one hopeful note that the court did not say we're going to create a bright line rule. Since 1978, we've been trying to deal with race. We keep on getting these cases every five or so years. No more consideration of race. They didn't say that --

TAPPER: They didn't do that. You can still use race as a criterion, but the question is whether or not the standard they create meets what you call -- what the Supreme Court calls close scrutiny.

TURLEY: That's right. The difference between a 10-k in a marathon. They are saying you've got to do the marathon. You've got to show us that there is no other way you could achieve this type of diversity and we're not going to accept good faith arguments. It's going to have to be concrete figures and you have to rule out all alternatives that's going to be difficult.

TAPPER: All right I want to go to Joe Johns now who is at the court. Joe, you have the ruling. What is your report?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you've said it all. Essentially what the court is saying is that in order to use race as a consideration in college admissions, you have to have a very high test. That high test is known as strict scrutiny. And Justice Kennedy delivering the opinion for the court today said strict scrutiny is what the Fifth Circuit should have used and they basically kicked it back to them.

So some of the larger points really did not get decided here. This was a 7-1 opinion Jake -- seven justices on the Supreme Court agreeing with Justice Kennedy's analysis. One justice of course disagreeing -- that would be Justice Ginsburg. Justice Kagan by the way took no opinion in this because as solicitor general of the United States, she apparently had some role in it as it was percolating through the courts.

So strict scrutiny is the rule now it goes back to further consideration. And it's a very tough standard to meet -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Joe Johns, we're going to take a break now, but that is the news from the Supreme Court ruling on Fisher versus University of Texas at Austin. Not the clear line ruling that a lot of people were expecting. The University of Texas now has a standard to meet when it comes to arguing and making their point as to whether or not they can use race as a factor when deciding who to admit to the university.

We're going to take a break and we'll be right back here on CNN.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to NEWSROOM. It's 43 minutes past the hour. I'm Carol Costello.

Paula Deen and the controversy surrounding her is still hot and it's getting hotter. In the days after she admitted under oath to using the "n" word, the TV chef has lost her job with the Food Network and QVC is re-examining its relationship with Deen.

And then there's this. Last year the "New York Times" interviewed Deen about race relations in the south.


PAULA DEEN, CHEF: I feel like the south is almost less prejudice because black folks played such an integral part in our lives. I have a young man in my life and his name is Holis Johnson, and he's black as that board. Come out here. We can't see you standing against that dark board.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Criticism may be a dish best served hot and there's a lot of it on both sides of this controversy. Pamela Brown joins us now with more. Good morning Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Carol.

Paula Deen is known for whipping up rich southern food, but it's what she cooked up outside the kitchen that has her embroiled in controversy. The Food Network quickly announced that it would not be renewing her contract and now her supporters are dishing out plenty of criticism of that decision while others are applauding the Food Network.


DEEN: I want to apologize to everybody --

BROWN (voice over): Paula Deen's fans are standing by the butter lover chef and threatening to boycott the Food Network for sticking a fork in her shows.

DEEN: I'm going to wrap it in bacon and we're going to deep fry it.

BROWN: At her Savannah restaurant, the line was around the block this weekend as patrons showed support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has apologized and I felt maybe -- we all say that, for what it's worth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a learning lesson for her and it's a learning lesson for the people that do forgive. So I would forgive her.

BROWN: Deen stirred up controversy for comments she made while being questioned under oath as part of a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit against her and her brother filed by a former employee.

DEEN: Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made.

BROWN: Friday she issued back to back video apologies online after readily admitting to using the n word in the past.

DEEN: Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. I am here to say I am so sorry.

BROWN: Deen is also accused in the lawsuit of wanting to plan a southern plantation themed party with black waiters. Just last year, Deen spoke at a "New York Times" event about race relations in the south and her views on slavery.

DEEN: Black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family. And we didn't see ourselves as being prejudiced. I think we're all prejudice against something or another and I think the black people feel the same bridge that white people feel. BROWN: Shortly after her public apology, The Food Network said it was not renewing her contract, putting an end to her three shows. The scandal has whipped up more than 13,000 comments on the Food Network's Facebook page. "Food network, I'm firing you. Good-bye," wrote one user.

Others applaud The Food Network's decision to dump Deen. "Great move Food Network. It had to be done." Disrespectful slurs will not be tolerated. And the fallout could continue. Listen to what QVC which carries Deen's told CNN.

PAUL CAPELLI, VP CORPORATE COMMUNICATION, QVC: We're watching those developments closely and reviewing our business relationship with Miss Deen.


BROWN (on camera): And Wal-Mart which sells Deen's products has not commented on the future of their relationship. Her cookware is also sold at chains including Target and K-Mart. The case she's involved in is all going. And Deen released the statement is ongoing and she thanked The Food Network for 11 great years. But she has endured bad publicity in the past. Never with so much fallout like this.

COSTELLO: No, You have that right. Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

The Senate is getting ready for a crucial vote on immigration reform. Today lawmakers are set to vote on an amendment to better secure borders. Even though the bill is expected to pass, the question is by what margin. By how much?

CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill. So will it pass the house?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're going to start with the senate and it is going to be effectively a test vote, a procedural vote that will give everybody a sense of just how high the vote can ultimately go when you're talking about immigration reform in the Senate. And what this vote is, is an amendment about what we reported on last week, this border security compromise, this deal to add more border agents, 20,000 border agents to complete the southern border fence, to add new technology.

All an attempt to get Republicans who are skittish about this whole idea of ultimately giving citizenship to illegal immigrants a way to vote for it and also some Democrats, as well.

But here is the problem. You mentioned the House. That is going to be the problem ultimately. So listen to the way -- yesterday on Candy Crowley's show -- the way Democrat Chuck Schumer, who is a big sponsor of this, and Republican Rand Paul who is one of the conservative opponents, described the fate of this.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: This is going to be a historic week for the senate as we pass comprehensive immigration reform. We're about at two thirds of the Senate right now. Our momentum is growing.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: It will pass the senate, but it's dead on arrival in the house. The house is much closer to me and I think they think border security has to come first before you get immigration reform.

Bash: Supporters of this say the whole point of the way they're changing this legislation is to ensure that the border will be secured. Ensure it in a way that some conservatives are kind scratching their head because they're pouring a lot of federal dollars into this and a lot of federal workers into this.

But the bottom line is that even though big picture politically a lot of republicans who are from swing states and those who are kind of party leaders who are worried about the fate of the Republican Party if they don't do something on immigration reform with regard to Hispanic voters.

BASH: In the house you have a lot of conservative members from really red districts who are worried about the other side, worried if they support anything that any opponent can call amnesty for illegal immigrant, they will get a challenge from the right, from conservatives who city that you're not representing Republican constituents the right way.

COSTELLO: Well, we'll see what Rand Paul. He wants Congress to decide whether the border is secured instead of the executive branch. That's a big --

BASH: That's right. And the truth is that in this measure that they will have a procedural vote on, it does give Congress a lot more input into how the metric or how the border security will be defined. And that also is kind of controversial.

COSTELLO: OK. We'll see what happens. Dana Bash reporting live from Washington this morning.

The Dow, guess what, it's tumbling again this morning. Down more than 150 points -- actually it's down 174 right now. So you're asking why this time? Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Carol. Bad as it looks with all that red on the screen, stocks are actually off their lows of the session. You look at the Dow, it's down 173. It was down as much as 250 points earlier today. So it has come back just a little.

Front and center today as far as the worries go -- China and the Fed. Investors are still rattled after Fed chief Ben Bernanke said the fed could start to scale back the amount of money -- meaning the stimulus -- that it's been pumping into the financial system. What that essentially did was push interest rates lower; created this big wealth effect in the stock market. That's why the saw the Dow go over 15,000. The S&P reached new record high, so.

So when the Fed utters these words -- that gravy train could come to an end. Investors began running for the exit and they haven't looked back. Also in play today, China -- the people's bank of China. That's the equivalent of our Federal Reserve here.

It told the country's biggest bank to go ahead and rein in risky loans and get their balance sheets under control. The big worry there is that a cash crunch will hurt China's economy and also wanting to take it a big bite out of global economic growth. So you know of roll all that together and you get investors really on the edge today -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And you get a big plunge. Thank you. Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

Still ahead in the newsroom, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez Remains a key figure in a murder investigation. We'll tell you what the latest is next.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Newsroom. Let's talk a little bit about Edward though de Snowden. He's the NSA leaker. He's believed to still be in Russia. We suspected he might get on a plane, fly over Cuba -- actually fly over the United States. Fly to Cuba and then take a plane to Ecuador. As far as we know, Edward Snowden did not do that. Of course WikiLeaks and Julian Assange is helping Edward Snowden I guess evade U.S. Authorities. This is what Julian Assange said a short time ago in a teleconference. Listen.

JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS: Every person has the right to seek and receive political asylum. Those rights are enshrined in the United Nations agreements of which the United States is a party. It is counter productive and unacceptable for the Obama administration to try and interfere with those rights. It reflects poorly on the U.S. administration and no self respecting country would submit to such interference.

COSTELLO: Assange who was still speaking on that teleconference, says the current behavior by the Obama administration should not be tolerated by any self-serving government. We have one more bit of information to pass along from Wikileaks and I'm going to read right off my e-mail here.

"WikiLeaks legal representative on the ongoing conference call just confirmed Edward though den has supplied an Ecuadoran refugee document of passage in Hong Kong. He would supply that in Hong Kong. The rep also says Snowden did apply for asylum in Iceland and other places they cannot speak about. Julian Assange also on that teleconference said he knows where Edward Snowden is, but he's not saying. We'll keep you posted throughout the day here on CNN.

One week after the death of a friend the New England Patriots tight end remains the focus in a murder investigation. CNN's SUSAN CANDIOTTI reports from outside Hernandez's home.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Except for a quick backyard appearance Saturday night, an embattled yet smiling Aaron Hernandez is keeping a very low profile. On Sunday, his SUV parked in the driveway eventually was moved into his garage; king food runs for him. On Saturday, the same SUV got a once over from investigators executing their second search in a week.

While police aren't calling the popular tight-end a suspect in the shooting death of his friend semipro player Odin Lloyd in Hernandez is under a microscope.

Authorities sweeping through you his house. Taking away at least a dozen evidence bags. As one point calling in a locksmith and bringing in police dogs. During the search, Hernandez is spotted peeking out his front door window to get a look at the action. The pressure is on.

As part of the murder investigation, police also seizing surveillance videos from a strip club in nearby Providence, Rhode Island. Back at the murder scene less than a mile from the football player's home, the publics kept at a distance. The shooting victim's family is following every development.

What do you make of the police being out to Mr. Hernandez's house, a second time to search?

SHIRLEY PHILIP, VICTIM'S COUSIN'S WIFE: Detected Whatever it is they took out, I hope it will help us and heal us and put a closure to this. He was just left there in that field like he was a piece of trash. Trash. Not even a human. That was my nephew. That was my nephew. Someone took his life. I'm trying to understand. I just want to understand.

CANDIOTTI: Susan Candiotti, CNN, Boston.


COSTELLO: Thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Carol Costello. Newsroom continues after a short break.