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Justice Stephen Breyer's Legacy; Interview With Javier Bardem; Interview With European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Aired 1- 2p ET

Aired January 27, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: As ever, the European Union stands by Ukraine in these difficult circumstances.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The ball is now in the Kremlin's court, as Moscow considers letters from the alliance. I ask E.U. Chief Ursula von der Leyen

whether diplomacy still has a chance.





AMANPOUR: Actor Javier Bardem is Desi Arnaz in America's beloved sitcom "I Love Lucy." I talk to the star about his new film, "Being the Ricardos,"

and tough times behind the scenes.



little too soon than a little too late.

AMANPOUR: Supreme Court shakeup. Author David A. Kaplan talks to Michel Martin about Justice Stephen Breyer leaving the bench and where America's

highest court goes from here.

Plus: "Things Fell Apart." Author Jon Ronson goes back in time to figure out how everything got so polarized.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.

On the chessboard of the latest great game, next move, Moscow. The United States and its NATO allies anxiously await Vladimir Putin's response to

their written letters addressing Russia's security concerns. The Kremlin says, while it will not rush to judgment, so far, it appears its primary

concerns over Ukraine were not addressed.

Meanwhile, the Western alliance says that only Russia can bring down the tensions. And, as of now, there are zero indications that Putin may be de-


The European Union has said an attack on Ukraine is an attack on Europe.

Ursula von der Leyen is president of the European Commission. And she is joining me now for an exclusive interview from Brussels.

President von der Leyen, welcome back to this program.

I think it must be said that all sides are using the media, frankly, right now to put their messages ahead. We see a lot of you, a lot of NATO's

secretary-general, we see the president of the United States, and we see the Russian side.

So, from your perspective, is there going to be a war in Europe? You surely must know by now, after all these weeks of negotiation and diplomacy that

it's heading somewhere or nowhere.

VON DER LEYEN: Well, Christiane, although Russia created this crisis, we all hope that diplomacy will succeed.

And there are these different diplomatic formats, the OSCE, the Normandy format, the NATO-Russia Council, and, of course, the bilateral talks

between the United States and Russia. And we have to do everything to -- with -- to solve within these bodies that are created for solutions of

tensions and conflicts to really find a solution at the negotiation table.

But we also prepare for the worst.

AMANPOUR: Do you see anything that leads you to believe, other than the existence of the continuation of talks, anything that leads you to believe

that the Russian side, because you have just blamed them squarely for this, has any intention of de-escalating or changing its stance?

VON DER LEYEN: Well, the next days -- hours, days and weeks will show that.

So, whenever there are talks, it is good. And it is important to be in a process to understand each other's side, and to look where there might be a

bridge for a peaceful solution of and de-escalation of this conflict.

This is very important, and we are working very hard on that.

AMANPOUR: So, clearly, the two main sides in this, I mean, Ukraine, which might be the scene of an invasion, and Russia, which might do the invading,

this is what -- this is -- both sides spoke publicly about this current moment today.

So, first, the Ukrainian foreign minister, who is in Copenhagen.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Nothing has changed. This is the bad news. The good news is that advisers agreed to meet in

Berlin in two weeks, which means that, at least for the next two weeks, Russia will -- is likely to remain on a diplomatic track.


AMANPOUR: So, taking some comfort in the fact that talks continue.

On the other hand, the Russian foreign minister has said today the following:



SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There is no positive reaction on the main issue in this document.

The main issue is our clear position the inadmissibility of further expansion of NATO to the east and the deployment of strike weapons that

could threaten the territory of the Russian Federation.


AMANPOUR: So, two different views from the main players.

What can you tell us about what was addressed in these letters that went to Moscow?

VON DER LEYEN: Well, in these letters that went to Moscow, there were some points where -- which could be seen, but there are also points that touch

core principles of our values and where we never will give any concession.

This is, for example, the right of a country to choose which path it will take in the future. If you look at Ukraine, it has -- it's a sovereign

country,. The integrity of this country must be guaranteed. And it's a country that can decide what the future is.

So, these principles will, of course, be maintained. And this describes the difficulty. And, indeed, what we see is -- and that is the worrying part

is, we see a military build up around Ukraine by Russia of military forces that is the biggest since World War II.

And, therefore, there are very clear signs that Russia is putting an enormous amount of pressure on Ukraine and is threatening very clearly that

it would have a further military aggression against Ukraine, and this will not be tolerated. And that's what we are preparing for.

AMANPOUR: So you have made your conditions, and I'm going to say threats, but responses that you have telegraphed to Russia.

Russia has said that, basically, the Europeans won't really do anything that hurts them because they desperately need Russia's natural gas. So, now

we see -- and I spoke to the Norwegian prime minister yesterday -- and he warned Russia not to use the so-called gas card.

The U.S. State Department has basically upped the ante, saying that, if there was a Russian invasion, the so-called Nord Stream pipeline, which

takes gas from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine, will not happen.

Is that something that you or the E.U. confirm and endorse, that Nord Stream will not happen if there is an invasion?

VON DER LEYEN: I want to be very clear. Nothing is off the table. Everything is on the table.

The commission is responsible for designing, shaping and developing the sanctions in the financial field, in the economic field, in the technology

field. That's what we are doing. And this includes everything.

We will start with sanctions at the top of the ladder. And we're very clear that, if there's any further aggression, military aggression of Russia

against Ukraine, there will be massive consequences and severe costs for Russia.

You should not forget that the European Union is the biggest trading partner to Russia. Around about 40 percent of the trade in goods is done

between Russia and the European Union. The European Union is also the biggest foreign investor in Russia; 75 percent of the foreign direct

investment is coming from the European Union.

So these figures tell you that we have a strong leverage, and that it would be very painful for Russia in case that they increase this aggression

against Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: So, they -- their position is that it wouldn't be painful, and that, actually, it would be much more painful for the Western alliance if

these kinds of measures were taken. And then -- and they said the words politically destructive as well.

So, let me ask you, because a lot has been made of Germany's position on all of this. Will it be a strong ally, standing, as you all have said, very

firmly against any move, particularly around the Nord Stream issue?

And we note that the German ambassador to Washington seems in a latest tweet have endorsed the State Department, the U.S. harder line on this Nord

Stream issue. She has -- seems to have endorsed that, saying that, "Nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2."

You have sort of said that too, nothing will be off the table. So can you confirm then -- and you -- I mean, you're the European Commission

president, but you were a minister in Germany and you understand the difficulties.

Is Germany a reliable bulwark in the European Western wall confronting Moscow right now?

VON DER LEYEN: Absolutely. And this is not only Germany, but all the member states of the European Union.

In fall, there were many different voices to be heard. But now we have seen, since weeks, this massive buildup of military threat around Ukraine.

And by now, there is complete unity, there is determination, there is resolve.


And what the gas topic is concerned, yes, indeed, we have done our homework since 2014, when there was the annexation, the illegal annexation of the --

of Crimea by Russia. Since then, we have massively invested in renewables. These are clean, homegrown energies. We have built an enormous network of

LNG terminals with interconnectors and pipelines that are necessary.

And with the situation as it is right now, I am actively working to diversify, to look for reliable suppliers. And I'm working very closely

with President Biden on a strategic partnership on energy security.

So, this is an important factor for us really to increase our resilience what that is concerned.

AMANPOUR: So increase the energy that could go to Europe if, indeed, something happens to interrupt the stream from Russia.

I want to ask you about the so-called -- I'm just not even going to use that word. I want to ask you about SWIFT, the idea that U.S. legislators

potentially calling for, cutting Russia from that sort of financial network to institutions around the world called SWIFT.

Is that an option? This is what the Russian parliamentarian says, vice speaker of the upper house there: "If Russia is disconnected from SWIFT,

then we will not receive foreign currency, but buyers, European countries in the first place, will not receive our goods, oil, gas, metals, and other

important components."

So they still are basically counting on Europe finding it too painful to be cut off in return.

VON DER LEYEN: I want, again, to be very clear, nothing is off the table. This includes all the topics that we are discussing, and it is the nature

of this package that it is comprehensive, it is big, and it is massive in the consequences.

I will not go in depth in any kind of speculation, because it is also important that we keep the package in one. But, again, everything is on the

table. Everything is looked at. This is a very serious situation. We have not had such a critical situation since World War II in that region. And,

therefore, everything is on the table.

AMANPOUR: President von der Leyen, NATO has made it very clear, and you all have, that no one has a veto over who asks to be joining NATO.

We understand that it is not imminent that NATO will invite Ukraine to be a member. However, you're not agreeing that anybody should have a veto. I'm

wondering whether you also -- I'm just wondering whether the so-called Budapest Memorandum, which Russia signed in 1994, along with European and

U.S. leaders, to guarantee the territorial integrity in Ukraine, which voluntarily gave up its nuclear missiles, does Russia even adhere to that?

Does anybody believe that that's still an international accord that should be respected?

VON DER LEYEN: Of course, international accords have to be respected.

And this is for the Paris Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. I mean, all these -- the United Nations, the principles, all these have been signed by

Russia. And, therefore, it is very clear that we call on Russia. This is the European security architecture that we have built together.

And it is a solid one. And there was a prosperous development within the security architecture. And, therefore, we call on Russia to come back to

these principles, to abide to these principles, because they are of the benefit to all sides that are in these agreements.

AMANPOUR: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, thank you for joining me this evening from Brussels.

Now, rewind the clock some 70 years to the beginning of the Cold War, and the groundbreaking sitcom "I Love Lucy" that emerged then in the United

States. It was America's favorite TV and real-life couple. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz have come back to life in Aaron Sorkin's new film, "Being the


But behind all the laughs were some serious issues that threatened their show, careers and their marriage.

Take a look at a bit of the clip.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Why is this coming out now?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Lucille Ball is a threat to the American way of life?

BARDEM: Does the FBI have any case against Lucy?

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: I need you to help me save my marriage.


BARDEM: How many times I got to explain where I was and where I wasn't?

KIDMAN: You got to explain.

BARDEM: Are you being funny right now?

KIDMAN: I'm Lucille Ball. When I'm being funny, you will know it.


AMANPOUR: Now, a measure of his popularity, 15 million American households had TV back then. Every week, 11 million of them would tune to this show.

The film is getting Oscar buzz.

Javier Bardem plays Desi Arnaz. And he's joining me now live from Madrid, Spain.

Welcome back to our program, Javier Bardem.

And it's a wonderful film. It's getting a lot of Oscar buzz. And it reminds all of us of that incredible show that so many people loved. But what made

you, as a Spaniard not growing up in the United States, want to play this particular character? What did you know about it?

BARDEM: I didn't know much about him, because "I Love Lucy" show wasn't as popular in Spain as it was in the States or U.K. even.

So I didn't grow up watching the show. I'm 52. But once I knew about the project, way before Aaron Sorkin even wrote it, I was very intrigued about

this couple, which I have heard off. And then I start to watch the shows. And I immediately got very drawn into their energy, their comedy chops,

their charisma, their skills, the comedy skills, and especially on Desi's energy, which is a very -- a very beautiful energy of a man who really

commits himself through the passion, through the passion of everything he did.

AMANPOUR: Your co-star was Nicole Kidman. She played Lucy, of course.

I just wonder what you had to do to practice, to get prepared to -- to train up to play this role. Were you a musician? Did you have to learn to

play the instruments? What did it take to really get in and inhabit Desi?

BARDEM: Many things.

When you're playing such an iconic character like Desi Arnaz, you have to really do your homework, because it's a lot of -- it's a lot of weight on

your shoulders, especially when he's so beloved by so many millions of people, like is the case.

So -- but I was lucky. I was lucky, in the sense that I had lots of videos to watch, the show, his own autobiography called "A Book," which I highly

recommend everyone to read, because he's very funny. But, also, it's a great landscape, a political, social landscape of the -- of Cuba and states

from the '20s on, '40s, '50, '60s.

And, also, what you try to do is not to get into the physicality of it all, but, rather, try to grab the essence of what the person meant to many

people, and what that person represented to his wife and to many other people.

And that's what you do when you act. You try to inhabit that person, beyond the physical appearance. And I was lucky enough to have some -- some, I

mean, tools to do that, as I said, but also to have, for example, the support of their daughter, Lucie, which gave me some private recordings

where I could hear Desi Arnaz speaking to his colleagues.

And you could tell how was his energy when he was on his private time. And it was basically pretty much the same that we know. He was that man. He was

that force of nature. And that was the thing that I was very more very -- very much interested in portraying, that energy of his.

AMANPOUR: So you said -- in a previous interview, you said that, in the 1930s in Cuba, which is where Desi came from: "Desi was taught to

constantly prove his male power, and that machismo culture is something I can relate to, for sure."

Talk to me a little bit about that, because you mentioned his daughter. And I want to I want to ask you about what she thought. But tell me about the

culture that you too can relate to.

BARDEM: Well, it's -- I mean, it's a culture about a very -- like, Hispanic father figure, man, macho thing that, hopefully, we're leaving

behind, but not as much as we wish, I guess, as we can tell, for example, in the number of violent domestic crimes that are in Spain, for example.

Still, it is a big thing to be concerned about. But I guess what I referred to is that -- and the movie refers to that -- is that Desi was madly in

love with Lucy. And, but at the same time, he was educated and he was raised in a moment in history and in moment in the culture where the man is

the man, and that goes without saying that that should be -- that should be forgiven, no matter what, because that's the way it is.


And that's something that is beyond -- it's beyond -- it's something cultural, I guess, but not from Cuba, from Spain. It's something that has

to do with the education that we have been raised with.

And I was raised with that as well in some way. I was raised with that. And the people of my generation has -- raised with that as well. And it's

something that we, for sure, want to let behind. We need to let that behind.

AMANPOUR: So, look, this is really about a power couple. It's true that Lucy was the public face of the couple, mostly.

But Desi, as you say, was incredibly creative. And we really learn from this film how he put everything into saving the show. There was a terrible

situation one week, where this is concentrated around, where a very bad headline comes out against Lucy, basically saying that she was a communist.

And that was during the Cold War, during the whole sort of witch-hunt against so-called communists in the United States.

And he kind of saved the day.

I want to play this little clip.


KIDMAN: You're not telling these people that I checked the wrong box.

BARDEM: This is a critical moment, Lucy.

KIDMAN: If I'm going to die...

BARDEM: You're not.

KIDMAN: ... I would rather die standing up.

BARDEM: I don't have any idea what...


KIDMAN: I'm not an idiot. I didn't check the wrong box.

BARDEM: You saw the headline.

KIDMAN: You could see the headline from outer space.

BARDEM: Then, please...

KIDMAN: Grandpa Fred raised me from when I was age 4. He cared about the little guy. He cared about workers' rights.

It was a tribute to him. And to say that I checked the wrong...

BARDEM: Grandpa Fred, Grandpa Fred. Grandpa Fred was wrong, Lucy!

Yes, he didn't tell you the part where they throw your father in prison for the crime of being the mayor of a city. I was chased to this country, Lucy!

Believe me, you checked the wrong box.


AMANPOUR: It's an amazing scene. And it says everything about their marriage and about the times that they were in and about the difficulty of

staying on American television if you had anything like that in your -- in the closet, so to speak.

And then you, your character, Desi, goes out to the studio audience just to make sure that they're still on board.

Tell me about that. It's a remarkable scene.

BARDEM: It is a remarkable scene, as many other scenes, I would say every scene in the movie, because it is written by Aaron Sorkin, which is like a

gift for any actor to have those situations, those dialogues, those characters to play.

It's a present. It's a gift for any actor, at the same time, a big responsibility, because you have to fulfill those things with life and

flesh. I mean, the images, the layers are there, the depth -- the depth, the heights, the downs. But you have to translate those emotionally.

But, again, it's a great scene. And, also, it speaks about something that is happening today in some way, in some weird way. Like, the cancellation

culture, whatever the name, is what -- is a little bit of a replica of what happened in them -- in the McCarthy times.

People were pointed out by crimes of the past that were not -- that were not legally proven. And they were damned by that and they were destroyed.

Lives were destroyed. Careers were destroyed, as we know.

And that's why the movie has a resonance today, unfortunately. It isn't about communism or not communism. It's about the witch-hunt that you

mentioned before, in the McCarthy times.

And Desi really did a big thing, a big leap of faith in trying something to save the day, as you said. And he -- oh, my God, he did.


AMANPOUR: And so he did, and he saved the show. He didn't save their marriage. His infidelity was finally one step too far for Lucy.

And this -- and the movie ends like that very dramatically. She discovers his infidelity.

And the reason I bring it up is because I want to ask you. You spoken to Lucie Arnaz, their daughter. What did she make of that? How does she react

to the film, your portrayal, but also this really difficult time in the life of a kid, where their parent -- her parents get divorced?

BARDEM: Well, Lucie has been a big supporter of the film from the moment to go.

And when -- and she -- when she saw the movie, she was very, very touched by it, and she was deeply moved by it. And I would say that I don't know

her that well. I really like her a lot. And I think she's a strong woman, very intelligent, very caring, very generous, very, very, very skilled.

She's a great musician and actress.

But, also, she's -- she says the things that are the way she thinks. And if she wouldn't have liked what she saw, she would have said it perfectly. And

she was very moved by the performances and by the portrait of her parents.

So, she's been very supportive. And that, for me and for Nicole, I know, means a whole world to us, because there's nothing more valuable for me

that Desi's daughter saying: Yes, you brought the essence of my father to the screen.

That's what I was trying to work as hard as I could in order to achieve. And she kind of saw it and felt it. And if she says so, how can I say? That

means the whole world for me, that I can rest in peace.



AMANPOUR: Well, I wonder. We will see how it gets rewarded -- or awarded at the Oscars. As I said, there's Oscar buzz.

This was about one of the first power couples in Hollywood. You happen to be a power couple, along with your wife, Penelope Cruz, who we interviewed

the last week. Both of you are Oscar winners.

And you may be nominated for your films this year, you for this one, Penelope for "Parallel Mothers." And, according to "Variety," it could be

the fourth time a married couple is nominated in the same year.

Tell me about being a power couple in the same job, in the same career, and whether that went through your mind playing half of another power couple

from so many years ago.

BARDEM: Well, I think it became natural.

We know each other since she was 16 and I was 21. We made our first movie together. That was "Jamon Jamon. And I can tell you that we understand each

other's job. And that helps a lot. We respect each other's timing and process. And, also, we don't talk much about our job at home, if any at



BARDEM: So, which is pretty good, because it's not two actors talking about themselves all day long.

I would say it's basically the opposite of that. I think she's great in "Parallel Mothers." I think she's done -- she's doing one or one of the

best performances of the year. And they should -- and she deserves that recognition. Hopefully, that will happen.

Me, I don't know. But I really hope for her, because she really deserves it.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's really nice to end our conversation there.

Javier Bardem, thank you so much, star of "Being the Ricardos."

And now we go from the bright lights of television to the hallowed halls of justice. Today, Stephen Breyer formally announced that he would be retiring

from the U.S. Supreme Court. And President Biden confirmed that he will keep a campaign promise to select a black woman to replace him.

In his latest book, "The Most Dangerous Branch," David A. Kaplan warns against the growing polarization of America's highest court.

And he joins Michel Martin to discuss where it goes from here.



David A. Kaplan, thank you so much for joining us.

KAPLAN: Glad to be with you.

MARTIN: So, you have known Justice Breyer, you have followed his career for some 30 years now. What has been his strength on the court?

KAPLAN: Breyer, I think, is an icon of collegiality on the court, sometimes to his detriment.

I think, sometimes, for example, he's regarded as a bit of a Pollyanna, so that, last year, when he talked about the risks of politicizing the court,

many on both sides of the aisle noted that that ship had passed.

But I think his strengths are positivity, object -- a sunnier view of things than perhaps some of the more skeptical or cynical members of the

court have.

I also think that what -- however one chooses to define him in terms of partisan politics, he's the true institutionalist on the court. Chief

Justice Roberts, I think, likes to assume that mantle, but it is Breyer who in the best senses of judicial tradition respects the modesty of the court

and respects other branches and respects experts

And that will be lost no matter who succeeds him.

MARTIN: You consider him, in some ways, would it be an exaggeration to say kind of the ideal jurist?

KAPLAN: I think, among the current mine, though I love my children equally, he would be the one I most respect.


KAPLAN: But I think he's also the true conservative on the court.

We think of conservative and liberal as whether your thumbs up or thumbs down on abortion or gun control or vaccines or immigration or affirmative

action, but when we're thinking about the court's role, what is its place in the constitutional system? It may be the most powerful court in the

history of the world.

But, sometimes, the court does best when it does not act. The court hasn't much done that over the last 50 years, I argue, to its detriment. But it is

Breyer more than the others who has deferred to other branches and deferred to experts. And I think he gets a bad rap for simply being identified as a

leader of the left.

MARTIN: So, why now?

To the degree to which justices are susceptible to any kind of pressure, I mean, this is a lifetime appointment, if they so choose. There were a

number of progressives who had been agitating for him to step aside to give the current president an opportunity to make a nomination.

But do you have a sense of why now?

KAPLAN: Sure, because the Senate may switch to -- switch over to the Republican side come November.


And Breyer is a student of the Senate. He is not stupid. He knows that the ability of Biden to name a successor come past November may be impossible.

Breyer is also 82. He has said, I don't want to die on the bench. He has grandchildren. And he also knows what happened to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she

stayed too long, and he would not say that, but they were friends, they were close, and he knows that and I think he recognizes better to leave a

little bit too soon than a little too late.

MARTIN: And why though, because of one's sort of ability to function in the role is compromised? What -- why better would it be better to -- is it

because that's the way to protect the things that he cares about intellectually or ideologically or why would you say?

KAPLAN: Much as he would -- much as I think he would say otherwise, it's a way to make sure that your successor is picked by a president you are

morally aligned with, and as moderate and as modest as Breyer is. He comes from a democratic tradition. He was appointed by a Democrat, and he knows

that whomever his successor is, a person appointed by Joe Biden rather than a 2024 Republican is going to be more to his liking.

He is politically astute. He would say, I think, wrongly that the court is not about politics. When he said last year in a book that justices perhaps

should not time their departures based on who is president, I think he was being both a combination of naive and winking at you. I don't think anybody

is surprised by him leaving now.

I did not understand the left's brief nine months ago when they wanted him to leave last June, because the Democrats were going to have control of the

Senate through 2022. And unless you thought that an older Democratic senator was going to die, there was no great harm in Breyer to staying

around and they will benefit from Breyer being on the court when the abortion and gun control and affirmative action cases come down in June.

MARTIN: So, let's talk about potential successors, and is there a front- runner your view?

KAPLAN: I think that the frontrunner is Ketanji Brown Jackson who is now an appeals court judge in Washington. She recently was confirmed to that

post by the Senate after being a federal trial court judge in Washington. She's 51 years old. She's the right age. She was teed up for this recent

promotion to be in reserve for the Supreme Court. I think everybody likes her. The Senate didn't lay a glove on her. She got some Republican votes.

It's hard to argue against her.

I think the second choice would be Leondra Kruger who is on the California Supreme Court. She also like Jackson as a former Supreme Court. Kruger is

44 years old. She is younger. So, in that sense, she is attractive. But she has not withstood a Senate confirmation hearing. So, that makes her more of

a liability.

If you look at her rulings, she probably has more of a moderate modest instinct than Jackson. Now, that might make her appealing to Breyer, might

make her more appealing to me, but I am not sure that the current political climate that would make her more appealing than Jackson. So, I think

Jackson would be my odds-on favorite.

MARTIN: And would be -- say, anybody sort of sails through this. But you are not tipping the ideological balance of the court, and neither would

this nominee. But even having said that, is there any vehicle by which they, Republicans, could stall this one if they decided to?

KAPLAN: Other than taking a Democratic senator and shipping him or her off to the desert island, no. I have no doubt that Mitch McConnell would like

to stall such a nomination and postpone the vacancy until after the 2022 midterms. But there is no legal or constitutional or political -- or

parliamentary move to make here.

And I think you are right that the Republicans will be less invested in the sense that they are subbing out a "liberal" for another one. But the court

does lose something. It gains something, it loses something. It gets younger. This will be one of the more younger courts in modern memory.

There will no longer be octogenarians on the court. There will barely be justices in their 70s, one or two.

But the court is going to lose, I think a voice of institutionalism, of moderation. Breyer doesn't get enough credit for that, but I think that was

important and that will disappear. But in terms of the overall ideological tilt of the court, it will still be the most radical -- radically

conservative court in 90 years, and the 6-3 tilt of the court will change.


MARTIN: We've ask you -- so far, we have been asking you what you know. But now, I'm going to ask you what you think. And what is your critique of

the role of the court in American lives and politics right now?

KAPLAN: We certainly have seen the dangers of a presidency in recent years, and we read about daily the dysfunction of Congress. Those are

important branches of the federal regime. But I've argued that the Supreme Court is really the most insidiously dangerous branch of government. It

runs country for many, sometimes most social and political issues. Think abortion, gun control, affirmative action, immigration, vaccines,

gerrymandering, which the court sort of uniquely stayed out of.

We are turn to the court to solve our toughest issues and we shouldn't. Why should nine unelected, unaccountable judges determine so much of where we

go as a country. Yes, you need a Supreme Court to resolve minority rights. I don't mean African-American or Hispanic. I mean, the rights of those that

majorities will not protect, like African-Americans and voting regimes. The court should have stepped in on gerrymandering. The rights of criminal

defendants. The rights of free speech. Those are not going to be protected by majorities. They are unpopular.

But all these other issues, why does the court get involved? It gets involved because it can. But that is a bad reason. And Breyer would tell

you more than any of the others, sometimes we do best when we don't act. We shouldn't have act in in Bush v. Gore when we picked a president. We

probably shouldn't have acted as quickly and dramatically as we did in the case of abortion, though Breyer has never said so in writing, and never

would. RBG certainly did, and was criticized for it.

But there is almost nobody on the court now who -- at all, let alone consistency says, what are we doing here? What our role? The chief has done

it on occasion, in the gay marriage case. He wrote famously, who do we think we are? And that is great. But he also was the deciding vote in

Shelby County which gutted the Voting Rights Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress.

So, the chief justice who likes to think of himself as an institutionalist might ask himself, who does the court think it is consistently overriding

the decisions of representative of government? And I don't think it is going to change. I think that we have all come to accept that the court is

going to decide stuff.

Think about vaccines of late. Wouldn't you rather trust a federal system, whoever is president, and the federal, and federal agencies like OSHA to be

deciding what is best rather than nine justices?

MARTIN: You'd say -- and you take this position not because you disagree ideologically with their positions in the current regime, with the current

membership, but because of an institution, the Supreme Court is looming too large as a decider of American life?

KAPLAN: It try to do that. It's -- you know, it's a hard argument. The right has cited my book on the court, because it criticized Roe v. Wade,

and of course, the right forgets that I criticize Shelby County and the gun control ruling and the campaign finance ruling. And the left will embrace

my book but ignore what I have to say about Roe v. Wade. I think I'm an equal opportunity offender.

The problem is, people confuse the structural argument, the legitimacy argument with the particular outcome of this (INAUDIBLE) case. I support

extremely liberal abortion rights. I just don't think it's up to the courts to make that decision. Fight it out in the state legislatures and in

Congress. That's the way the system was set up.

And all things equal, I would rather trust legislative majorities than trust unelected judges. It was great to love the justices of the Supreme

Court during the Warren court era when Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan roamed the earth. But right now, you are seeing the perils of an

aggressive judiciary. And conservatives like to talk about the judicial restraint for decades, they don't talk about the judicial restraint

anymore, because they have got the votes.

And William Brennan famously said, he would hold up five fingers and he would say, with five votes, you can do anything here on the court. He would

say it with a wink, but he -- that's how it worked with Brennan at the court. Now, that the conservatives have 5 1/2 or 6 votes, they're going to

take the ball and run with it.


And in coming years, it is not abortion or gun control or affirmative action that I think the country a lot of worrying most about, I think it's

going to be the gutting of the federal agencies that has long been the project of conservative intellectuals. And I think what they did with OSHA

in the case of the vaccines is sort of the camel under the tent. The powers of the EPA, of OSHA, or perhaps the SCC, I think you're going to see the

court take aim at those powers.

The irony of those decisions is that in the vacuum where the agencies have less power, the power is not going to go to the states. You know where it

is going to go? It's going to go to the justices of the Supreme Court, and I think that is bad result.

MARTIN: Is there really any appetite for restructuring the court? I mean, people -- you know, obviously, people who criticize it call it court

packing, people who support it call it reform. I guess what I'm wondering is, do others see what you see and see that there is a need for the court

to change the way it operates or to make the footprint smaller or the rein the court in? Because as you pointed out, the justices are not going to

rein themselves in, at least they don't seem willing to do that on any consistent basis.

KAPLAN: There's certainly not a critical mass to do so. And. you know, my brief about the court, my complaint is held by some when it suits them.

When I interviewed on background a majority of the justices for my book, I would ask them, what do you think about my critique? And they would say, I

half agree with you. They would smile. Yes, they agree that the court is too triumphalist, too aggressive in the cases they don't agree with.

And those on the other side of the ideological ledger would argue that the other cases are (INAUDIBLE). It's very few who I think have an even-handed

approach. I think that Breyer, more than any of them. But, if you'll recall, President Biden appointed a commission soon after he became

president to look into reform, and they came out last year with the set of pretty namby-pamby wishy-washy observations. There does not seem to be an

appetite, either there or in Congress or term limits, which Congress might not be able to adopt itself, you might need a constitutional amendment.

That's not going to happen. And court packing, adding seats to the court, which the Congress could accomplish is if you only held by the left.

I argued in my book that finally that court packing would be a good idea, and not in the short-term. I think it would be highly destructive to the

court. But I think in the long-term, the only way to reverse what the conservatives did with Merrick Garland or the rush job on Amy Coney Barrett

is to fight fire with fire. You don't bring a spatula to a knife fight. And the only way that Democrats can respond is in kind. And the only way to do

that is to add seats to the court.

Now, will Republicans add seats to the court? The answer is, sure. Maybe the bench becomes so big they'll have to have Southwest Airline seating on

the bench. But my hope would be that in time, five years or 50, both sides would agree to disarm. And you might return to a time when the court was

more modest and more willing to be skeptical of the need to invoke its own powers. But is that is going to happen to the near term? Absolutely not.

There's no support for it or very little support for it.

MARTIN: David A. Kaplan, thanks so much for talking to us. You have given us a lot to talk about.

KAPLAN: Thank you. Good to be with you.


AMANPOUR: Five years or 50 to end the polarization that seems to infect all areas of the public life today seems a long time. It is all about

everything from vaccines to education which are getting politicized.

A new podcast series, "Things Fell Apart," takes a step back to examine how we got here. Who are the people behind the culture wars? And is a more

empathetic, less divisive future even possible?

Jon Ronson is the man behind the series and he is also a prolific author who years ago wrote a prescient book on the internet age "So You Have Been

Publicly Shamed." And he is joining me live.

Jon Ronson, welcome to the program.

It's a perfect day to have you on, not just because of the subject that we're going to be talking about, but because of our conversation about the

Supreme Court, and whether that might, with this impending change, I know contribute more or less to these culture wars.

So, let's start by asking you, how you define culture wars and what made you take this on as a British journalist and a British observer of the

American psyche?

JON RONSON, HOST, "THING FELL APART": So, a British journalist, but I have been living in America for 10 years. So, I feel like I have been knowing

the country.


Why did I want to take it on? Because I was sitting, even before the pandemic, watching friends ruin their lives, destroy their reputations,

their families, because they were fighting whichever culture war issue they wanted to fight with a dysfunctional intensity. So, I was watching that

happen. And just like you were talking about the Supreme Court, I was noticing that like everything is become a culture war issue now.

And by cultural war, I mean, the battle of dominance between conflicting values. So, it is the Supreme Court, it's Spiegelman's "Maus." Just

everything gets consumed into this war now.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, you brought it up. I was going to bring it up later. But it is a shocking thing that just happened, and it is Holocaust Memorial Day

today. And this book, " Maus," which you have just referenced, done by Art Spiegelman, one of the first ever graphic novels that for years has been

used to teach people, including and especially children of the horrors of what happened in the holocaust. It's endorsed by the Holocaust Museum.

You know, Art is a standup Pulitzer award-winning author and character. And the Tennessee School Board unanimously votes to remove it from the

textbooks. How does that even happen in the depths of this cancel culture that we are in right now? How is that even possible?

RONSON: Well, it literally -- this story literally starts in 1974, which is the subjective episode two of "Things Fell Apart." The way that the

school board textbook wars began was a church minister's wife called, Alice Moore. This is the most extraordinary thing, I think, about the way that

I've tried to tell this story, is that you have 50 years of noise, of people screaming into the culture wars that all of the -- stories about

culture wars that are all about inflaming the culture wars. But I did not want to do that. I wanted to find these human stories, tiny unfolding


And this story begins with a woman named Alice Moore who moved to a little town in West Virginia, and noticed that there was a new curriculum, this is

1974. Christian evangelists had stayed out of the culture wars for 50 years until, really, Alice Moore came along with the realization that these new

schoolbooks have diversity of thought in them. And that's what she was abundantly opposed in. This weren't just Dick and Jane books, this is about

happy white families, these were books with new complicated thoughts. And so, she decided to wage war on these schoolbooks, and that is how the

schoolbook wars began.

AMANPOUR: You know, Jon, I find that absolutely fascinating. You know, as a journalist who reacts every day and does interviews on what is happening

right now, to go back and seem as you put it, through very human beginnings how this stuff happened is amazing. And one of the most incredible things

that I thought was your take on the abortion wars. And again --

RONSON: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- the evangelicals were nowhere near that subject until?

RONSON: What a story. So, after Roe vs. Wade, the only people who were really galvanize by it were the Roman Catholics. The Christian Evangelists

were -- many of them prochoice. So, this kid, a 16-year-old boy -- 17--18- year-old boy growing up in the Swiss Alps called Trunk Schaeffer (ph), his ambition was to put together a show reel to show Hollywood producers. He

wanted to be a Hollywood filmmaker in the mold of somebody like Fellini.

His father was a Christian art historian, Francis Schaeffer. And Frank, partly because he wanted to get these arresting images, to show Hollywood

producers and partly because he was a teenaged father, and decided to just take it up, no ever Christian Evangelist was doing so, convinced his art

historian father to put a little bit of stuff about abortion into the series, "How Should We Then Live." Then, they made a follow-up show,

"Whatever Happened to the Human Race?"

To cut a long story short, the consequence of this young man's endeavor to try to make it in Hollywood was, 30 years later, practically everybody who

had committed a bombing or a shooting in the name of the anti-abortion movement did so because they were galvanized by the arresting images in

this young man's film for his father.

AMANPOUR: Honestly, it is mind boggling that story, and it is really, really emblematic of this thing that starts over there, and then becomes

this other huge, huge wall that now is part of the culture wars.

RONSON: Right.


AMANPOUR: Take something that you look at slightly closer. A year ago, was the insurrection against the seat of American democracy. And you profile a

man -- and I'll just quickly give a brief, he was a struggling actor who went from, you know, being kind of a struggling actor to then believing in

pizza gate, then in, you know, QAnon, and suddenly, you know, finding himself at the January 6th event.

How did that happen, and connect that with the culture war?

RONSON: Absolutely. Well, this is a young man named Isaac Kappy. Talented young man. People would know him -- he had a part in "Thor." He played the

pet shop clerk in "Thor." And he was trying to make it in Hollywood, and it is a pretty lonely miserable place when you are trying to make it in


And so, he was getting more and more on the internet. Just as an extraordinary story that I tell about how the internet became the

libertarian tech utopia is with all sorts of lies get to flow (INAUDIBLE). But Isaac was reading all of this stuff, believed in pizzagate.

And he had friend who was a bigger name in Hollywood, and he confided in his friend. He said, I'm beginning to think that there is a pedophile

conspiracy in Hollywood. And his friend to play a prank on him said, it is true, and if you follow me through this secret door, I have a child

kidnapped, and he was playing a prank on the guy. But the guy, unfortunately, Isaac, believed it, took it seriously and became one of the

leading voices in the emerging QAnon movement.

He then died. And a year or so after his death, one of President Trump's outside lawyers, Lin Wood, in the days before the January 6th insurrection

started to tweeting about how Isaac had been murdered because he had secrets about John Roberts, the chief justice. And it was yet another, you

know, lunatic false narrative that fanned the flames of the January 6th insurrection.

AMANPOUR: It is incredible. And I wonder, you know, you connect a lot of dots. And I wonder whether you have -- you have written, as I said, you

know, a lot about this and a lot of ahead of the curve about these issues and the cancel culture and being publicly shamed, et cetera. Where do you

see this kind of -- this tidal wave breaking ever, and a slightly more rational, I don't know, relationship with the world re-enters?

RONSON: Well, I will tell you, Christiane. The most positive thing that happened as a result of "Things Fell Apart" coming out was episode three.

So, episode three is instead of the story about how a war began, it is a story of how the war ended, and it is the story of the televangelist, Tammy

Faye Bakker, and the day she invited onto afternoon (INAUDIBLE) of this man named Steve Peters who was a gay pastor with aids. This was 1985.

And the conversation between Tammy and Steve was so moving, because what -- these were warring factions at the time, Tammy Faye's pair group like Jerry

Falwell were convincing Ronald Reagan to not say the word aids. He didn't say the word aids for four years.

But this conversation that the two of them had was so moving and so human and so delightful it rippled across the decades and just unchanged minds,

and that was a miracle. And a miracle and on top of a miracle, Steve is still alive. He is probably the person who has lived with full-blown aids

longer than -- well, he says, anyone else that he has heard of. And he is still spreading his ebullience and his positive message in it.

And you know, when I put that show out of the first time on the BBC, I had so many messages from people saying that they were listening to the show

and they were crying so hard, so moved that they had to stop the car and just -- and listen because driving was dangerous. And it was because, I

think, we're also battled weary. We've been fighting this culture war for so long and we're just -- we're battle weary. And what we're desperate for

is stories about human connection.

AMANPOUR: Well, that really was the human condition in a series that is now available all over. Jon Ronson, thank you so much. It's really amazing

listening and I love that Tammy Faye Bakker episode especially as well.

So, "Things Fell Apart" is available on BBC Sounds or wherever you listen podcasts.

And final, join us tomorrow for my conversation with Oscar winner Meryl Streep and the director, Adam McKay about their new climate satire, "Don't

Look Up." Plus, comedian turn director, W. Kamau Belland, about his new series, "We Need to Talk About Cosby."


That is it for now. And if you ever miss our show, you can always find our latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. You can find it at and on all major podcast platform, just search for Amanpour or scan the QR code that's on your screens right now.

Remember, you can always catch us online and across social media. Thanks for watching and good-bye from New York.