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Roe v. Wade Under Threat; Interview With Director Audrey Diwan. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 11, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Every American is going to see where every senator stands on protecting one of the most important rights a woman has.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As the U.S. Senate takes a vote on abortion, we look at where the battle over reproductive rights is headed.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): You're pregnant, miss. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (through translator): It's not possible.
AMANPOUR: "Happening," the groundbreaking film just opened in America about a woman seeking an abortion in 1960s France. I speak to its director,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm against NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still undecided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also undecided.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I'm for NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm bit ambiguous on the questions too.
AMANPOUR: What Finland's young people feel as their country mulls joining NATO.
RICK HASEN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: Now the Supreme Court is coming in and rolling things back. And the question is whether there's now
going to be an awakening on the left.
AMANPOUR: How the U.S. Supreme Court could transform America as we know it. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with author and law professor Rick Hasen.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The U.S. Senate is voting today on a measure that would codify Roe vs. Wade, guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion. Democratic leadership is
strongly backing its passage, but doesn't really expect it to get close to the filibuster-proof 60 votes required.
The purpose, therefore, is more symbolic, shining a spotlight on which senators and which parties are for and against abortion rights. The vote
was rushed into action after the draft opinion from the Supreme Court leaked last week, which revealed the complete overturning of the 1973
precedent established by Roe vs. Wade.
Joining me now to discuss where this all leads is Alexa Kolbi-Molinas. She is deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. And she's
recently argued this issue before the Supreme Court.
So, Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, thanks for joining us from New York.
Where do you see this very divisive issue leading? If you had a gut, I guess, guess right now, do you think that draft will, in fact, be the
opinion that's handed down, I think, next month?
ALEXA KOLBI-MOLINAS, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: Well, look, if I knew the answer to that question, I -- it certainly would be a lot easier for me
to sleep at night.
But what we do know is that the leak -- the draft opinion that we saw last week just confirms our deepest fears, which is that there are at least five
votes on the Supreme Court who do seem ready to take away our ability to control our bodies, our lives and our futures, and to criminalize people
for seeking and providing essential health care.
AMANPOUR: So, we mentioned that you had argued a case on this issue a few months ago before the Supreme Court.
Just, if you can, without going into all the details, what was the atmosphere? What was the result? Did you see it heading towards where we
KOLBI-MOLINAS: So, the decision and the case that I -- in the case that I was arguing was actually about a procedural issue.
So it didn't raise -- it didn't really go to the heart of the right to abortion, the way that the Mississippi decision that we saw in the leaked
opinion last week. So it wasn't really a good, I think, measure of what we have seen.
But we do know that, with all of these decisions, whether it's the case that I argued from Kentucky in October, or the decision we saw in December
around Texas, where the Supreme Court has already given the green light to a state to ban abortion, and we have seen the devastation that that has
caused -- so, we have seen where this is going.
And we have been preparing for this for a while. And, as I said, it's -- it was a gut punch to see that leaked opinion last week, but it wasn't a
surprise. It really was just confirming our deepest fears.
AMANPOUR: So let's just put a little bit of a mash-up of what some of the justices have said about this issue when it was being argued and debated in
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: But if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?
SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: The fetus has an interest in having a life. And that doesn't change, does it, from the point
before viability to the point after viability?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: And the reason this issue is hard is that you can't accommodate both interests. You have to
pick. That's the fundamental problem.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Alexa, and, then, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, she basically was talking about, why should there be a need for abortion rights if, in
fact, there are these safe haven laws for children to be dropped off and adopted and the like?
And we had Kavanaugh also saying that, forget about precedent. It doesn't really matter if a majority disagrees with these precedents. So, again,
talk to us about the law and how you think it's going to manifest when it gets out of the federal and into the states.
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Well, I mean, and the thing about Justice Barrett's arguments and about so many of these arguments, whether it's some of the
ones that you have played just now or Alito's claim in the draft opinion that other rights won't be affected, they're just all in bad faith.
No one should be forced to continue a pregnancy to term against their will and bear the life-altering consequences of doing so. And it's really
important to remember that, in the United States, we are facing a maternal mortality crisis. And it is no coincidence that the states that will be
first out of the block to ban abortion if abortion is -- if Roe v. Wade is overturned are the same ones that have abysmal rates of maternal mortality
and morbidity, and which really disproportionately affect black women.
So, the impact of what these decisions -- this decision could have really can't be underestimated. It really can't be understated.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Alexa?
Because, obviously, you take a particular view. You're the ACLU. And you argue these cases on very specific grounds and with very specific aims and
goals. And, clearly, you believe, and I guess the ACLU and Americans who support Roe vs. Wade, that the existing parameters are the ones that should
continue to be allowed.
Can I read you some of the latest polling on this and ask you whether you think there is any room for maybe some adjustments? So, the Pew Research
Center, continuing to say that the majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe vs. Wade, they now say in further questions only 19 percent support
abortion being legal in all cases; 42 percent want it to be legal in most cases, but would accept some instances where it would be illegal.
Then 8 percent want it to be illegal all the time; 29 want it to be illegal in most cases, but would accept some circumstances where it would be legal.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, there are nuances. Do you think this moment when it goes back to the states, if indeed it does, will appreciate
those nuances or not, or will -- what do you think will happen?
KOLBI-MOLINAS: No, I think we know that about half the states will move to make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
And that is going to affect nearly 36 million people who could become pregnant. So the devastation is going to be widespread. The nightmare that
we see in Texas is going to become a reality for millions of people. And, really, what we are talking about here, we are talking about something so
core as the ability to control our body, our life, to make decisions about our futures.
Something like that simply cannot be set -- just sent to a popular vote. Something that is such a fundamental right and that is so core to our being
and our dignity as humans simply just can't be left to a referendum.
And that's why the devastation of removing this constitutional protection and of overturning Roe v. Wade would be so widespread.
AMANPOUR: So, in a country that is already very, very divided, not just along -- along the lines of Roe vs. Wade, but on everything -- and we have
seen it just sort of increase over the last few years, right down to whether Democrats and Republicans agree that there can be intermarriage, so
to speak, where people live.
All of these things become crazy partisan. So, in the issue of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, if it is, we're already seeing governors in red and blue
states already taking actions. Like, Gavin Newsom of California has said that he wants to change his state Constitution to protect abortion rights,
whereas, immediately last week, the Oklahoma governor signed a law banning abortion after six weeks.
When you look out, how do you visualize the map of America, the populations of America divided down this issue? What will it look like? What will
KOLBI-MOLINAS: I mean, what we are going to see is a place where, is a country where your ability to decide to make these decisions about your
body and your life is going to depend on your zip code.
And that's the world we had in this country prior to Roe. But the scary thing is that anti-abortion politicians are not going to stop with state
bans. There are already politicians in Congress plotting to pass a federal nationwide ban.
And we need only look to other countries, like, for example, El Salvador, to see that -- the devastation of what a nationwide abortion ban would
cause. And this country has never seen something like that. And what I think a lot of people don't realize is that, when abortion is illegal,
every pregnancy loss can be investigated as evidence of a crime.
And that will turn people, especially if we are talking about a nationwide ban, anyone experiencing pregnancy loss into a criminal suspect. And people
who experienced this country before Roe v. Wade knew what that was like. But then to imagine that on a national scale, I think, is harrowing.
AMANPOUR: Can you give us an idea, just for viewers and Americans to understand and around the world, what actually is the result of a country
like El Salvador banning -- having a national ban?
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Well, I mean, I think there was an article recently, and there have been certainly articles in "The New York Times" and other papers
over the years, about women serving sentences of decades, life simply for experiencing pregnancy loss and being accused of illegally having an
It is not just going to affect people who seek and try to have abortions if abortion is going to be illegal. It's going to affect anybody who can
become pregnant, anyone who can experience pregnancy loss. The threat of criminalization and incarceration is going to be hanging over everyone's
And, again, people who experienced this country prior to Roe v. Wade, especially doctors, they remember what that was like. They knew what it was
like with police coming to the hospital investigating women who were experiencing miscarriage.
And that's a very frightening situation to return to.
AMANPOUR: And you mentioned miscarriage, but also IVF. Suddenly, doctors are talking about that. That is becoming an area of investigation and
interest to see whether even those issues might fall under any further restrictive laws.
What do you think about that?
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Well, look, this decision, if indeed we see an opinion like the leaked opinion, the impact is not going to stop with abortion, because,
when we're talking about this interconnected framework of our rights, Roe v. Wade is a load-bearing element.
It's going to be about IVF. It's going to be about birth control, the right to marry who we love, the right to gender-affirming care. All of those
rights are going to be at risk if something like the leaked opinion is indeed what the final opinion in this case is like.
And we have never seen the Supreme Court take away a constitutional right, let alone a right that is so core to our ability to control our bodies and
our lives and our futures, and one that has existed for nearly 50 years.
For the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade is not just unprecedented because they have never done something like that, but it's unprecedented
because it would up end the very meaning of legal precedent. So, there is no reason to think that this would stop with the right to abortion and
would not affect other fundamental rights that we hold very dear.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just dig into that issue a little bit more with your and read what the president of GLAAD has said.
"None of us are safe from the extreme anti-women, anti-LGBTQ ideology that now dominates this court."
So, going back to what you have said and what many activists and human rights and many women, of course, have raised the fear that many other
established law, for instance, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, same-sex sex, all of that could be at risk, despite what Justice Alito has
So, he said: "To ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the
constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not
Why do you doubt what he's saying? It's very clear what he said.
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Because the Supreme Court has never done what that opinion threatens to do, which is take away an established fundamental right.
And there is absolutely nothing to stop the Supreme Court from coming back a year later, five years later, 10 years later, and doing that with other
fundamental rights. I just don't think those words are worth the paper they're written off.
AMANPOUR: And let -- can I just talk also about the Constitution?
These justices who have signed on to this -- to this draft law -- or draft opinion, rather, they basically dismiss the idea that anything regarding
abortion was ever mentioned in the Constitution. There's an obvious answer to that. Women weren't mentioned in the Constitution, et cetera, et cetera.
But they are also not agreeing with your side, who takes the 14th Amendment and basically includes all these things we have just been talking about
into the right to personal liberty. How does one -- how does one get past that? Because it's just -- it's really just opinion, isn't it?
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Well, that's how -- that's how legal decisions work.
And I think what's important here is that we have had, especially with the right to abortion, a settled understanding of the law, an understanding
that people have relied on and formed their lives around for nearly 50 years.
And to take that away is just to -- as -- to suggest that it's just a matter of academic debate, I think, is to really diminish the impact of
eliminating and removing fundamental rights has on people's lives. And so I think we just have to think about it far more broadly than simply just an
The fact is, this is established law. And for the Supreme Court to take it away would be unprecedented and devastating.
AMANPOUR: So, Alexa, I want to ask you about the political movement that has -- that has brought this to bear, in other words, the Federalist
Society and all of the others who are connected with them who lay down markers for who and how they will support presidential, and other
candidates and Roe v. Wade always being the benchmark.
And you can -- I assume you agree that they have been successful politically. Trump came, named three to the Supreme Court who've appended
their names to this opinion. And I spoke to the president of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino. This is what she said.
And, of course, they use quite inflammatory language. And I want to ask you about that. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE SEVERINO, PRESIDENT, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: What's good about this is it's going to return that decision to the people themselves, who
can then come to those political compromises, and not be forced into a one- size-fits-all regime for the nation that is, in fact, far more liberal than what the country would like to see.
I think that means that some states seem to be pushing the envelope even farther. Some seem to be suggesting that even post-birth fetal demise
should not be prosecuted. That's pretty extreme. Nine months alone isn't enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So can you react? I mean, I reacted with astonishment and alarm at what she said, post-birth, nine months is not enough.
I mean, we know that the data shows that 92 percent of American abortions are in the first trimester. So react to that language.
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it was inflammatory.
I mean, that rhetoric, it's false. It's misleading. It's not based on science or fact. And what its real purposes is to perpetuate lies about
people who have abortions and the people who care for them. That's all it is.
AMANPOUR: Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
KOLBI-MOLINAS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Next, a new French film has just opened in the United States. And it is taking a bracing look at the realities of life before abortion
It's called "Happening." It follows a young student in 1960s France seeking the procedure. And the camera does not shy away from the huge risks that
women went through at that time.
Here's a look at the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (through translator): What's wrong? You're all pale. Don't get sick on us now.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): You're pregnant, miss. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (through translator): It's not possible.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): You can't ask me that.
Anyone who helps can end up in jail. You too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So the film is receiving very high praise and rave reviews. It won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Its director and co-writer, Audrey Diwan, joins me now.
Welcome to the program from Paris.
Let me just ask you initially for your reaction to the fact that it's opening in the United States right slap bang in the middle of this
extremely divisive political crisis for many people in the U.S.
What did you think about the fact that it landed there, your film, at this time?
AUDREY DIWAN, DIRECTOR, "HAPPENING": I'm amazed, because when I wrote the movie, I heard a lot the question like, why would you make a movie about
illegal abortion now?
I mean, in France, we have the law, protected by the law since 1975. But I had in mind from the very beginning that it's always a topic in some
countries in the world, lots of countries. But I would have never imagined that it would be -- it could be America.
AMANPOUR: Audrey Diwan, just give me a synopsis of what your story is about and what it was based on.
DIWAN: It's based on a book. It's a true story of a writer called Annie Ernaux, a very good writer.
And I wanted the movie to be an experience. What if we're not looking at Annie the character, but let's try to be her, like viscerally try to be
this girl for an hour-and-a-half. And it's not about a girl making a decision whereas she should or not have an abortion, illegal abortion.
She already had made her decision. And it's only the journey. It's how she managed to go through that journey in order to be free, like, in many ways,
because we talk about this young girl who actually has sexual desire, but also intellectual desire.
She comes from a working class. She's going -- she's the first generation going to university. And, one day, she wants to be a writer. And it's her
journey to that kind of freedom, you know?
AMANPOUR: And again, it's set in the '60s, before abortion became legal in France.
I want to play a little clip. And this is where she's talking to another young girl who is steering her to somebody who can help her get a back-
alley illegal abortion. Here's this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (through translator): She's experienced. That's a plus. Smile, please. And it's clean. She boils all the instruments.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (through translator): Does it hurt?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (through translator): Yes. The whole procedure. Try to think of something else. The pain goes away. I didn't end up in a
hospital. It's a lottery there. If you're lucky, it's labeled a miscarriage.
But if some bastard doctor writes abortion, and you don't die, you end up in prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And so, Audrey, the stakes are really, really high, of course, leading even to prison, potentially, if she -- if she got -- or any woman
at that time was discovered to have had an abortion.
Go back to what it was like when you tried to make the film today, because it wasn't obvious. You said that you were asked why. Was it easy to get
funding, to get support? How did you actually get to do it?
DIWAN: I'm lucky because my producers are fighters. It was very hard to make the movie and to find the money.
We were raised being silent on that topic. And the society prefers not to hear about the stories. And, for instance, Annie Ernaux, the writer, told
me from the very beginning that, from all her book, this is the only one would get no media attention.
So, she warned me and say, this is going to be a war. If you want to tell these truths, if you do it like me, if you don't look away, if you want to
tell the whole truth that nobody exactly wants to look at, then you have to fight hard.
And that's what we did, because we had very -- not much money to make them, and a very pretty much involved crew, actresses and all the crew. And it
happened because everybody wanted to tell the story for a purpose, for meaning, you know?
AMANPOUR: You know one of the things I was fascinated about in interviews that you have done and also in reviews of the film and talking to people
who've come out of the film? Many of the articles focus on men's reaction, men who've seen your film.
And, certainly, many of them said, at least some of them said -- and I will quote -- "that it was like being a woman for an hour-and-a-half." They
spoke of feeling physical pain. And one -- apparently, some men almost fainted or did feint.
What is your reaction to men's reaction to your film?
DIWAN: I love the idea of sharing.
I mean, I wrote the movie expecting that I could make it beyond -- beyond gender or beyond age, beyond culture.
Let's share -- let's share an experience. I mean, it's the magic of art. It's the magic of movies. We can actually share experiences that are not
ours. And, actually, in many times in my life, I changed my mind thanks to movies.
So, yes, of course. I met men who actually told me about having the body of a woman, you know? And then I also talked to men and women who were against
abortion. And we actually managed to talk. And I think that's what we need now.
I mean, we need discussion. And it's very interesting, because, in the book, as in the movie, the word abortion is never said, because we were
raised not saying those things. And, at some point, we need to say that.
I mean, through the process of my movie, I said, when I had an abortion, but, before working on it, I went in there doing it. And words are actually
-- they are the weapon to -- we have to fight against silence in order to recreate this discussion that is so urgently needed today.
AMANPOUR: Audrey, you raise the issue of taboo, a taboo that still exists around the discussion.
I do think it's amazing what you said about the people who you talk to, both pro-choice and anti-abortion, and you said you could actually have a
discussion. And I do think that's really important. But it still is a bit of a taboo in a country where it does not seem -- or it's certainly not a
political issue like in the United States. And it does seem like it's settled law.
Is it still taboo to talk about this? And do French women or others fear that, even in France, the right to choose is at risk or may one day be at
DIWAN: I mean, we have seen what happened in so many other countries in the world, Poland recently.
I mean, we all, sadly, know that, yes, we have the law on our side now. But, come on. I mean, 10 days ago was election time in France, and we were
very close from having the extreme right side winning the election. And then who knows.
I always have the feeling that it's a very fragile law and that we have to keep in mind that it could change. And, I mean, there is nothing else to
say, that, to me, anyone who wants to involve themself in this debate should at least know what is the journey of illegal abortion.
I mean, reading the book, I -- literally, I felt that I was in a very intimate thriller. I couldn't stop reading it because I needed to know what
was happening to this girl. And I realized that I talked many times about abortion, and I gave my opinion in debates not knowing what it was exactly
As human being, do we agree on that level of pain, of that level of loneliness? Because we know that when abortion goes illegal, that's the way
it is. So, at least we shouldn't close our eyes and look away, you know?
AMANPOUR: And can you describe a little bit?
One of the main actresses in the film, who I believe is the one who provides the abortion, you really manage that with the -- with the
gestures, with -- with the way I've read about how you asked her to perform that role for you in the film was incredibly affecting. Can you walk us
DIWAN: Yes, I mean, Anna Mouglalis actress has the young -- Anamaria Vartolomei, my actress in this sequence and it's a very long shot. I mean,
I don't cut much because my idea that if you keep rolling for a while then the feelings are not theoretical, then you feel what she feels. I mean, if
I ask Anamaria to show that she's in pain, the audience gets it. But if we keep doing it that way, if we manage, if she managed to do it, they'll --
the actresses, then we will feel what she feels.
And by the way, we were very careful because if you go too far that way then we become provocative and that was not the idea. But talking about
that special sequence, you know, it was very hard to know what are the exact gesture. And I learned through my research that if the gesture is not
done properly, like one millimeter then the girl is going to die. So, it's a very intimate and strange moment in between two women who don't know each
But also, it was so hard to have some information on how to process that we have to -- we needed to ask the museum -- science museum and to get
informations from very precise -- the university (INAUDIBLE) also because nobody knows. And I realize even more that there is a lack of presentation
because trying to make the movie, I couldn't find the exact way to do it. So, it gave me even more strength or will to do it.
AMANPOUR: Audrey Diwan, thank you so much indeed. The film, "Happening".
And next to international geopolitics. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is in Scandinavia today are signing security pacts with Sweden and
Finland pledging military support if the nations come under attack during a NATO bid period. The United States has made similar assurances.
Now, this all comes as Finland and Sweden near a decision on joining NATO. The Kremlin spokesman says they are closely studying this in Moscow. This
move is very close to their border as he said. Now, in this report, Nic Robertson asked the Finnish students he met how they feel about changing
their country's so-called neutral status.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN'S INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): As Finland's parliament discusses at pace, the historic step of potentially
joining NATO the speed of debate has some young Fins worrying their generation will be hurt by a decision taken in haste through fear of Putin
that they have little say in. Five students at the University of Helsinki agreed to tell us their views.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm against NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still undecided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also undecided.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I'm for NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm ambiguous on the question still.
ROBERTSON (on camera): You are against NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a military alliance led by a superpower that has waged horrendous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I understand people
being very afraid of Russia and what they're doing, horrible, horrible things, but it's kind of like fighting the wolf by teaming up with the
bear. Like, the bear isn't great, either.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If, at this moment, we take this stand towards the whole of Russia, what does it mean in a situation where hopefully the
regime changes at some point to a more positive direction?
ROBERTSON (on camera): And you're undecided?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON (on camera): What are the pros and cons?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also get the arguments for safety. And that's why I'm still undecided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we are currently, as a society, very emotionally charged. And that is why I'm inclined to sort of say that
perhaps now is not the greatest time to make such a huge decision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are, like, a sovereign democratic country and I don't want those kinds of fears to impact our decision-making.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think waiting too long is the more dangerous -- is not best -- dangerous right now to start these pros as it would be in,
let's say, two years from now.
ROBERTSON (on camera): What's the public debate that's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my social media, public it's very kind of pro- NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it, kind of, does feel like on social media it seems like if you are anti-Russia, you are automatically pro-NATO.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like a lot of people are making a lot of assumptions about what Putin is thinking. Personally, I have yet to see
evidence of him wanting to invade Finland.
ROBERTSON (on camera): What do you think the consequences of this decision are going to be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If and when we join NATO and if we are admitted to NATO, what kind of relationship will we have with Russia? And that's the
big question to me at least that, you know, the geography is always there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Finnish students sharing their thoughts with Nic Robertson.
And coming up tomorrow, we'll take a closer look at this issue with the former prime ministers, Alexander Stubb of Finland, and Carl Bildt of
Returning now to the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe versus Wade, if overturned it'll be a political, legal, and cultural blast wave, as we've been
discussing. But there are a number of cases before the court that our next guest says will, "Reorder law and American society". Richard Hasen is a
professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine and an expert in election law. He's also the author of "Cheap
Speech" and he tells Hari Sreenivasan how to cure the disinformation that poisons politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Professor Rick Hasen, thanks so much for joining us. Last month you wrote,
and I want to quote here, "I don't think most Americans appreciate how much the Supreme Court is going to reorder law and American society in the next
15 months (that is, by the end of the term next year in June). Guns, abortion, affirmative action is just the start." Well, we got a teaser, so
to speak, of the leaked draft when it comes to abortion. What are the other big cases that you are watching?
RICHARD L. HASEN, PROF OF LAW AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIV OF CALIFORNIA IRVINE: Well, the Court is going to decide about whether people have a
constitutional right to carry guns outside the home, which could upset a number of gun control laws in cities and States across the United States.
Not this term, but next term, meaning a decision by a year from June. The Court is going to decide a couple of affirmative action cases, one out of
Harvard, one out of the University of North Carolina which could end the use of race-based affirmative action in education.
The Court also is considering a major case this term involving the environmental protection agency. And what's at issue there is the power of
executive agencies to be able to carry on dealing with problems like climate change without, you know, very explicit authorization from Congress
so it could kind of weaken the power of agencies.
And then in my own area, there is a couple of voting cases that are coming down, not the end of this term but the end of next term. One which could
severely limit the reach of the voting rights act as applied to redistricting. And another one that could upset the balance between state
courts and state legislatures oversetting federal election rules. And that's just the start.
SREENIVASAN: You wrote recently in a Harvard law review, and you had several different concerns that you were kind of looking at. And one of
them was about -- basically someone's vote for president being almost structurally overturned and who administers the counting of those votes and
whether something could prevent what we consider our vehicle to impose our will on democracy.
HASEN: So, this is something I never expected to worry about in the United States, the risk that we could have election subversion. But the person who
gets the most votes won't be declared the winner of the election. And this has become a real risk. One of the things that we saw in the aftermath of
the 2020 U.S. presidential election is that so much of our rules for determining who the president is required people to act in good faith
rather than just very strict legal rules.
So, for example in Michigan, a board of two Democrats and two Republicans has to certify that the winner of the election is actually the winner. And
there was great pressure on the Republican certifiers not to do so. One abstained and the other one has been -- since been removed from this
position. So, there's a lot of places in between the time that voters vote and the time that Congress on January 6th finally determines who the winner
is where people can try to mess with the system.
And so, we know that Donald Trump tried to interfere. We know that he contacted over 30 different election and elected officials in the period
after election day before January 6, 2021, trying to manipulate those results. And I'm afraid that that's going to happen again in the next
presidential election where we won't have those heroic Republican and Democratic election and elected officials to stand up to Trump and say,
we're going to follow the rule of law.
SREENIVASAN: So, that is certainly something that is a consequence of what could happen during the midterm. I mean, the people who are elected into
those positions to be the Secretary of State or the certifier at the local level, that's -- is that your concern here, that, that could impact the
2024 presidential election?
HASEN: Absolutely. So, let's just take one example. You may remember the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger. He's the one that stood
up to Trump, recorded the phone call where Trump wanted Raffensperger to, so-call, find 11,780 votes.
Well, Raffensperger is facing a primary later this month in Georgia where one of his chief opponents is a Republican Congressman named Jody Hice who
is one of the people who has embraced the so-called, "Stop the Steal" movement. Who's embraced the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen. He
could be the one running elections in Georgia in 2024. Even if he runs the election fairly, imagine it's Trump versus Biden 2. And he says Trump has
won the election. Are Democrats and people on the left going to believe him?
And so, some of the crisis in confidence that we've seen on the right over election integrity ginned up by the false claims that Donald Trump made in
2020. We're going to see that mirrored, I think, in some places on the left because some of the election deniers, the ones that in -- the 2020 election
wasn't fair are going to be the ones actually running the election in 2024.
SREENIVASAN: As you mentioned, there's a voting rights case coming from Alabama that looks at Section II. Why is that important and what is at
HASEN: Right, so back in 2013 in Shelby County versus Holder, the Supreme Court struck down that part of the voting rights act that has been in place
since 1965 that required jurisdictions with a history of race discrimination and voting to get federal approval before they could make
changes in their voting laws and demonstrate that those laws wouldn't make minority voters wears off.
And we were told when the Supreme Court decided that case, don't worry, there's always Section II. Section II is the part of the voting rights act
that says that minority voters should have the same opportunities as others to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of
Well, one shoe fell last summer in a case called Brnovich versus Democratic National Committee. That was a case where the Supreme Court read Section II
very narrowly in outside the context of redistricting in the case of laws that make it harder to register or to vote.
And now the other shoe is going to drop likely in this case out of Alabama. A three-judge court, a made up of two Trump appointees applying current
Supreme Court precedents said that Alabama had to draw a second black- majority district because that group was large enough. And graphically located close enough to each other that they could actually create a
district where they'd be able to elect a candidate of their choice against the kind of racially polarized voting that we see in Alabama.
Well, the Supreme Court put that second district on hold. Chief Justice Roberts, who's no fan of the voting rights act dissented there saying,
let's have a full hearing. The lower court applied the correct law but Roberts agreed with the majority that we need to rethink this whole thing.
And the upshot is that it's going to be much harder for minority voters to be able to sue and get districts drawn in order to be able to get a fair
share of political power if the Supreme Court now takes Section II and does to it in the redistricting context what it did outside the redistricting
context last summer.
SREENIVASAN: If the political climate is so divided that we have the possibility of our votes being overturned in a structural way by people who
are elected, who believe that there's a different winner. And if we see these attacks on the voting rights act succeed, I mean, is it fair to think
that this is almost parallel to what happened in reconstruction? I mean, these seem like pretty big threats to democracy here.
HASEN: They are big threats to democracy. But I -- you know, I don't want to leave your viewers with the idea that all hope is lost. So, on the
voting rights act, for example, Congress, if it had the political will and if there were large enough majorities, could actually change the voting
rights act and make it clear that -- what the Supreme Court is doing. Because the Supreme Court when it's interpreting what Section II means is
not making a constitutional ruling like it did back in 2013 on Section V.
So, Congress can come back and strengthen voting protections. Democrats have been trying to get voting protections through for many months now. So,
far unsuccessfully. It's a little bit of a chicken and egg problem because as it gets harder to vote, it's harder to elect the majorities who are
actually going to support voting rights. But when you think about how voting rights expanded in this country, it's only in recent decades that we
relied on the courts to be able to strengthen voting rights.
In many ways, it was a political movement, right. The 15th Amendment says, after the Civil War, no discrimination and voting on the basis of race.
The 19th amendment says, no discrimination on the basis of gender in voting, right. That was about 100 years ago that women got the
constitutional right, that was a political struggle. The Supreme Court refused earlier to say that women weren't franchised by other parts of the
So, this is going to have to be a political struggle. It's going to be a difficult political struggle because these voting rules make it harder to
get the, kind of, majorities that you need to change voting legislation. But, you know, I don't think this is a time to give up. This is a time to
double down on political action to try to protect voting rights.
SREENIVASAN: I wonder if part of the language that Justice Alito used in this leaked draft was hinting at the fact that -- or not even hinting, as
it was saying that times have changed. And I wonder if that same line of reasoning could be used to roll back lots of this sort of gains in terms of
HASEN: Right. But -- you know, that assumes that you have a fair voting process.
HASEN: And if you don't have a fair voting process the Supreme Court, in a very old case called, Yick Wo versus Hopkins said that voting rights are
among the most important rights because they're preservative of all other rights.
HASEN: Now, if you don't have the ability to vote, you know, you're not going to have the same kind of clout to be protected in the political
process. You know, one question that's going to arise politically if the Supreme Court actually issues an opinion that looks like the Justice Alito
opinion, what kind of political backlash will this create? Will people be concerned enough about the loss of abortion rights? And what it potentially
means for the loss of same-sex marriage rights, new limits on contraception, potentially even opening up the ability of States to ban
I mean, there are all kinds of things that would be on the table if the Supreme Court issues an opinion like the one that was leaked, the draft
opinion. What kind of political backlash will that create? That's what we don't know. One of the things we've seen is that over the last four to five
decades, the right has been much more focused on the Supreme Court's role in society than the left.
I think that's because in the Warren Court in the 1960s, there were a lot of decisions that liberalized things. Now, the Supreme Court is coming in
and rolling things back. And the question is whether there's now going to be an awakening on the left about the role of the Supreme Court in society.
And how much in our country we delegate decisions about fundamental questions to this, you know, group of unelected nine-member life-tenured
body of judges.
Now, when Amy Coney Barrett came on to the court a couple of years ago, she was 48. If she lives as long as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you know, she'll be on
the court for another 40 years. I mean that -- it's a long time to give someone power over these kinds of questions. And we'll see politically what
this means if, in fact, the Supreme Court is out of step with where a good part of American society is.
SREENIVASAN: You have a recent book out. It's titled "Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics and How to Cure It". First of all,
what's cheap speech?
HASEN: So, that actually goes back to a 1995 law review article that a professor at UCLA named Eugene Volokh wrote. He was talking about the
upcoming information revolution. And saw that it was going to be much easier for people to share information and get information. Where we have
the knowledge of the world is in the palm of our hands. I think it was a very positive view.
That's one meaning of cheap speech. But the other meaning of cheap speech, and I mean both of them in my book is that we have a system where lower-
valued speech, like false statements, misinformation about vaccines or elections or whatever is much easier to spread and has an advantage in the
information marketplace than higher-valued speech. It's still very expensive to do good investigative journalism, for example.
But the economic model that supported journalists, that supported local newspapers has collapsed as advertising has moved to Facebook and Google.
And so, you have a situation where the market for information is kind of failing and it makes it harder for voters to get accurate information about
what's going on.
And Exhibit A and where I start my book "Cheap Speech", is by talking about the January 6th insurrection and the millions of people who believe the
false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. I think if we had the politics of today but the technology of the 1950s, it would have been very
hard for this lie to have spread. I mean, think about the fact that Donald Trump was able to go to Twitter 400 times between election day and November
19th, 2020 and spread the false claim directly without fact-checking, without any limit on his repetition, the false claim that the election was
And so, the question is, how do you have a democracy that is committed to both robust free speech in an election and also fair elections where voters
get accurate information? That's really one of the key democratic dilemmas of our time.
SREENIVASAN: All right. So, that opens me up to say, what's your advice then for the richest man in the world who is in the process of trying to
buy a digital town square called Twitter? How does he strike that balance?
HASEN: Well, what he's been saying is that he's going to look to the first amendment as a limitation of, you know, what kind of speech should be on
Twitter. And I think he's going to be in for a rude awakening, at least, if he's going to try and make money with Twitter. And given the billions that
he and his allies are investing, I think they're probably going to want to make money.
But, you know, if there were no content moderation and anything to be put on these platforms, it would be filled with pornography, with hate speech,
with spam ads for things. We wouldn't want that, right? So, I'm not talking about what the government requires. I'm just talking about as consumers. We
value good content moderation because that is what tells us. Just like "The New York Times" doesn't print everything possible. PBS doesn't just put on
the air anything, it curates, right?
And so, I think he's not going to be able to have an unmoderated system. I think he's going to be focused, mostly, on the question of political
speech. And there, I don't think Facebook and Twitter should be replatforming Donald Trump because he continues to be a threat to American
democracy by undermining people's legitimacy in the process of running fair elections. And by, you know, the fact that he didn't condemn the violence
of January 6, 2021, which was one of the most serious threats American democracy has faced in its entire history.
SREENIVASAN: Well, what kind of incentives can we create, either as consumers or any kind of legislative way for the tech companies to change
the way they amplify information?
HASEN: I don't know that there's too much that can be done. It's not the kind of thing that you can shut down because, you know, we don't have good
mechanisms to be able to decide who gets to speak and who doesn't get to speak. So, I think just like "The New York Times" or Fox News gets to
decide what content is on the air, it's the same thing with these platforms. But that doesn't mean they're immune from public pressure. I
mean, I think there's a reason why Twitter and Facebook decided to deplatform Donald Trump after the violent events of January 6, 2021.
And I think one of the key levers here are the employees who work for these tech companies. These engineers and other people are very much in demand.
They're not going to stand for a system that's going to undermine democracy. And so, while I think consumers have some pressure that they can
put on these companies because these companies are very large and they are not that subject to pressure, it's the employees that can serve as an
important tool to be able to assure that we have some moderation of contents that is dangerous to our democracy.
SREENIVASAN: Professor Rick Hasen from the University of California Irvine, thanks a lot for joining us.
HASEN: It's been wonderful to talk to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And just a note, after that conversation was recorded, Elon Musk announced that he would reverse Twitter's ban on Donald Trump.
And finally tonight, let's take a moment to pay tribute to Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who's been shot and killed while reporting in
the occupied West Bank, despite wearing a jacket clearly identifying her as a member of the press. The crowds mourning her death are evidence of the
respect that she had from viewers and from colleagues. She was beloved by many Palestinians for her compassionate reporting on their lives. Joining
Al Jazeera at the age of 26, Abu Akleh spent over 20 years at the network. And not long ago, she spoke about what being a journalist meant to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIREEN ABU AKLEH, AL JAZEERA JOURNALIST (through translator): It may not be easy to change reality, but at least I've been able to share that
Palestinian voice to the world. I am Shireen Abu Akleh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Al Jazeera producer was also wounded but he's in a stable condition. Now, even in death, however, there is still dispute. Al Jazeera
says that Shireen was shot by Israeli forces in that occupied territory. The IDF says, it is not possible to determine yet which direction she was
shot from. They've launched an inquiry.
That's it for now. And if you ever miss our show, you find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR
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