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Interview With Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE); Interview With NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg; Interview with "How Rights Went Wrong" Author Jamal Greene. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired June 30, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: Now we live in a more dangerous world, and, therefore, we need a stronger and more -- even more united

NATO. And that's exactly what this summit has delivered.

AMANPOUR: A historic shift. The man at the center, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, joins me.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been.

AMANPOUR: U.S. Senator and President Biden's close confidant Chris Coons joins us from the Madrid summit.


JAMAL GREENE, VICE DEAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Several of the most conservative judges in the entire country are sitting on the Supreme

Court. And that's a very unusual situation.

AMANPOUR: A transformed us Supreme Court.

Columbia Law Professor Jamal Greene tells Hari Sreenivasan why the current system is no way to protect a democracy.


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

NATO leaders are hailing the Madrid summit as a victory for the alliance. United in purpose, the allies are set to welcome two new members and

significantly beef up the deterrent posture in Europe.

President Joe Biden said he had warned his Russian counterpart that this would happen.


BIDEN: Before the war started, I told Putin that if he invaded Ukraine, NATO would not only get stronger but would get more united. And we would

see democracies in the world stand up and oppose his aggression and defend the rules-based order. And that's exactly what we're seeing today.


AMANPOUR: Now, while the shift is undoubtedly historic, the real test for the alliance is in Ukraine, where Russia continues to encircle and pound

cities in the Donbass region.

Today, though, there was a Ukrainian victory on the strategically significant Snake Island, demonstrating the country's fierce determination

and resolve.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has been key to getting members across the finish line. And I reached him in Madrid just as the summit

wrapped up.


AMANPOUR: Secretary-General, welcome back to our program.

STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much for having me.

AMANPOUR: So, look, you must be doing a victory lap. You have a whole new strategic doctrine. You have got a whole enlarge NATO. And you have got a

much more beefed-up deterrent posture with the extra hundreds of thousands of troops pledged.

So is this a victory lap that you can do as NATO right now?

STOLTENBERG: It is a victory for NATO that we once again have demonstrated our unity and our ability to change, adapt when the world is changing.

And now we live in a more dangerous world. And, therefore, we need a stronger and more -- even more united NATO. And that's exactly what this

summit has delivered.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe -- because, up until now, it's been a threat and a promise that, if one square inch of NATO territory was challenged by

Putin or anybody else, that there would be a swift reaction.

Do you believe that NATO countries are much safer now than they were before this summit?

STOLTENBERG: They are safer in the more dangerous world, because we live in a world where we see brutal use of force against a close neighbor of

NATO, a close partner of NATO, Ukraine.

And that's reason why we have significantly stepped up and further will step up our presence in the eastern part alliance to remove any room for

miscalculation, or misunderstanding in Moscow about our readiness to protect and defend all allies.

This is deterrence. And the purpose of deterrence is to prevent conflict. And that's exactly what NATO has done for more than 70 years, prevent

conflict and preserve peace.

AMANPOUR: So I guess, though, the proof of the pudding, the way that this is being played out is in Ukraine right now.

So, as you know, because Western and Ukrainian officials are observing that Russia is moving much more weaponry and many more troops to the eastern

part of Ukraine. If you look at the reports in the newspapers, Ukraine doesn't even have the radio communications it needs on the eastern flank to

actually succeed, much less the long-range heavy artillery, the precision missiles and weaponry that it needs, despite the pledges.


Do you not think, as the Swedish prime minister said to me yesterday, that this is a moment for NATO to escalate and deliver what is promised to

Ukraine, in order for you to match the reality of your rhetoric?

STOLTENBERG: At this summit, we agreed a new assistance package for Ukraine, comprehensive assistance package, and also long-term support.

And we also heard allies making new announcements also for long-range rocket systems, artillery and so on to be delivered to Ukraine as quickly

as possible. So, NATO allies have delivered unprecedented level of military support. And they fully understand the need to continue to make sure that

more support gets in as quickly as possible.

So, this is one of the main messages from this message -- from this summit. And, also, President Zelenskyy addressed the summit. And the message from

allies was that, yes, we are ready to support Ukraine, step up, and we are prepared for long haul.

AMANPOUR: Of course, he asked in his message for a lot more of the kind of the weapons that we're talking about.

Let me just ask you. You have all said that Putin has made a miscalculation. And maybe, indeed, in the greater -- in the greater

strategic atmosphere, he has. He has seen an enlarged NATO. But he's doing what Putin does. He's waging a war of attrition that he actually seems to

be winning in the east.

What is it going to take to deliver on what the British foreign minister, for instance, said today, that the aim of NATO is to push Russia back even

from the territory it captured in 2014? At this point, is that realistic, Mr. Secretary-General? Do you believe the NATO governments are still

adhering to that goal?

STOLTENBERG: Our aim is in many ways twofold.

We have to provide support to our close partner, Ukraine, to ensure that Ukraine prevails as an independent sovereign in Europe, a neighbor of NATO.

And our second and core task is, of course, to prevent escalation of the conflict beyond Ukraine, because the damage, the suffering, the death we

see in Ukraine today can be even worse if this escalates into full-fledged war between Russia and NATO.

So, therefore, support, more support, fast deliveries, as quickly as possible, but also at the same time ensure that this doesn't escalate to a

full-fledged war, that are the two tasks of NATO in this conflict.

AMANPOUR: And, again, the test is in Ukraine. We understand. We have listened to you all, including the Americans, say that the goal is to

weaken Russia, so that it cannot do what you have just suggested.

And it will only happen, as you all know, if they feel pain on the battlefield. I want to ask you whether you're convinced, hand on heart,

that there isn't Ukraine fatigue within some member states. You, yourself, have warned against Ukraine fatigue.

I notice that you, when you speak in your public statements, you talk not just about the strategic necessity of doing everything possible for as long

as Ukraine wants, as you said, but also the moral duty to do that.

Do you believe that everybody feels the same way?

STOLTENBERG: That was the clear message from this summit, with all the leaders from 30 NATO allied countries, and also partners present, Finland,

Sweden, but also other partners, is that they are ready to stand by Ukraine, to provide support to Ukraine for as long as it takes.

I think these meetings are important just to convey that message, to reinforce the message and to support each other, knowing that this, of

course, also have consequences and -- for us, and that we are paying a price for this war.

But the price we are paying is something you can measure in money. The price the Ukrainians are paying is something you measure in lives. They're

paying with the lives. And that's a totally different price.

And, second, the price we are paying by supporting Ukraine is much lower than the price we will pay if we don't support them, because then we really

risk to reward Putin for the use of force. And that will not only be bad for Ukrainians, but it will also undermine our own security.

So we are there to help Ukraine, in solidarity with them, but also to ensure our own security.

AMANPOUR: So do you feel you have to sometimes light a bit of a fire under some of the governments?

I mean, you have done an exceptional job of this unity, of getting Finland and Sweden in, of getting Turkey to lift its veto. But, again, governments

like France, like Germany have been slow to match delivery to what they have promised.

And even Lithuania, as you know better than I do, very worried up there in the Baltics about, for instance, France, and what Macron has said, the

president, about reintegrating eventually Russia into the strategic security of Europe. The Lithuanians have said that this is dangerous.

They're very worried.


"It scares me that it will destroy the unity of the E.U."

That's the foreign minister of Lithuania.

Do you see any risk there?

STOLTENBERG: So, I think we all have a responsibility, and I feel a particular responsibility, to rally, to mobilize support, immediate support

to speed up the deliveries to Ukraine, but also to convey this message that wars are unpredictable.

So we need to be prepared for the long haul, not believing that this just ends in a couple of months. And, again, that's reason why I think it's

important that NATO allies and partners meet to mobilize that support again and again and again, knowing then that the cost of inaction is much higher

than the cost of action in providing support to Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Secretary-General, how do you assess President Putin's latest public demonstrations of confidence?

He has now left the country for the first time since this war started. He's gone and given speeches where he's again comparing himself to Peter the

great, the first czar of modern Russia. He appears, according to analysts, to have -- quote, unquote -- "factored in" the rules of the game, and that

he thinks that he's sitting there and he will just outwait you all and outfire you all and out-artillery the Ukrainians, and get as much as he


How do you assess Putin demeanor and calculations right now?

STOLTENBERG: So, I will assess him on his actions.

And what he does in Ukraine is a brutal violation of international law. It's is a war that has led to a lot of civilian casualties. Civilians are

killed and huge losses. So, at the same time, he has made a big mistake, because he totally underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian armed

forces, the courage of the Ukrainian political leadership and the Ukrainian people.

And he also underestimated the unity of NATO and partners in providing support to Ukraine. And then his -- one of his main messages at the

beginning of his war was that he wanted less NATO. He was -- he actually proposed for NATO to sign an agreement to have no further NATO enlargement.

What he's getting now is more NATO, and two new NATO members, including Finland with a border that is 1,300 kilometers' long with Russia, doubling

NATO's border with Russia. So, he has made a big and huge mistake. That doesn't mean that we don't see the seriousness and the difficulties Ukraine

is facing, especially in Donbass, and also the need for us to do even more to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign nation.

AMANPOUR: You talk about Sweden and Finland. You were in the room helping to negotiate Turkey lifting its veto. How difficult was that? And are you

convinced that you didn't buy in or cave to demands by Turkey that might be unacceptable to certain populations?

STOLTENBERG: So this agreement was something we reached after hard work over several weeks.

There were two meetings in Brussels with high officials convened under my auspices in Brussels. And then the only way to find a final solution was to

meet with all the leaders, the prime minister of Sweden, the president of Finland, and President Erdogan and me.

And together with our closest advisers, we spent many hours in one room negotiating the text. And at the end of that meeting, we had the text. And

I'm extremely grateful to Finland, to Sweden, and also to President Erdogan for the flexibility and the constructive approach that enabled us to find

this agreement, which is important for Finland, Sweden.

It's important for NATO. And it demonstrates that NATO' door is open. President Putin tried to close NATO's door. We have demonstrated that he

didn't succeed. NATO's door remains open.

AMANPOUR: And what about China, Mr. Secretary-General?

You spoke about China. It's not an adversary. But, nonetheless, you said it has to be considered in this context. And China today has said that NATO is

a Cold War remnant and all of this stuff coming out of the summit is just sort of saber-rattling.

What do you say to China? And what's the most important challenge that they present to NATO right now?

STOLTENBERG: In the current strategic concept that we agreed in NATO in 2010, China is not mentioned with a single word.

In the strategic concept we actually agreed yesterday, so the concept we have now, we devote a lot of language to China, because China's increasing

economic, military power matters for our security.


China is investing heavily in new long-range nuclear capable weapons systems. They are trying to control critical infrastructure in our own

countries. They're coming closer to us in the Arctic, in Africa, and also in Europe.

And China doesn't share our values. We see how they crack down on democratic protests in Hong Kong, throughout their own country, minorities

in China, and now also how they actually impede, for instance, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

All of this matters for our security. And, therefore, NATO allies have now agreed on a strategic concept that reflects how we are going to respond to

that changing world and more global competition posed by the rise of China.

AMANPOUR: Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, thank you so much for joining us.

STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much for having me.


AMANPOUR: The summit comes at a trying time for President Biden and his party.

The historic growth in NATO strengthens. It's paired with a historic Supreme Court ruling that has reversed American women's rights, a

development that U.S. allies have been openly voicing concerns about.

Joining me now from the Madrid summit is Chris Coons. He's the Democratic senator from Delaware, and he's also one of Biden's close confidants.

So, Senator Coons, welcome back to our program.

Let me first ask you to react to what the secretary-general of NATO told me, that not only is this a historic shift, but NATO nations are today

safer in a more dangerous world. Do you agree?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I do, Christiane.

I'm part of a seven-member bipartisan delegation. We spent a day in Finland and a day in Sweden before coming here to the Madrid NATO summit. And one

of the many meetings we had in those two countries was a meeting to be briefed on their military and technical capabilities.

They're among the two most innovative economies in the world. Critical telecommunications companies like Nokia and Ericsson are headquartered

there. And they have very capable militaries. So NATO isn't just getting two new members with this expansion. It's also getting a very capable navy,

army and air force on our northernmost flank of NATO, which reinforces the Baltic states and reinforces total NATO security.

I think this was a very successful summit and a terrific outcome for diplomacy by President Biden and his administration.

AMANPOUR: So President Biden has talked also about enhancing America's military posture out in Europe, a new headquarters in Poland and other such


There's some controversy and some lack of clarity about what we have been told earlier in the week, that there was a pledge to position some 300,000

more NATO troops as a deterrent to Russia.

Can you tell us as much as you know about that?

COONS: Well, I don't know the details about a potential deployment of hundreds of thousands.

We did meet with President Biden for over an hour today and with Secretary Austin, our secretary of defense, as well as our national security adviser,

Jake Sullivan, and we did talk about President Biden's significant commitment to forward-deploy, for example, two additional naval Destroyers

here in Spain at Rota, additional F-35 in the United Kingdom, as you mentioned in the previous interview, to establish a Fifth Corps

headquarters in Poland.

The United States has roughly 100,000 troops on the continent today. And there will be a mixture of heel-to-toe rotational deployments ongoing on

the eastern flank of NATO and additional investments. We have had robust support in the Senate, bipartisan support for additional requests for

appropriations for military aid to Ukraine and for humanitarian relief, and for additional support for our military.

As you know, Christiane, earlier this year, on a strong bipartisan basis, we approved a $40 billion supplemental Ukraine appropriations request. And

I'm going home from this summit clear that we're going to need to provide additional support for NATO deployments and for the Ukrainians who are

fighting so fiercely and so bravely to push back on Putin's unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: So talking about President Putin, in response to what's come out of the NATO summit, he has responded that this is destabilizing.

He said: "If military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically to raise the same

threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us."


How seriously do hate that? And do you still worry, after all of this show of unity by NATO and this strength, that Putin is still a threat to NATO


COONS: Well, Putin is, of course, a threat. He has one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world. He has a sophisticated military.

Although they have performed poorly in the initial stages of the war in Ukraine, they are now showing what brutality they are capable of, the

strike against a shopping mall, the massacre of innocent civilians, the filtration camps which they have set up to forcibly relocate Ukrainians

into Russia.

He continues to show his willingness to use his military capabilities. So we have to take him seriously. But, frankly, he has a blustered and

threatened and bluffed over and over in the more than 100 days of his war in Ukraine so far.

And I think one of his core goals was to prevent the expansion of NATO to achieve the Finlandization, if you will, of Ukraine and of the eastern

front of NATO. And, instead, what he's gotten is the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO and the most unified a Western bloc I have seen in my


We had meeting after meeting after meeting with foreign ministers, prime ministers, defense ministers from more than a dozen countries. And I have

never seen the kind of unity of purpose, shared sense of values and a vision and of determination as I have heard here at this NATO summit.

Partly, that is a credit to President Biden's diplomacy. But, partly, that's a credit to the unifying force of Putin's unchecked aggression in

Ukraine and the urgency of pushing back on that aggression, having seen just how brutal he's capable of being.

AMANPOUR: So, the flip side of that, then, Senator, is, what if a Trump or a Trump-like figure gets into power at some time in the future?

You remember Trump famously called NATO obsolete, and many believed that, had he been reelected, he might have pulled the United States out of NATO.

Are you concerned that that's a risk down the line? And have you heard from allies that they too are concerned? Yes, they have your leadership now. But

what happens in the future?

COONS: Well, Christiane, populism is a rising political force in many countries.

There are right-wing populist MAGA, if you will, parties throughout Western Europe, Northern Europe, as well as in the United States. And so, of

course, this is a concern. There were recent elections in other countries here in Europe where the candidate that came in second or third might well

have taken the same sort of position as you're ascribing to our former President Donald Trump.

And, clearly, the January 6 hearings have been going on while we have been here. And that continues to raise the specter both of what he nearly

accomplished on January 6, as well as what might happen if he were elected again.

I will simply share this. On the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, on which I serve, we recently took up a bill that would prevent the

president, any president of the United States, from unilaterally withdrawing our country from NATO. It passed our committee 21-1, and is

something that I think we should take up and pass.

There is no question about President Biden's commitment to NATO, and support for our North Atlantic Treaty commitments. But I think it's

important for us to take this action and reassure our European partners and allies that we are committed.

Certainly, the bipartisan delegation I'm a part of in every meeting and conversation has shown strong and unified determination to support the

accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, to support the Ukrainians in their important conflict, their struggle against Russia, and to support NATO.

Our challenge will be to ensure that that continues going forward after the fall elections in the United States.

AMANPOUR: I want to get back in a moment to whether the U.S. and NATO has an actual plan envisioned for how this war could end.

But, first, I want to ask you to detail a little bit more what you have been hearing from partners about the threat to American democracy. You just

mentioned the January 6 hearings. President Biden was asked in his press conference about the Supreme Court decision reversing women's rights in the

United States, asked about the filibuster and the like.

Let's just play what the president said about that issue in the press conference.


BIDEN: The one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of the United States on overruling not only

Roe v. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy.

We've been a leader in the world in terms of personal rights and privacy rights, and it is a mistake, in my view, for the Supreme Court to do what

it did.


AMANPOUR: So, first, I want to ask you about what -- he made some news there in terms of talking about the filibuster.


Can you tell us where that might lead and what you think about that?

COONS: Well, I think the position of all the currently serving senators is clear. We have taken a vote on changing the roles of the Senate to end the

filibuster. It was not successful. We don't have 50 Democrats committed to that.

And so, frankly, I think what the president was commenting on was the most recent decisions of the Supreme Court, ways in which they have turned aside

decades of precedent that protects a woman's right to access reproductive health care. I share the president's views on this.

But, frankly, this hasn't been a topic of discussion within our bipartisan delegation, we have really been focused on NATO, on America's role in

providing security for Europe and support for Ukraine and support for the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.

I do think it's important for us to take seriously the concerns of our partners and allies about our democracy, just as we take seriously concerns

about their democracies. And if we link arms, and if we continue to support each other, our security, our vibrancy, our openness as societies in the

face of challenges from countries like Russia, like China in the world, that, in the end, we will show that American democracy is resilient and


AMANPOUR: Well, to that point, I have spoken to several of the world leaders at the summit, your allies, the prime minister of Sweden, of Spain,

the head of the E.U., Ursula von der Leyen, when she was at the G7 summit.

And all of them expressed deep concern about reversing women's rights in the United States. And they're very, very worried and sad, in their words.

So I want to ask you what you -- the effect you think that has on America's standing in the world and on your ability to promote the kinds of rights

that America stands for, not just women's rights, but the rights of privacy, as the president said?

America has been a leader on that issue, privacy and freedoms.

COONS: Well, Christiane, there was another decision by the Supreme Court today reining in the power of our administration, of the Environmental

Protection Agency to contribute to our work to promote a greener, a cleaner economy, to combat climate change.

These issues, the alignment between the United States and our European partners and allies on values issues like privacy, on values issues like

our shared concern about climate are areas where our Supreme Court is moving not just backwards, not just in the wrong direction with regards to

our own national interest in priorities, but putting us somewhat more at odds with the rest of the community of open and democratic societies that

we have so long been closely aligned with.

So this is a concern for me. It's a concern for many Democrats in the United States how this positions us in the world. But we're going to need

to work through this in the months and years ahead through future elections. The current conservative activist Supreme Court majority is the

result of a decades-long, organized campaign by conservative elements in the United States.

It will not be changed or reversed suddenly or abruptly. And it will lead to some real challenges in terms of how the rest of the world sees us and

our protection of core values like privacy.

AMANPOUR: Just let's get back to Ukraine, then.

The president announced, I think it was 800 million more U.S. dollars, having already sent over at least $7 billion, he said, and also so much

weaponry. We do know that not enough of that high-powered heavy artillery precision kind of weaponry that the Ukrainians need against Russia in the

east has yet got there.

But, nonetheless, I want to ask you about that, particularly whether you think that there is some kind of rising debate within the administration

about how this should end, about Ukraine's ability to recapture its territory.

White House officials this week telling CNN that they're losing confidence that Ukraine will be able to win back all of its territory. Reports that

perhaps the Biden administration is thinking of trying to get Zelenskyy to adjust what victory actually looks like and means.

Can you tell us about that?

COONS: Yes, I can. That's something that was specifically discussed in our meetings with the Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, with the president.

Our delegation repeated concerns that have been reported about the timing and the delivery and the training. And I was substantially reassured by the

clarity, the focus, the purposefulness that we heard from the president and from all of his senior team first about training of Ukrainian troops, the

speed and effectiveness with which they're being trained on the latest systems that are being delivered.


Second on the commitment of some of our core partners and allies, the Germans, the British, others, to also provide advance systems, heavy

weapons, very capable artillery systems known as MLRS or HIMARS, our acronym for them.

And then, last, the dedication that our administration is showing to replenish, to resupply our own inventory and the stocks, the stocks of some

of our vital allies who are providing key partnership and support here. So, it seems clear to me from our meetings that we continue to have a shared

bipartisan view, that it is up to the Ukrainians to decide when and how to negotiate an end this conflict, what their stance should be. And then, in

the meantime, we will continue to provide them with resources, support, training and advance systems that will allow them to push back on Russian


AMANPOUR: And just lastly on that issue, you -- we have all been hearing about the political strains now in many nations, of course, with the war

creating more inflation and the energy spikes, and all the things that the citizens are rightly concerned about right now. Many have said, like the

Swedish prime minister, the Estonians, the Baltic leaders and others, that this surely, because of everything you've said about the risk of Putin-ism

and the risk of winning, makes the case for escalating and really beefing up aid to Ukraine, to make this war come to a much more rapid conclusion.

That is the only way to keep populations onside.

COONS: I agree with that. I think that there is significant public pressure on governments throughout Europe, and North America because of the

rising costs of groceries, of energy, and the impact of inflation.

In each country, the population seems to think it is a responsibility of the leadership of that country. But this is a common challenge across the

entire West. The price of oil on global markets, the inflationary impact of this war, the combination of our rapid recovery from the pandemic which

added some inflationary pressures, and the high cost of energy, which is all a direct result of Putin's aggression and the impact on food prices,

because of Putin's aggression against Ukraine, one of the world's largest producers of wheat and sunflower and other critical foodstuffs, all of this

is something that was foreseeable.

But we made an important choice, together, as the West, as NATO, to support Ukraine, to stand up to Putin, to impose crippling sanctions. He

underestimated the determination of the West to prevent a fundamental shift in the security architecture of our world to allow him to just roll over a

sovereign, democratic country that in no way provoked his assault.

So, Putin must give up this fiction he has that Ukraine is not a real nation. That it's not entitled to do exist. And that he can, with impunity,

wipe out Ukrainian traditions and people and culture, and the parts of the country that he has invaded and is occupying. So, this is a cost, a burden,

that I think our publics are struggling to accept and to bear. That is one of the reasons why providing more support for Ukraine's military is urgent.

I am leaving Madrid, and the meetings we've had are reassured in Western unity to continue these sanctions, to continue supporting Ukraine and in

the importance of this mission. If we allow Putin to win, I think he will continue. I think he will simply go after other countries. We met with the

prime minister of Georgia who made that point very directly to us. We've also heard similar input from the Baltic States, from Moldova, from other

eastern flank countries such as Poland.

So, I think this is an urgent and a critical moment where the West is being tested, and where President Biden and the American administration is

showing that we are a key part of NATO's resolve to push back on Putin's aggression.

AMANPOUR: Senator Chris Coons, thank you so much for joining us for Madrid.

And, as the senator mentioned, this divisive Supreme Court has, in fact, ended its season in typical divisive style, that six to three decision by

conservatives to strike at the EPA's ability to limit poisonous emissions. The White House says that this is another devastating decision from the

court that aims to take our country backwards.

Now, after reversing Roe v. Wade while loosening gun laws in New York, it looks more like political body than an independent judiciary, say experts

like Jamal Greene. He is a Columbia law school professor and he's author of "How Rights Went Wrong." He talks to Hari Sreenivasan about the high stakes

of America's constitutional conflict.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Professor Jamal Greene, thanks for joining us.

First, right now, every Supreme Court decision seems to boil down to fundamental rights. So, what happens when I have a right and I take you to

court because you say you have competing right, and we decide that there is a winner and a loser. I mean, is there an in between? Should there be?


and I think courts have, at least, implicitly understood that there should be an in between. The fact of the matter is we live in a society in which

we are pluralistic, we have very different views, we're diverse from each, we have different values and commitments.

And so, the idea that you sort of take our competing rights and decide the constitution believes in one of those rights but doesn't believe in the

other is not consistent with the kind of society that we live. And I think we are seeing that in the polarization that we see is everything gets kind

of dialed up to 10 instead of trying to figure out ways of reconciling our competing rights. You know, saying that people have a right to go to the

government to try to protect themselves from gun violence, and also right to own guns, is something that has to be reconciled. It's not something

that where you just pick one or the other because that denies either of the agency and self-government of one side, or the rights and the dignity of

the other. And we've got to learn to have those things coexist.

SREENIVASAN: The originalist, the folks who believe that we should be interpreting the text of the constitution as close to what the founders

would've wanted, it they're going to say, this was how the framers designed it. But you argued in your book last year that this was not the design.

GREENE: No, that's a very narrow view of what the framers had in mind even and I don't count myself among originalist. But even on an originalist view

of how do you think about rights, the framers believed in what was once been called the state police power, you know, the state house, the power to

pursue the general welfare, to pass laws for health and safety, and that is totally consistent with the idea that we have rights, someone has to decide

whether the state goes too far, so the state cannot do whatever it wants.

But when you are very important interest on one side but also, basic rights and self-government on the other, there's -- you know, judges have a role

to play in trying to figure out where the balances between those things and sometimes you have to work that out overtime. The framers fully understood

that. But we've come to a place where the court doesn't believe that. And so, you end up awarding victory to one side and really ratcheting the

stakes of politics up very high, rather than, I'm kind of working out overtime where that reconciliation between our rights should be.

SREENIVASAN: So, what is the effect then if the Supreme Court is either perceived to be or is a political body? What does that do to the balance of

power that the framers intended? How we have methods to redress?

GREENE: Viewing the court as a political body is, I think, in some ways necessary, because the court makes political decisions. So, the court makes

decisions that help the governess. In that sense, they are political. What -- the problem comes in when the court's decisions are perceived as being

partisan, perceived as being holding water for one side or the other, whether it's Democrats or Republicans. And when that happens, you really

have a court that is simply serving one side or the other in a partisan battle.

And the American people are not going to tolerate that for very long. We have other institutions that engage in partisan fights. And I really think

the court is sacrificing some of its own legitimacy when it is perceived in this way. We all have different views. Judges have different views in each

other. I have different views from the court. You and I, no doubt, have different views about how to understand our rights, how to understand the

constitution, but it's exactly for that reason that the role of the courts should be and for a long time has been, to lower the stakes of our

political conflicts rather than to raise them, to -- not to align one side or the other in a partisan fight with what the constitution requires,

because that -- at that point, the other side loses their stake in the constitutional project, and that is not very good for the health of the


SREENIVASAN: So, just this past week, we had a couple of cases that seem to sort of poll against each other. On the one hand, you had the gun rights

case that -- with the Supreme Court kind of decided to overturn some of the power the local jurisdiction could have in the case of New York. And then,

the next day, you have the abortion case where it was almost the opposite, let's take this back to the states.


GREENE: Well, you have a situation where if you only look at these cases through the lens of, is the legislature the decider or is the court the

decider? It looks like the court is doing something very different in each of these cases, and you'll get criticism of the court accusing it of

hypocrisy and you'll get criticism the other way saying, well, of course. If you say it should come out the other way, you are also being a hypocrite

of some -- in some sense.

But what I think you are really seeing is a court and a toggling between two extremes because it doesn't believe, or seems to not believe, that

there is some reconciliation between values that are on either side of the conflict. So, in the gun control case, there's a conflict between public

safety and a conflict between gun rights, and the court awards the answer to the gun rights side. And in the abortion conflict, there is a conflict

between a potential life of an embryo and the rights of a pregnant people to control their reproductive freedom, and the court essentially says,

there can't be a right on the side of the pregnant person, because there's a value in fetal life.

That hasn't been the law of abortion for more than -- for almost half a century to Roe v. Wade. That hasn't been the law of gun control for

hundreds of years of our existence. We work these things out overtime through politics, also through court decisions, this is how we govern

ourselves, through a combination of political decisions and decisions by courts. What you're seeing here is the court stepping in and deciding what

that one side or the other is going to get total victory. And that's a very dangerous thing in the democracy.

SREENIVASAN: What did you learn from reading the opinions, both Alito and the concurrent opinion of Thomas, and Thomas went further than Alito saying

that the court should revisit things that contraception and same-sex marriage?

GREENE: Well, the Dobbs decision, that's the abortion case, it really goes much farther than any opinion has ever been written about this subject, and

that includes the dissenting opinions in Roe v. Wade. Those dissenting opinions said that Roe v. Wade goes too far, and that is not an uncommon

view, even among people on the left.

But the idea that the alternative to that is that there is simply no constitutional value at all in the ability of women, the right of women, to

control their -- whether they become parents or not is an extreme position. There's no way around that. And it's -- really, if you look around the

world, if you look at our particular history, it's a startling denial of significant constitutional values.

Again, you can say that Roe is -- you have problems with Roe v. Wade, you think it goes too far, but to go entirely in the other direction is to deny

women agency over their lives.

In the gun control case, you also had what I think is a startling suggestion on the part of, not just suggestion but it's the law in how --

on the part majority that public safety has no relevance to whether a gun control measure is constitutional or not. The only question is whether it

is the traditional way in which guns had been regulated or not. Again, that's a startling denial of agency and self-government to the American

people of today.

SREENIVASAN: We also had a couple of cases that, from the outside, seem to blur the lines between separation of church and state. We had one ruling

where tuition assistant programs in Maine need to also be able to fund religious schools. And then, earlier this week, we had a case where a high

school football coach was, in fact, according to the Supreme Court, within his right of free speech to exercise prayer on the 50-yard line after high

school football games, and the school district was found violating his rights.

When I'm looking at this from the outside, am I saying, wait a minute here, is there a risk of either any one religion or religion creeping into

matters of how we collectively hold ourselves?

GREENE: Potentially, yes, the court is certainly giving more leeway to what the majority views as the religious freedom of particular people.

These are quite complicated issues, you know, in the sense that the constitution has both a free exercise clause that gives religious freedom

to individuals, but also an establishment clause that says that the state should be basically out of the business.

For religion, those are sometimes a very difficult to reconcile when we are talking about, in one sense -- in one case, a public employee and a public-

school teacher, and in another case, a public tuition assistance program.


What I think you are seeing is a court that is very reliably on one side of the political spectrum pushing its advantage very aggressively. We are

going to have lots of disagreements as a people about how to balance these out in the clause and the free exercise clause. And I don't perceive the

court as doing something especially radical in those cases. But I do think that, you know, seeing the result of a six - three very conservative court

where the Supreme Court is arguably several of the most conservative judges in the entire country are sitting on the Supreme Court. And that's a very

unusual situation and really does shape our perception of the court is being political or partisan institution.

SREENIVASAN: You know, and I wonder, some of the critics push back and say, would these cases have turned out differently if the religion was at

the center of that prayer wasn't Christianity?

GREENE: Well, I won't speculate about what the courts who do if we were talking about another religion. There are cases in which the Supreme Court,

including the court's conservative majority have upheld the rights of Muslim prisoners, for example, or people on death row who are not

necessarily Christian.

I will say that, in general, when there -- when the -- when courts give leeway for people to do things like engage in school prayer at a public

school, the results of that, given where we are as a country, is that people who practice more popular religions are going to have the leeway to

practice those religions. And people who practice less popular religious may not have that leeway.

So, the person going to the 50-yard line and praying to Allah of or engaged in a Hindu prayer of some kind is not going to get the same reception from

the audience. And so, that is why you don't see that happening, right? So, in some sense, by default, you end up privileging one religion or another.

But I won't speculate on what I think the court itself might do in that case.

SREENIVASAN: Shouldn't a single individual have this much power in a lifetime appointment that's unelected role?

GREENE: Well, you're seeing people ask those kinds of questions in ways in which they haven't in the past. I think exactly for the reason that the

court is so reliably on one side of the political spectrum. So, it seems to be countering the briefcase of the Republican Party.

If you look around the worlds, the idea of a life tenured Supreme Court or high court is extremely rare. The only other country in the world that has

the life tenured Supreme Court is Iceland. Every other country in the world either has a retirement age or has a term limit. We also have a very small

Supreme Court, and our Supreme Court also hears all of its cases of what is called in bank. So, at the same time, all of the justices hear all of the


And what that means is that the law becomes extremely individualize and personalized, where in every case, you have your justice in the middle,

what does Kavanaugh think, what does Roberts think becomes the question as opposed to, what is the law? A much more impersonal approach to the law in

many of these countries.

Again, I think it's not very healthy for a democracy. It feels almost like a monarchy when you have a very small set of individuals with life tenure

deciding extremely important questions central to our values, central to self-governance and doing it, you know, over 30 or 40 years, and then,

deciding that the timing of their retirement so they pick the ideology of the replacement, that is no way to conduct the democracy. And if we were

starting from scratch, there is no way to do it this way.

SREENIVASAN: You take time in your book, and you point out that other countries do this very differently. I mean, you talk about, for example,

abortions exist in Germany. How do they solve this situation? How do they balance these rights or how do they mediate through these solutions?

GREENE: Well, it is very ironic, and that the German constitutional court, and it is not alone in doing this, in -- when it comes to abortion rights,

they are very controversial abortion case back in the 1970s, just as we did in the United States with Roe, they had a very controversial abortion case

in the early 1990s, just as we had with a case called Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

And the German constitutional court insisted then and insists now that the value of fetal life is a constitutional value. So, in the United States,

that codes as an extremely conservative position in which suggest that abortion not only be regulated by the state, but maybe must be regulated by

the state.


But in Germany, what that meant was that there has to be some reconciliation between the value of fetal life on the one hand and they

conceded value of women to control destiny or the other. What's that led to in Germany is a -- is political negotiation around what it takes to make

abortion a meaningful choice for people, which ends up redounding to the benefit both of woman trying to choose how to structure their lives, but

also, fetal life. So, how do you choose -- how do you encourage people to choose life? Well, you give them social support. You give them paid leave.

You give them paid childcare. You give them employment guarantees. That is where the political negotiation is happening in Germany.

And I don't know I need to say that that is a more healthy thing to negotiate about politically than to see who can take people's rights away

as quickly as possible. There are other ways to thinking about rights where courts forced people to the table, force people to negotiate. Don't just

hand the victory to one side or the other, and you can end up in a much more healthy place.

SREENIVASAN: Professor Jamal Greene, thank you so much for joining us.

GREENE: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And finally, in that increasingly divided Supreme Court, a torch has passed. Moments ago, 51-year-old Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the

first black woman appointee was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, and outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer.




BREYER: And laws of the United States.

JACKSON: And loss of the United States.

BREYER: So what we God.

JACKSON: So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, on behalf of all of the members of the court, I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling.


AMANPOUR: A liberal appeals court judge and former public defender, Justice Jackson joins a bench in turmoil, as we have been discussing. Yet,

her addition also means that four women will simultaneously serve on the court for the first time in its 233-year history.

Jackson takes the seat of 83-year-old Breyer. During his 27 years on the bench, Breyer was a steadfast supporter of abortion rights, the environment

and health care coverage. His legacy is also one of collegiality, even as the divisions all around deepened, he often looked for compromise, as he

told me last September before announcing his retirement.


STEPHEN BREYER, THEN-U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: And so, when I'm talking to the college students, I say, my friends, I learned from Senator Kennedy

one thing that I think is important and maybe more, but at least one, and that is, listen to people who disagree with you. And if you listen long

enough, you will find on something they agree with you. And then, when you get, that you say, let's work with that. Let's work with it. And you work

with it, and you try to produce something positive. Something that maybe gives you 30 percent of what you want, but better 30 percent than 100

percent of nothing.


AMANPOUR: What a radical thought, compromise to get things done. You can see the full interview at

And coming up tomorrow, with Xi Jinping visiting Hong Kong on the 25th anniversary of the British handover, a closer look at the Chinese leaders

rolls back on its freedoms and democracy. Britain's last governor there, Chris Paddington, tells me about Xi and Beijing's broken promises.


CHRIS PADDINGTON, FORMER GOVERNOR OF HONG KONG: I think why -- one of the reasons why he has been so ruthlessly tough on Hong Kong is that Hong Kong

represents a political and intellectual challenge to the notion that the Chinese communist, central control, will roll forever and be a very

attractive thing for the rest of the world, which is, of course, nuts.


AMANPOUR: And we will have much more on Friday's show. But that is it for now. And if you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly

after airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR code. All you need to do is pick up your phone and scan it with your camera. You can also find it

at, and on all major platforms, just search Amanpour. And remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook Twitter, and Instagram.

Thank you all for watching and goodbye from London.