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Interview With University Of Tehran Professor Mohammad Marandi; Interview With "Chrysalis" Photographer And Artist Tyler Mitchell; Interview With Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 12, 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 CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour". Here's what's coming up.
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AMANPOUR: The regime cracks down hard in Iran, but protesters vowed to continue their fight. The latest as oil workers stage a strike in support.
I'm joined by Tehran University's Mohammad Marandi, with the view from the government. Then.
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TYLER MITCHELL, PHOTOGRAPHER AND ARTIST, "CHRYSALIS": I'm very interested in making images that I feel contrast or pushed back against ideas of what
we haven't seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Celebrating black beauty. My conversation with the groundbreaking photographer, Tyler Mitchell, at his first solo exhibition here in London.
Plus, Harvard law professor, Noah Feldman, breaks down the watershed cases coming before the Supreme Courts. And finally.
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ANGELA LANSBURY, ACTRESS: I just I knew I had to wait and that -- and the moment would arrive when I would be able to come up to the surface again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Farewell to a legend of screen and stage. Remembering the inimitable Angela Lansbury.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
A time of reckoning in Iran. It is almost a month since the death of 22- year-old Mahsa Amini, after being hauled in by Iran's Morality Police, and protesters are still in the streets. It is the biggest threat to the regime
in many years.
And at the front lines of this protest movement are women and even young schoolgirls. Fighting for their freedom, including defying the street laws
on the wearing the hijab. But these protests are also about dire economic realities that face the country. Human rights groups are expressing alarm
at the violent crackdown by security forces. Jomana Karadsheh has the latest on this phase of the uprising.
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JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Calls for a nationwide protest on Wednesday brought Iranians back onto the streets of
cities across the country. The protesters undeterred by a ruthless regime's crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, and they were met with utter
Baton swinging policeman beating up those who tried to get away. And this disturbing scene caught on camera. Plain clothed security forces opening
fire on the streets of Tehran after a small group gathered chanting, mullahs, get lost.
But perhaps the most terrifying response to protest this week is the government's decision to detain schoolchildren from testing and send them
to psychological institutions to be, "Reformed and reeducated". A chilling message from a regime that now adheres to feel threatened by fearless young
schoolgirls. A regime clearly under pressure, not only struggling to continue protesters that are spreading like a wildfire, now facing strikes
that could hit an economy already on its knees.
Some oil workers now striking, blocking roads and burning tires. Their strike is so far-limited and not unusual but some are now joining in the
anti-regime chants. This could be a sign of trouble the government literally can't afford.
ROHAM ALVENDI, IRAN HISTORIAN: Strikes have historically played a very important role in Iranian revolts. They were at the core of both of the
revolutions that Iran had in the 20th century, the constitutional revolution in the 1979 revolution. The oil and gas industry, of course, are
particularly sensitive because that is where much of the states' hard currency earnings are derived from.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): Many businesses in the mostly Kurdish region have been shuttered for days as calls grow for a national general strike.
ALVENDI: People are keeping a very close eye on that. But you know, if there is a general strike, if there is a nationwide general strike, I mean,
what can the government do, really? I mean, you can't send troops into people's homes to drag them out and force them to go to work. So, you know,
that would actually be -- paralyze the state. And would show the powerlessness of the state in the face of this movement.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): A movement of nationwide protest that's morphed into an uprising, growing stronger by the day. Proving harder and harder for the
oppressive republican control.
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AMANPOUR: Jomana Karadsheh reporting there. Now, the Iranian government claims its uprising is orchestrated by foreign-backed terror groups and it
calls them riots. My next guest advises the government in its nuclear negotiations. Mohammad Marandi is also a professor at Tehran University.
And I caught up with him in Seoul, at an event celebrating Iran-South Korea relations.
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AMANPOUR: Professor Marandi, welcome to the program.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: Thank you for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, look, I don't know how surprised you are or other members of the government but, clearly these, protests are not dying down, and they
are all over the places as we see. And all sorts of demographics and ages and types of people in the streets. From what you know of the government,
are they shaken by this? Are they rattled? What is the -- how are they dealing with it, internally, beyond, you know, what we hear privately --
MARANDI: The protest died down, actually, after the first three, four days. And they tilted away from protest towards riots. And when the riots began,
the protests decreased. And as time went by, the riots became much more violent. So, that's why the numbers came down very quickly.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, look, we have -- as I said, many pictures. We've just had our report from our correspondent. And the narratives are clearly very,
very different. And I'm -- I can't argue that -- with you right now because I know that you are, you know, speaking on behalf of the government.
So, you are a professor of Tehran University, or you're speaking from their point of view. And now, even today, we have people telling us that there
continued, you know, not just protests, but -- you know, besiege, the militias running and chasing with the protesters. We've seen this before.
We saw it in 2009, when I was there. Shops are closed. Where do you think this is going to lead?
MARANDI: Well, in the United States, during Black Lives Matter protests and riots, or January the 6th, you also saw police fighting with protesters. It
depends on how you want to depict it. We see it in Europe all the time.
When it's in Iran, it's suddenly very strange. But did you know that during the past three weeks, 24 police officers and besieged members were killed
on the streets? People who are protecting the population. And did you know that online, the MEK organization that founded by and supported by NATO,
they have been teaching people how to make Molotov cocktails. How to use weapons. And they have been attacking police bases, military bases. And
also, we've had terrorist attacks alongside the Pakistani border, in the no man -- from the no man land in Pakistan. And also, in Northern Iraq, from
So, this -- it's not as simple as you say. Yes, when you have 24 people of the police and those on the streets, protecting the streets killed, and
hundreds, if not thousands injured, there is going to be violence. There is no doubt about that. But in the United States, if 24 people were killed, if
24 police officers or if in Britain, that such numbers were killed, what would be the response?
AMANPOUR: What about in the United States, if dozens and dozens of civilians have been killed, which there are alleged to have been dozens and
dozens of civilians killed in places like Zahedan, in Kurdistan, and other places over these last four weeks? And I know that your government's line
is that these are riots. And I know that your government's line is that these are, you know, terrorist organizations, organized by the west and by
You know, that's what your line is. Your own supreme leader today on Twitter said, those who participate in the riots -- as you all call them,
aren't all the same type. Some are agents or in line with the enemy. Others are just agitated. They shouldn't be judged the same. For the latter,
cultural work is needed. For the former, to judiciary and security officials must due -- do their duty.
So, that seems to go to this so-called cultural work, the education minister today confirms that some students are held in psychological
institutions. He said for reform and reeducation before they become antisocial characters. You know, that that's got echoes of China and Cuba,
like reeducation camps. What do you make of it? You are a professor at a university. What do you make of this?
MARANDI: I don't know what the minister said. I have to look into that and see how this was translated. The students at -- the University of Tehran
has 50,000 students. And with the University of Tehran's Medical Sciences University makes it 70,000 students. And the largest gatherings on campus
were 200, maybe 300 people. I'm not sure about the numbers.
But as far as I know, and I can't say this for sure, either all of our students or almost all of them that were arrested in the riots, basically,
they were released. I can't comment about this statement because a lot of the things that are translated and appear in the western media are just --
they've distorted them. So, I can't comment on that. But I don't think any of our students are taken to psychological wards.
With regards to Sistan and Baluchestan, I think, you know quite well that there was an attack on a military base. If there is a military base in
London that's being attacked, what are they going to do? They're going to defend themselves. The footage shows that the attackers were carrying
weapons. So, we -- again, this is a very one-sided presentation of the story.
And by the way, I am not speaking on behalf of the government. I say my opinion. During the previous administration, I have been on your show, and
during the administration -- before the previous administration, I have been with you on television. These are my opinions. But, yes, I do
sympathize with the Iranians, because the narrative against Iran in the west is completely one-sided. This is a rare occasion where I'm able to say
something that's different and I'll be attacked for it.
AMANPOUR: Do you think that your government, the Islamic republic, is it any danger right now, and needs to rethink how it deals with people after
43 years? People are showing their frustrations. So, do you think that? And where do you think is going to end?
MARANDI: Iran always changes and shifts. That's why we have different governments. But you also have to keep in mind that less than three years
ago, when General Soleimani was murdered by the Americans, we saw the millions of people come through the streets in Tehran, and millions in
other cities as well. The legitimacy of the Islamic republic of Iran in the eyes of Iranians is clear and evident.
And one final point that I would like to make is that in august 2011, when there were riots in London, because someone was shot and killed by the
police, a number of people were killed. I don't recall the exact number. But big tech, Facebook, back then, Blackberry, and Twitter cooperated with
the British government.
In the case of Iran, big tech is used as a weapon against Iranians. So, Iranian voices don't come out. Iranians lose their -- if they are opposed
to the western narrative, they get sanctions. You're -- all of the Iranian media is sanctioned. Many individuals have lost their accounts. I have lost
my Facebook and Instagram accounts.
So, these western big tech companies, they cooperate with western governments, even though in the riots in London, people were killed, and
they arrested people and put them in jail for inciting riots. But in Iran, the same media outlets make threats, they support, they help people make
Molotov cocktails, and they help mobilize the rioters.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right.
MARANDI: So, under such circumstances, you can't make the same sort of judgment between Iran and the U.K.
AMANPOUR: OK. Listen, Dr. Marandi, we wanted your perspective because we want to know what essentially a certain segment, including the government,
think. It's clearly very, very much at odds with everything we're seeing, but so be it. Thank you for joining us.
MARANDI: One final point, Christiane. I'm here in Seoul right now at the invitation of a university. Right now, over -- something like $8 billion of
Iranian money is being held here against the will of the Iranian people, money that could be used in Iran. The United States is systematically
trying to strangle ordinary Iranians and then the Iranian government is accused of incompetence. If the United States is honest, remove the
sanctions and we'll see which government is more incompetent, the United States or the Iranian government.
AMANPOUR: On that note. Thanks for joining us.
MARANDI: Thank you.
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AMANPOUR: Now, around the world, many artists are showing their support for the protests and for Iranian women.
Including French actresses, Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche, who cut their hair in solidarity. And Iranian artist like Soheila Sokhanvari and
Shirin Neshat are using their work to amplify voices for freedom. Here her digital art piece in Central London's Piccadilly Circus. Women, life,
freedom, which is the slogan of this uprising.
Art is often used as a means to express our views of the world. And my next guest, the photographer, Tyler Mitchell, is best known as the first black
photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in 2018. And now, he has his first solo exhibition here in London. He is exploring themes of black history, black
beauty, and culture. And he showed me some of his groundbreaking work at the Gagosian gallery in London.
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AMANPOUR: Tyler Mitchell, welcome back to the program.
TYLER MITCHELL, PHOTOGRAPHER AND ARTIST, "CHRYSALIS": Thank you for having me again.
AMANPOUR: So, "Chrysalis".
AMANPOUR: How do you define "Chrysalis" as the name of your exhibition? And why choose that?
MITCHELL: It -- definition means the state between, sort of, being a caterpillar and a butterfly but also a transformative, transitional state,
right. And a lot of these pictures, as I was making them, really about this idea of a meditative state of repose, leisure, but also really cocooning
and sort of considering.
This is my second gallery show. And so, I think there was also me thinking about what it means to do a sophomore show. And after having made the first
body of work, what does that mean to progress and transition into establishing oneself, so. But the pictures also are "Chrysalis" as in
AMANPOUR: OK. I'm going to get more "Chrysalis" in a moment.
AMANPOUR: But that's really interesting because you use a college word.
AMANPOUR: This is your sophomore show. Your second year in college.
MITCHELL: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Your first -- you know, obviously was your freshman year.
AMANPOUR: So, do you feel like that? Because, you know, your friend and great curator, Antwaun Sargent, says that you're not establishing yourself.
You are established as one of the really important photographers of the moment.
AMANPOUR: But do you feel still like you are proving yourself?
MITCHELL: I feel like I'm emerging into myself. But I also know -- I'm aware of the fact that I am a name that is pushing the conversation forward
in photography. And so, I'm happy about that. But I wouldn't use the word established. But -- I mean, to a certain degree, I guess, if that's the
perception, it's true. But I think for me it's like, these works and every work that I make is hopefully me continually emerging.
AMANPOUR: And that is this hallmark of your work, right?
AMANPOUR: You're -- from the beginning, it's about joy. It's about utopia.
AMANPOUR: These are old words you've used. Particularly about black people in America and around the world.
MITCHELL: Yes, the idea for me and being a photographer was I'm very interested in making images that I feel contrast or push back against ideas
of what we haven't seen before. The corners of the cannon (ph) we haven't explored of images of black folks -- young black folks, young black men and
So, hopefully my photographic practice is expanding notions of how black people can be imaged. And a lot of that, for me, the center of that is,
sort of, pushing back against images that were so used to consuming of images that's, sort of, struggle or violence. And instead, kind of,
proposing this idea of -- sort of, Edenic (ph) beauty or a joy in which the figures in my photographs, the people in my photographs are often in
repose. Often embracing one another. Things like that.
AMANPOUR: when you say Edenic beauty --
AMANPOUR: -- the garden of Eden. You grew up in Atlanta.
AMANPOUR: Which had its own real racial issues. But also, you talk about it as one of the greenest cities in America. It's almost like a city and a
AMANPOUR: Does that inform this "Chrysalis"?
MITCHELL: Absolutely. Growing up in Atlanta, a lot of my personal upbringing was in nature more than, sort of, most might imagine when
thinking of images of Atlanta. I'm also interested in expanding these notions of what Atlanta is itself and what black life is as well.
And Atlanta being a city in America that has a core black center, right? A very, like, black urban center in the middle of the city, that feels
important to talk about.
AMANPOUR: You also have talked about black beauty.
AMANPOUR: Which is what you capture as a form of justice.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about that.
MITCHELL: I mean, I think it speaks for itself in the way that, you know, these images, hopefully, and the work that I'm making are contributing to a
cannon of images by black image makers in which we are proposing in telling our own stories. And sort of correcting, right, a certain sort of lexicon
or narrative that has overwhelmed or dominated what our lives actually are. So, I think that to do that, to make images and, sort of, create a world of
black beauty is an act of justice in that way.
AMANPOUR: Many people will know that you shot to fame by being the first black photographer with a cover on American Vogue. The first in 125 years
and it was Beyonce.
AMANPOUR: And she chose you. She knew about you and you worked very well together.
AMANPOUR: How does, sort of, what we -- might call advertising work fit into your art?
MITCHELL: Yes. Well, I think the reason that I was so uniquely well- positioned to do that type of a commission was because my interests were already in so many areas at that time. I was interested in politics, I was
interested in music, I was interested in fashion. I was generally interested in the power of images and how symbols and images can really
And that commission was a large part of my ongoing work, you know. And so, this work continues that and that it's pushing forward these ideas that I'm
interested in of Edenic beauty, leisure, repose, for black people in nature. And it just excites me, the idea, to do it in the gallery and
museum space equally as it does in the commissioned, advertising, or editorial space.
AMANPOUR: Are you over the fact that your portrait of Kamala Harris created such a storm all over? Some people thought showing her relaxing and with
her, you know, her converse on wasn't, sort of, vice presidential.
MITCHELL: I'm -- listen, I'm proud of that assignment at the end of the day. And I'm very proud of those pictures and the experience I had with her
which was very joyful. Honestly, she chose what she wanted to wear and presented herself as she wanted to be presented. And so, it was my job to
really do what I do in my work which is to present people in a very unguarded honest way. And I'm really, really proud of those pictures.
AMANPOUR: I mean, they were beautiful. I just wondered sometimes within the community people can be holier than thou.
AMANPOUR: In any community, whether its women, whether -- in the black community like --
MITCHELL: I think my work operates in a space that offers a new, sort of, way of looking at people, if that makes sense. My work offers a, sort of,
different perspective. And by that, I mean, a lot of these moments in my work here and in my work in general is really about these in between
moments of the mundane, right. And actually, celebrating those moments as being the most beautiful, right, rather than this sort of, conventional --
you almost, might say, facade of glamour and beauty. And so, that's what all of my work does and -- yes.
AMANPOUR: Describe the picture "Chrysalis". Describe the image that you chose to portray "Chrysalis".
MITCHELL: So, yes. The images that is -- that shares the title of the show is an image of a young boy, sort of shrouded in a mosquito net. It's an
image I made in my studio. I was interested in -- I think all of these images, not only create a world or, sort of, create a mood or a feeling or
a tone of repose and cocooning. But also make the viewer question what's real or not real.
So, a lot of you asked me, where was this taken or where was this made because maybe it was made in the Caribbean, or even potentially in West
Africa where mosquito nets would be used. And I say, no. It's made in my studio. And the reason that that's important for me is because I'm really
hoping with this body of work to present an emotional point of view, right, about diasporic life. About black life. Rather than a sort of factual one.
AMANPOUR: So, we're going to get up and we're going to have a look, for instance, at some of these that we've been talking about.
MITCHELL: Yes. It's an image about a boy, sort of, staying barely afloat on the surface. And this idea of balloons as, sort of, a surreal or theatrical
symbol for that. And a lot of the pictures -- these pictures, particular we -- particularly that we made upstate are really about more of a
So, obviously very surreal to see balloons emerging out of the lake. But it's really, sort of, getting into a, sort of, mindset of this young boy
or, you know. A lot of psychological things that I think are affiliated with being black and in public space.
AMANPOUR: And the small one here, you have a series in this exhibition which is about mud and the whole process, washing, wallowing.
AMANPOUR: What is that?
MITCHELL: I've photographed a lot of people in water overtime. There was a cover of i-D Magazine that I photographed of three young boys in Lagos with
a wave of water about to hit them. So, it's always been a symbol I played with but it brings forward to my mind, at least, a lot of connotations
including baptisms, spirituality. The relationship of water coming across the Atlantic Ocean, right, and sort of from Africa to America and the
transatlantic slave trade. We've always had a deep relationship to water.
AMANPOUR: And this is magnificent.
MITCHELL: "Glint of Possibility". A glint being a reflect -- a refraction of light, right, or sort of a mirroring or sort of reflection.
MITCHELL: And possibility being this idea of hope or optimism in the picture. So -- yes, this is sort of a calling forth of artworks like
narcissist and all these things we have seen before, looking at reflection but a new context. And the symbol of the tire swing and motifs around,
again, boyhood, childhood, growing up into adolescence are all present in the work.
AMANPOUR: How difficult was it? I mean, is that a difficult position to hold?
MITCHELL: Incredibly, yes.
MITCHELL: Yes, yes. And we were struggling to really get the exact, you know, moment that I had in my head. And that's the fun part of making the
pictures, it's a collaboration with the people who are in them.
AMANPOUR: OK. Tyler, this is intense. What is going on here? He's got a beagle on his nose. Is he scared? Is he tranced?
MITCHELL: The title of the work is "Simply Fragile". It's a very direct reference to an old Gordon Parks photograph that he made in Kansas of a
young boy with, sort of, a June bug on his nose and he's pulling it with a string.
I was interested in referencing that photograph directly. But also, the -- sort of, cross-eyed look at the beetle. The face-off with directly nature
and the sort of contemplative moment between being relaxed and being a little bit intimidated. I think the work also deals with, like, a mixture
of this seduction and beauty of nature, but also threatening elements of it, so.
AMANPOUR: Gordon Parks is a big, sort of, inspiration for you.
AMANPOUR: He did a lot of Muhammad Ali, but a lot of civil rights.
AMANPOUR: And a lot of --
MITCHELL: A lot of documenting black life.
MITCHELL: For Life Magazine, for Harper's Bazaar, for Vogue, Family Life, and all over, really. Yes, he's a huge reference for this work but really
the whole show, yes.
AMANPOUR: Well, Tyler Mitchell, thank you very much.
MITCHELL: Thank you so much, Christiane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Mitchell's work is also featured at the London Frieze Art Fair right now.
Turning to the U.S. Supreme Court now as a controversial term is already underway with religious rights, affirmed of action, and election laws on
the docket. The six-three conservative super majority is expected to once again overturn precedent. Harvard law professor Noah Feldman joins Walter
Isaacson to discuss this consequential term.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Noah Feldman, welcome back to the show.
NOAH FELDMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Thank you for having me, Walter.
ISAACSON: So, this past term, the Supreme Court was very activist. We saw some precedented chattering decisions, like overturning Roe v. Wade and
others. Now, there are a lot of other things on the docket this coming term which began this month. Let's start with affirmative action. You're sitting
up there at Harvard. Both Harvard and the University of North Carolina have cases on affirmative action. Explain what is at stake here.
FELDMAN: What's at stake here is a setup that we've had since 1978 in which higher education is allowed to consider race of one factor in a holistic
admission's decision. So, they can't put a number on race, they can't assign new points if you're one color or a different color but they can
consider that as a part of their overall objective of creating a diverse educational classroom.
And that's sort of the idea that stands behind all of our cultures embrace of the idea of diversity in a whole range of areas. That's in front of the
Supreme Court with a real chance that it will be struck down by the court. And what that would look like would be the Supreme Court will be saying
that it's no longer constitutional for the universities to use diversity as their objective in trying to create a class that they've admitted. That
would mean that race could not be any factor in any way in the admission's decision. And In real world terms, that will probably reduce the total
number of black and Latino students on campus.
ISAACSON: OK. But I don't get it. Suppose Harvard decides its educational mission or North Carolina does. It's not simply to take people gotten great
board scores and make them a little bit smarter. But to train leaders for the future. And they say, that's why we set our mission. Why would the
government say, no, you can't pursue the mission that way.
FELDMAN: The underlying principle at stake here is the equal protection clause of a constitution and federal anti-discrimination law. And until
now, the Supreme Court has interpreted both of those to say that exactly what you described is permissible for the universities. They can say, we're
here to train leaders who want a broad and diverse educational experience in the classroom. If you're going to be a leader, you have to attract (ph)
people of lots (ph) and different backgrounds. You learn better with people with logics (ph) perspectives to offer.
But there has been a persistent argument on the other side that the Supreme Court is very sympathetic to right now. Which says, look, diversity and
educational purposes might be fine if you're looking for class diversity. If you're looking for income diversity. But if you're taking race into
account at all, that's a violation of the basic principle of equal protection. And that's the viewpoint that has not prevailed until now,
although, it's come close a few times over the last 40 years. But which very much looks like a majority of the Supreme Court is likely to embrace
ISAACSON: Is that because race is a protected class? And if so, isn't religion, gender, and other things protected and yet some universities are
able to give preferences based on background, religion, whatever.
FELDMAN: Well, you're absolutely right that it's because the equal protection clause protects race. And as you say it also protects against
other kinds of differential treatment. Including national origin, including sex, including religion.
When you talk about religion, what you are talking about is a university that's organized for the purposes of religion. And if the university says,
we're a catholic school, or we're a Jewish school, then it has the capacity to say, we're going to give our preference to folks with those backgrounds.
So, that is the, kind of, exception to the general principle of anti- discrimination which we see a lot in the context of religious liberty and that's another major case the court's is going to consider this term.
ISAACSON: When we've had from the Vatican cases in the past, stretching all the way back to the Bakke case. And then the ones that's now really up for
-- whether or not it's not going to be overturned, I think is a Michigan case, right? There's always somebody who's at swing vote in the middle.
The Lewis Powell, the Sandra Day O'Connor who says, wait a minute, this is very complicated but there's some middle ground here? Does the court have
FELDMAN: I would love it to the case and the answer is yes. Because just as you say, Justice Powell in 1978 and then Justice O'Connor in the early
2000s. And then even Justice Kennedy, who in the past, had voted himself against the affirmative action. Flipped his vote towards the end of his
career to be the deciding vote.
Right now, the two potential swing voters would be Chief Justice Roberts, who's extremely conservative but he's less conservative than any other
hard-core conservatives. But Chief Justice Roberts has written in previous cases involving the use of race in admissions in high-schools that more or
less, "The only way to get beyond racial discrimination is to get beyond racial discrimination." And so, that strongly telegraphs that he is against
allowing affirmative action here.
And then the potential, maybe, sometimes swing voter would be Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Right now, I don't think it is very probable that he would
deviate from the conservative majority and be the decisive vote to preserve affirmative action.
ISAACSON: You said that this would definitely affect admissions in universities, that may fill black students in universities. But I think I
heard you say it would have ramifications across all of society. Explain that to me.
FELDMAN: The reason it is likely to affect everybody is that our ideal of diversity, which we now talk about when we are hiring in private
employments, which we talk about when we're putting together the board of directors on our local library or the local pre-school. All of those
situations and circumstances are part of a belief that goes back to that 1978 Supreme Court case, the Bakke case which embraced the idea of
diversity. And over the last 40 plus years, we have gradually, as a society, taken that idea on board.
Now, if the Supreme Court holds that in higher education admissions, racial diversity is an unconstitutional objective, that's going to undermine our
collective commitment to the idea of diversity. It is not going to happen overnight. We believe in diversity, or many of us do, and we're likely to
insist on it and try to push back and try to find proxies. For example, class diversity or income diversity.
But overtime, we got this ideal of diversity because the Supreme Court said it was allowed. And if the Supreme Court says it is not allowed in a whole
range of context, that's in my view, very likely to undermine our societal commitment to that value. We may have to come up with some other
terminology or some other set of values that helps us get where we want to go as a society.
ISAACSON: You know the Brown versus Board of Education decision in '54 and many other, including the Civil Rights Act, they talked about being color
blind. They talked about a society in which race is didn't count. Isn't that something, perhaps, as Senator Day O'Connor said, we do have to move
to that at some point?
FELDMAN: You know, Walter, you're really characteristically putting your finger on the exact point of disagreement here. Supporters affirmative
action take the view that in light of our long history of slavery and then of segregation afterwards which ended in a lot of our lifetimes that it's
still required to engage in some consideration of race in order to achieve a society that's generally color blind.
Others think, and as you say, have fought for a long time that now is the time to go completely color blind. And to trust that overtime the
consequences will lead to greater equality. That's an empirical question of what will work. And it's also a normative question, a values question of
how long and to what extent we should account of race in order to achieve a society that is generally racially equal.
ISAACSON: One of the other cases coming out that I just find very interesting involves pork producers. In pork producers in the Midwest and
California has passed a law saying that if you're going to sell a pork in California that it had to be humane treatment of the sows. In other words,
the pigs had to be treated humanely.
I can pull out my constitution again and talk about the interstate Commerce Clause and the dormant interstate Commerce Clause which says that states
cannot tell other states how to manufacture things. Tell me how that plays out in a case like pork producers from the Midwest fighting laws in
FELDMAN: What is going on here is that the framers (ph) of the constitution were doing something really fundamental to the United States. They were
trying to turn us from 13 separate States that have, kind of, agreed to hang out together some of the time into a unified country. And creating a
unified trade system was crucial to that.
And so, one of the key elements about it was saying that individual states can't impose tariffs or other kinds of taxes on out of state products. And
the Supreme Court has gone on to interpret that principle to say that the state can't disadvantage products from another place. But of course, that
still leaves the possibility that states can issue regulations that affect other states provided they treat their own domestic state producers the
ISAACSON: So, what is the question here? I mean, why --
FELDMAN: Well, the pork producers are saying, to the contrary, that effectively California is trying to do is force producers all over the
country to follow their rules for how the livestock should be raised. And that they're doing that through effectively what the producers call the
trick of saying, well, we do this domestically. Because after all, the vast majority of the production of pork product in the United States does not
take place in California. It takes place in other states.
So, they're saying it's more, like, a barrier on trade and California is saying, no, this is just how we think about it in our state. And we don't
want you to follow the same rules that we follow in state.
ISAACSON: Well, is it partly because it's a moralistic sort of thing and that could lead down a path in which maybe the legislature of Iowa says,
we're not going to allow any fruit that's been picked by illegal immigrants. And sort of that targets California, perhaps. Is that the
FELDMAN: You know, the courts haven't in modern era framed the distinction -- as a distinction about whether the purpose is moral or whether the
purpose is necessarily the protection of the consumer ultimately. Because historically when the court tried to do that, and they tried to do that not
in the context of state regulations but of federal regulations, long about a century ago. It turned out to be really hard to draw that firm line. So,
although it's conceivable that the court might think that nowadays they could draw that line firmly, I would say that on the whole, that
distinction has been hard sustain in our constitutional history.
The other thing that I would add, Walter, about the Dormant Commerce Clause that you mentioned is, you know, the constitution that -- the copy of the
constitution that you waved, it has the interstate Commerce Clause that says Congress has the power to regulate commerce between the states. But it
doesn't say anything about the Dormant Commerce Clause. That is why it is called dormant. Dormant means it's sleeping because it doesn't actually
appear in that constitution.
So, critics of the Dormant Commerce Clause, jurisprudence, people like Justice Clarence Thomas, waved their copy the constitution and they say,
there is no Dormant Commerce Clause. And so, maybe we shouldn't pay attention to that doctrine at all. But that has not been the view that's
commanded the majority the court so far.
ISAACSON: There are religious cases coming up. And this court seems much more sensitive than previous courts to people who made claims that their
religious rights have been violated somehow. There's a case that involves both religious rights and now it's been focused too on free speech rights
which is web designer who says I don't want to do a web design for same-sex marriage. It sort of harkens back to that Colorado baker who didn't want to
bake a cake for a same-sex marriage. Parse that out for me. Is that a test of religion? A test of free speech? And what's the claim here?
FELDMAN: It's all of the above. And as you mentioned, a few years ago when the Supreme Court took on this issue or were supposed take on this issue in
the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, about the cake baker. The court ultimately docked the issue. They didn't want to reach a final decision and they found
a way to dispose of the case on other grounds.
This time all indications are they really want to take the issue on directly. And here's the question, and it's a deep one, we know that you
should have a principle of free speech. And that includes not being forced to say something you don't want to say. And if you're producing art and you
may think of the website that you produce for your clients as a form of art, or as a form of expression, then in principle, you ought to have free
On the other hand, States have anti-discrimination laws that say you can't discriminate if you're in business and you can't say well, you showed up at
my door. I don't want to serve you because you're gay or I don't want to serve you because you're black. Those are core civil rights commitments.
The question is, do you get an exemption from that general principle of nondiscrimination if you say, I have a strong conscientious objection
either based on my religion or potentially based on my free speech rights?
ISAACSON: So, how far could that go? Could a baker or a website designer say, I'm Christian and -- practicing Christian. I don't want to do cakes
for Jews or I don't want to do cakes for blacks?
FELDMAN: That's exactly the argument that's being made by those who believe that anti-discrimination law should Trump in this case. They say that all
of our progress on civil rights could really be reversed if people could just assert that based on their own religious beliefs or their own sense of
self-expression, their businesses are no longer going to serve people of different races or of a different religion.
On the other hand, are those who say that the principle of free speech and free association has been interpreted in the past to go far enough to
allow, say, private clubs to discriminate against women if they show choose, or to allow the boy scouts, back in the day, to discriminate
against gay scoutmasters. And so, therefore, that the free speech principle, the free association principle, and maybe the freedom of
religion principle should win the fight. And this is very, very hard set of issues.
One potential way that a liberal approach would try to resolve it would be by saying, it depends on whether you're open for business and you're trying
to make money. Either way, I think of this is, if you're serving mammon (ph), you shouldn't be able to also simultaneously say that you're serving
the Lord God. And in that view, if you're a business, you should be subject to the anti-discrimination laws. I mean --
ISAACSON: Wait, wait. Why? What is the principal there? Why can't I serve both God and mammon (ph)?
FELDMAN: Well, that's what the response is. My view is that religious exercise -- free religious exercise under the constitution was designed to
facilitate exactly what it says, religious exercise, which is faith and worship, and the expression of ones core religious beliefs. And that's
rather different from saying that, I'm going to do business, but I'm not going to do business with certain people because my religion prohibits me
from doing it.
Certainly, in the case of a large corporation, I think that argument is pretty powerful. But the counterargument, as you've just mentioned, Walter,
is that -- let's say you're a sole proprietor. And it's just you doing the business. And you don't think you can differentiate your religious beliefs
from what you get up in the morning and every day. And therefore, you ought to be entitled to an exemption.
And I think the hard part is if you reach that conclusion, you open the possibility of larger business and companies actively discriminating
against gay people, against black people, and using religion as their explanation and justification for that discrimination. And that would set
us way back along our civil rights path.
ISAACSON: Elena Kagan, this summer says that the Supreme Court has been damaging its legitimacy. Is she right?
FELDMAN: In my view, yes. I think when the Supreme Court decides a case like the Dobbs case where it overturned Roe V. Wade, it's basically saying
to the public, our legitimate reason for doing what we do all the time has been expanding peoples' rights. Sometimes conservative rights, like gun
rights or corporate rights. Sometimes liberal rights, like, gay rights. And nevertheless, we have given something to everybody. So, we're legitimate.
In the modern era, the Supreme Court has never before fundamentally reversed a set of rights that human beings have had for more than a
century, which was the case for the right to choose. And when it does that, it undermines its claim to be the right body to decide crucial issues for
our country. And so, to that extent, I think the court did to a very meaningful degree undermine its legitimacy. And it remains to be seen over
the next several years whether the court can, sort of, get that back.
I think when the Supreme Court is seen serving primarily the interests of one ideological point view, it makes the public less trusting of it. When
the court goes back and forth and shows that it's got people of different viewpoints and reaches different kinds of conclusions and different kinds
of cases, lots of people dislike individual decisions. But I think the public accepts that overall, the court is doing the best that it can to
interpret the constitution according to its own likes.
ISAACSON: Professor Noah Feldman, thank you for joining us.
FELDMAN: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And next, to Ukraine. Russia continues its deadly strikes on civilian targets there. And many believe it to be the hallmark of Putin's
new commander in the country. Brian Todd reports on the fearsome reputation that he's earned in past conflicts.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The cold-eyed stare of Russia's new overall commander in Ukraine, General Sergey Surovikin, reflective of a
reputation for brutality.
ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY AND FORMER U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: This guy is not a nice guy. And
according to open sources in Russian language, he is a proponent of these types of ruthless attacks on civilian centers.
TODD (voiceover): General Surovikin who has also commanded Russia's air force also led Russian forces in Syria. For that campaign, he was awarded
the title of Hero of the Russian Federation. But his units were also accused of a vicious offensive on the city of Aleppo where barrel bombs and
other munitions targeted densely populated neighborhoods causing widespread civilian casualties. Syrian and Russian officials have repeatedly denied
EVELYN FARKAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE MCCAIN INSTITUTE AND FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: In Syria, they were able to prevail
by essentially bombing civilian housing units, by bombing hospitals, by bombing the White Helmets which was a humanitarian organization -- is a
humanitarian organization in Syria.
TODD (voiceover): Surovikin's pension for cruelty was also seen in 2004 when, according to Russian media accounts and at least two think tanks, he
berated a subordinate so severely that the subordinate fatally shot himself.
A book by the think tank, the Jamestown Foundation says during the unsuccessful coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991,
soldiers under Surovikin's command killed three protesters. Leaving to Surovikin spending at least six months in prison. The Jamestown Foundation
says Surovikin also once received a suspended sentence for illegal arms dealing, a conviction that was later overturned.
FARKAS: That does tend to square with what my understanding is of the Russian military. The fact that they performed so poorly on the
battlefield, that does tell me that there's a high degree likely of corruption in the Russian military.
TODD (voiceover): Analysts don't expect Vladimir Putin's appointment of General Surovikin to turn the tide of the war significantly. Other than
possibly prompting a more relentless wave of attacks on civilian areas. But one expert believes it does reflect the pressure Putin's been under
KENDALL-TAYLOR: His appointment, to me, reflects the ascendancy of a lot of hard mind voices inside Russia. Calling on Putin to make changes and to
bring in someone who would be willing to execute these ruthless attacks. These are people inside Russia who believe that the key to winning this was
is by terrorizing the Ukrainian public to get them to back down.
TODD (on camera): Analyst Andrea Kendall-Taylor says she doesn't think this appointment will change the dynamic of Vladimir Putin micromanaging the
Ukraine war, making many of the tactical decisions himself. A state of command which analysts believe likely will not reverse Russia's setbacks on
the battlefield. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: A profile from Brian Todd.
And finally tonight, one of the most versatile stars to grace the big scene, the stage, musicals, and television, has died. Her greatest
popularity came from the small screen, portraying the mystery writer and amateur sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, in "Murder, She Wrote". Of course, we're
talking about Angela Lansbury. Just five days before her 97th birthday, the dame passed on peacefully in her sleep. During her 75-year career in
showbusiness, she won five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes, and an honorary Oscar.
I spoke with her here in London back in 2014 when she returned to the west end after 40 years in Noel Coward's, "Blithe Spirit".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Angela Lansbury, welcome to our program.
ANGELA LANSBURY, ACTRESS: Thank you. Thank you very, very much.
AMANPOUR: It's a great pleasure. "Blithe Spirit" is fabulous. You have so much stamina. Where does it come from?
LANSBURY: That's the $24,000 question, truthfully. I don't know.
AMANPOUR: But when you see these amazing reviews, how old are you?
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's incredible. I saw you on that stage. You stole the entire show.
LANSBURY: Oh, I hope not. It is lovely, isn't it? It's lovely. I'm thrilled to death. No, it's marvelous to get that kind of recognition in Britain
after all these -- all these years, you know.
AMANPOUR: You have played an enormous number of roles. You've had many awards, many nominations. Plus, we have an amazing clip from "The
Manchurian Candidate," where you played a baddie to perfection. We're just going to play that.
LANSBURY: I want the nominee to be dead about two minutes after he begins his acceptance speech, depending on his reading time under pressure.
AMANPOUR: How did you become, from a young girl to Angela Lansbury the film star?
LANSBURY: Well, because as we say in the business, the movie parlance, the break, you know, where was I? I was working in a department store,
actually, getting $18 a week, you know. And kind of making change as a cashier and all kinds of little menial jobs of that sort. And I had been a
drama student in Britain before I ever went to America. So, I was prepared and I was ready to be an actress. And I wanted to get a part, either in a
play or a movie or anything, just to exercise my talent.
AMANPOUR: What was it like playing alongside all these major beauties --
AMANPOUR: -- but never being the heroine or never being that character?
LANSBURY: Oh, well, it took its toll on me, finally. And I finally decided to ask for my release from MGM, which I got. And I was very happy to leave.
And they just didn't know what to do with me. They really didn't have the roles for me, which I could play strong women.
AMANPOUR: How did you go then from that frustration to, you know, "Murder, She Wrote," and all the other films and plays that have made you so
LANSBURY: Well, I'll tell you, really, you can compartmentalize my career into three parts, MGM, theater, musical theater. Huge. I had a huge career
in musical theater. So, I decided with my husband that this was the time, if I was ever going to do television, I must do it now. So, I did it in
1984. And --
AMANPOUR: That was the famous "Murder, She Wrote."
LANSBURY: -- that was the famous "Murder, She Wrote."
AMANPOUR: Jessica Fletcher.
LANSBURY: Which today it's still watched worldwide. And I could tell you that at least two-thirds of the audience during the previews of this show
were people who watched "Murder, She Wrote."
AMANPOUR: How difficult was it to end the role of Jessica Fletcher with which you had become so associated; some people even think you are Jessica
LANSBURY: Right. It wasn't difficult for me at all. I was actually up to here with it, not up to there with Jessica, I was up to there with the
continuous -- the regimen that was involved. The hours were dreadful, you know, and you have no life at all.
AMANPOUR: This was 12 years.
LANSBURY: No life for 12 years. Yes. So, the only life I had was with my husband, which was wonderful. We did it together.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned your husband.
AMANPOUR: And obviously, I wanted to talk to you about it, because it was clearly the most amazing relationship from everything I read, 53 years you
were together. And he died in 2003.
AMANPOUR: What was the secret, apart from this partnership, which must have been fundamental, to your longevity together?
LANSBURY: I've always said it was mainly our mutual interest in what we were doing together. He had a successful business life. There was no
question about that. He was a huge agent at William Morris and also had a production at MGM. So, he had a -- he had had a very fulfilling life and
was very highly thought of in the business.
The fact that he was prepared to give it up for the purpose of helping me to have this career in television was a decision that he -- it was a very
carefully arrived at decision, which we felt -- if we could do this together, it would make all of this getting up early, doing -- you know,
making our whole life this project, worthwhile.
And, you know, it's a funny thing, you don't make a great deal of money in the theater. And most actors will give their eye teeth to get a good
television series. And so, for me, he recognized that it was -- as a business move, it was a very good one. He never felt that he was being
shafted by being the husband of a, you know --
AMANPOUR: Never stop.
LANSBURY: -- he just never thought of that of a star. No.
AMANPOUR: And you, obviously, for understandable reasons, you sank into a deep funk, depression, after he died.
AMANPOUR: You said I nearly went off the rails. Tell me what was that like and how did you get out of that? What brought you out of that?
LANSBURY: It's hard to say. But I knew -- it -- I just knew I had to wait and the moment would arrive when I would be able to come up to the surface
again and look around and see how I was going to mend this awful kind of rift inside myself. So, I waited. I didn't make any moves myself. And --
AMANPOUR: I'm sorry.
LANSBURY: I thought, what would he want me to do? And I knew that he would have wanted me to continue. I just knew that. There was never any question
in my mind. I just kind of had to wait before I was able to do it. So, it came as a bolt out of the blue, actually. My darling friend --
AMANPOUR: Emma Thompson.
LANSBURY: -- Emma, suddenly, out of the blue -- and I hadn't -- I actually didn't know her at that point, but she became a good friend and she invited
me to come and play with her in "Nanny McPhee."
You're not well, Cedric. The sooner you find a good wife the better. Speak up, girl. Oh, what an unfortunate face. All those bristles. It might be
very hard to get her decently betrothed. Do you not have a more comely girl?
So, it was a very rare and a rather difficult job for me. But I did -- I did it and it was fine. And I loved all the makeup and the nonsense that I
was covered with. And it was -- and I -- it got me out of myself and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful.
AMANPOUR: And here you are, obviously, many years later.
AMANPOUR: But here you are still doing it.
AMANPOUR: Do you ever think of retiring?
LANSBURY: I don't, really, no. I don't. Truthfully, I don't.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much for joining me.
LANSBURY: Oh, it's been such fun.
AMANPOUR: It's a pleasure.
LANSBURY: I love talking to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And she was so open and honest. And indeed, she did work right to the very end. She has a role in the film "Glass Onion: A Knives Out
Mystery," which is out this year. She's one of the greatest and she would truly be missed.
That's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on our podcast. Thank you for watching and goodbye