Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths; Interview with Wife of Jailed Opposition Figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Evgenia Kara-Murza; Interview with "Reading the Constitution" Author and U.S. Supreme Court Former Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: Whether it's intentional or not, it's a crime.


AMANPOUR: Israel's airstrikes kill foreign aid workers trying to feed starving people in Gaza. The U.N. relief chief Martin Griffiths tells me

why we should all be outraged, in his first interview since announcing he's stepping down.

Then, horror at Al-Shifa. A look at the carnage after Israel's 14 day do- over raid of Gaza's largest hospital.

And --


EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF JAILED OPPOSITION FIGURE VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: I am extremely worried about his life and I've been living with this fear

for many years already.


AMANPOUR: -- Putin's prisoners. I speak to the wife of jailed Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza about taking on the Kremlin.

Plus --



going to rule overrule every preceding case?


AMANPOUR: -- "Reading the Constitution," retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer sends a stark message to America's top judges in his

conversation with Walter Isaacson.

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

Outrage overseas as foreign aid workers feeding starving people are the latest to be killed in Israel's war on Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu

called the deadly airstrike "a tragic accident," which "happens in war" and vowed to investigate.

The seven who lost their lives work for World Central Kitchen. It's the organization founded by the famed chef Jose Andres. Now, they came from all

over the world to help, Poland, Canada, Australia, the U.K., one was Palestinian.

As U.N. humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths has been a key figure in pressing for vital aid to Gaza. But after three years in the role

advocating and acting all over the world's conflict zones, he is stepping down in June due to ill health. His career with the U.N., the British

diplomatic service, and many Humanitarian organizations has spanned decades, from the Balkans to Syria to Yemen and all places in between. He

joined me from Geneva for the first interview since announcing he's leaving his U.N. role.

AMANPOUR: Martin Griffiths, welcome back to our program.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: Thank you very much, Christiane, for having me back.

AMANPOUR: Martin, the news just goes from worse to even worse every day regarding Gaza. And now, obviously, the shock of internationals being

killed in Gaza, aid workers on top of the 32,000-plus Palestinians who've been killed. Now, the prime minister of Israel says it's unintended and

there'll be an investigation. Things happen, basically, he says, in war. What is yours in the U.N. reaction?

GRIFFITHS: Well, I think it's appalling tragedy, is proof as if we needed it, of the incredible dangers that exist involved in delivery of

humanitarian aid inside Gaza, a point that we've been making for months. And we're now after six months of this conflict. And the lawlessness

increases, but this was clearly an attack on this convoy these three vehicles of World Central Kitchen. And it's a terrible tragedy.

This is food that had just come in by sea. They were organizing the distribution. And they were all killed, seven of them. Puts us over 200, I

think, Christiane, of aid workers killed in Gaza. It's a terrible statistic. It's awful. And we're very hugely sorry to their families.

AMANPOUR: So, to the prime minister's point, Netanyahu's declaration, and they very, very, very rarely admit to anything unintentional, but this was,

you know, huge and involved internationals as well as Palestinians, that they would be investigating it.

GRIFFITHS: I mean, I hope it was unintentional.

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going to ask you. Because frankly, you know, whether it's unintentional or not, does it take the right duty of care? Three

Israeli hostages were killed, frankly, point blank, trying to surrender. You know, Palestinian journalists, Lebanese journalists, and many people

say that duty of care is not taken.

What is the United Nations' view after six months of this?


GRIFFITHS: Well, that's -- I mean, let's hope there's an investigation. Let's hope we get the results of the investigation for this time. But

clearly, while we have had a lot of promises from Israel, for example, on land access and bore access, and quicker and more direct and most security,

we are not seeing it. And there are those 200,000 or so people in the north in famine or at risk of famine, but certainly, we've yet to see the horror

of their future.

So, yes, it's a duty of care problem, and it is also a legal problem. Attacks on humanitarian institutions and workers is prohibited under

international law. So, whether it is intentional or not, it's a crime, and we must be very conscious of this. As I say, it's been happening, as you

know, Christiane, to our colleagues from the outset. So, this is a terrible day.

And a huge credit to World Central Kitchen for what they've done for the people of Gaza. And I hope they will be able to resume operations. But it

is true, around the region, we see people dying through the heedless decisions of those who wage war.

AMANPOUR: Martin, what about Al-Shifa Hospital? Here's a location, the biggest hospital in Gaza, that the Israelis basically told everybody was an

underground Hamas command center or even an in-ground, on- ground Hamas command center. They took it once, they then left, then they went back. And

now, there are many, many people dead there.

The WHO describes it as ripping the heart out of the health system. Israel says they've killed 200 what they call fighters and captured 500 more.

Again what is the U.N. seeing there and how many times does a hospital get raided?

GRIFFITHS: Well, across the world, by the way, Christiane, as you know, we're seeing that happening in so many countries. Health institutions, as

my colleague Tedros keeps pointing out, it's not as if we aren't on notice of this seem to be somehow, for some extraordinary reason to be a special


And Al-Shifa Hospital was, as WHO has described, the kind of health institution which people have become used to relying on when they need

health care, now no longer. I don't know the truth or otherwise about whether there were Hamas militants there, fine.

But the fact of matter is, this is a hospital, it's protected under international law, and importantly, it's essential for the welfare of the

people of Gaza who are suffering so much. I think we're down to 10 hospitals, partially operating in Gaza, out of total originally of 36.

We are seeing the health center in Haiti brought to a standstill by the fighting in Port-au-Prince. We have seen health institutions targeted in

Ukraine and also in Sudan. There's a nightmarish familiarity about this story, and it is one that goes to the heart of the safety and welfare of

people caught up in a crisis not of their making.

AMANPOUR: Martin, can I just ask you let's leave Al-Shifa for a moment, but the other countries that you've spoken about. Is there a discernible

reason why people or any armed group, whether it's the state or not, would attack hospitals? Is there some kind of advantage that they think they get

from that?

GRIFFITHS: I've tried to find an answer to this question, Christiane, even today, because I was trying to find out why, words, is the Haiti health

sector so much a principal target. And I understand it's partly because people went there to raid it to get supplies, medical supplies because, of

course, in battles, you get hurt and you need medical care. But none of this comes close to justifying the idea of shutting down hospitals and

attacking them.

And that Red Cross, that for all our lives we have associated with protection and safety, has become a target. And as humanitarian aid

workers, another breach of law. So, in the last, you know, two or three days in Gaza, we have seen the activity of having the worst targets, aid

workers, hospitals, and those trucks, which are affected by lawlessness.

So, the world is a very, very angry place where the norms that we grew up with do not obtain.

AMANPOUR: Martin, I want to ask you this. One of the latest, you know, can you believe is out of Israel, is that they want to ban and make it unlawful

for a news operation, Al Jazeera, to keep operating in Gaza.


Now, as you know, they also, this democratic state, bans all journalists that they don't take in themselves. So, we can't get in. We want to get in.

The world is dependent on people like Al Jazeera and the brave Palestinians who are, you know, wielding their own iPhones or their own cameras to tell

us what's going on.

What is the U.N. view on any nation, but most especially a democratic nation, outlawing the press? Is there precedent for that? And does it have

a wider chilling effect?

GRIFFITHS: Well, our spokesman in New York, Christiane, has spoken to this very much to your question. And of course, expressing grave concern about

the possibility of this law being applied to Al Jazeera and others.

But in addition, particularly, as you say in Gaza, for example, where we have claims and counterclaims as to who's delivering aid and who isn't, the

U.N. is often accused by Israel of not delivering aid. And our response in part is, allow the journalists in, allow the press in to see the reality.

What the media does, what you do, is providing a window, a witness, for people across the world so that we can all make these proper judgments.

And the freedom of the press is integral to that. It's a human right, it's an entitlement, it's protected by law. And to ban media is no help to the

people of Gaza, as it is no help in other places where that's happened. So of course, we deprecate it. But it's particularly important in crises.

Getting media, for example, Christiane into Sudan, as you know, has not been easy. It's very difficult to get the visas for journalists to go

there. But you shine a light, as we try to do, but you shine a light on suffering, which I am absolutely convinced, from my three years now in this

particular job, is an essential component of pushing back this pattern of war decisions by heedless men.

AMANPOUR: And what about your own organization, your U.N. organization, UNRWA, you know, the Refugee and Work Administration, which has been the,

for years now, decades now, has been the conduit to provide everything including humanitarian aid particularly in places like Gaza?

Now, "The Guardian" says Israel has launched a proposal to the U.N. to dismantle it. Is that going to happen? I know their investigations

underway, not just about Israel's charges against alleged Hamas cooperation or, you know, working for Hamas. But in terms of can UNRWA even continue?

Can a U.N. distribution mechanism continue?

GRIFFITHS: Well, look, I'm glad you asked me this question because that story that the U.N. has received a formal -- a proposal for the dismantling

of UNRWA is simply not true. And I think I'm in a position to know if that were to be true or not.

Secondly, perhaps more importantly, UNRWA's mandate comes from the General Assembly. And it is only the General Assembly that has the right to amend

its mandate. We believe passionately, and I have spoken out yesterday on this, UNRWA is the backbone, as we have often said, of the humanitarian

operation. We need it in Gaza. It is essential to the welfare of the people of Gaza and elsewhere, where Palestinian people reside.

But in fact, the idea that it could be simply dismantled at the request of one member state is simply not paying attention to the origin of its

mandate. And I think, frankly, the courage of its staff and its leadership. So, it's a fool's game to think that UNRWA can be dismantled. UNRWA is

essential for us, more so now perhaps than ever in its history. And we must protect it, preserve it, defend it, fund it, and allow the people of

Palestine to have from UNRWA what they have always needed. And that is a way of life and a future.

AMANPOUR: Now, I want to ask you about yourself. You announced just a few days ago that you're stepping down from this position as head of the U.N.'s

humanitarian organizations because of long COVID. You've been doing this incredibly difficult job for about three years now.

Tell me what that means. How does long COVID affect you? Why do you need to step down? How are you feeling?

GRIFFITHS: Well, long COVID is a condition, as you know, Christiane, which is new and, you know, a novelty and newly being studied. In my case, quite

random, its effects change from time to time. But the reason why I decided with the secretary general's consent to step aside in OCHA is because

OCHA's job, that particular job, Christiane, of emergency relief coordinator, head of OCHA, requires the incumbent, but I think I have been

doing this, to go to the front lines of crises around the world, to go everywhere, to have the awful privilege of seeing the desolation of

suffering and to report on it and to react to it. And I didn't feel I could be confident of regaining the physical stamina to be able to do that

particular job.


It doesn't mean to say that I'm done yet with doing what I can for this life's work of trying to push back on those who see war as the first

instrument. So, that was the reason I decided that for OCHA's benefit, it was right for me to step aside so a new person could be recruited.

AMANPOUR: Well, you will be missed because you are indefatigable. But does that mean you're resigning from -- retiring? You're retiring from the U.N.

or just from OCHA?

GRIFFITHS: Well, I mean, I'm resigning from the U.N. because my post is the OCHA post.


GRIFFITHS: And I'll be looking for other things.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you this then and I wonder whether other things, you know, will be in the realm that you've been doing for your

whole professional life.

You started in 1972, you were a UNICEF volunteer in Laos. Tell me what motivated you and what keeps motivating you through all those decades where

presumably you hope to bring peace and human healing and all we've seen is war and human suffering?

GRIFFITHS: What I've realized, Christiane, of late, and I'm a slow learner clearly, because it has been 50 years of exposure to conflict and wars in

all parts of the world. It has been 50 years when I've had that privilege of seeing terrible atrocities, but also -- and this is the point that I

want to make, also of that extraordinary humanitarian courage, which has not changed.

So, while we have more wars, more recklessness, more heedlessness from leaders who choose war, we do not see any change, any diminution, in the

humanity that binds communities across the world. And I have seen this in Gaza, I have seen it in Sudan, you will remember the extraordinary courage

of the emergency rooms, civil society in Khartoum, who are still there, even in this fighting, delivering aid to their neighborhoods.

I've seen it in Burkina Faso, where mothers go across lines of al-Qaeda fighters to get leaves and salt for their children to eat, because food is

not available. So, the humanity which binds us has not diminished, even while the tendency to war has increased.

So, my life's work, I think, as I see it now, is to work on the side of humanity to push back on the decisions of war. And that is something that I

hope I can continue to contribute to on the basis of this experience.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you one final question, because this week, in the next few days, will be the horrible 30th anniversary of the Rwanda

genocide. And you remember, U.N. peacekeepers were withdrawn, a massive genocide was allowed to happen, no intervention, and the U.N. was roundly

criticized along with other constituent nations.

In fact, you know, when he became secretary general, Kofi Annan, went along with President Clinton and they apologized. They apologized for not

intervening to stop a genocide. And I just wonder, what are your thoughts on this approaching grim anniversary?

GRIFFITHS: You know, speaking out, and that includes apologies, is of the highest order and the greatest importance, and is of course still rather

rare. It is as if an apology is a sign of weakness, it is not. It is because one knows one should have done something differently. And I knew

Annan, as you did, very well. And he, of course, has been a mentor to all of us.

It is a terrible anniversary. And it's a terrible anniversary. Why? Because we see it happening still across the world. We see it happening, indeed,

not far from those borders when you look at Sudan and Darfur.

So, the world has become a more polarized and divisive place since Kofi Annan's time. And I know what he would be saying to us today is to remember

that apology, be guided by that failure, and don't repeat it. Don't allow wrong to triumph over right.

AMANPOUR: Martin Griffiths, for the time being, thank you very much indeed.

GRIFFITHS: Thank you very much indeed, Christiane. Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: And more now on what remains of Gaza's largest hospital, Al- Shifa.


Its director says the medical complex is now permanently out of service after Israel's two-week raid. Thousands of Palestinians had been sheltering

there. Nada Bashir brings us inside what's been left behind. And a warning, of course, this is a very disturbing story.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice over): As dawn breaks over Gaza's Al- Shifa Hospital, the full extent of this latest nightmare becomes clear. Building scorched, some still ablaze, others riddled with bullet holes or

completely destroyed.

Below, bodies lay crushed and decomposing. Under torchlight, limbs are found tangled amid earth and rubble. This is the aftermath of the Israeli

military's 14-day siege on what once was Gaza's largest hospital.

Please, God, enough, this woman screams.

How much more can Gaza's civilians be forced to endure? Medical crews tell CNN they arrived on Monday morning to find hundreds of bodies scattered

around the complex. Others have been left wounded, starving and desperate for help.

We spent days without food or water until the military gave us a few food cans, but they were not enough to feed all the patients, Jana says. They

would give each patient just a quarter of a water bottle each day. The bombardment and shooting was constant.

The scale of the destruction wrought by the Israeli military here seems impossible to quantify. In the surrounding area, entire families were

trapped in their homes for two weeks under near-constant bombardment.

Upon the Israeli military's withdrawal, Arafat Al-Lulu (ph) was finally able to return home, only to find that his wife and seven children had been

killed. The Israeli military has described the siege on Al-Shifa as a precise operation targeting Hamas militants, some 200 of which they say

were killed, though CNN is unable to verify this figure.

Weapons and intelligence documents are also said to have been found on the complex which had been housing hundreds of civilians when the siege began.

The IDF maintains that soldiers distinguish between militants and civilians. But such claims stand in stark contrast to the troubling

testimonies and videos CNN has received from countless civilians and medical staff who are trapped in and around the hospital.

We can't estimate the number of medical staff who were targeted in what we can only call their executions, this medical official says.

In earlier testimonies shared with CNN, civilians described being stripped, bound, and blindfolded in the cold before facing interrogations by Israeli


Reports of beatings are also widespread. For days, medical staff within the hospital told CNN they couldn't even move between buildings on the complex

for fear of being targeted by Israeli snipers.

Every day a patient would die, Nurse Mousa says. The occupation soldiers used us as human shields inside the hospital.

More than 300 bodies have so far been recovered, according to authorities in Gaza. But that figure will likely only rise. Warnings that Al-Shifa

could soon be turned into a graveyard, now a gut-wrenching reality.


AMANPOUR: Nada Bashir reporting. And a note, CNN did reach out to the IDF for comment on this report. We await their full response.

A glimmer of hope for Ukraine's defense against Vladimir Putin's invasion, as House Speaker Mike Johnson looks set to push through that stalled aid

package. But it is an uphill battle still, and not just because of GOP opposition. "The New York Times" reports that Russia is stepping up its

disinformation war, amplifying arguments for U.S. isolationism.

Meanwhile, reporter Evan Gershkovich, the first American journalist detained on espionage charges since the Cold War, has now been in prison in

Russia for over a year.

My next guest tonight knows the pain of Evan's family all too well. She's Evgenia Kara-Murza, her husband Vladimir, who's a dual British-Russian

citizen, is now the highest-profile Russian political prisoner since Alexei Navalny's death. And like Navalny, he has survived poisonings.

He's now serving 25 years for treason after criticizing Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine. And Evgenia Kara-Murza joined the program from Geneva.


Evgenia Kara-Murza, welcome to the program.

EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF JAILED OPPOSITION FIGURE VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Hello, Christiane, thank you very much for inviting me.


AMANPOUR: I'd like to ask you in light of your husband's persistent imprisonment in Moscow, in Russia. I know you try to reach your husband and

your kids, you tried to get them to talk to him. How do you do it? When was the last time you managed and how long can you talk for?

KARA-MURZA: The last time I talked to my husband was last summer, in summer 2023. My kids were allowed a 15-minute phone call with their dad at

the end of December of last year.

And since we had three kids, it meant that each of them got five minutes on the phone with their dad. And that was the first call in over half a year.

And I obviously had to measure those minutes with a timer because I could not allow one of our kids to speak to their father for longer than five


So, in the conditions in which Vladimir is being kept now, and that is a punishment cell in so-called special regime prison colony in Western

Siberia, he's not allowed any visits by family members. He's not allowed any calls and only under exceptional circumstances.

So, in mid-February, we celebrated our 20th anniversary and Vladimir requested a phone call with me and was denied. The Russian -- the prison

authorities told him that this was not an exceptional circumstance. As was not our oldest daughter's 18th birthday. So, they told him that death would

be an exceptional circumstance. Other than that, he's not allowed any phone calls.

AMANPOUR: Wow. That is just so hard to hear. It's really hard to hear. What must be going through your mind every day since Alexei Navalny died. I

don't know whether you also believed that he was killed in prison.

KARA-MURZA: I do believe that this was a murder. And the responsibility lies with Vladimir Putin. As to my family situation, well, you know what, I

have been living with these fears since 2015 when my husband survived the first attack on him, the first assassination attempt. He then survived yet

another one in 2017.

And thanks to an independent investigation by Bellingcat and the Insider, we know that the same team that was implicated in the poisoning of Alexei

Navalny had been following my husband before both attacks.

So, now that he's being held by the same people who tried to kill him twice of course, I am extremely worried about his life and I've been living with

this fear for many years already.

AMANPOUR: And I can see the strain, obviously, in your face and in your words. Your husband is a domestic, in other words, a Russian critic inside

Russia of Putin. Evan Gershkovich was arrested and jailed on what the Americans called trumped-up espionage charges. The first time a journalist,

American journalist since the Cold War.

What is Putin's aim in -- I know they're different, but what's the aim of holding these pawns, whether domestically or international figures?

KARA-MURZA: Well, the imprisonment of Evan Gershkovich are on absolutely ridiculous grounds. I mean, journalism being equated with espionage,

seriously? But that is a hostage situation. Vladimir Putin takes hostages to then get the persons of interest to him back to Russia in exchange for

the lives of these hostages.

Just like in the Soviet times, the reason -- Vladimir Putin wants to show that there is no dissent in the country. There's just a huge number of

criminals, spies, traitors, and foreign agents.

AMANPOUR: You spoke at the U.N. in fact, this last week and you laid into President Putin, I'm going to play a little bit of what you said.


KARA-MURZA: Vladimir Putin is not a legitimately-elected president. He is a dictator and a usurper. It's time the free world finally said so.


AMANPOUR: Famously, President Biden said that, you know, Putin would pay for the death of Navalny. You have met your husband was a dual U.K. citizen

with the foreign minister here and others. What must the world do, do you think?

KARA-MURZA: Well, with regard to President Biden's promise, I'm afraid were still waiting for those devastating consequences that had been


I -- you know, I join my husband in his call for finally calling (INAUDIBLE) and I believe that the world has to finally call Vladimir Putin

for what he is, a criminal wanted by the ICC for kidnapping of Ukrainian kids and for many other crimes that he himself and his regime had been

committing over the years. He cannot be seen and recognized as a legitimate partner on the international stage.


AMANPOUR: I want to ask you whether furthermore, the terror attack that took place that ISIS claimed last week, that killed, you know, nearly 140

people. You saw that Putin finally admitted that it was ISIS, but said that Ukraine must have had something to do with it.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We know that the crime was committed by radical Islamists whose ideology the Islamic world

itself, has been fighting for centuries. It is also necessary to answer the question, why the terrorists tried to go to Ukraine after committing a

crime. Who was waiting for them there?


AMANPOUR: Now, Russia does not have a death penalty, but there's constant talk about reviving it. Do you worry that it will be revived under the

current circumstances and that it might be used against people like your own husband?

KARA-MURZA: We know that Vladimir Putin has been on the scene for almost a quarter of a century committing very similar crimes to the ones that are

being committed now in Ukraine.

And in the past, the regime used every terrorist attack in the country to its own interests to strengthen repression in the country and to launch

aggression. Like the 2002 and 2004 terrorist attacks, Nordhoff and Beslan, were used to start the Second Chechen War, and like the bombings of 1999.

All these terrorist attacks in the past were used to start a Second Chechen War and to justify this aggression against Chechnya. I believe that

Vladimir Putin will use this terrorist attack for the same purpose.

Now, my husband was sentenced to 25 years for high treason. We know of cases where people are being accused of terrorism for donating money to

Ukraine and high treason for donating money to Ukraine, for trying to set conscription centers on fire.

So, these actions are seen as treason and are seen as extremism and terrorism. And yes, the legislation -- this atrocious legislation, if it

were to be reinstated, would of course affect these people. And that is very, very concerning.

AMANPOUR: And finally, I want to ask you about the leadership or the spokesperson role that has been thrust on you, thrust on Yulia Navalnaya,

thrust on Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Belarus. All since your own husbands have been killed or imprisoned.

And I want to read something for you from "Time Magazine," which says, all three of you "represent an increasingly pronounced feminine face of anti-

Kremlin activism, one that has emerged within a political culture where politicians' wives are rarely seen, much less heard."

What do you make of that?

KARA-MURZA: I believe it is a very good sign. And I have been working for these two years. I've been working with amazing women. And the founder of

the organization that I work with, the Free Russia Foundation, a civil society organization that fights for change in Russia through support of

numerous anti-war and pro-democracy initiatives, both inside and outside of the country.

This organization was founded by an incredibly powerful woman, Natalia Arno. I -- we work with the feminist movement, the anti-war feminist

movement of Russia. And well -- I mean, I am surrounded by incredibly powerful and committed and enthusiastic women who work against all odds.

And I very much support Yulia Navalnaya's decision to continue her husband's work. I believe that this is a very good message to Russian civil

society that was -- to those millions and millions of Russians, both inside of the country and outside, who were devastated by Alexei's murder.

And I believe that her standing up and saying that the fight would continue is incredibly powerful. I don't know how he finds the strength, but I

admire it. And she has my full support, as does, of course, Tsikhanouskaya, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.


And I believe that we also see the change of the face of Russian pro- democracy, the change of the face of Russian pro-democracy and anti-war movement, and not just because it's becoming more feminine, but we see a

very powerful LGBTQ community also involved in these activities. We see ethnic groups becoming more and more powerful and represented.

And Russia -- I mean, in Russia, we have over 190 different peoples living on this huge territory that lives in 11 time zones. So, we see the face of

Russian pro-democracy and anti-war movement is changing drastically. And I think that this is -- all these are very good signs.

AMANPOUR: And we did see, if not, a massive but a token determined protest vote on behalf of Navalny during the Russian elections. So, thank you so

much, Evgenia Kara-Murza, and we wish you and your family well.

KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much Christiane.


AMANPOUR: Now, all over the world, women-led social and peace movements are on the rise, while at the same time, the fight for women's fundamental

rights continues, including in the State of Florida, which has cleared the way for the state's six-week abortion ban to take effect. But in a separate

ruling, its Supreme Court justices have allowed the issue to be put to voters in November for a proposed constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, in the first abortion-related case since overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court appears skeptical of a nationwide ban on the

drug that's used for medical abortions. Interpreting the Constitution for modern America is, of course, a divisive legal dilemma of the times. And

the former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer tackles this head on in his new book, which he speaks about next with Walter Isaacson.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you, Christiane. And Justice Stephen Breyer, welcome to the show.


ISAACSON: So, you have this new book, "Reading the Constitution." And you talk about the problems of being too much involved in textualism. Explain

to me what textualism is, and is that the same as originalism?

BREYER: When you read a statute, or you read the constitution, there are some words. Look at those words and you say, what would an ordinary person

have thought those words meant at the time they were written? Say 1788, 1789. And real textualists say don't look at anything else. Just look at

these words, things related, maybe to those words, not much, but read the words.

And originalism says, yes, we agree with that, but in the constitution, there are some rather vague words, the right to keep and bear arms is not

actually specific, not very specific, and the freedom of speech is less specific yet.

So, what we do is go back in our minds to the time that those words were written, 1788, 1787, 1869 for 14, 15, 16, or around that time after the

Civil War or at the founding of the country, and say, what would an ordinary person have thought they meant at that time?

ISAACSON: And you in this book pushed back on that and said, we should put a little bit -- we should put more emphasis on the purpose.


ISAACSON: And by the way, on effect, the pragmatic effect and shouldn't just be parsing the words, we should say, what was the purpose of it and

what pragmatic outcome it will have? Explain the difference in that approach.

BREYER: Well, the differences that the statutes that we interpret in the Supreme Court are usually not clear in terms of their text. If they're so

clear, why are they in the supreme court? We only take cases where lower court judges have come to different opinions about what they mean, and with

the constitution too, same kind of a problem, but even more so.

So, I don't think too often the text helps very much, and it can lead you astray.

ISAACSON: Well, let's take some of the criticism that an originalist or a textualist would have of your pragmatic approach, which is, man, that could

just lead you down a path where you're not emphasizing what the words actually say. You're just trying to say, what do I think would be good?

What I do think would be pragmatic?


ISAACSON: Isn't that dangerous to allow judges to imposed their own pragmatic view of the world instead of following the text?


BREYER: Well, the word pragmatic is not exactly the right word either. And if you have the patience to read the whole thing, you'll see that what I'm

saying is, yes, look at the purposes. Look at the consequences. Look at the values that underlie it, because that's the better alternative. What about

trying the right to bear arms?

We had a case involving a New York law. I was in dissent. But the majority said, here is what we'll look to. We'll look to what the founders intended

at the time. They wrote these words. That was Madison.

In an earlier case, they said what they'd intended. They intended to allow you to keep a pistol under your pillow. I dissented in that because I don't

think they meant that one little bit. But what I'm objecting to now is not that first case. I'm objecting to what they're saying at this moment.

Just look at the history, in the 18th century, earlier, maybe a little later, the history of what that phrase, what kind of weapons was it

addressing itself to? So, I said, OK. I'll look it up. You know what -- Hildebrand (ph) or a Hildebrand (ph), that's it. A scale ladder, an Asian

fire, which you threw over the wall to burn people up on the other side of the wall. I mean, is that related to or not related to a pistol or

artillery, or ought to tell you the truth? I have no idea what those weapons were that were being used in 1710 or something, or in 1650, or

during the Hundred Years' War.

You see, you, Mr. Textualist, are asking me to turn awfully important cases upon matters where I am not an expert because I'm not an historian. I'm a

judge. I can do this. I can go look at a couple of other things. Did you know, Mr. Majority, that 400 million guns are floating around this country?

And those 400 million guns puts us, number one, on gun ownership.

And those 400 million guns, a lot of studies show cause an awful lot of trouble. They can cause deaths, they can cause illness, they can cause harm

of all sorts to policemen, to spouses, to everybody under the sun.

Now, I think that that fact and facts like it are relevant when you're deciding whether the New York gun law is or is not consistent with your

idea of that Second Amendment.

ISAACSON: Well, wait, wait. Let me push back on that because the law -- the constitution says we have a right to bear arms. It doesn't say, gee,

let's look at gun ownership and whether it's good or bad or not. Why would that matter when it comes to a constitutional question?

BREYER: Oh, do you think it says that everybody has a right? I mean, if you're in a mental hospital, do you have a right to keep your arms, to keep

guns around? Do you think you have a right after you shot 14 people? Do you think you have a right to shoot somebody when you're trying to steal some

money? Do you think you have a right -- you see, I can go on and on and on.

No one, I think, will claim that everyone has a right to bear arms. You have to figure out which laws are permissible under the Second Amendment,

just as you have to figure out under the First Amendment. What speech is permissible? And what speech is not? Hey, let's rob the bank. That speech,

when that's seriously meant, isn't permissible. Some is permissible, some is not. That's the job of the judge, to draw the limits and to work out

what the statute means in terms of limits. So, no one, textualist or non- textualist, is going to get away from that problem.

In Dobbs, they went back and they overruled two cases, cases that allowed abortions, Roe v. Wade and Casey. And so, I asked the imaginary Mr.

Textualist, Mr. Textualist, what cases are you going to overrule? Are you going to rule -- overrule every preceding case that doesn't use your

originalist or textualist method? All of them? Do you know how many there are?

I already said it. All of them. No, I exaggerate. Almost all of them. You mean you're going to overrule all those and won't have any law left? Well,

no, they won't overrule all those. So, I say, which of the many that you could overrule, perhaps? Which are you going to choose to overrule? And my

guess is the answer is going to be the ones that are really wrong in our opinion. Oh, really wrong in your opinion. And how are you going to decide

that? Who's going to decide that? You're going to decide that.


Now, will you just choose what you like or will you follow the law? Doesn't that sound like the question you asked of me a little bit earlier? The

question that you said, oh, textualism will stop me. I'll have to be honest because it will give me no possibility of substituting my own judgment. You

have the same problem, don't you? And anyone who doubts it, go read Dobbs.

ISAACSON: Let me take what may be the biggest issue now in which there's a clash between a textualist approach and a purpose-driven approach. And

that's a whole arena of affirmative action and race-based thinking. The text of the Civil Rights Act is pretty clear. It says there cannot be

discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

And so, if you have affirmative action, perhaps that's discriminating based on race. On the other hand, the purpose of that law was to bring African-

Americans more into society. How do you balance that when you take a more purpose or pragmatic-driven approach?

BREYER: Well, it will depend on the particular case. What we've said, because Ruth and I wrote several joint, her opinion, and parents involved

in other cases, and --

ISAACSON: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

BREYER: And we say roughly what you say, that there is a difference in terms of the 14th Amendment, which says every state shall not deny any

person equal protection of the law. There is a difference between discrimination, which keeps people out, hurts them. separates the races,

and that kind of discrimination which is designed to bring them in, because bringing them into society and creating one society out of a world that had

been divided, slavery and non-slavery, Jim Crow, et cetera.

Bringing them in so we have one country where we get along together, that was an objective of the 14th Amendment. And when you have something,

discrimination, maybe call it discrimination, maybe say as Lewis Powell said in Bakke, he said, there's room here. There is room for a town, a

city, a state to work out a good way to bring these different races together in a world that previously had been divided legally.

You see, that's the job. And what do you want? You want a mathematical rule? You won't get it. Law is not hard science. It is not calculus. You

have human beings who are looking at the facts, the figures, yes, the statute, the constitution, the values that underlie them, and you often

have cases that require that judge to think, in terms of those values, does this statute go too far? Too far. That's the skill or the effort.

ISAACSON: Justice Antonin Scalia was sort of one of the great advocates of the textualist approach. You've been one of the great advocates of the more

pragmatic or purpose-driven approach. But you all were pretty good friends, and you used to discuss it publicly and privately. Tell me about that.

BREYER: No, we would. We liked it. We enjoyed it. The way it would sort of go, if I'd take bits of that conversation, I'd say, you know, I don't say

that the importance of free speech changes over time. I say, George Washington didn't know about the internet. The facts changed.

And he would say, I knew that. And he says, well, if we follow your system of, say, taking into account, I mean, do we take into account the fact that

when they wrote these amendments, 18th century, civil war, half the population, namely the women, were not part of the political process, and

more than that, there was slavery. Much of that time, and Jim Crow, do we take that into account? Maybe. And he'd say, you see, it's too complicated.

Too complicated. You might be able to think you can do it, but nobody else can.

And I say, well, maybe others have, I'm not the only one, but if we take your system, we're going to end up with the constitution that no one wants.


Laws are designed, they're a human institution designed to help now 320 million Americans of every race, religion, point of view, help them live

together peacefully and we hope prosperously. And in the constitution, we have values. The values don't change very much. The facts change.

Those values, the democracy, human rights, separation of powers and no one becomes too powerful, a degree of equality, yes and the rule of law. All

that's right there. It's right there in this document here, there it is. All right.

And Marshall and the other founders, they said, they -- we don't want that to change, but he says as well, the future will bin (ph) problems that we

can see now only dimly, if at all, and these values should work for those problems not yet seen. That's all in that word, it is a constitution we are

expounding which no one knows what it means but it's important. And it's down in the Supreme Court, written on the wall, and that is what my

response is to Justice Scalia.

ISAACSON: We've seen a lot over the course of history big ideological shifts on the court, I think especially say from the Taft Court to the New

Deal court is a big shift. Do you think we're undergoing a big shift now?

BREYER: I think that's a very good question. I think the Taft Court, you go back to 1900, and you'll see a United States of America that had just

grown from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest, through inventions, through methods of marketing, through methods of


And I think the Taft Court was worried and emphasized the words property and contract, unless they fair, first two words in the constitution,

because they didn't want to kill a goose that they believed was laying a golden egg. Nobody thought that.

By the time of the Great Depression, by the time of Roosevelt's New Deal court, and that New Deal court did not believe, because very few people in

the United States believed that what this is all about is keeping laissez- faire and letting companies do whatever they want.

And so, they decided the cases somewhat differently. The person who described what was going on there, Paul Freund, another great

constitutional scholar. And he said, as far as politics is concerned, he's talking about, no judge, no judge decides according to the temperature of

the day, but every judge is affected by the climate of the season.

And I hope, but I can't prove, that three years from now, four years from now, people will see that this textualism and originalism pushed to a

pretty strong extreme where you can't use other things, that it doesn't work, that it doesn't take any account or enough account of the fact that

women didn't have the right to vote in these words in the constitution for the most part were written, that trying to follow textualism in some of

these statutes and some of these constitutions and looking to nothing else but text is going to undermine the values that this document sought to keep

and work into the future, that it's going to make it more difficult for Congress to pass laws using sometimes abstract phrases so that you can

adapt those laws more easily to a future with changing problems and changing circumstances.

I think they'll discover that that's a pretty hard road to follow, a pretty hard road to travel. And so, it will diminish. But if it doesn't happen, I

worry that people will have less reason to follow a rule of law.

ISAACSON: Mr. Justice Breyer, thank you so much for joining us.

BREYER: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And such an important conversation. Finally, tonight, it certainly isn't feeling like Groundhog Day for Punxsutawney Phil. While he

didn't see his shadow this year, the prognosticator is now seeing double.

For the first time in 138 years, the weather predicting Woodchuck has welcomed two pups with his partner, Phyllis. When the time is ready, Phil

will reveal the names of his young to the president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, who speaks Groundhogese.


Well, that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember you, you

can always catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media.

So, thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.