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Roe V. Wade in Jeopardy as Texas Effectively Bans Abortion; Desperation Grows in Louisiana After Hurricane IDA; Nearly 1 Million Louisiana Homes, Businesses Without Power; Texas Abortion Ban Takes Effect, U.S. Supreme Court Fails to Act. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 01, 2021 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: The law prohibits abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women even know that they're pregnant. The law makes no exception for cases of incepts and rape and it goes even further and takes a route not utilized before in allowing anyone to sue over this. CNN's Diane Gallagher is live in Austin with the very latest for us this hour. Dianne, what more are you learning about this?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate as you said, this is a law that went into effect today here in the State of Texas that effectively bans abortion after the six week mark, including in cases of rape and incest. And that's often before a person knows that they are pregnant.

What is different about this law is who can enforce it? The government cannot be the enforcer in this instead, it basically deputizes private citizens allowing any person other than the government anywhere to bring a civil suit against providers or anybody who was "Knowingly aiding and abetting a pregnant person seeking an abortion that is in violation of this ban".

Now, of course, the concern with that part of the law is, it's vague. What does that exactly mean? Is that a rideshare driver who drives someone to a clinic? Is it a family member? Is it a member of clergy or someone who donates to a legal fund that may pay for abortion?

The law also seemingly puts a bounty on these civil suits by guaranteeing a financial judgment to those private citizens making the claims of at least $10,000 per violation proven that has to be paid by the provider or the individual who was sued Texas right to life, which is the largest anti-abortion organization here in the state Kate has already set up this anonymous tip line for people to talk and report abortions that may violate the law.

BOLDUAN: Dianne, thank you so much. Here with me once again a CNN Chief Legal Analyst and Former Federal Prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, let's start where Dianne actually left off, which is there isn't criminal liability associated with this.

This is - this law allows people strangers even to sue in civil court, anyone who helps a woman get an abortion? How do you - how do you enforce this?

JEFFERY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALST: Well, I don't think anyone knows exactly how it will work? But what we do know is why the law was structured that way?

BOLDUAN: Yes, tell me.

TOOBIN: The reason why it was structured that way is that when other states have imposed restrictions on abortion, they have done it by the state. The state has said, "You Abortion Clinic" cannot perform an abortion at such and such a time, and the state will punish you will shut you down; will fine you if you do.

What that has meant is that the abortion clinics can go to court against the state and get a judgment that says no, you can't do that to the abortion clinic, State of Mississippi or State of Alabama. And that's how those laws have worked. And that's how the court challenges have worked.

What this law has done is that it has created a legal problem for the plaintiffs for the abortion clinics. Who do they sue? How do they try to stop this law because there is no identifiable enforcer yet, because the bounty hunters have not come forward?

BOLDUAN: So it's entirely designed to get around the law.

TOOBIN: Well, it's entirely designed to --

BOLDUAN: --to get around the courts stuff?

TOOBIN: --so that the courts will not be able to challenge it. And it has worked to perfection so far, because there has not been what's called a ripe case, a case that is able to be addressed by the courts, before the law went into effect.

So here we are, on September 1st, the first day since 1973, when a state has been able to ban abortion. 1973 is the year of Roe V. Wade. And the Supreme Court has said nothing. They have allowed the second most famous opinion of the last 100 years after Brown V. Board of Education to essentially be violated, be of be overrun.

But they haven't even said a word about it, which strikes me as a real blow against the Supreme Court's institutional reputation. Aside from the issue of whether this law is right or wrong.

BOLDUAN: Well, let me bring CNN's Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic is joining us as well. I guess both of you and John, you can go first is why do you think the court hasn't said anything?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well, I have to say Kate; this is a real signal of abdication of responsibility here. Roe V. Wade was declared by the justices, the justices are supposed to be the last word on any kind of individual rights in America. Lower courts cannot usurp that responsibility.

And in effect, the justices have allowed the Fifth Circuit and, you know, officials in Texas to take over here. The question of why this goes to exactly how secretive the Supreme Court can be? They deal with scores of cases each year on these emergency - in these emergency requests, they rarely will tell us what the vote counts are.


BISKUPIC: They rarely will tell us what the vote counts are? They rarely will tell us reasoning. And this time, they didn't tell us anything. The clinic's lawyers went up there on Monday to say, look, we need intervention. And the justices, you know, called for response, they acted as if they were going to at least give us some word give some signal.

But then as we approached midnight last night, and after midnight, with, you know, people in Texas on both sides anxiously waiting, and the national audience, the court said nothing. Now the court could - the justices could be sitting in their respective chambers, although right now they're in their respective second homes, in part because they're in recess and thinking, well, you know, this is confusing.

It's complicated. We're not sure whether the challengers have a legal right to come up to us at this point given --

BOLDUAN: But isn't everything always confusing and complicated that makes us to the Supreme Court justices. That's the entire --

BISKUPIC: Well, that's exact, that's my point is that it does signal this abdication of responsibility, because this is their role, just too at least say something maybe by some time, because to your point and to Jeffery's, that this is complicated.

It's - maybe it shouldn't be handled in an emergency posture like this. Maybe it should be handled exactly the way the justices are scheduling their Mississippi abortion challenge, which is a ban at 15 weeks. This six week one is a very big deal.

And as I said, it's up to the justices themselves, not to sort of by default, say what abortion rights are in Texas and the rest of the country, but to say clearly.

BOLDUAN: Well, and Jeffery --

TOOBIN: Can I just add one point? I think Joan characteristically said exactly what was going on here. But there's one more point, which is look who's on the Supreme Court? You know, Donald Trump said, I am going to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe V. Wade, and he got three appointments.

Amy Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, all of whom I think we'll see. We'll vote to overturn Roe V. Wade. Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have already said that they want to overturn Roe V. Wade. John Roberts has - it's less clear, but his vote matters less because you had -- only a five.

BOLDUAN: Well, Jeffery I remember even on the day of nomination, you've talked about the impact of Amy Coney Barrett joining the court. And this is exactly what you're pointing to?

TOOBIN: You know, I mean, you know, when Donald Trump said, I think I want to appoint justices who will overturn Roe V. Wade, I think he meant, I want to appoint justices who will vote to overturn Roe V. Wade. And I think that's what he's done.

And you know, what, William Brennan, the famous great liberal justice said, you know, the most important thing at the Supreme Court is to know how to count to five? And there are five justices now, who it certainly seems to me, are ready to overturn Roe V. Wade. And I think that's the main reason why you didn't get any sort of stay or emergency order last night, because this is what they're going to do. Roe V. Wade is going up the window.

BISKUPIC: --about how important this moment was, Kate? I mean, it's not just that this arises against a backdrop of a new conservative majority, a very emboldened conservative majority that appears poised to roll back this 1973 landmark.

But think of the other signals that we've supposed - we've been getting from the Supreme Court about how public integrity matters? How public confidence in the Supreme Court matters. Chief Justice John Roberts is constantly telling people that Justice Stephen Breyer back in April gave a major speech about how they're not junior varsity politicians?

Well, this kind of action or inaction really does suggest that they have a political agenda. Now, I'm sure they would say, oh, no, we don't. But think of what the people in Texas believe right now on both sides that the Supreme Court has implicitly accepted reversal of Roe V. Wade.

BOLDUAN: Look, I mean, I was actually going to say the Texas Tribune is or is quoting a Senior Director of a woman's health clinic saying that the clinic is going to have to start turning patients away starting today. The message has been delivered.

I'm curious I keep hearing that the justices could still intervene. What does that actually mean? I mean, that - what could happen at this point?

TOOBIN: It's quite simple.

BISKUPIC: They could lock the lower court order. They could say - what they could do is they could - they could do what they should have done last night offer some clarity either --

BOLDUAN: Wouldn't that even more confusing they knew the deadline?

BISKUPIC: They knew the deadline. They also knew that women were sitting in waiting rooms at this - at the moment, you know, waiting for their abortions after fulfilling other parts of Texas law in terms of you know, waiting periods getting permission from a judge for under age, women, young women who might have needed an abortion without parental consent or notification.


BISKUPIC: So there were all sorts of women lined up to exercise their constitutional right to abortion under Texas has already strict rules and requirements for that. But they didn't. But here's the thing, Kate, we were getting some singles that perhaps they were writing, you know, dissenters or even justices in a majority order might have been writing something and that could be continuing today.

The point is, we still need some action from the Supreme Court, but they should have done it in a timely fashion last night.

BOLDUAN: Jeff I want to get you - just hold on Jeffrey, let me read this because --

TOOBIN: All right.

BOLDUAN: OK. But this is important because we're already getting breaking news in on this, a statement just coming in. Let me grab it so I can read it to all. A statement just coming in from the President about this Texas law I'll read it to you. I'm seeing this for the first time together.

Today, Texas law SB-8 that's the formula that went into effect. This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional rights established under Roe V. Wade, and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century. The Texas law will significantly impair women's access to health care they need particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes and outrageously he goes on to say.

It deputized as private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believed has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, healthcare workers, and front desk staff at a health care clinic or strangers with no connection to the individual. My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe V. Wade, nearly five decades ago, and will protect and defend that right. How do they do that Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: You know, by winning the election, they lost in 2016 and having the opportunity to appoint three justices to the Supreme Court. I mean, I think you know, that this fight, at least as, as in a national matter has been lost.

You know, you know, one thing about Joe Biden is he's a Democrat. And what we have now is one party that is completely committed to preserving women's right to abortion, and one party completely committed to overturning that right.

And if you look at what states that are going to ban abortion, it states that are completely dominated Republicans and the states dominated by Democrats will not. You know, this is an entirely a political issue at this point, entirely determined by the party in power in each state.

And the party in power at the Supreme Court is the Republican Party, and that's why you're getting results like last night. BOLDUAN: There's a lot more to come. Thank you guys both very much. Joan, it's great to see you Jeffrey, thank you for sticking around for this. Coming up for us, I'm going to talk to the Texas High School Valedictorian whose graduation speech went viral when she threw out her prepared remarks you will remember and she spoke out against this very ban we're talking about in Texas this abortion ban. What she today now that the law is in effect?

Plus no power, no water and major gas shortages now Louisiana is struggling after Hurricane IDA the latest on rescue and recovery efforts there we'll track it.



BOLDUAN: A growing crisis in Louisiana is unrelenting heat grips the hurricane ravaged state over half the stations in two major cities are now out of gas. Nearly a million customers are still without power. And many have also run out of safe drinking water. CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Laplace, Louisiana with more on this. Ed how bad is it becoming today?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Kate, we're three days into the aftermath of Hurricane IDA. And, you know, people load up on supplies ahead of the storm. And many people are starting to get to that point where they're running out of supplies.

So food and water distribution sites like this one, this one's been set up by the Cajun Navy here in this parking lot along the main strip of through Laplace, Louisiana, which is just West of New Orleans. And to get a sense of just how much need there is here, just watch the line double filed all the way out of this parking lot.

And it wraps around to the left way down the street over there, where it then collides into a gas station line. So pretty much in this little one pocket of this strip center is the story of what we're seeing unfolding all across Southeast Louisiana.

And at this particular site, you know it's literally just residents helping each other out and there are a handful of volunteers loading food and water and other supplies into people's cars. They could probably use more volunteers so if you're watching this in your area, they could probably use some help here at this particular site.

But this really speaks to what is going on all across the region now as people are kind of settling into the reality of how long this recovery is going to take Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's so painful even to see. Ed thank you so much I really appreciate it. Let's move now - let's go now to - joining me - sorry joining me right now is Chad Ducote. He is the Lead Pastor at Life Church in Houma, Louisiana joining me now. Pastor thank you for joining me first of all, how is your family doing? How is your home?

CHAD DUCOTE, LEAD PASTOR, LIFE CHURCH: I'm really lucky my home suffered minimal damage. We have a leak in our roof on our kitchen but as a whole my house is very well.

BOLDUAN: And you have been going really door to door kind of driving around trying to check on parishioners and neighbors. Three days after - three days into this recover I guess I should say what are you hearing from them? What are they - what stories are they telling you?


DUCOTE: You know the people of South Louisiana are so resilient. And they're - they just got their heads down. And they're helping. It's literally neighbor helping neighbor. I heard that gentleman before me say that. It's literally locals helping locals.

And if you've got a gallon of gas for somebody's generator, and it's your last gallon, they're giving it to their other neighbor. And that's just the spirit of this area and how resilient they are? We're hearing stories of - we have a family in our church that that back of their house collapsed, and they've been living in the front room of their home.

And so it's just been neighbors going over and helping them other church members helping them. It's been an incredible, incredible few days.

BOLDUAN: How would you describe kind of how hard people have been hit by this? I mean, I've heard some residents saying that they're just - they're just not going to be able to rebuild the damage and the destruction. It's just been just too much. I mean, what are they going to do? What are you going to do?

DUCOTE: Yes, it's pretty devastating. I would say 90 -- 95 percent of our water 99 percent of our city didn't have running water as of yesterday. I think they've turned on some of that area for water. It is totally devastated in the bayou communities down south of us, even into the City of Houma here our areas 100,000 in the region with Houma, Tibideaux and Raceland.

And most of the coverage gets to New Orleans, and rightfully so it's a very large city, and there's a lot of population centered there. But this is 100,000 and we have literally had no FEMA or communication from the local governments. It's just been our neighbors helping each other and people like Cajun Navy, Operation Blessing. A lot of nonprofits are here.

And they are the ones that are really helping people. Samaritan's Purse, our church, it's been the church literally doing what the church was supposed to do, and be the church to the city and be a resource. And I'm just so thankful for all the people that have stepped up and helped.

The night before the storm ended at midnight, the fire departments were out cutting trees that were clearing the roads so other people can come in to help. It's literally been a community effort.

BOLDUAN: A big complication in all of this is we're in the midst of the COVID pandemic still, I know that's a very big concern for you. What are you worried about?

DUCOTE: It's funny, you mentioned that my wife and children evacuated for the storm. And I was going to evacuate. And when we, my wife and children's went earlier, when we arrived at the place we were evacuated, which was my dad's house, he told them that he had just been exposed to COVID, he was tested positive.

And so we had to scramble to find a place for them to stay in the city. And then they went about five hours north of me. And most of the day to day I've been dealing with him because he's 80 years old and trying to help find some resources to serve him. It is a very big concern.

This region has not been very good with vaccinations; a lot of people just because of the rural areas haven't got it. And so we're fortunate that it's kind of gone through our church. But like we've - we had a family and a family that spoke about a while ago that their house collapsed the back end of it and they live in the front when he called for rescue.

And he said can you come get me? I said, Yes, he said, I just want to let you know, we're tested positive, we're been dealing with COVID. And I said, I honestly, this time don't really care. Because we just got to get you guys safe. And we'll worry about the other stuff as we can deal with it. It's that kind of situation, you have to prioritize where you're at.

BOLDUAN: It's so many crises on top of each other. It's hard to figure out what to get to first but pastor, thank you so much for coming on. And thank you for your work.

DUCOTE: Kate, I just say thank you for sharing a light on what's happening in our city. And just to tell people we need as much help as you can give us this is for say, two months without power. We still don't have running water in a lot of our areas and you'd like to give like come or and if you want to serve or you need to help.

If you want to help or you need help, please reach out to us. We've got tarps and people going out to clean out houses and all of that we want to do the best we can for everyone.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And we also on our website see we have many different ways that you can contribute and help to the rescue and recovery efforts in Louisiana. Pastor Thank you very much.

DUCOTE: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Paxton Smith, the Texas High School Valedictorian whose graduation speech taking on the state's abortion ban went viral. She joins us to react to the breaking news today.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: More on the breaking news today a ban on most abortions taking effect in Texas right now after the U.S. Supreme Court did not intervene overnight. The law bans abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy a time when most women don't even know that they're pregnant.

No exception for rape or incest. It also allows anyone to sue those who help a woman get an abortion.