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Supreme Court: School District Cannot Prohibit Football Coach's Prayers On Field After Game; Zelenskyy Accuses Russia Of Striking Busy Shopping Mall. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 27, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We are going to starting with the breaking news out of the Supreme Court. In a new six to three ruling, the Court cited just last hour with a high school football coach and a First Amendment case about prayer. The conservative majority ruling that a public school district in Washington State violated the coach's free speech rights when it blocked him from praying on the field after games.

This new ruling comes of course in the midst of major political and legal fallout from the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe versus Wade. At least 26 states are expected to ban or impose strict limits on the procedure in light of this. Let's get over to CNN's Jessica Schneider live at the Supreme Court with this breaking news coming in. Jessica, tell us more about this latest ruling on religious liberty.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, you know, this is really another decision from this court that has the effect here of eroding the barrier between church and state. So the court in a six-three decision saying that the schools concerns about coercion of students and really its desires to keep its public school free from these outward displays of religion, the court saying that's outweighed by a coach's free speech and free exercise rights.

So the court said, that they really viewed the coach's speech on the 50-yard line where he prayed as personal and private speech. And they likened it to something like you might make a phone call on school grounds, or you might check your e-mail.

But the dissent here, interestingly, included a picture of just how much of a public spectacle this had actually become, with the coach being crowded by the students as he prayed. You know, the coach here celebrating this wins since he's been litigating this for years. He lost repeatedly in the lower courts. The coach, Coach Kennedy just released a statement saying, this is just so awesome. All I've ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle. Because he has been fighting it for years, and right now it's unclear if possibly the coach might try to go back to that school in Washington State. He has since relocated to Florida. But, you know, Kate, this is a case along with at least one other that we've seen this term really rewriting the lines when it comes to the separation of church and state. This really opens up more ability for teachers, coaches, to pray at school without any fallout here. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Jessica also, what about the growing fallout from Friday's historic ruling overturning Roe and what happens now in states across the country?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it's fallout that's really been swift and severe, and on multiple levels here. So we have protests that erupted all over the country. At the same time, there are people who are against abortion. They have praised this ruling. They say it saves lives. The big questions, though looming now, how many more states will ban abortion entirely? Right now we've got at least 10 states that have already banned it with trigger laws or otherwise, several more are poised to ban it.

Estimates are that about half the states could actually ban or severely restrict abortion in the coming months. That will inevitably if it hasn't already send patients seeking services across state lines. But Kate, it'll really also create questions about how these laws will be enforced and maybe prosecuted. You know, the questions are out there will women who tried to get abortions, will they be charged? What about doctors? What does it mean to aid and abet? So a lot of outstanding questions that will inevitably provoke legal challenges. And this is just the beginning. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Jessica, thank you so much for that. Joining me now for more on this is CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic. Jeffrey, that's -- we will get to Roe versus Wade. But first on the breaking news, what's your reaction to this latest big decision this, religious liberty case?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's completely consistent with where the conservative majority has been going on a variety of cases. And the overall idea is, you know, there are two religion clauses in the First Amendment. There's the Establishment Clause which says this state cannot establish a religion. And the Free Exercise Clause which says individuals have the right to exercise -- freely exercise their religion.

What the court is doing is shrinking the Establishment Clause and expanding the Free Exercise Clause. Those are often in tension with each other as they were in this case, because the school board was saying, look, you know, you as an authority figure on the field were essentially establishing a school or state religion.


What the coach said was no, no, no I was just freely expressing my own religious beliefs those arguments free expression are trumping the Establishment Clause religion argument in case after case, and that's consistent with what the conservatives want to do, whether it's for parochial schools to get money from the state, as in the main case earlier this year, or to have religious institutions, exempted from requirements that everyone else is supposed to follow law as in the contraception cases, like Hobby Lobby. So that's where we are.

BOLDUAN: It is where we are. And, Joan, I mean, this coach had lost in all of the lower courts. And didn't the Supreme Court deny even taking this same case up previously. I mean, what does that mean now?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: Well, yes, they did. But they also signaled that they were eager to have it come back. And that's what you're seeing here. Justice Sotomayor used a phrase a couple of weeks ago about this supermajority and that's restless, it's a wrestle supermajority, trying to do more in the law. And you know, by siding with Coach Kennedy in this case, and casting what he did is private prayer, when it was so public. Justice Sotomayor, in her dissent in this case, included photographs of him surrounded by other football players, other coaches, people from the stands as he prayed.

So this was not the kind of private expression that you normally would think of a person quietly praying with -- quietly praying on its own. And the only thing I want to mention is when we've talked a lot about rolling back precedent, certainly with the Dobbs decision of last week, and how the justices eliminated nearly 50 years of precedent. But here's the court undermine significant precedent also doesn't outright overturn anything. But it's certainly causing question decisions all the way back to 1962, when the Supreme Court first forbade teachers, any kind of school officials from requiring prayer in school.

As recently, Kate, as 2000, this Supreme Court had rejected a school's policy that allowed students to pray before games over the school loud speakers saying that it, you know, it appeared to be, you know, the school endorsing the prayer. And what the court has worried about over the years until this point is either endorsing prayer or coercing students, you know, some of those kids who wanted playing time on the field, they might not might have gone along with Coach Kennedy feeling that they needed to show an interest in praying just because he was doing it.

And now we'll, you know, a kid in a chemistry class feel that if a teacher is encouraging some sort of quiet prayer, that he or she should go along to get a decent grade. That's what the court was worried about before.

TOOBIN: And this, I'm sorry, Joan, this is how the court usually works. It pushes the court, the law in a certain direction. And here, you know, this is a case about prayer at football games. In the past, they have said no prayer at commencements. Well, what about at opening ceremonies? You know, this is the -- they are allowing prayer into more and more parts of public life and worrying less about whether that is the establishment of religion, and this case is very much a point in that direction BOLDUAN: In that direction. Jeffrey, Can I also ask you on overturning Roe. You've said that and Jessica Schneider is also getting at this and I want you to kind of elaborate, is the number of outstanding legal issues now in following in the fallout of the Roe decision is good -- is greater, it is not less, how so?

TOOBIN: Right. I mean, one of the ironies of Justice Alito 's opinion, and especially Justice Kavanaugh's concurring opinion, is they say, well, at least this is all over now. We don't have to deal with this anymore. Not true at all. And let me just give you two big examples. The first is about travel. What does it mean, if a woman in a state where abortion is banned, travels to get an abortion? Under some of the statutes that have been passed, that appears to be a crime, can that be prosecuted.

The other issue is what about people outside of a red state, a state that bans abortion, helping women in those states to get abortions? What if they give them money to travel? What if they send them medication for a medication abortion? What about companies? Many companies now are offering employee benefits to include travel to -- for abortion care, are those companies violating the criminal statutes of these states? All of those questions are going to be raised sooner rather than later. And I don't pretend to know what the results will be except I know these issues will be raised.


BOLDUAN: And they have to be settled, they're going to be raised, and they have to be dealt with that.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Joan, one thing that you've reminded me of in the past is kind of, I guess I'll call it like a driving philosophy, if you will, for the chief justice on the court, which is to not go further than what is necessary, if you will, that restraint did not happen here when it came to Roe. What do you think that means for the court going forward?

BISKUPIC: You know, what I've said is the court, the chief lost the defining case of his generation, the Dobbs case last week, and his principle of incrementalism as you ask about there, Kate, that's gone. But he is with the super -- the conservative supermajority on these other things. I mean, look at what he did on religion, both today on the school prayer case and last week, when he wrote the decision, Kate, that would allow more government funding for religious schools.

He is with this court on many of the, what we would call Republican conservative agenda items. But he also is concerned about the integrity of the institution and not appearing to push too fast, too far, which is five colleagues to the right don't seem to have the same kind of concern. So I think what you're going to see is when the court really lunges to the right, the chief will not be with the majority, but that will matter. They don't need him anymore. They've got the five votes because of Amy Coney Barrett coming on in October of 2020. And that has made all the difference in terms of how fast this court is going to get to a much more conservative state of the law of the land.

BOLDUAN: Joan, thank you very much, Jeffrey, thank you both. I really appreciate it, guys. So quick programming note for all of you, CNN's Dana Bash, talking to Vice President Kamala Harris and her first interview since the Roe decision, since Roe was overturned you can watch this exclusive interview at 4:00 p.m. Eastern today, an interview you'll see only on CNN.

Coming up still for us, Ukraine's President accusing Russian forces of striking a packed shopping mall in the eastern part of the country, this news just coming in. We're getting these pictures just in as well. We've got the latest developments in a live report next.



BOLDUAN: Also developing right now Ukraine's President is accusing Russia now of bombing in crowded shopping mall in the eastern part of the country. This is new video just in of what the scene is like. Zelenskyy says that more than 1,000 people were inside the mall when it was hit. CNN's Phil Black is live in eastern Ukraine for us. He joins us now. Phil, what is the very latest that you're picking up?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, from those images, you can see in the aftermath, the terror, the panic, the horrific scenes that have been caused by the strike. This is Kremenchuk in the center of the country, central Ukrainian city, a long way from any of the front lines at the moment. Though Zelenskyy says, this is not a strategic target. This target is no threat whatsoever to Russian forces. This is just the location where people were going about trying to live their lives. He says there are about 1,000 people inside.

At the moment, we're getting some early information about casualties, which suggests at least two people have been killed, a further 20 injured, of which some nine was seriously injured. Now it's because of attacks like this and indeed, missile attacks like this that was seen across the country with dozens of missile strikes launched from the air, the sea, and the ground hitting targets pretty much everywhere, that Zelenskyy is consistently telling his western partners that what he wants right now are sophisticated anti-missile systems to protect people's lives and protect the country's infrastructure.

What he's also telling them is that he wants more heavy weapons. And that's because of what's taking place here in the east of the country in the Donbass region. And the remaining little pocket of the Donbass region that Ukrainian forces are still desperately trying to defend this as a stretch of territory where they and the remaining civilian population are being squeezed by Russian forces from the north, the south, and the east. It is increasingly difficult because these Russian gains, this incremental progress is changing circumstances on the ground.

For example, on the northern front of Slovyansk, a city there we saw this morning ourselves that residential areas are clearly easily within range of Russian rockets now because they fell there through the night. And we saw it an apartment complex where cluster munition had killed at least one person. And the same in the south in the city of Bakhmut, artillery pieces are clearly hitting residential areas. We spoke to people who were still determined to stay there, even though they have been shelled for consecutive nights.

And in the east, the city of Severodonetsk is now completely in Russian control, and they are now moving on the next city along Lysychans'k where Ukrainian defenders are by all accounts already under great pressure. So it all points to a very grim situation here on the ground in the East, where Russian forces are clearly making progress in the fight is going their way. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, Phil, thank you so much for the context, this important context around all of this. Now, President Zelenskyy he addressed G7 leaders early this morning pleading with them for more weapons to help try to end Russia's war on his country and also declaring that he wants the war in Ukraine to be brought to a close by the end of this year. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live in Austria following President Biden's G7 visit. Kaitlan, what is the latest you're hearing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically what you just heard from Phil is a driving force for part of the conversation that President Zelenskyy have with these leaders today, which really centered on the timing of how long this war is going on, because right now if you look at the assessments of who is up, who is down, it has become this grinding conflict. And there have been concerns about Russia making these small but still significant gains. And Zelenskyy told the leaders today, we were told by our source that he wants to see this war end by the end of this year, the end of 2022.


And of course, we're already halfway through the calendar year. But that is the timeline that he is looking at. And Jake Sullivan, who is President Biden's National Security Adviser, gave reporters a readout of what Zelenskyy conveyed to these G7 leaders in this closed door meeting where he was talking to them about what Ukraine needs. And he talked about the next few months, not the next few years. His timing was really centered on that. And basically saying that these countries that have been helping Ukraine supplying them with military weapons, with humanitarian assistance really being there for them, ever since this invasion started.

He urged them to make maximum use of the next several months to basically put Ukraine in the most advantageous position that it can be in because there have been so many concerns about neither side making enough gains toward this, does just become this grinding conflict that could last potentially for years. That's what a timeline that the White House had warned about. But now you were seeing Zelenskyy really say that he wants it to be this more constrained timeline.

And so much of it has to do with what the reports are we're seeing this morning with this latest Russian strike, which is the humanitarian suffering that is caused by this invasion that you were seeing every day, not just here in central Ukraine, but also in Mariupol where the mayor there says, the exiled mayor says the residents are being forced on pigeons, for example, these kinds of things every day to what the Ukrainians are living through is what's driving these conversations that President Zelenskyy is having with President Biden and these other G7 leaders.

BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, thank you very much for that. Joining me now for more on this is CNN Global Affairs analyst Susan Glasser and the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst. Susan first, just looking again, at that video just coming in of this latest strike that President Zelenskyy said was Russians striking central part of the country, as Phil Black said, a shopping mall in the central part of the country a long way from the front lines of this fight. What is your reaction to seeing this latest strike today?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, unfortunately, this is the barbaric means by which Putin and his military have been carrying out their war, it has been a war against civilian targets from the very beginning. And, you know, there's been a stepped up campaign, in fact, over the last few days of missile strikes at- military targets, far from the front lines. And the timing, I think is not coincidental with President Biden and other G7 leaders gathering in Germany, and of course, Russia being on the top of the agenda, what to do about its war.

You know, what's amazing is that, for Putin, attacks on civilians, violating international law seems to be part of his actual military strategy. This is not some accidental missile gone awry. And President Zelenskyy said that there were more than 1,000 civilians inside that shopping mall.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Ambassador, but to the -- what Kaitlan was laying out now Zelenskyy's message to G7 leaders today really, in light of I mean, just take it also in context with this latest strike on innocent civilians in a shopping mall in central Ukraine. Zelenskyy says that he wants needs this war to end by the winter by the end of 2022. What do you think of that?

JOHN E. HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I think it's laudable objective, but highly unlikely. Moscow is not going to be able to achieve its ends in the next six months. And neither is Ukraine. I think the grinding stalemate you see in the east with a small advantage to the Russians is likely to continue until we send more advanced artillery and other weapons systems to Ukraine.

If we do, they can blunt that offensive and perhaps even roll fuel the Russians back, but not in time to finish this war by the end of the year, unfortunately,

KOTB: Yes, unfortunately, you know, and Susan, the latest move with regard to sanctioning or punishing Russia over the war is an agreement or a proposal coming out among the G7 to cap the price of Russian oil, you know, sanctions have not and are not stopping Vladimir Putin very clearly. But this new move, is this different?

GLASSER: Well, I do think, you know, it's in part a response to the resilience of the Russian economy, which because it's so, you know, oil and gas dependent. When you start a war unprovoked on your neighbor and drive up global oil prices, then you benefit from that. And that is what we're seeing right now. It's interesting, this U.S. led move to try to get others, other European countries that are already feeling the pain of increased prices. And so the question is, how much are they willing to bear.

But remember, one of the key factors that has helped Russia economically is that other parts of the world outside of Europe, such as India, such as the Middle East have been reluctant to join on to the U.S. led sanctions and the U.S. led efforts to isolate and contain Russia and I think as long as there's buyers for Russian oil, it's very hard to see the kind of shutting down entirely of the Russian economy that was originally envisioned.


BOLDUAN: There's only so much that can be on when there are still buyers, big buyers like that in the market. You know, Ambassador, the NATO Secretary General announced this morning that the alliance is going to be increasing the number of high readiness forces in the eastern part of its territory from about 40,000 to well over 300,000. How significant is this?

HERBST: This is a prudent measure to defend our East European NATO allies from Kremlin aggression. Moscow is now threatening Lithuania, because the E.U. is cutting off transport of sanction items from the Russian mainland to Kaliningrad, which goes to Lithuania. So it makes perfect sense to strengthen NATO's east, again, to deter Moscow from escalating its war this time to NATO territory.

BOLDUAN: Also seems just like a show of numbers, just how the whole security apparatus, the security structure of Europe has completely changed and overhauled in just a matter of months when you see what NATO is now being forced to do and says it is prudent, as you say, Ambassador, to do in this moment in face of Russian aggression. Thank you both very much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, after the Roe decision Democrats in Congress, they are now calling on President Biden to step in and act. One of the senators joins us next.