Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

DOJ Releases New Video Of The January Riot; Donald Trump Admits He Lost The Election?; President Biden Signed Juneteenth Into Law; GOP Blocks The Right To Vote; SCOTUS Approved Two Rulings. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): It is a good day. We made progress, today. Embrace that. Thank you for watching. It's good to share it with you. The big show, Don Lemon Tonight, big star, D. Lemon, right now. How are we going to celebrate Juneteenth?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: When there is progress, we should celebrate. We'll figure it out this weekend. But I am just going to celebrate by honoring the people who came before me. I try to celebrate it, every day. By honoring the people, who came before me, who fought for me to be able to sit in this seat, every night, to be able to speak with authority. To be able to give my point of view, not opinion -- there's a difference. Opinion is not based in fact. A point of view is based in fact and in truth.

And it is in my particular lens, through which I am speaking, as a Black man in America, who happens to be gay. And I have the incredible opportunity to have this platform to -- to speak directly, not only to the American people but to the world to more than 200 countries around the world. So that's how I try to honor, every single day the slaves, the enslaved people who were my ancestors. So, there you go.

CUOMO: I was part of the learning curve there. Enslaved, not slaves.

LEMON: Enslaved.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Enslaved, you're right.

CUOMO: And our friends on the left have to, on a day like today, not chase after enslaved versus slaves. Don't play P.C. with terms. Recognize who the allies are, who we're in favor of today, who sees it as the right kind of history, and who doesn't?

LEMON: Is that an issue?

CUOMO: Fight the -- fight the big --

LEMON: Enslaved versus slave? CUOMO: Yes. Fight the big fights.


CUOMO: You want to win the big fights, fight the big fights.

LEMON: I had no idea that that was an issue. I don't really see -- you know, when people say I like to say survivor, instead of victim. I get that, but that's me. I just said, enslaved, because it was -- I thought it was proper grammar. It was no P.C. to it. It just sort of, came up but I had no idea that that was an issue.

Look, if you want to say slaves or enslaved -- yes, people were slaves and they were enslaved. I mean, I think both are correct. So, you know, I don't believe in P.C. But I respect, if you want -- whatever term you want to use, fine, go do it.

CUOMO: So, I'll tell you what I love about it. Living moments of history in this job is the blessing of doing the job. Too often, it's ugly history but having Opal Lee on the show. I know you know her.


CUOMO: And her telling the story. This is a lifelong journey. Bigots came, burned down her house when she was a kid. She'd been fighting this fight for decades. To see her belief in tonight, and what can come beyond. See, because that's what is it. It's not an end. It's a proof that we can take another step. And it's beautiful to be able to share it with you tonight.

LEMON: I think, yes, absolutely. I think more importantly, though, we also need to speak -- you know, you spoke about the left but we need to speak to the right. The people who are -- who didn't want to commemorate this or don't think that the full history of our country should be taught in schools.

All of it should be taught. There were many more people who contributed to the beginnings, the starting of this country. To making this country what it is than just one group of people, many, many people. And the history needs to be told by many people. There are more voices now. More people have a voice. More people have a platform. And history is, really about, if you want the true history, it's really about who is telling it, right?

So, if you are the person who happens to be telling the history. You are going to tell it in your favor. And the best way to correct that, so that some people aren't over indexed in the history of the country is to have all voices, as many voices as possible, included in that history.

CUOMO: You know, I had somebody today say well, you know, I'm just -- I'm worried.


LEMON: In the telling of that history. Go on, sorry. CUOMO: I don't want people lecturing my kid like hey, you're white,

you're bad because of this and this. And I said why do you think that's what it will be? I said that's the only problem is your perception. Why wouldn't you want your kid to understand the roots of slavery and the legacy of slavery? How it has played out for enslaved people as a culture throughout the years. Why wouldn't you want that?

LEMON: You don't think that telling people that they were beaten and sold and lynched makes them feel bad?

CUOMO: That's right. That's exactly right. (Inaudible) happen here.


LEMON: Get your -- that's your idea of -- that's the whole thing about what privilege is. Is that you -- you -- people don't like to have their pleasure interrupted. Their peace interrupted. And so, people think that it should be the way that it should be, because they have been taught that in --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- in this country. But, you know, telling people -- having people come to the realization, especially ancestors of slaves, that they -- they were enslaved. And that they were beaten, that they were sold, that they weren't able to accrue wealth. They weren't able to go to school. They weren't able to go vote. You think that makes them feel good?


So, the folks on the other side, stop making it about you. And be curious, instead of judgmental.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: That's all.

CUOMO: And look, conservatives say they're all about the principles that reformation is about. Don't you want your kids given an avenue to dignity --


CUOMO: -- and for them to see what abolitionists were about?


CUOMO: And what it is to fight the good fight


CUOMO: -- for the best of reasons? To celebrate your own brothers and sisters in humanity?

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: Isn't that what you are taking them to church for?

LEMON: See everyone every Sunday. You know, I talk -- we could have a whole conversation about this. Every Sunday, you know, people go --


CUOMO: Do it on the handoff.

LEMON: -- they are supposed to be -- we will. They're supposed to be -- we're supposed to be seeing each other's humanity and loving each other and opening up and learning about each other. But yet, and still, you know what happens. I got to go because I am going to talk about this. I got a lot to say in this show about --


CUOMO: I'll be listening. I love you, D. lemon.

LEMON: -- what we're talking about. I love you, too, brother.

CUOMO: Happy Juneteenth.

LEMON: I'm so happy.

CUOMO: Joyous Juneteenth.

LEMON: I can't wait to talk about this on the handoff and more. I'm so excited to be doing that with. Thank you. I'll see you soon.

This is CNN Tonight -- this is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I did it again. This is Don Lemon Tonight.

And history is the record the story of events, right? That took place in our past as we have just been talking about, our past. Sometimes, you live through it like we did with the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th. And sometimes, you live amid the aftermath of it, like we do in this country with the racist legacy of slavery, the civil right -- Civil War and Jim Crow.

History, you know, they say, is written by the victors. That's the same. But when it comes to whitewashing history, it is often the losers, or the people on the wrong side of history who want to do that.

And Republicans in Congress are doing it when it comes to the violence of January 6th, falsely claiming that there was no assault on the capitol or on police officers on duty that day. But we can all see with our own eyes. Tonight, there's new video. It's released by the Justice Department. And I have a warning for you, it is horrifying and it is disturbing.


UNKNOWN: That's fucking piece of shit! Where's the fucking (Inaudible) have to protect America. UNKNOWN: Come on, fucking police.

UNKNOWN: Guys, come on.

UNKNOWN: Come on, take your shit off! Take your shit off!


LEMON (on camera): So, there you go. You know, tourists, patriots, as some in Congress and the Senate have said. OK. It is ugly. It's painful and the language and the attitude and the people there. And it's probably embarrassing, for a lot of people to watch, a lot of you, I know.

The man, in the red jacket, that you see in the middle of the screen, doing most of the -- speaking most of the profanities, or yelling, spewing them. Identified by protestors -- prosecutors, excuse me, as Thomas Webster. Thomas Webster, a former marine and retired New York City police officer. He is accused of using the flagpole as a weapon. Rushing and tackling police officers, a total of seven-federal crimes in all.

That deadly insurrection incited by the former occupant of the White House, the world's biggest-sore loser, who refused to admit that he lost the election. Sending his enraged supporters, like you saw some of them there, to the capitol to try and block the peaceful transfer of power. They did not. People died. And it all could have been avoided if Trump only said after the election what he finally said to Sean Hannity, last night.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We were supposed to win easily at 64 million votes, and we got 75 million votes. And we didn't win.


LEMON (on camera): We didn't win. We didn't win. Did you hear him? We didn't win. Yes, no kidding, you did not win. He knows it. He's always known it.

His supporters in Congress have always known it, too. But instead of saying then what he says now, Trump spawned deadly violence at the capitol. And Republicans are trying to whitewash it.

Just like they are, still, trying to whitewash racism in America's past, trying to block teaching America's school kids about the history of racism in this country and the impact on our country, railing against it, calling it anti-American.


TRUMP: The Biden administration has also issued regulations to indoctrinate America's school children with poisonous and divisive left-wing doctrines such as critical race theory and the exact opposite of the American belief that we all are created equal in the holy image of God.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It's not going to be allowed in Florida classrooms. Spending tax dollars to teach kids that America is a rotten place is absolutely unacceptable.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The critical race theory, 1619, this is a project that is destroying our country.


LEMON (on camera): It's -- by the way, let's just be clear about this. Critical race theory, that term, right? That is the new boogieman for the right. There's always got to be a boogieman. It was acorn. Remember that, for a while? Acorn. Acorn. The New Black Panthers. The New Black Panthers. And then, it was, antifa, antifa, antifa.

It's always like, some boogieman that's got to be, or whether it's, you know, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, whatever it's got to be a boogieman. So now, critical race theory is the new boogieman. Don't fall for the Okeydoke. It's so transparent but people do fall for it, as we know, since there was an insurrection on Capitol Hill from people who were co-opted by the big lie. And so, now, critical race theory is the big lie, right?

But tonight, there is exciting news about America. OK? Let's -- let's -- the good news. And a nation coming to grips with its past and the horrors of slavery, Juneteenth is now a national holiday. Juneteenth National Independence Day, to be exact, forever going forward. America commemorates June 19th, 1865, as the end of slavery in the United States.

The current president of the United States, Joe Biden, signing the bill into law in a remarkable and historic ceremony at the White House. America taking a giant step forward in acknowledging the horrors of slavery. The president speaking about Juneteenth in biblical terms.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A day that reflects what the Psalm tells us. Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.

Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery, of subjugation and a promise of brighter morning to come. This is the day of profound -- in my view -- profound weight and profound power. A day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take. What I have long called America's original sin.


LEMON (on camera): Also, momentous. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black American to hold that office, witnessing and participating in the historic event.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names. Jubilee day. Freedom Day. Liberation day. Emancipation Day. And today, a national holiday. We are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people. We are footsteps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.


LEMON (on camera): Healing the stains of racism is a very slow process in America. Juneteenth marks a day in 1865. But President Lincoln actually, issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Americans in parts of the south held in bondage for two years after they were freed from enslavement.

Making Juneteenth a national holiday should be a no brainer in the 21st century. And yet, 14 Republicans in the House voted against the bill. There they are. Take a look at them. Fourteen white men don't want to be part of this historical moment. Historic moment, I should say.

Congressman Matt Rosendale of Montana tweeting I voted against the bill that would make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday, one of 14 Republicans to do so. This legislation is the culmination of decades of efforts by the left to prevent unashamed celebrations of our national story, heritage, and history.

My gosh. Their intent is to replace the Fourth of July with this new day. One that will inevitably focus on America's darkest moments. We're not perfect as a country. But we are a great nation morally, economically, culturally, and in many other ways besides.

I will never support efforts to pull down that legacy and replace it with self-hatred. Yes, you -- if you are there watching me, I read it with disdain, quite honestly, that it deserves.


So anyways, I don't want to go off script because I might say something I don't want to say. Self-examination, though, is not self- hatred. The congressman's statement is just nonsense like so many Republicans. He is making this national issue a battle between left and right. It is not.

Civil rights and human rights are not a left and right issue, right? It should not be based on ideology. It's based on -- actually, if you are a patriot and you believe in all of those papers. All of those documents that were signed to celebrate our independence, then you should be celebrating the independence of all Americans, not just some, and the history of all Americans, not just some.

No one is trying to replace the Fourth of July. You are making this a wedge issue. But the new holiday does focus on one of America's darkest moments. And why shouldn't we? Why shouldn't we? It is part of American history just as the land was taken from Native Americans. Part of American history, too, but it is the truth.

As I said last night, there is nothing wrong or divisive about recognizing our history, including the ugliest parts. The president saying that we should learn from our history.


BIDEN: Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments. They don't ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them.


LEMON (on camera): So, at the same time, laws to uphold voting rights and equal access to the ballot box for all Americans are stalled in both Houses of Congress. Republicans are blocking passage, and GOP- controlled states across the country are writing new laws, hundreds of them to deny voting rights, especially for black and brown Americans. That's the truth. No matter how they try to spin it, that's what's happening.

The president calling out the GOP for its full-scale assault on the right to vote, saying voting is a key part of fulfilling the promise of equality for all Americans.


BIDEN: It's not going to be fulfilled, so long as the sacred right to vote remains under attack.



LEMON (on camera): So, we need to keep fighting for the right to vote for all Americans. And yet, America took a giant step forward today in recognizing a part of our history that we all wish didn't happen. But it did. And now, we're officially commemorating the end of that dark history, the end of slavery.

So, I'll start where I began. There was a time when someone like me could not sit in this chair, would not be welcomed into the homes of people all across America. And I know, you know, I sit here every night and I talk to you about these issues, about the insurrection, about racism, whatever, and sometimes I feel like I'm preaching. But if I don't say it, who will?

And I'm not saying it just because I want to say it or I'm making things up. This is the truth about America. This is part of our history. So, I'm going to keep saying it as long as I have this platform. And that's going to be for a while. I am a completely emancipated person. So, there you go, an American. Happy Juneteenth, you all.

President Biden calling on Americans to view Juneteenth as a day of reflection and fighting for equality for all Americans.

Up next, the woman who literally wrote the book on Juneteenth and was at the White House today to bear witness.



LEMON (on camera): President Biden signing a bill to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Let's discuss the significance with historian Annette Gordon-Reed. I am so happy that she is here. She is the author of "On Juneteenth." I said you literally wrote the book, and you did. Thank you so much for joining. Good evening to you. Happy Juneteenth.

ANNETTE GORDON-REED, AUTHOR, ON JUNETEENTH: Good evening to you, too. Thank you. Happy Juneteenth to you, too.

LEMON: So, you were at the White House, professor, for the bill signing. And you wrote the book on it. What were you thinking as Juneteenth became a federal holiday?

GORDON-REED: Well, I -- it was amazing, to me. I was surprised by the Senate's action and then surprised that the House moved so quickly and even more surprised about the signing today. I got an invitation this morning, and hopped on a plane and came down to be a part of the festivities. It was really wonderful.


GORDON-REED: Wonderful day.

LEMON: You know, this came together quickly this week at a time when voting rights are really under threat, under assault. And it seems no agreement can be reached here. When people on the right are making a new boogieman out of critical race theory, at a time when, you know, many in the Republican Party, the party -- they are pursuing a sort of white identity politics. How can all those things be happening? And yet, there is a near-unanimous support of this?

GORDON-REED: Well, there was near-unanimous support for it last year. There was only one senator who held out. You know, voting rights we're at a really critical juncture in the American democracy here. And the question of voters' rights and the determination to, in some quarters, apparently, to suppress votes is strong.

I mean, the holiday is important. It's a symbolic thing. But it's -- it's important in its own way. But we're talking about politics now. Hardball politics when we come to voting. And that's always from the days of reconstruction. Obviously, after the end of the Civil War and blacks -- black men got the right to vote. Black participation in voting has always been a contentious subject.

And so, you know, these are -- they're not the same. These two issues are not the same.


GORDON-REED: One doesn't necessarily, you know, mean that the other -- that there's any sort of change of heart about those particular issues.

LEMON: That was really what was at the heart of my question be -- and I'm wondering because there are some real issues that we need to deal with obviously with racism in this country with the history of this country, as well, and the teaching of history.


I'm just wondering maybe that it was -- that it had this vote and all of this support because it's easy in some quarters to be performative, to do a performative gesture rather than do the real work. Do you understand what I'm saying?

GORDON-REED: Yes. Yes. Yes. There may be a little bit of that as well. But we're going to do right by Juneteenth. That is to say, to continue to do the things that people who have been celebrating it have done. And that is, make it an educational holiday. To talk about history and all of those things and we'll continue to fight about voting rights.

So, there -- I see these things as, you know, I -- I understand a game may be played here. But it's an important day and there are positive things about it and we are going to take it and run with it.

GORDON-REED: Yes. Look, you take what you can and you move forward. Listen, I did say near unanimous --


LEMON: -- because 14 Republicans in the House voted against establishing the holiday. One of them is Congressman Matt Rosendale. And he says their intent is to replace the Fourth of July with this new day. One that will inevitably focus on America's darkest moments.

Juneteenth is not replacing the Fourth of July. And you actually think the two holidays complement each other. Explain that.

GORDON-REED: They do complement.


GORDON-REED: They complement one another. I don't -- I don't know who they are but I know I have no intention, nobody that I know has any intention of replacing the Fourth of July. We celebrated Juneteenth and the Fourth of July when I was growing up.

The interesting thing about it, the order that Gordon Granger issued general order number three, talks about the end of slavery. But then he says that the former-enslaved people would occupy -- would basically be in a state of absolute equality with their former enslavers. He didn't say enslavers, he said masters, but you get the idea. And

that's important, because that phrase links to the Emancipation Proclamation. It links to Abraham Lincoln who used the Declaration of Independence which we celebrate on July 4th, to talk about equality, the importance of equality and creating a new birth of freedom in the United States of America.

So, Juneteenth, that order is linked to the declaration. It is linked to the Fourth of July. It is not a substitute for the Fourth of July. Nobody -- well, you know, there may be some people out there -- but there is no reason to think that the people who are proponents of Juneteenth want to get rid of Fourth of July.


GORDON-REED: African-American people have been the most patriotic people in this country.

LEMON: Thank you.

GORDON-REED: We have had the deepest faith in this country from the very beginning and took the words of the declaration when they came seriously.

LEMON: Seriously. Yes.

GORDON-REED: And have always tried to make them -- yes -- always tried to make them real. So that's -- that's -- that's not true. That's a misunderstanding. A mis -- you know, not a great present -- not the right presentation of what is going on here.

LEMON: And that is why people need to know the full history of the country, professor. You just taught a lesson right there. That everyone -- and everyone should listen to.

But I've got to ask you before I let you go about 94-year-old Opal Lee at the bill signing today. Your book is on Juneteenth and for many Black Americans like Opal, establishing this holiday has been a fight going on 100 years. Talk to me about that.

GORDON-REED: It was amazing to see her. When I was going down, I was saying to myself, I hope Ms. Lee is able to get here. Is able to get here. And I was sitting there and then she walked in at the last moment. And I was like, this is great. This is great. Because she -- you know, I -- we've been doing some programs together recently talking about my book and talking about her quest.

And I asked her, when she got involve understand this? And she said, well, when I was about 89 years old and I thought to myself, wow, how wonderful? To be 89 and start on a quest. And now a successful quest. I mean, it meant so much to her to be there today. And to be recognized. And to have the things that she planned come to fruition. So, I mean, I was just over the moon for her.

LEMON: Yes. Annette Gordon-Reed, you are fantastic. I love your work. I love having you on. GORDON-REED: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate the fight and your perspective. Thank you and please come back. Best of luck to you and again, happy Juneteenth.

GORDON-REED: Happy Juneteenth to you, too.

LEMON: Thank you.

So, Republicans and Democrats can work together to make a new holiday. So now, what about voting rights? Police reform? And everything else on Biden's agenda?


BIDEN: I hope this is the beginning of a change in the way we deal with one another.




LEMON (on camera): If you thought President Biden had his hands full overseas with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is -- Putin -- it is nothing, compared to what he is up against now that he is back in Washington. Back at home.

Joining me now Matthew Dowd, former chief strategist for President George W. Bush. Good evening, sir. Thank you so much. Hey. I just want to tell you, before we get started here. I saw your article in Medium. It's great. Beautifully written. Honoring Juneteenth by speaking truth and -- and fighting for our democracy. Thank you for that. And I suggest that everyone --



DOWD: My pleasure. We all -- we all need to remember that it -- what happened was the truth wasn't told to 250,000 slaves in Texas and that's why we have to keep telling the truth today.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Matthew. I want to talk, let's start now with the -- this new video from January 6th. OK? President Trump goes on Fox. The Fox propaganda channel last night and he admits that he didn't win six months after the -- that bloody day. But that's not going to stop the big lie and the impact that it's having on the Republican base.

DOWD: No. I mean, Don, the problem is the big lie has become part of the GOP platform. It's -- it's -- it's inherent in every single conversation they have.


They are passing bills in Michigan today to put more restrictions on votes based on the big lie of widespread voter fraud. They're going to have a special session here in Texas this summer to push again more restrictions and more partisan involvement in elections based on the big lie and based on the idea that there's this fictitious voter fraud.

And so, this is not going away. The former president continues to stir it up. All of his minions that are now out in front on this across state after state after state and in Washington, D.C. keep doing it. And I have to say on the day that Joe Biden -- I am relating this to Juneteenth sides the federal holiday which I think is awesome.

I have to point out while this -- that goes on in these Republicans, some Republicans voted for it which is good or most Republicans voted for it, but at the same time they voted for it, they are telling, they're lying to people in a similar manner that happened to the slaves in Texas. They are being lied to about what the truth is. And so, to me, it's a complete hypocritical moment.

LEMON: Yes. Look. They passed this Juneteenth. Lawmakers did. This bill. So easily. Yet, when it comes to voting rights, right, police reform, infrastructure, most of the GOP is all about stonewalling and appealing to white-identity politics. How do you make sense of that?

DOWD: Well, I think it's -- it's become a typical Republican move, which is, do something symbolic. So, they can sort of try to take credit for it and say, look what we did. And then do all kinds of nefarious activities behind the scenes or block everything that may have a substantive gain for people in their voting and holding people accountable.

I mean, I -- one of the things I think has been neglected in this is, yes, absolutely, voter impediments and voter restrictions are awful. But why? Why is it that the Republicans are doing that?

It's primarily because they're doing on the other -- on their left hand -- all sorts of awful policies that they don't want to be held accountable by the voters. Because the voters -- the only mechanism by which the American public can hold the leaders accountable is the vote. That's the only mechanism. And now Republicans are trying to figure out a way, the last vestige of accountability to rid themselves of the last vestige of accountability.

LEMON: You know, the current president, Biden, back in Washington facing the messy reality of a stalled agenda. Can -- do you think he can build on this rare moment of bipartisanship? Is this something that he can build on/off of?

DOWD: I -- I think they -- I'm concerned and that -- this is why I've been arguing that the only way for us to get past this moment in our American democracy is for the Republicans to suffer devastating losses in 2022 and 2024. My fear is that Republicans are just are doing votes like on the Juneteenth holiday as symbolic votes for them. And then everything else they are going to do will be detrimental to the American public.

So, I hope the president, president Biden, pulls out of his back pocket all of the ways that he can -- that he says he can sort of convince Republicans to do otherwise. After watching the last-five years, after watching what happened on January 6th, and after watching the response by Republicans to an insurrection. Why would we think the Republicans would do something good when they're unwilling to condemn something so bad?

LEMON: Yes. Right on, Matthew Dowd. I appreciate it. And again, thank you. Read his --


DOWD: Thank you.

LEMON: -- the column that he wrote on Juneteenth in Medium. Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

DOWD: Thanks.

LEMON: The Supreme Court making huge decisions on Obamacare and gay rights. Liberals joining conservatives. Conservatives joining liberals. What does it mean for the future of the court?



LEMON (on camera): A lot of people who thought they knew what the Supreme Court would do were surprised this morning by two huge rulings, a seven to two decision that saved Obamacare from a GOP-led challenge to overturn it. And a 9 to zero unanimous ruling in favor of a Catholic foster care agency that refused to work with same-sex couples.

So, joining me now, CNN's senior legal analyst Laura Coates. Laura, good evening to you. Welcome. So, the conservatives join the liberals. Then, the liberals join the conservatives. Laura, do we have the SCOTUS we thought we had?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it seems that we might have some surprises, may have up their sleeve. Number one, oftentimes we're looking at a Monday evening for these rulings to come down and here we are on a Thursday and two really big ones that actually are quite telling about this refusal, essentially to be defined along these ideological lines.

However, when it comes to the Obamacare, AKA, the Affordable Care Act decision, it really is in line with the conservatives who generally will look for those -- those small opportunities about standing. To say, listen, we only want those who have, you know, skin in the game, a horse in the race to be able to actually bring cases before us.

We're not going to be expansive. We're not going to let people opine and pontificate and try to have this sort of discussions in front of the court. It's got to be a real matter of controversy, and one that Congress is not supposed to grapple with but, instead, the court is.

LEMON: Yes. Laura, this is the third challenge to Obamacare or as you -- AKA, the Affordable Care Act, AKA, ACA you know, that the SCOTUS has weighed in on. And the vote margins to uphold it are getting wider and wider. But there is already another lawsuit brewing and this one is in Texas. Do you agree with those who are saying that Obamacare is basically enshrined in the law at this point?


COATES: Well, you know, because Supreme Court already has the authority to decide which cases they want to hear. I mean, the overwhelming, and I do mean the overwhelming majority of cases that people want the Supreme Court to hear. They don't take. They don't review. Particularly, if the case has already been resolved they don't give two bites out of an apple normally, let alone three.

But here the third time was not the charm. And here's why. Listen. They went from this moment in time and saying, listen. The Congress can use its sort of power of the purse, as a tax issue to be able to enforce its individual mandate. Then when it went away in terms of an actual-financial penalty and went down to zero they still said, you know what? You are going to have to show me there's some actual penalty involved, that you are actually harmed by the impact of this individual mandate.

And so, what the court did essentially close the door in a particular way by saying if there is no financial penalty in place, you really are going to have a difficult time showing you are actually an injured party by just having this individual mandate out there.

And so, they had left it open. Yes, somebody could essentially say I am going to assert standing. I have a dog in this fight, essentially. But without that component of actually being harmed by a financial penalty, they have made that door closed, if not locked.

LEMON: So, I want to take a look at this foster care agency case, if you will, Laura. This was a case about religious freedom. What did the court say? What's the bottom line here?

COATES: So, remember, this comes down to the first term of the free exercise clause and you've seen over a series of cases now where you have religious organizations who are saying, listen, I don't want the government telling me how I'm supposed to deal with the world. Whether it's a matter of whose cake I am baking. Or in terms of the healthcare benefits I extend relating to contraceptives and the like.

And what you see here is the court siding with -- siding against the city of Philadelphia and it's in favor of the Catholic foster agency that essentially says look, I'm not agreeing that marriage is between both -- two people of the same sex. They believe it's only for people of opposite sex.

And so, for that reason, they are saying we do not are going -- are not going to abide by the terms of the city of Philadelphia when looking at how to place a child for foster care. And Philadelphia said, look, we have got this rule here. We don't want people to engage in discrimination. And therefore, you are going to have to abide.

The court, essentially said, listen, you have to give people the opportunity to express religious viewpoints. And unless there is some overwhelming state interest that you apply uniformly or universally, we are going to side with the -- with the church every time.

LEMON: Laura Coates, thank you very much.

COATES: Thank you.

LEMON (on camera): It is the birthplace of the KKK, the biggest confederate monument in the world is there. But they are planning a huge Juneteenth celebration. CNN is in Stone Mountain, Georgia, next.



LEMON (on camera): President Biden signing into law a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. Even a small Georgia town where the KKK was founded will be celebrating Juneteenth this year.

CNN's Martin Savage has the story.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Eighty-year-old Gloria Brown remembers when hundreds of men in white robes would descend on her town each summer.

UNKNOWN: As a little girl they looked like a white ghost. You know, they used to have black ghosts. They looked like a white ghost.

SAVIDGE: Crosses would burn on the nearby mountain top. Brown's father a World War I veteran reassured her one day things would be different.

UNKNOWN: He said, but that will change.

SAVIDGE: He was right. This weekend Stone Mountain, Georgia, birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan, holds its first Juneteenth celebration honoring the end of slavery.

CHAKIRA JOHNSON, MAYOR PRO TEM, STONE MOUNTAIN: We'll have a dance group, African dancers, live de-jay. We'll have vendors and food and then we'll end the night with fireworks.

SAVIDGE: Deputy Mayor Chakira Johnson is excited to show off how much is different in the village of roughly 6,300, now 78 percent black.

JOHNSON: It is our hope that people will see us for who we are today and recognize that, you know, things have changed. We may not be perfect but we're not who we used to be.

SAVIDGE: but the celebration is not without controversy. Thanks to the town's neighbor. You see, the entire village sits in the shadow of the largest confederate monument in the United States, a carving on the side of a mountain in Stone Mountain Park. With its confederate named streets, confederate flags and three-acre mountain homage to myth of the so-called lost cause a twisted reinterpretation of the south's defeat in the Civil War. To many, it's a giant reminder of the old Jim Crow south and the village has nothing to do with it. You have no say as to what goes on --

JOHNSON: We have --

SAVIDGE: -- or what the park does.

JOHNSON: No say. Zero say.

SAVIDGE: The controversy was sparked when a protest group, the Stone Mountain Action Coalition which described themselves as a movement dedicated to a more inclusive Stone Mountain Park requested a booth at the village's Juneteenth festival to pass out flyers about the park. The village said, no, because it was a celebration.

GABRIELLE ROGERS, CO-FOUNDER, STONE MOUNTAIN ACTION COALITION: They wanted a day without politics, a day without disturbance. And that is not what we stand for.

SAVIDGE: It's not the first time Stone Mountain village has been caught up in the middle of anger over Stone Mountain Park.

CROWD: Protect the black nation.

SAVIDGE: Last summer, leftist, anti-racist groups and armed far right militia members came to town in a tense face-off over race, politics, and the mountain memorial.

Mereda Davis Johnson is a commissioner in the county that encompasses Stone Mountain Park. She is no fan of the monument.



SAVIDGE: But Johnson also spearheaded the effort to make Juneteenth a county holiday and believes it is a time to be celebrated by everyone.

JOHNSON: Just like we celebrate the 4th of July for the freedoms of people in this country, I think it is also important to celebrate Juneteenth for the freedoms of Black people in this country.

SAVIDGE: Gloria brown's father wasn't the only one to predict a different day for his town. So did another man in 1963. In his famous "I have a dream" speech Martin Luther King said in part, let freedom ring from the snow capped --

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, MARTIN LUTHER KING'S SON: Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

SAVIDGE: This weekend in Stone Mountain, Georgia, that dream will seem closer than ever, even as they celebrate in the shadow of the confederacy.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Stone Mountain Village, Georgia.


LEMON: As only martin savage can do. Beautifully done, Martin. Thank you so much.

Up ahead, first it was antifa. Then it was tourists. Now they are trying to tell you it's FBI agents who stormed the capitol. Yes. They are. Maybe all the flags and hats could give them a clue. Stay with us.