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Supreme Court Ends Affirmative Action; Capitol Riot Fugitive Arrested Near Obama's Home; Trump Campaign Official Shown Classified Documents By Trump; Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) Weighs In On The Supreme Court Ruling Against Affirmative Action In College Admissions. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 29, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has more on today's landmark ruling.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Supreme Court stirring up protest with its decision gutting affirmative action, saying colleges and universities can no longer rely on race in the admissions process. But prospective students are still allowed to talk about how their race has shaped their experiences in their applications.
The 6-3 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts will now prohibit students from checking a box indicating their race, specifically saying the practice at Harvard and University of North Carolina cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. The majority not explicitly saying they are overruling more than four decades of precedent that allowed affirmative action, but the three liberal justices writing, "Today, this court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress."
ANGE GABEAU, PRESIDENT, HARVARD BLACK STUDENTS ASSOCIATION: I'm really most worried about, you know, the youth and like the students younger than us and high school and middle school and elementary school who might not get the same opportunity that I did.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The two cases were brought by the group Students for Fair Admissions, led by activist Edward Blum, who has fought for nearly a decade to eradicate affirmative action.
EDWARD BLUM, PRESIDENT, STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS: Classifying students by race and ethnicity, treating them differently because of their race and ethnicity, is unfair.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): At the forefront of the Harvard fight, Asian students who argued they were disadvantaged because Harvard prioritized other minorities and used a personal rating score that did not rank them favorably. The issue is deeply personal to Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the first
woman of color on the Supreme Court. She issued a fiery dissent accusing the majority of employing an unjustified exercise of power that will only serve to highlight the court's own impotence in the face of an America whose cries for equality resound. Justice Sotomayor has been outspoken in the past saying that using other methods to ensure diversity won't work.
SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: It's not that I don't believe it works. I don't think the statistics show it works.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In fact, when California banned affirmative action in 1996, U.C. Berkeley said Black and Hispanic representation on their campus dropped by 50 percent. But Justice Clarence Thomas, one of two Black justices on the high court spoke in personal terms too, saying he believes the Constitution is colorblind.
"While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles that all men are created equal, are equal citizens, and must be treated equally before the law."
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the court, pushed back in a separate dissent, bashing the majority opinion as exuding a let-them-eat-cake-obliviousness and said, "deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life."
SCHNEIDER (on camera): The Supreme Court, however, saying that U.S. military service academies can continue to take race into consideration as a factor in admissions, essentially exempting those military schools from this ruling. Now, this was spelled out in a footnote in the majority opinion, but Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson calling this out in a dissent, saying that the court is essentially prioritizing diversity in the bunker versus the boardroom. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
CAMEROTA: Okay, let's bring in Richard Kahlenberg. He's a non- resident scholar at Georgetown University, and he was an expert witness for the student group involved in bringing the lawsuits against Harvard and UNC. Richard, thanks so much for being here. Tell us your reaction to this decision.
RICHARD KAHLENBERG, NONRESIDENT SCHOLAR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I think this is a win for working class students and poor students. And the reason I say that is right now, the system using race in admissions tends to benefit wealthy students of all races. So, at Harvard, 71 percent of the students who are Black, Hispanic, and Native American come from the top socioeconomic fifth of the population, of those populations.
Overall, there are 15 times as many wealthy students as low-income students at both Harvard and the University of North Carolina. What this decision will do is make it harder for places like Harvard and UNC to basically purchase racial justice on the cheap. They'll instead, if they want racial diversity, which I think they do, will have to recruit and admit and enroll working class students of all races, a disproportionate share of whom are Black and Hispanic.
I mean, it's no accident, given our history of racial oppression in this country, that Black and Hispanic students are disproportionately low income and have low wealth, live in high poverty neighborhoods. And they will disproportionately benefit from a new system of class- based affirmative action.
CAMEROTA: I'm interested in those numbers that you're citing because there are, I thought, more poor Whites in the U.S. than poor Blacks. So how will it advantage low-income Black students more?
KAHLENBERG: Well, it really depends on how you define socioeconomic disadvantage. So, you're right, there are more poor Whites by income level than there are poor Blacks or poor Hispanics. However, what that misses are the fact that when you look at students of the same income, Black students tend to live in much higher poverty neighborhoods than low-income Whites.
There's also a huge wealth gap that exists in America. Again, it's related to the segregation and slavery and the history of redlining in this country. And so even if you look at students of the same income level, Black and Hispanic students have come from families with lower levels of wealth or net worth.
And so, if you count those additional factors in addition to income, then that's when you see greater levels of racial diversity. It's the fair thing to do. We should count wealth and we should count neighborhood because those predict opportunity in America. And when you look at those factors, that's when you really see a racial dividend, if you will, from class-based affirmative action.
CAMEROTA: So, President Biden spoke out against the court's decision today, calling for a new way of assessing applicants. So, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I propose for consideration is a new standard where college is taken into account, the adversity a student has overcome when selecting among qualified applicants. Let's be clear, under this new standard, just as was true under the earlier standard, students first have to be qualified applicants.
They need the GPA and test scores to meet the school's standards. Once that test is met, then adversity should be considered, including students' lack of financial means because we know too few students of low-income families, whether in big cities or rural communities, are getting an opportunity to go to college.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Richard, hold your thought, because I also want to bring in Elliott Williams, who's here with me in the studio, one of our legal experts. So, what do you think about that argument that Richard has been making and that President Biden there touched on?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, look, I think it's undeniable that income and sort of one's access to wealth in earlier life has some impact on where someone might go later on. Something we're not talking -- there's a couple of things we're not talking about in this discussion, which is number one, first generation students going to college, even setting aside the question of the family's wealth.
So much can be done to improve diversity on college campuses by bringing in first generation students whose parents didn't go to college in the first place. The other thing lost today, Alisyn, and this is really important, is what this means for gender, which is if you consider the fact that we can stipulate that colleges and universities are going to get less diverse on a racial level in the coming year or however long it is, consider that I think it's two- thirds of the Black students on college campuses now are women.
And if you're limiting the number of Black students on campus, you are in effect limiting or reducing the number of women on campus. And that is itself sort of an offshoot of all of this that I think is getting lost in the discussion of sort of the legality today.
CAMEROTA: Richard, your thoughts on that?
KAHLENBERG: No, I completely agree that first generation college students deserve a break. And that's part of what I've long advocated. I think it's the fair thing to do and will disproportionately benefit Black and Hispanic students. On the question of gender, I think that's an interesting point. If you do class-based affirmative action in a robust way, in a fair way, then you shouldn't see declines in Black and Hispanic representation.
I mean, there are -- we know -- we know from many universities that have had to stop using race usually because of a voter initiative, that when they design the programs intelligently, they can get racial diversity. So, therefore, I don't think we would see that decline in Black representation.
Particularly, again, if you look at wealth, I can't emphasize that enough. There's a huge wealth gap in this country that reflects our history of racism and that's got to become an important factor in college admissions in the future.
CAMEROTA: Yes, and Richard, on that point, I mean, is it your contention that legacy should be done away with, that that's a holdover that's no longer serving colleges?
KAHLENBERG: Absolutely. Back in 2010, I edited a book called "Affirmative Action for the Rich" about legacy preferences. And those preferences were hard to justify back then.
Today, they're really hard to square with a sense of fairness because those preferences go to students who have had all sorts of advantages in life. They're the least deserving of an extra break. And we saw in some states where they eliminated the use of race in places like U.C. Berkeley and UCLA. They did soon after eliminate legacy preferences and I hope we see that happen across the board.
I think that universities are genuinely concerned about racial diversity. And so that's one of the pieces of low-hanging fruit to eliminate legacy preferences for wealthy Whites and you'll create a fairer system and you'll get more racial diversity.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. Elliot, I mean, colleges, this does behoove colleges, having diversity on campus. Students want that. It helps the student body. So, there -- is it -- is it possible they're just going to have to get more creative or do you think that this is really going to cut into that goal?
WILLIAMS: Well, they have to get more creative if they wish to, like, number one, they have to define what diversity means. Even when speaking about Asians -- there's been so much discussion about Asian Americans today. What do you even mean when you talk about Asian Americans? You're talking about East Asians, South Asians, Southeast Asians, each of which have different experiences in this country, different economic relationships, you know, all of the above.
So, then the question opens up, as Justice Roberts said in his opinion, well, someone could still write in a college essay how their race had an impact on them growing up. Well, how does -- what does that do? And number one, how do you make that effective and functioning in a way that doesn't open the university up to a flood of litigation?
CAMEROTA: I'm glad you brought that up because it is, I mean, we've had other discussions on this program about how vague those instructions are. You can't consider race, but feel free to put it into your college essay because that's your lived experience. So, you say that this could spawn a cottage industry of litigation, like what?
WILLIAMS: Oh, so here's a great example. So again, so imagine a kid puts in a college essay, my parents are from Senegal. I am Black. I'm also a champion soccer player and my dad happened to go to this university, right? So, there's a number of factors that are going to affect them and maybe they considered that student's race, right? So, has the school violated the law by thinking about this person's race?
To the cottage industry point on this, I do wonder if -- if you're a nonprofit that is opposed to the use of race in admissions, why aren't you suing every university over the coming years to get the records of their admissions decisions to try to figure out how these essays or whatever information, their zip codes, or magazine subscriptions, whatever they're doing to try to figure out what people's race are, why are they not suing them?
And they absolutely could. I mean, cottage industry, it was my term, it's a little bit cute, but it is. I mean, and why wouldn't it be? It would be, I think, the smart thing to do if this is how you are aligned as an organization or a nonprofit.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much. Richard, thank you very much for your perspective. Really interesting to hear from you this evening.
KAHLENBERG: Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: All right, joining me now is University of Baltimore constitutional law professor, Michael Higginbotham. Okay, Michael, so, if race is no longer supposed to be a factor, explain what's going to happen on college campuses.
MICHAEL HIGGINBOTHAM, PROFESSIONAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE: Well, we're going to be in -- we're going to be in pretty big trouble in terms of creating racial diversity. It's a difficult time that we're in. College campuses are going to have to adjust because there's three things that they're going to need to do. One, they're going to need to recommit to creating a diverse student body, or if they hadn't committed before, they need to commit now.
Second thing they're going to need to do is to make sure that they take advantage of what Justice Roberts indicated by hiring a lot more admissions directors and admissions workers to look at the essays very closely because students are going to be talking about race. They're going to be talking about how race has impacted their lives. And so, they're going to have to have admissions directors looking at these essays very carefully to determine how race has impacted their lives.
And then the third thing, and most importantly, they're going to need to be creative. They're going to need to come up with race-neutral approaches that the Supreme Court said is still permissible, race- neutral approaches that in fact help to create a diverse student body.
If they can do those three things, they may be able to offset this decision that clearly makes it more difficult for moderate income people to have access to higher education, more difficult for Brown and Black students to have higher education and more difficult for those who have been left out for first gen.
So, it's a different time and schools are going to have to react accordingly.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, it sounds like a tall order. So, just -- Professor, out of curiosity, what does this mean for historically Black colleges and universities? If race is no longer a factor, how does that affect HBCU's?
HIGGINBOTHAM: As you mentioned, it's an HBCU. The key aspect there is historically Black. Most of our HBCU's are much more diverse than our majority schools these days. A lot of people don't realize that. But HBCUs are very, very diverse. In Maryland, our HBCUs are extremely diverse. So, when you start thinking about how it's going to impact HBCU's and
majority schools, perhaps more partnerships between these schools can in fact help the majority schools increase their diversity. And I don't think it's going to impact significantly on our HBCU's because they are already the most diverse institutions we have.
CAMEROTA: That is really interesting and not many people know that. So, maybe other schools will take a page from the HBCU's. Thank you very much, professor. Really appreciate you being here tonight.
HIGGINBOTHAM: Hey, it's my pleasure to join you.
CAMEROTA: All right, coming up, an armed man with materials to make Molotov cocktails was arrested today in former President Obama's Washington neighborhood. So, we have all the details for you next.
CAMEROTA: A man was arrested today in former President Barack Obama's Washington neighborhood with multiple firearms and materials to make a Molotov cocktail. According to law enforcement, the suspect, Taylor Taranto, claimed on an internet livestream that he had a detonator. Taranto also had an open warrant for his arrest related to the January 6th insurrection.
Let's get right to CNN's senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe. He's the author of "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." So, Andy, this is scary, obviously. Do we know how law enforcement was able to zero in on this guy?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, some of the reporting I've seen indicates that the Secret Service in the area around the Obama's residence observed him acting suspiciously or running through the neighborhood, things like that. And they interacted with him, identified him, and ultimately determined that he has an outstanding warrant for his activities in the Capitol on January 6.
So, I think the whole thing unfolded from there. They called in the Metropolitan Police Department bomb squad to review -- to do a protective sweep of Mr. Taranto's vehicle, the van, and they found the items that you indicated.
CAMEROTA: Do we know how close he got to the Obamas? Were they under any direct threat?
MCCABE: So, the MPD has said they don't believe that the Obamas were ever in any dangers. That doesn't really give us a lot of details about how close he came to the residence. But you know, some sharp- eyed Secret Service agents really doing their jobs out there and keeping a very close watch over that area, which is something that we should expect in this day and age when we are experiencing elevated threats, particularly on the domestic violent extremist front, and we really have been for quite a few years now, and certainly in the post January 6th era.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. Is it surprising to you that this guy was basically a fugitive from January 6th? You know, it seemed as though they rounded up people pretty quickly after January 6th, but not him.
MCCABE: Yeah, you know, it's a huge effort, Alisyn. They've got over a thousand people charged now, and close to that many have been arrested. The effort of identifying people, obviously, is what really initiates that charging. You know, it brings you ultimately to getting somebody charged. But it's a real process to try to identify and locate these folks.
I understand from the reporting that Mr. Taranto was -- doesn't have a residence, lives out of his van, is pretty mobile. May have been here in the D.C. area for some time, but living out of his van, which makes him obviously a little bit -- a little bit tougher to find for the folks that are responsible for his criminal case.
You know, they're doing a lot of work. A lot of people have been arrested and charged so far. So, he just seems to be one that they hadn't gotten around to, unfortunately.
CAMEROTA: Until now. Andy, thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for all of the information. Great to see you.
MCCABE: Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Okay, just ahead, developments in the multiple Trump investigations. Trump insiders are speaking to special counsel investigators, and we have the new reporting for you.
CAMEROTA: New details in the investigation into former President Trump's handling of classified documents. Sources say Trump aide Susy Wiles met with special counsel investigators multiple times and was asked about a classified map that Trump allegedly showed her. Tonight, we're also learning that a former Trump campaign official is cooperating with the special counsel's investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
To talk about all this, I'm joined by CNN political analyst Coleman Hughes, Rolling Stone columnist Jay Michelson. We also have CNN political analyst Natasha Alford and CNN senior political commentator Scott Jennings. Great to see all of you tonight.
Coleman, this is so intertwined now. It's not just people who worked in the White House or may have witnessed this. Now, people on Trump's campaign are involved in the investigation and the special counsel is asking them. It's really quite a tangled web at this point. COLEMAN HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Very much a tangled web and
getting worse and worse because as we heard in the audio clip today, you know, one of the defenses Trump wanted to make is, well, I wasn't really showing those classified documents, right? I was talking about them, but I wasn't necessarily showing them to her.
And if you hear the audio clip, you hear him really rustling around for 10, 15 seconds and really seeming to be showing it to her, right? So, it's just going from bad to worse for Trump from what we're learning.
CAMEROTA: And by the way, this is a different incident. That is -- so, this one with this new map, the classified map is from August or September.
JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, ROLLING STONES: Different map, different golf club.
CAMEROTA: Different map, different campaign.
MICHAELSON: This is bragging moment.
CAMEROTA: And that one that you're referring to, which is the audio that we've all heard that CNN obtained, are the rustling around of classified documents. So, it's not just one thing that the special prosecutor is looking into, it's two.
MICHAELSON: This is literally like the house of cards, right? I mean, there's all of these different pieces. The whole thing seems to be falling apart. You know, it's been said before that Trump kind of runs his inner circle in a kind of mafioso sort of way, you know, this kind of everybody's on loyalty and so forth.
But that depends on omerta. That depends on shutting up and being quiet and being able to enforce that with, you know, violence or threats of violence, which Trump can't do. He doesn't have leverage anymore. He doesn't have power over these people anymore. And it's all crumbling.
So, you know, it's interesting. There may be more indictments related possibly to Bedminster in addition to the Mar-a-Lago documents. We don't know, of course. I mean, you know, we don't want to make too much. Obviously, people are talking to investigators. We don't know what they said or what they didn't say. But nonetheless, it is really quite remarkable. I don't know if we can keep straight all of the different layers of the scandal.
CAMEROTA: And that's an important point also, because, Natasha, at some point, do voters just glaze over? There are so many threads, there are so many different developments that it's hard, obviously, for any voter who has a job and family to keep track. And so, do they just dismiss some of these things?
NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it could actually go in either direction, right? You know, there's going to be obviously Trump supporters who are with him, the ride or die until the end. But there are those folks who are in the middle who can be persuaded. And it gets a little bit difficult to make the argument that you are just a victim, that you're just a victim of, you know, being politically targeted.
When they start to see photos like all of these, you know, classified boxes in your bathroom, when they hear audio, when they hear your tone of voice and it is not interpreted or filtered through the media or anyone who they can, you know, allege has bias, I think the truth as it comes out really does have power.
And we've seen in recent polls that more Americans are showing support for the recent charges. Many Americans say that, you know, they think that these charges are serious or somewhat serious. So, when you start to crack away at that support of those folks who can be persuaded, I actually think that people will start to feel like if there's smoke, there's fire.
CAMEROTA: Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence was asked about that audio that CNN obtained this week that shows Donald Trump discussing what he called secret classified documents. Here is how Mike Pence responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The allegations in the indictment against the former president are serious, but he does deserve his day in court.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Yes.
PENCE: This shouldn't be litigated in the media. It should be litigated in a court of law. The president's entitled to bring his defense. I want to let that process work out. Everybody is entitled to a presumption of innocence, so we'll stand on that presumption of innocence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Scott, will we at some point start to hear some of his opponents use this to their political advantage?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if there's an advantage to be had. I mean, most of the polling of Republican voters indicates that they don't believe these charges or they think he shouldn't have been charged. Heck, even Mike Pence on CNN in his town hall, before it all happened, said that Donald Trump shouldn't be charged.
So there actually may not be an advantage to be had beyond just simply saying that, hey, you know, over time, if you've got a nominee who's been indicted two, three or four times on multiple counts across multiple jurisdictions, maybe it's not the greatest political strategy for our party to nominate this person because there's going to be a whole bunch of people in this election who are what I would call double disapprovers.
They don't really like Biden. They really don't like Trump. But the polling indicates right now they would probably lean Biden, and they certainly lean to the Democrats in the 2022 midterm, because of all the things they know about and will learn about Donald Trump.
So, is there an advantage in it? I don't know. There ought to be, because if you're a Republican and you want to win back the White House, those double disapprovers are who you ought to be thinking about. And the idea that they -- a whole bunch of people that don't like Joe Biden's policies may vote against you as a Republican just because of all the mountain of crap that Donald Trump has heaped upon himself.
CAMEROTA: Friends, stick around because just ahead we do have more on the Supreme Court decision that is ending affirmative action in college admissions. Veterans South Carolina Democratic Congressman James Clyburn is here with his reaction next.
CAMEROTA: President Biden denouncing the Supreme Court's decision to end affirmative action in college admissions, accusing the high court of walking away from decades of precedent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We cannot let this decision be the last word. One, we cannot let this decision be the last word. While the court can render a decision, it cannot change what America stands for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let's bring in Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina for his thoughts. Congressman, thank you so much for being here. What's your reaction to the Supreme Court ruling?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I was very, very disappointed. Thank you so much for having me. You know, I think that what we have to really get serious about is what do we do to repair the faults that exist in our system? And we know those faults are there. And we know what brought those faults about.
I often think about those soldiers coming back from World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen. We glorified them with movies, but yet we denied them the G.I. Bill of Rights when so many White soldiers got the Bill of Rights.
Along with Seth Moulton, we've introduced legislation to deal with that. And so that's called affirmative action. What's wrong with taking affirmative steps in order to correct problems that exist in our society. When I went to work in the governor's office back in 1971, it was affirmative action. I'm not ashamed of it.
I believe I was deserving of being there, but laws in South Carolina kept my parents and their parents from achieving that. And so, if the governor decides to take affirmative action to bring me into the process, I don't understand Clarence Thomas being ashamed of that. He doesn't honor his mother and father when he says things like that.
CAMEROTA: But let's talk about that because of course we all understand the goal of affirmative action admissions was to try to help level this very unequal playing field. But Black student enrollment has been steadily falling over the past decade even before this. So, do you think that affirmative action in colleges has worked the way it was intended?
CLYBURN: Well, it did for a long, long time. In recent years, it has not been working because the Supreme Court has been the chip in the way at it for a long time. They have just completed the task with this ruling. But we know what happened in California seven years ago when it dropped down to almost 1 percent with Black enrolment in colleges and universities because they quit doing affirmative action.
The same thing happened with the University of Michigan. This time, it's the University of North Carolina and Harvard. And they will complete the task in other areas as well. Elections have consequences. We messed around and allowed 45 to get elected, and he put three people on the Supreme Court, one of them, I think, illegitimately, and all of us know that. And those three people just delivered what he expected them to deliver.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, one argument is that if the goal is to create a more level playing field, that needs to start in kindergarten, not college. And so really the attention should be in trying to increase funding for, you know, public K through 12 schools that are majority Black rather than having the colleges make up for all of this.
CLYBURN: Well, we do. There's the Elementary Secondary Education Act. That's what we got back when Lyndon Johnson with the great society programs. They were against that. That's what head start was all about. They were against that. You know, all of these things that were brought on were for this purpose and they are still in law. We are underfunding. And we're doing the kinds of things that are necessary to try to get rid of them. So, we can do both. There is no question.
When you've got young people graduating from high school, straight A's, many of them go through college, straight A's, and still can't get into a professional school because of their skin color, and sometimes their gender, we know that they need to do better.
CAMEROTA: Well, Congressman James Clyburn, thank you very much for sharing your feelings and insights with us tonight. Great to see you.
CLYBURN: Thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: Up next, the panel is back with their thoughts on the impact of the Supreme Court's decision to end affirmative action in college admissions. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CAMEROTA: President Biden speaking out against today's decision by the Supreme Court to end affirmative action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I think they may do too much harm, but I think if we start the process of trying to expand the court, we're going to politicize it may be forever in a way that is not healthy.
NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: That you can't get back.
BIDEN: That you can't get back. And I think, look, I think maybe it's just the optimist in me. I think that some of the courts are beginning to realize their legitimacy is being questioned in ways that hadn't been questioned in the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: My panel is back with me. Natasha, let's talk about affirmative action and what was decided today because it seems the Supreme Court may be reflecting the feelings of many Americans. So, the latest polling from Pew Research shows that the majority of U.S. adults disapprove of colleges considering race and ethnicity in admissions. And if you look at it by race, which they also asked, the majority of Asian and White Americans disapprove of affirmative action, but 29 percent of Blacks also, and 39 percent of Hispanics disapproved. So, what do you think is going on there?
ALFORD: Well, I think the polling, it depends on how you ask the question, right? When you talk about the phrase affirmative action and what's associated with it, or when you get specific about who it's supposed to benefit, polls actually have different outcomes. And I also think that it differs by generation, right?
I think that you're going to see that difference in the numbers with Black Americans in particular because affirmative action means something different to us. And it's really frustrating to me when we talk about this and we do not acknowledge the origins of how this happened, right? America broke its promises time and time again to Black Americans.
We wouldn't need affirmative action if America had delivered on 48th (inaudible) of New Wall, if it didn't meet emancipation with Jim Crow, if it didn't double down on trying to turn when Black Americans at every stable turn.
We, Black Americans, we just wanted the opportunity to participate as citizens and enjoy the full protection under the law that the 14th Amendment was supposed to give us. And so, a poll may reflect a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, which I think we see across the board when we look at all of these attacks on diversity and equity. There is a backlash that comes with progress.
And so, the court may reflect, you know, there may be certain demographics that agree with the court's decision today, but that doesn't mean that it's morally right, and it doesn't mean that it's a reflection of the values that America says it truly stands for.
CAMEROTA: Coleman, how do you see it?
HUGHES: The way I see it, I think people need a reality check about affirmative action. Okay, this is not a policy that addresses poverty. This is not a policy that addresses disadvantage. This policy, according to Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, affects 1 percent, 1 percent of Black and Hispanic 18-year-olds every year. We're talking about a policy for elites. This is not an anti-poverty policy, okay.
Affirmative action has been banned in nine different states going back to 1996, and those states have still been absolutely fine places to go to college as a Black or Hispanic student.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, so the numbers did drop when this happened in California. The next year, the numbers plummeted for Black students.
HUGHES: But the graduation rates went up.
CAMEROTA: Well, they had to do a lot of creative things. It was then beholden upon UCLA to have to do -- invest money and do all sorts of creative things to get more Black students back.
HUGHES: But look, you know, being a Black person in any of these states, it's been okay. I don't think the right way to address racial inequality is to punish Asian American students in that way, in some roundabout way, be paying Black people back for the past. Martin Luther King talked about this in his 1964 book. He said, yes, we have to repay the legacy of slavery. The way to do that is with class-based anti-poverty programs, and I agree with that.
MICHAELSON: You know, I think -- I think Coleman and I disagree a little bit on this particular policy, but where I see a strong agreement is that those who supported affirmative action have lost a certain kind of ethical discussion in this country. And I think that's a shame. You know, there's a primary American value about fairness, and on a surface level this looks unfair.
And I think we've done -- those of us who supported affirmative action before it was taken out in this case, and this is not just about the universities --- obviously, this will ripple out into other areas as well -- did not make the case that this is also about fairness and is about remedy, and that was because it became about diversity, and it muddied the waters. And, well, what was the purpose of affirmative action? Some people said it was this, and some people said it was that, and the court itself couldn't decide.
In Chief Justice Roberts' opinion today, he pointed out that there was never a single clear rationale, at least not for the last 35 years, on the Supreme Court level as to what affirmative action was even supposed to do. And the dissent and the opinion, and also Justice Thomas' concurrence, all had different rationales for what this policy was even supposed to be about. That to me reflects a real failure to define what was at stake in terms of justice around this policy.
CAMEROTA: Scott, how do you see it?
JENNINGS: Well, I agree with what Coleman said about Asian-Americans, what I find remarkable. This case was specifically about the discrimination against Asian-Americans and there are a whole bunch of people out there today, politicians and other, you know, political leaders, people who hold high office, blatantly saying that Asians need to be discriminated against in order to make something else right. And I just find that to be completely abhorrent.
The politics of this are very clear. Every national poll, every major national poll I've ever seen that you've reported on tonight, Alisyn, shows that Americans do not want this. They don't like it. They think it's fundamentally unfair.
And so, for a court that's often, you know, has its legitimacy questioned, this was the most uncontroversial decision of the term. It is the most lopsided decision of the term if you just look at public opinion. So, I think they got it right by the law and I think they also got it right by the old famous Kentucky Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, who said in the famous dissent in Plessy, "our Constitution is colorblind."
And thanks to Clarence Thomas and the court today, they finally lived up to that. So, I'm glad for the decision and every conservative I know is as well.
CAMEROTA: I know you all have very different perspectives and opinions on that. Natasha, I get it.
ALFORD: (Inaudible) to Harvard on there (ph).
CAMEROTA: Yeah. And we should say that Harvard, the Asian-American admissions rate has gone up in the past 10 years. But thank you all very much. Great to talk to you. We'll be right back.
CAMEROTA: All too often the people working to help improve the lives of others do not receive the recognition they deserve. CNN Heroes wants to share their stories with the world and help them continue doing the special work. So, this week Anderson Cooper has some tips to help you help them. And maybe your hero will become the next CNN Hero of the Year.
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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Since 2007, CNN Heroes has honored hundreds of everyday people making the world a better place. We shine a light on their causes and help them raise funds for their life- changing work, all while inspiring people with their incredible stories. But the first step in the CNN Heroes journey is a nomination, and that's where you come in. It only takes a few minutes, and you can do it right now at cnnheroes.com.
Just think about what makes this person special, and tell us about them in a paragraph or two. We want to know about their impact and what makes their work unique. You don't need to know your nominee personally. They could just be someone you admire from afar, and they can be from almost anywhere in the world.
This is your opportunity to help that amazing person you know reach more people and change more lives, and maybe even become the next CNN Hero of the Year.
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CAMEROTA: You can find everything you need to know to nominate your hero right now at CNNHeroes.com. Nominations close July 31st. Thanks so much for watching CNN TONIGHT. Our coverage continues now.