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Draft Decision: Supreme Court Poised To Strike Down Roe Vs. Wade; Supreme Court Confirms Leaked Draft On Roe Is Authentic; Lawmakers React To Leaked Supreme Court Draft Decision; McConnell Calls Supreme Court lead A "Toxic Stunt"; On Poll: 30 Percent supreme court overturning Roe vs. Wade; Biden Urges Voters To Elect Lawmakers Who Support Abortion Rights. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 03, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your time with us on this monumental news day, a Supreme Court shockwave. The justices are prepared to strike down Roe v. Wade. Just moments ago, President Biden telling reporters, a draft decision that leaked from the court is wrong and more.


JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: It concerns me a great deal that we're going to, after 50 years decide a woman does not have a right to choose. If this decision holds, it's really quite a radical decision. By it's a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.


KING: Just last hour, the High Court confirming the document that leaked last night is authentic. The court careful to note, no decision is final until it is officially issued. But the 98 pages written by Justice Samuel Alito, lay out how the conservative majority plans to wipe away, nearly a half century of American legal precedent.

The draft's top line obtained and published by Politico is crystal clear. The court plans to eliminate the constitutional protection for abortion and absent federal legislation leave this issue to each of the 50 states. This from Justice Alito, we hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The constitution, he says makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision. Roe, Justice Alito says was egregiously wrong from the start.

The opinion is dated February 10. Alito's draft joined by four of the courts, other conservatives, Clarence Thomas, and the three Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The news prompting an enormous and a visceral reaction outside the court, both last night and then continuing today.

The laws defenders, flocking to the courts steps to protest. The draft decision would reset American life by changing abortion access for millions of women, by delivering on decades of conservative activism, and by injecting new uncertainty and urgency into the midterms. Now, just 189 days away.

Let's go straight to the White House now, CNN's Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, the president talking moments ago, saying this should be a fundamental right, but saying now it might well be up to voters.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. We heard President Biden saying that this decision, this draft opinion, if it becomes the decision of the Supreme Court would be quite a radical decision. He says it goes way overboard. And it would represent a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.

The president talking about this, not only as a profound decision, as it relates to abortion rights, and also using that word abortion for the first time of his presidency. But also saying that he is equally concerned with the other implications of this decision, for other privacy rights, including the right to marry, for example, which the president also explicitly mentioned today.

Now, listen, the president said that he hasn't thought yet about exactly how this is going to affect the midterms. But in the statement earlier today, we saw the president talking about the fact that this is up to voters to elect pro-choice candidates in November, and that if there is a sufficient Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, he would work to pass and sign into law, a codification of the rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade.

And you also heard the president as he talks, not only about abortion rights, but also the broader privacy implications, perhaps beginning to form the contours of an argument that he might make to voters on the campaign trail heading into November. John?

KING: Without a doubt, a new chapter in the Biden administration begins today. Jeremy Diamond, appreciate that very much. Just moments ago, a remarkable confirmation from the court and its chief justice. Yes, the court says that draft decision that leaked last night is real. And yes, now the chief justice wants to investigate how it became public. Let's get to CNN's Jessica Schneider. She is outside the Supreme Court for us. Jessica, tell us more.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John, the court finally in the last hour releasing a statement about this extraordinary leak and this stunning breach of secrecy. So, the court really saying two things here that, yes, this majority opinion it is in fact authentic, but then stressing that this is not a final opinion.

The chief justice also issuing a lengthy statement, saying at the end, that he will task the marshal of the court with investigating the source of this leak. John Roberts statement was very lengthy. He talked about the fact that this is an egregious breach but also a singular breach. He said this, he said to the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations. It will not succeed.

What's interesting here is that the chief justice doesn't often speak with his statement or words outside of the court or off the bench. We saw something somewhat similar a very poignant statement from the chief justice back in November 2018. When he really rebuked then President Trump about calling some of the federal judges, Obama judges. That was really the last time we saw a forceful statement from the chief justice.


But now the chief justice really trying to calm the American public, John, saying that, yes, in fact, this draft opinion is authentic. But of course, the shockwaves still reverberating as we wait may be several more weeks to see what the final decision will be here. John?

KING: Jessica Schneider, for us outside the court. Jessica, appreciate that reporting. Let's bring the conversation in the room. With me to share their insights on the legal fallout, and yes, this remarkable breach of court protocols, Joan Biskupic, Elliot Williams and Carrie Cordero.

I want to come to the process in a minute, but let's just start with the substance, especially now that the court has confirmed, this is an authentic document. And authentic document that as of today, has five votes, has five votes, who would be the law of the land. Let's just put the map up if we could. The Guttmacher Institute has looked at this question.

It believes 26 states would ban abortion, 26 states. Of the 26 of the 50 would ban abortion if roe reversed. And if you look at the other states, and other states, you could well have restrictions and added restrictions as well. The legal impact if this comes out in the next month or two as the officially the law of the land, there are not the votes in Congress to codify it nationally. Right now, what happens across America?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, if we can just back the lens up, what it means is that women in the 21st century are going to be less constitutionally protected than they were in the 20th. It means that middle aged women in America are going to look at their daughters having less constitutional rights, less protection by the law, then their mother's generation did. And so, it will have a real practical effect throughout the country in particular, than nearly half the states that have laws that would be triggered by an outright overruling of Roe and Casey.

KING: And you see the crowds outside the court last night. You see the crowds outside the court today. In this draft opinion, Justice Alito says that's the reason the court should get out of this business that because this has gone on for 50 years, that this has become a remainder political debate, that this is the reason the court should say no, it should go back to the legislators, whether it's at the state level, or at the federal level. This is part of the decision in this draft really.

This court cannot bring about the permanent resolution of a rancorous national controversy simply by dictating a settlement and telling the people to move on. Whatever influence the court may have on public attitudes must stem from the strength of our opinions, not an attempt to exercise raw judicial power. The raw judicial power there are shot, both at those who are in the majority on Roe and in Casey versus Planned Parenthood. But he's essentially saying, look, it's still a controversy. So, we should get out of this business.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And he so minimizes the value of precedent. You know, one of the core principles of the Supreme Court of the judiciary as a whole is reliance on precedent. The idea is that judges are different than politicians, when the membership of the bench changes, the law isn't supposed to change. This has been in place for 50 years. And what Justice Alito does in this draft, dated February 10, we don't know the status of it, but what he does, very strong sentiment, essentially brushing it back saying Roe v. Wade wasn't even legitimate.

The tone of this, John, is so strikingly different from 1992, when the justices solidly affirmed roe and said, some of us might not like that ruling. Some of us might not have voted for it the first time in 1973, but Americans have relied on it. And a fundamental plank of the ways the Supreme Court operates is adherence to precedent. And in this draft, Justice Alito is saying not this precedent.

KING: And so, as you read the Alito document, which is striking in this language, there are a lot of progressives out there saying, we told you so in the sense that the people who are now saying they would reverse Roe v. Wade. They would throw out Planned Parenthood versus Casey. They would leave it to the States unless the Congress would get the votes. Listen here. They were all asked about this when they were confirmed.


SAMUEL ALITO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: Roe vs. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided in 1973. So, it's been on the books for a long time.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Do you view roe as having super precedent?

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: Well, Senator, it's super precedent is a---

FEINSTEIN: The Numbers?

GORSUCH: It has been reaffirmed many times. I can say that. Yes.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. By it, I mean, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey.

AMY CONEY BARRETT, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: By express a view on a precedent one way or another, whether I say, I love it, or I hate it. It signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Justice Amy Coney Barrett, there was quite careful. The other said, things that seem to suggest they cared about precedent. There are a lot of liberals today saying, they lied. Did they lie or they just wiggle?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, John, for probably 40 years now, we have given all nominees to the Supreme Court a free pass. when it comes to answering basic questions about what they think about Supreme Court precedent. Every one of the four of us sitting at this table has a view on Roe v Wade.

Right now, we're not federal judges. But it's strange logic to suggest that these individuals who were law professors, or very senior attorneys don't have views or don't wish to weigh in. We got to get off this idea that the Supreme Court is this a political body that exists outside of politics. When less than two years after a major personnel shipped at the court, a major precedent is falling. This idea that the court sort of exists outside and above it at all, it's just not reality.


KING: It is not. And we're going to talk more later about the potential. We don't know. With us, let's be clear on this day. We have no idea how this will play out politically in this midterm election year. Anyone who tells you they know how it's going to play out, is making it up. But we'll talk more about that later.

But one of the things that's interesting, President Biden said, his concern was not just that the right to choose, the right - the abortion rights would be wiped out. But he believed this is a precedent that would also wipe away other rights, whether it's same sex marriage, whether it's other interpretations of privacy.

Justice Alito, in the decision knew that was coming. It's a very politically written decision. He knew that argument was coming. He says no, to ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or miss- characterize, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right, nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast out on precedents that do not concern abortion.

The question is, if is that to be believed? Or does this precedent that allow you to go in and challenge same sex marriage, challenge other privacy?

BISKUPIC: Of course, it could be used that way, if it ends up being the final document. And I have to say, Justice Alito, with all due respect, it's constantly putting that kind of line into his opinion, saying, don't take this to be more than it is, please, you know, I know, I'm going to be criticized for this, but it's a little bit doth protest too much.

And what he does is he looks at the precedent that roe was built on, you know, privacy rights and other due process rulings, and essentially, you know, cast doubt on some of that scaffolding. He doesn't he - you know, he doesn't say, I'd reverse those two. But certainly, this kind of opinion, if it comes out exactly as it stands now, could be used by any creative litigants against same sex marriage, against other rights to privacy, they might not win, but it still could be used.

WILLIAMS: I mean, there's a page leading into that very paragraph where he lists off basically every one of these rights. So, just again, it's another thing that defies logic that this opinion could not be used the same logic that none of these things were laid out in the constitution 200 years ago, the same logic could be used to strike them down. It just backing up Joan's point, it just defies reason.

CORDERO: But this opinion, it also - it represents, at least in its draft form, I think, Justice Alito's best case for overturning roe. And so, then the question really becomes as we look forward to when the court actually issues its ultimate decision. Will the other justices in particular, for example, Justice Kavanaugh, go along with this strong rebuke and overturning of roe? Or is there some still some room for one of the other justices to find a narrower holding eventually?

KING: Right. Is the leak? We don't know the answer to this question. Is the leak designed to get him to change his mind? Or is the leak designed to make sure he does not change his mind? I think that is one of the mysteries as we watch this play out. Appreciate everybody coming in. Next to for us, the political, the election year political impact. Republicans already saw inflation and immigration as their tickets to control of Congress. But what a landmark abortion rights ruling change this year's campaign terrain.




KING: More now in the stunning news out of the Supreme Court, a leaked opinion, showing the justices are poised to overturn Roe v Wade. Reaction, of course, pouring in from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This is as urgent and real as it gets. We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose and every American is going to see, which side every senator stands.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The court should turn out the bad faith noise and feel completely free to do their job.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I feel really angry about this. And what I feel angry about is that an extremist Supreme Court is going to impose their views on the rest of America.


KING: CNN's Manu Raju, joins us from Capitol Hill with more. Manu, welcome to the midterm election campaign rewrite.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. This is the reaction is dividing sharply along partisan lines. You heard Chuck Schumer there saying that, he would try to force a vote in the United States Senate. But there are not the votes, in order for it to become law. They need 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to overcome a filibuster.

Two Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin today reiterating the support for maintaining those filibuster rules. Manchin himself is an opponent of abortion rights. Republicans themselves have been critical but have been mostly critical about the leak that actually occurred, not talking as much about the impact of this draft opinion, essentially becomes the law of the land.

And ultimately the question will be, how will this come down in the midterm elections, where Democrats are telling me that they plan to make this issue front and center? But one key Senate Republican campaign chairman, says it will not be the galvanizing issue that Democrats hope.


SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): And I believe they're in St. Louis, for the majority of the American people. This is a very big issue. Certainly, it'll be front and center in the campaigns. And it's clearly an issue that Democrats are aligned with a majority of the American people.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): I think, when you talk to people, one of the biggest issues they're dealing with right now is inflation, crime, the poor stuff like that.


RAJU: So that last point, an interesting one, Rick Scott, saying that Republicans believe that the issues are going to be the economy, not about abortion and Democrats seeing it will galvanize their supporters going forward. So, you're seeing some of the dividing lines playing out early here. But John, no doubt about, there'll be no shortage of rhetoric on both sides of this issue, particularly if and when this draft opinion becomes the law of the land. John?


KING: Manu Raju, live on the Hill for us. Appreciate that. Let's bring it back in the room. With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Abby Phillip, CNN's Melanie Zanona, and Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal. You hear the reaction there and what Senator Scott said, I think Abby Phillip quite telling.

He wants to talk about inflation. He wants to talk about immigration, because they understand, they have made inroads, especially in the suburbs with women. They think young people are going to stay home in this election, because they don't traditionally vote in midterms, they might be mad at the Democrats for not passing, you know, the more ambitious agenda. Rick Scott, sending a signal. They're saying, I don't think so. We don't know the answer.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I really don't think that we know how much of a reaction this is going to produce on the left, or how much it might produce on the right, as this opinion seems to, if it holds, reinforce the rights, the rights view that the court is of utmost importance. But I do think that it signals that this going as far as to roll back Roe v. Wade, is beyond where public opinion is.

70 percent of Americans do not - are not in favor of rolling back Roe v. Wade. And what that means is that they're not in favor of an outright ban on abortion where they live. And Democrats can now reasonably say that that is a possibility, in part because Republicans across the country have been saying that that is their goal. In Oklahoma, the governor of that state saying, we want to ban all abortions in this state. It just makes it easier for Democrats to make that case.

KING: And so, to your point about the polling, let's go. This is the most recent CNN poll on this question. It goes back earlier this year. But the numbers have been consistent for some time as Abby notes, seven to 10 Americans, 69 percent say no, they do not support a full reversal of Roe v. Wade. 30 percent say yes. Here's where it gets interesting. And we'll have to test during the midterm campaign.

How would you feel if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade? 14 percent of Americans say, happy. 14 percent satisfied. Here's where it gets interesting. 25 percent dissatisfied, 35 percent angry, 14 percent wouldn't care. The angry is the part.

Catherine Lucey, if you're trying to motivate voters, Republicans feel right now they have anger at Biden overinflation. They have anger at Biden over the border. If Democrats can turn anger about this court ruling into a turnout motivator, it could, emphasis on could change the dynamics of the year.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's certainly what they're looking at and what they're already talking about. You're hearing that from lawmakers, abortion rights groups are talking today about how this is really going to be a rallying cry for the midterms.

I think you're going to see this a lot, especially as you said in some of these swing districts in the suburbs, some of these areas that are often hard for them to hold or hard for them to capture. But the question is, just how big an issue this will be? Or will inflation, economy prices, those things still be top of mind for a lot of voters?

KING: I think, again, it will depend state by state, district by district. We could put the Guttmacher Institute map back up. Their analysis is that 26 states would be certain to ban abortion or likely to ban abortion. When you see the states right there, now remember those states for a second because this also becomes not just a question for the president, not just a question for Congress. But there are also a 36 governor's races on the ballot today. And so, I'm going to switch to the map here, including you just saw on that map. You saw Arizona on that map. You saw Texas on that map. You saw Florida on that map. You saw Michigan and Wisconsin on that map. I could go on. This is going to become a test now in every race for governor. If this is now left to the states, what would you do?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Right. And governors will have the power to sign or not sign those bills that are being passed. So, I do think in governor's races, it might have most impact. And also, it's worth pointing out Democrats don't have a whole lot of options on Capitol Hill.

I mean, in the short term, they can try to pass legislation to codify Roe versus Wade, but they don't have enough support in the Senate for that. They're not going to get rid of the filibuster. So really, their only hope is to not only keep the Senate, but also the House, and that is an uphill battle for us.

KING: And the challenge is Democrats see this as potentially a motivating political issue for them. But already you also see some divides where the president would not commit today, say demanding Democrats and the filibuster to do this. Brett Kavanaugh, Susan Collins says my words not hers, she feels burned.

If this holds out because she pressed the Republican Senator from Maine, press them at the confirmation hearing, and she says if this holds up, she will feel burned. The question is can Democrats force Republicans into tough votes? Can they get any help from Republicans? I doubt it in an election year.

PHILLIP: I really doubt it. I mean, you also heard the Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski saying she's worried about what the signals the direction of the court is going to go in. There are some noises that might seem friendly to Democrats. But that's a different question from whether they would be willing to throw out the filibuster in order to make this happen.

But one thing that I think is causing this conversation to be even louder is just the prospect that if the Senate does change hands, would Republicans facing the same pressure on the other side, consider changing the filibuster in order to ban abortion nationwide.

So, this is a conversation happening on both sides of the aisle right now in private and I don't think frankly, as we sit here, either side has the votes to do it. And even among people who are, you know---


LUCEY: And one thing it really reflects, I think, is the moment we're in in abortion politics, that there aren't a lot of voices in the middle anymore, both parties have really moved in either direction. So, you know, Democrats are very few Democrats expressing support for restrictions on abortion, a very small number, you know, like Collins and Murkowski expressing any support on the right.

And that's something that's evolved over several decades and something that President Joe Biden has had to try and evolve with. He was someone who previously, one would call himself sort of middle of the road person. And then joining his campaign obviously, he had to reverse his opinion on the Hyde Amendment. So, we've seen the parties really shift.

KING: We have seen the party shift and now we may see a shift again, as we watch this play out. Throughout this year, we'll stay on top of this story. Our reporters will be back with us and other issues in a moment. But when we come back, to Ukraine, an emotional reunion after families were stranded and separated for weeks in the war zone. Live to Ukraine next.