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Any Moment: Ketanji Brown Jackson Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice; Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes First Black Woman On Supreme Court; Supreme Court Limits EPA's Ability To Regulate Power Plants; Court Delivers Narrow Win For Biden Admin "Remain In Mexico". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 30, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello everybody, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing a very, very consequential news day with us. Any moment now history, the Supreme Court gets a new justice and, importantly the first black woman to serve on the nation's highest court. Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sworn in in just moments, replacing the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Jackson joins a court, entering a new era, defined by its conservative super majority.

Just today, two more big rulings. One, tying the Biden administration's hands in the climate change fight. The other, clearing the way for the Biden White House to end a controversial pandemic era Trump administration border policy. Those decisions close to turn that saw the six to three conservative majority make blockbuster changes to American law and to American life, including new limits on how states can regulate guns, and of course, the end of the Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed federal abortion rights.

President Biden ending a big overseas trip earlier today, called the role reversal "destabilizing" and "outrageous." And he said Democrats should make an exception to the filibuster and pass a new federal's law.

Let's get straight to the Supreme Court, as we wait. Jess, I may have to interrupt you for the swearing in of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. But lead us off with the big decisions today and what we expect now as we watch this ceremony play out, and we get Justice Breyer leaving, Justice Jackson Brown coming in in a new job. She must be thinking, wow, interesting term in the rearview mirror. What comes ahead in the fall?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, maybe John, what have I gotten myself into where this is a majorly changing court, a solidly six-three conservative court. She is just replacing a liberal justice. So that balance of power won't change. But it's for sure, a big moment for Ketanji Brown Jackson for the court and for the nation. She is replacing the man that she clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer.

She'll actually be administered to oath, the constitutional oath by the Chief Justice John Roberts. And then the judicial oath that will be administered by the outgoing retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. And at the same time, she'll make history. She'll be the first black female justice to join the court. And she actually referenced that significance at the White House in April, just after she was confirmed, saying how it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court. She referenced her parents who grew up in the segregated south.

So, she will, in fact, be making history. But she is joining the court at a very fraught time, filled with tension. The court and the nine justices here, they are really at odds with themselves and at odds with some opinions in the nation. We've seen the justices sort of lash out at each other in recent opinions related to abortion and guns and the EPA decision we saw today.

You know, our colleagues, my colleague, Ariane de Vogue, is told by friends of Ketanji Brown Jackson, that she is up for this challenge. You know, she has been a judge for a very long time, first on the federal district court, most recently on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. And they also referenced the fact that she went through a contentious confirmation hearing, where Republicans cast doubt on her opinions as a trial judge when it came to sex offenders and the sentences that they faced.

And you know, John, it's not just a contentious term right now that we've just wrapped up with those two final opinions, soon to be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She will be facing some huge issues that this court will have to grapple with starting in October.

The court has already taken up significant cases on voting rights, affirmative action and also whether businesses can discriminate against same sex couples. So, a momentous moment now, but she will have to get to work quickly in a very divided court for a divided nation, John?

KING: Jessica Schneider, standby for us. So, we're going to get the Supreme Court. I'm going to ask for your patience at home, very important legal decisions to discuss today. But I don't want to start that conversation then be interrupted by the history we're about to see at the Supreme Court. Again, Ketanji Brown Jackson being sworn in as the new justice and history making first black woman to serve on our nation's highest court.

With me - we're going to go to the Supreme Court any second. With me to help us through these decisions and this moment of history, CNN's Dana Bash, Laura Barron-Lopez from the PBS NewsHour, Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Joan Biskupic, our legal analyst is here, and also Kimberly Mutcherson, the Rutgers Law Professor Dean. Let's walk it. Let's just stop for a moment. Let's witness a little bit of history.



CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS. JR.: We are here today to administer the oath of office to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. But before we do so, I would like to recognize Dr. Patrick Jackson, who is here, her husband and her daughters Talia and Leila.

The administration of the oath is required both by the constitution and by the judiciary act. And so, we'll be delivering two oaths. I'll deliver the constitutional oath and Justice Breyer will administer the statutory oath. There will be a formal investiture in the fall, but the oaths will allow Justice Judge Jackson to undertake her duties and she's been anxious to get to them without any further delay. Are you prepared to take the oath?


ROBERTS: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I Ketanji Brown Jackson, do solemnly swear.

JACKSON: I Ketanji Brown Jackson, do solemnly swear.

ROBERTS: That I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

JACKSON: That I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

ROBERTS: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

JACKSON: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

ROBERTS: That I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

JACKSON: That I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

ROBERTS: And that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I'm about to enter.

JACKSON: And that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I'm about to enter.

ROBERTS: So, help me God.

JACKSON: So, help me God.

ROBERTS: Thank you very much. And now I'll turn things over to Justice Breyer.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER: Judicial oath, will you raise your right hand, please? Thank you. I Ketanji Brown Jackson.

JACKSON: I Ketanji Brown Jackson.

BREYER: Do solemnly swear.

JACKSON: Do solemnly swear.

BREYER: That I will administer justice.

JACKSON: That I will administer justice.

BREYER: Without respect to persons.

JACKSON: Without respect to persons.

BREYER: And do equal right.

JACKSON: And do equal right.

BREYER: To the poor and to the rich.

JACKSON: To the poor and to the rich.

BREYER: And that I will faithfully and impartially.

JACKSON: And that I will faithfully and impartially.

BREYER: Discharge and perform.

JACKSON: Discharge and perform.

BREYER: All the duties.

JACKSON: All the duties.

BREYER: Incumbent upon me.

JACKSON: Incumbent upon me.

BREYER: As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

JACKSON: As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

BREYER: Under the constitution.

JACKSON: Under the constitution.

BREYER: And laws of the United States.

JACKSON: And laws of the United States.

BREYER: So, help me God.

JACKSON: So, help me God.

ROBERTS: Now, on behalf of all the members of the court, I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling.


KING: Chief Justice John Roberts, welcoming and swearing in the newest member of the Supreme Court of the United States. Now Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, it is a moment in history. He said, he was welcoming her to their common calling. There has not been a lot of common ground at the Supreme Court in this term and in recent days.

Dean Kimberly Mutcherson of the Rutgers University Law School joins us. Dean, we're going to talk in a moment about these contentious cases, about the rewrite of American law by this conservative majority. But let's just take a moment to celebrate history. The significance to you of watching after far too long, the first black woman to join the Supreme Court of the United States.

KIMBERLY MUTCHERSON, DEAN & PROFESSOR, RUTGERS LAW SCHOOL: Now, there hasn't felt like a lot to smile without over the last several days. But I'm sort of thinking back to that moment during the confirmation hearings where Senator Booker said, you're not going to steal my joy. So, I'm not going to let my joy be stolen today.

This is absolutely a historic moment. It is so meaningful for this country, for young women, for young black women. Seeing Justice Jackson on the court is absolutely a stunning experience. And I feel really grateful to be alive to watch it happen.

KING: That's an amazing thought. Now, let's bring the conversation in the room is going to get - we're going to get to the cases and the contentiousness at the court and the new majority in a moment. But Joan Biskupic, you've covered the court for a long time. Ketanji Brown Jackson was a clerk for the justice she is replacing Stephen Breyer.


He will still have when the court comes back in the fall, six conservatives and three liberals. But you will have a new liberal and a new judge with a new set of eyes and a new perspective, certainly a new life experience on the court. How will that make a difference?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: It will make a big difference in the dynamic around the table. It was Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who talked about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice at all, and his special perspective. And she's the first black woman in 233 years.

So, she comes from almost the same sort of background that Stephen Breyer does in terms of education, experience. They were both law clerks. They both, you know, have very prestigious degrees. But she also has this important demographic difference. And she is 51 years old. Stephen Breyer is 83. So, she's going to bring that also.

The other thing is, remember, she was a Federal Public Defender. So, she'll bring that perspective also, and bringing in another woman. There will be three - the three liberal justices, the three who remain will all be female. And of course, the fourth female on the court is Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

So, you know, one other thing I want to say about history, is that you all saw something that none of us ever see, because the court is now closed and it's got the, you know, the barricades around it right now. They live streamed this. Normally you would have never seen that in person for the chief given the oath to the person who is now the 116th justice in the United States.

KING: 116-justice?


KING: It took till 116 to get a black woman on the court. That's a bit of a scar. But at least it's a bit of a moment of joy today.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Right. And I keep thinking about like, over the course of the 233 years, what percentage of Americans who've lived and died during that period were black women. And you compare that to the zero percent that of the 115 justices that were black women, and quite frankly, just black justices in general.

So, you know, a lot of people, like to question well, what's the significance because we keep saying the first black this, the first black woman that. But the significance is in America, that black people are still having these firsts after, you know, so many generations and so many centuries in which it shows the barriers that black people face and continue to face.

KING: It's also a reminder, and again, in a moment, we'll talk about this current term, including the two big decisions today. You're getting a new perspective, a new younger justice on the court with a different life experience. At a time of monumental importance for the court in two of the decisions we're going to talk about in a moment.

The court talks about the political dysfunction in America, an environmental ruling and immigration ruling that it says, it shouldn't have had to make if the politicians could figure things out. So, it's an interesting moment. Even though she's out numbered, it'll be fascinating to see how she plays this out in the fall.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it's very true. You know, the conservative political motto is always, we don't want activist judges, we are justices. We don't want people on the court who are going to do what we are supposed to do in the United States Congress. Well, that's exactly what we've seen, in case after case and decision after decision, for lots of reasons. But one of them is what you said, Congress isn't acting. They're just not doing anything.

I mean, voting rights is a great example. The court in 2013, when they ruled the way, they ruled said, we think it needs to be redone legislatively. Well, 2013 was almost a decade ago, and they haven't done it because they can't do it, because they can't get their act together to come up with something that should be incredibly bipartisan, the notion of the fundamental right to vote.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Well, that's a point right, Dana, which is that, it's not bipartisan in Congress right now, which is it Republicans. They can't find 10 Republicans to go along with them on, you know, solidifying the voting rights act anymore, or ongoing further to shore up election procedures and to make sure that they reformed the electoral count act. So that way, what we saw occur in 2020, which again, was a big week this week, in terms of January 6 hearings, doesn't happen again. Because there are Trump at the top, but as well as a number of Republicans that are trying to potentially push future attempts like that.

KING: And Dean Mutcherson, before we close this conversation about this historic moment and move on to the cases. Do you see? Again, I look at it from the math perspective, it's still six to three. But do you see in the experience, in the prior case history on the Appellate Court bench in her life experience? What changed? Well, how will the court be different, even though the ideological math isn't any different? How will it be different?

MUTCHERSON: I think it matters to have voices that are different voices in the room. You know, I think it is often the case that folks can't imagine things from a different perspective. And so, having somebody who sits in that space, who has the same credentials that they do, who sits on the same court that they do and who can, you know, describe the world from a different lens. I think is incredibly meaningful, even if it doesn't necessarily change how they vote, it at least changes how they have to think about some issues.


KING: A key moment of history. You see it on the left of your screen there, when we come back, we move to the contentious cases decided by the court today. A big one, on immigration the President Biden will welcome one on climate, the White House says is a disaster.


KING: Let's turn now to two very consequential decisions issued by the Supreme Court today as it closed its term. Here is one, the court deciding 6-3 in favor of curbing, restricting the EPA's ability to broadly regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. This is a major blow to the Biden administration's attempts to fight climate change. The White House already labeling this ruling, "devastating" the health and human services secretary calling it, a public health disaster.

Let's get to CNN's Jessica Schneider, still with us outside the court. So, Jess, explain what the justices did and the impact?


SCHNEIDER: So, John, is really twofold here. The Biden administration will no longer have the power to broadly regulate power plants, carbon emissions, but it also severely restricts agencies. So, the Supreme Court and a six-three decision cutting back this power to regulate from the EPA, but also sending a warning shot that other regulations that deal with big issues from the EPA and other agencies, may eventually be struck down.

So, the chief justice in this opinion, really illustrating it this way. He said that regulating coal might be sensitive for this big climate issue of the day. But he said that that rests in Congress's hands, that Congress should be controlling this, John, it's something that the dissenters here said was frightening.

KING: Jess, stand by for us. Joan Biskupic, I want to read a little bit from Chief Justice Roberts. So again, I mentioned this in the prior conversation. He is essentially saying this is not our job and these agencies don't have this power. This is the court shouldn't be doing this, the agencies should be doing it.

It says capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that would force a nationwide transition may be sensible "solution to the crisis of the day." Not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme. So, he's punting it back to Congress. The court does not live in a total bubble. They understand that for about 20 plus years that Congress has been unable to do anything on climate.

BISKUPIC: They definitely understand that. And they also understand that the whole reason the federal agency regulatory world was set up was to for special expertise in these areas, because Congress, of course, doesn't know how to - doesn't know about, you know, the extent of emissions and how to solve these problems. So, it is essentially, you know, delegates to these agencies to do work, to do things.

And that's how courts in the past have interpreted the Clean Air Act, and other environmental protection and health and safety statutes. They've let the courts in the past have deferred more to agencies to run with them, with their expertise to handle modern problems.

And that's why, you know, Jessica, just use the word frightening from Elena Kagan. She used that word, usually don't find the word frightening in a legal document like that, but that's precisely why John, because this will mean that there will not be any kind of protections in this area.

KING: To that point, let's bring in Leah Litman. She is a University of Michigan law professor joins us from - and I want to read the dissent from Justice Kagan. She says, the court appoints itself, instead of Congress or the expert agency, the decisionmaker on climate policy, I cannot think of many things more frightening.

Am I overstating this when I say this is sort of another example, much like the Roe v. Wade decision of the court creating a new frontier, essentially stripping away, there was a federal right to abortion, now it's state by state? We had regulatory powers in, not just the EPA in this case, the court is saying we could look at other agencies as well. What happens now?

LEAH LITMAN, ASST. PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SCHOOL OF LAW: No, that's exactly right. What the court is doing is it seizing for itself. The power to decide what questions are major, and therefore what questions have to be decided by Congress rather than agencies. Even though Congress drafted these statutes to give agencies the broad authority to address new developing problems with new solutions, relying on the kind of expertise that Joan just referred to. KING: So, let's look at the court's other big decision today. The Chief Justice Kavanaugh, the court's three liberals. This is an interesting one, John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh and the court's three liberals are giving President Biden actually a victory. The Biden administration wanted to end the so-called remain in Mexico policy, put in place during the Trump administration.

Again, let's go back to Jessica Schneider outside the court. This is a case where Chief Justice Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, even before his days on the Supreme Court had been proponents of presidential power. The executive gets to make the decision. Is that what we have here?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's exactly right. They're saying that the Biden administration does have the power to rescind this rule that was enacted by the Trump administration. It's remained in Mexico. It's been on the books since 2019. And it sent migrants, non-Mexican migrants who came into the U.S. back to Mexico to await their immigration proceedings.

Critics called it inhumane because the conditions were just poor where they were sent to in Mexico. The Biden administration tried to roll it back in two different memos. But lower court said not only did you not roll it back, right, but you also don't have the authority to end this policy. So, the Supreme Court today saying, yes, President Biden, you do have the power to end this policy.

However, we're going to send it back to the lower courts to take a look at your reasoning and take one more look at it. But chances are, John, that eventually once it goes back to the lower courts, that Biden administration will be able to get rid of this policy.

KING: And Professor Litman, join the conversation here. I want to read a little bit from the majority opinion by the chief. The court has taken care to avoid the danger of unwarranted judicial interference in the conduct of foreign policy by interpreting section. He goes on the section of law as a mandate. The court of appeals poses significant burden upon the executive ability to conduct diplomatic relations with Mexico. I am not a lawyer, but I cover campaigns. I read that as Joe Biden won, he gets to reverse what Donald Trump did. Is that fair?


LITMAN: I think it's partially fair. I think it is correct that while of the Supreme Court rejected the precise ground on which the Trump appointed district judge had said, the Biden administration's attempt to end the remaining Mexico policy was unlawful. They preserved the possibility that there would be other grounds to challenge the rescission of the policy. But what they said the court couldn't do, was basically install itself as the commander in chief and had negotiator and chief with Mexico.

KING: Well, that's an interesting way to put it. And I want to read, Joan, I brought this up in the previous conversation. Number one, this is an interesting alliance. And you do see - you do see for all the talk about six to three super majority. There are possibilities on some issues, to have interesting alliances on the court. Welcome, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, see if you can figure that out.

Now, you see here, the chief and Brett Kavanaugh siding with the three liberals. Justice Breyer now will not be there in the fall. But justice Kavanaugh here again, talking about the political dysfunction. The larger policy story behind this case is the multi decade inability of the political branches to provide DHS, the Department Homeland Security, with sufficient facilities to detain non-citizens who seek to enter the United States pending their immigration proceedings.

But this court has authority to address only the legal issues before us. We do not have the authority to end legislative stalemate or to resolve the underlying policy problems. There's a lot of people mad at the court right now. This is the court, lecturing the Congress saying, maybe you ladies and gentlemen should try to do your job.

BISKUPIC: Yes. And this is Brett Kavanaugh, providing the fifth vote here. But providing it with a little bit of attentiveness that goes a bit to Professor Litman's point, that there are other things that can go on down the road that might actually make it harder for President Biden to carry through with some of his immigration measures.

What justice Kavanaugh said in that concurring opinion and what he said during oral arguments earlier in the year, which says an administration has to be able to look at options, and what the Biden administration says we just don't have the capacity. We don't have the beds to hold people. We have to prioritize who we let remain in the U.S. while we do these hearings, and he was sensitive to that. Brett Kavanaugh is the one justice on the conservative side, who will sometimes inch over with the chief to the liberal side.

KING: Sometimes, sometimes with interesting lesson. We'll see if that one carries over. Joan, thank you, Professor Litman as well, and Jessica Schneider outside the court. Next for us, President Biden urges Congress to pass a new federal law, guaranteeing abortion rights. And he says, get this. Democrats should make an exception to the filibuster to get it done.