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Laura Coates Live

Biden Faces Test From "Uncommitted" Vote In Michigan Primary; Trump Appeals $454 Million Fraud Ruling As He Races To Pay Up; SCOTUS Hears Cases On Social Media Regulation; AL Chief Justice Cited Bible In IVF Ruling; Buyer's Remorse In GOP After Ending Roe V. Wade. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 23:00   ET



CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS: The outcome that you understand what the stakes are, what the consequences are if one candidate wins versus another, and that your vote really matters.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Is this also -- there's also a generational thing about this, really quick, I mean, this Gen Z or whatever, I mean, they are probably much more amenable to turning this around for Monica Lewinsky than older people were.

RAMPELL: Well, they didn't live through the era --


--- obviously when she was the butt of this horrible jokes, when she was sort of the national laughingstock and went through this horrible, horrible experience.


RAMPELL: Maybe there is more empathy, um, having been through -- having -- these kids having lived through kids, young -- you know, young adults --


RAMPELL: -- living through an era where there is more -- there are more opportunities to be sort of publicly shamed through social media.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Catherine Rampell, thank you so much. And thank you so much for watching "NewsNight." "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: So, I've heard of undecided. But Michigan is bringing in a new word, uncommitted. What's it going to mean for November? Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

Now, have you ever met someone from Michigan? They all do this thing, you know what I'm talking about, where they hold up their hand and they point to where they're from because of the shape of Michigan. Maybe it's a Midwest thing, we're all really visual people. But when it comes to some voters, they're refusing to show their hands, at least to Biden.

Now, the same state who in 2016 broke for Trump, defeating Hillary Clinton by less than, what, 11,000 votes? And in 2020 broke for Joe Biden over Donald Trump by about 154,000 votes, well, now, some Democrats are using tomorrow's primary to protest the president's handling of the war in Gaza by not voting for Biden, not for Trump, but for uncommitted.


LEXI ZEIDAN, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN ACTIVIST: Now, warnings of Biden and his administration that they need to hear our calls and heed our demands in respond to what it is that we are asking for, which is an immediate and a permanent ceasefire.


COATES: Now, if thousands of Michigan Democrats actually do vote uncommitted tomorrow, that could be one heck of a sign that his handling of Gaza may actually cost Biden some crucial votes in November.


MIKAL GOODMAN, PONTIAC CITY COUNCILMEMBER: It's not because people want Trump. No one who is voting uncommitted wants Trump. They want what is happening in Gaza to stop.


COATES: Will Biden listen or Michigan voters now cover their own ears to him? And it's not just Democrats, by the way, that have to worry. You heard him mention both Trump and Biden. Well, Donald Trump might look to be on an unstoppable march to nomination.

But, you know, there are actually signs that he has got some vulnerabilities here. The latest clue? Well, an exit polling in South Carolina, a stunning 96% of Nikki Haley's voters said that they would be dissatisfied if Trump wins the nomination, and Trump is going to need to make inroads with Haley's voters in November.

Now, I want to bring in Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Hill Harper. You may know him as Dr. Marcus Andrews in ABC's hit drama "The Good Doctor," any of his number one acting roles. But he hung up his scrubs last year to focus on a run for public office. Where? In the key swing state of Michigan. Hill Harper joins me now. Hill, good to see you. Welcome back. How are you doing?

HILL HARPER, (D) MICHIGAN SENATE CANDIDATE: Doing well. I'm doing great. Today, these past few days, running all over the state. It has been pretty incredible. Talking to a lot of voters. And tomorrow is a huge day here. So, it's pretty exciting.

COATES: It is a huge day. We've all been watching and waiting to see what will happen in Michigan tomorrow. I mean, President Biden is set to face his most significant primary challenge to date, Michigan's -- quote unquote -- "uncommitted voter." Will you be voting for President Biden tomorrow?

HARPER: Well, you know, I mean, here's the deal. The beautiful thing about the sanctity of one's vote, it's a very private vote, so I'm not going to say what I'm going to -- what I'm going to vote for. But I will say this, is that we need to make sure we get President Biden back into the White House. But I do believe that -- that the Listen to Michigan movement and the uncommitted vote will be relatively significant from the standpoint of the folks I've talked to all over the state. And I think it's very important. I think it's very important because it sends a message that I believe gives President Biden the best chance to win in November. The fact that folks need to be heard and folks are suffering, folks are angry, I'm hearing it all over the state. Seventy one percent of Michigan Democrats support ceasefire. I came out for ceasefire about a month, a little over a month after the conflict. Now, we're five months in. There was a voter, Laura, yesterday who said to me, Hill, I think people have to right size in their mind what's going on.


Number one, Gaza is the same square footage as Detroit. Basically, two point two million people, over 30,000 have already died. To put that in a context of the U.S., that would be 4.7 million U.S. citizens dead. And the CDC says -- and this is what she said to me. The CDC said we've had 1.18 million deaths from COVID. With the same death toll here, it would have been 4.7 million deaths. And so, folks are hurting. And they want their voice heard, and they're going to be heard through that.

COATES: That's important to think about, particularly when I hear the phrase uncommitted, I think to myself that it should entice a candidate to be all the more responsive, that they don't take for granted. I believe that I need not campaign in or maybe more specifically that I need not actually engage in the active listening sessions and present policy as a result.

I mean, you have been pushing for a ceasefire since at least November. Governor Gretchen Whitmer says that not voting for Biden over the Israel-Hamas war will lead to a second Trump presidency. You've been talking to Michigan voters. Is that how you see it?

HARPER: Yeah. No, no, no. This -- this gives -- sends President Biden and the democratic establishment a message. In Michigan, there are key voting blocs right here in Detroit where I'm sitting right now. For instance, you know, folks always say Michigan is a red state. So Black folks vote. It's true. We're talking about Democrats. Right?


HARPER: The way we win is to get constituency groups like African- Americans involved and engaged in voting, getting the Arab and Muslim population engaged and involved in voting. And how you do that is actually listening, not taking their votes for granted.

And so, this gives -- there'll be eight months from tomorrow for the D.C. democratic establishment to really get their stuff together and listen because there's a lot of Black folks. I'm telling you, tomorrow, black turnout is going to be quite low. You know --

COATES: Why do you -- why do you think that? Why do you think it's going to be so low?

HARPER: Okay, so, first of all, for the first time in 57 years, Michigan does not have a Black Democratic representative in the federal delegation. That's out of 13 congressional seats and two Senate seats. That's 15 seats. So, folks feel completely unrepresented.

And then when this open U.S. Senate seat came up that I'm obviously running for, the Democratic leadership did not come to the Black community and say, you know what, you're unrepresented, let's have a conversation, who would you like to see? Instead, they handpicked a candidate that they said this is who the establishment has chosen, and that candidate does not necessarily have a relationship with the Black community. And folks are like, what's going on?

Every year in October, every election cycle in October, the Black community said, save us, save us. We need Black votes. Democrats need Black votes to win statewide in Michigan. But if they don't feel that they're getting a return for the investment of their vote, they're checking out.

So, part of my challenge in this campaign has been reengaging them, say, hey, voting for me is an investment because you're going to get paid back because you'll have real representation.

COATES: Hill Harper, thank you so much for joining us. You've got a long way to go to August. Then again, it's going to go just like that. The time seems to fly --

HARPER: That's right.

COATES: -- in any election year. Good luck to you. Thank you so much.

HARPER: Thank you.

COATES: Now, I want to bring in former Republican congressman Joe Walsh and CNN political commentator Ashley Allison, the National Coalition's director for the Biden-Harris 2020 presidential campaign. Glad to have you both here.

First of all, I've heard of undecided. Now, there's uncommitted. We heard in Nevada recently, when it came to Nikki Haley, it was what? None of the above candidates. This idea of uncommitted really is in reaction. We're hearing about what's going on in terms of Gaza.

I want to play for you at least of what happened here when -- this idea, a sort of a warning for Biden ahead of November. Listen to this.


ABBAS ALAWIEH, SPOKESMAN, LISTEN TO MICHIGAN: You need to call for a ceasefire because it will save lives and because it's the necessary thing to do politically. Otherwise, you, President Biden, will be handing the White House to Donald Trump.


COATES: So, he has been moving towards this very notion of calling for that. When you look at this, is it enough at this point, Ashley?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think they want to hear the president say, I want a permanent ceasefire, and that's not right now where the Biden administration is. He did say today that they are close to a temporary ceasefire that would also provide for some hostages to come back.

But what I ultimately think the voters in Michigan are doing is they're engaging in democracy. They're having a discourse about using their vote about where they think foreign policy should be. And I think if you're on a campaign, this is not music to your ears.


But if you are a believer in democracy, you have to allow people to show up and vote for the issues and the things that they believe in. Now, that all being said, Donald Trump cannot be president of the United States. So, these voters, if they do not get to a place where Joe Biden is someone they can vote for in November, that is going to be a very interesting story for the Biden campaign to figure out.

JOE WALSH, FORMER ILLINOIS REPRESENTATIVE: From the beginning, Laura, this is a tough issue for Biden because it divides the democratic coalition.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

WALSH: He stood pretty damn firmly with Israel from the beginning. If he abandoned that, as far as a general election position, this country is still mostly pro-Israel, and that's a good thing. So, he can't be seen that he's just going to appease one population in one state. He's got to say -- he's going to be the Democratic nominee. Generally, he's got to stand with Israel.

ALLISON: I think that there is a way to do both. I think there is a way to say Israel has a right to exist, that hostages deserve to come home. But innocent Palestinians also deserve to live.

And I think that the voters who are saying -- I don't want to speak for them, but I will say as someone who wants this war to come to an end immediately and for good, I don't -- I don't like the direction this is going. It is too far.

And it's not -- I think that sometimes we're talking about this because it is an election year, about just the tactics of politicking and what to say. We're actually talking about people's lives in Israel and in Gaza. And this is -- and people's families. And so, it's easy in Washington, D.C. -- I don't think you're doing this, Joe, but it's easy in Washington, D.C. to get lost in the tactics of politicking --

COATES: Politicking. ALLISON: -- politicking or whatever.

WALSH: Politicking.

ALLISON: Politicking. But these are people.

COATES: You're absolutely right.


COATES: And when you look at that -- I mean, obviously, we talk about the polls, talk about the ballots, talk about the outcomes of things. But the issues to people are very intimate and personal. And it's not just about sort of a 10-foot pole extended and says, yeah, I guess I'll vote for this. It's deeply personal, particularly in a year like this.

But it's not just Biden who has to deal with the personal. Trump also has some vulnerabilities. Yes, he went, what, 60-40 to Nikki Haley in South Carolina, but there was an exit poll that found that 96% of her voters would be dissatisfied if Trump wins a nomination. I wonder if that's a red flag in Michigan and also beyond for Trump. What do you think?

WALSH: In every state. In every state. Now, many of those people will -- those Republicans, Haley voters will come back home. I think most will. They --

COATES: Home, meaning to the Republican Party, whoever the candidate is.

WALSH: Meaning to Trump. They had a choice. This is a primary. They wanted Haley. She's not going to win. The realization that he's going to be the nominee is going to set in with most Republican voters. He'll get most of them. But he is vulnerable because, look, I'm a former Republican who is a never Trumper. That was four years ago. There are a lot more like me now. This is a problem for Trump.

COATES: But you look -- I mean, both of you alluded to the idea of the symbolism of making one stand felt right now, whether it's the protests uncommitted or it's a I'm dissatisfied with what you're doing right now and don't want you to be the nominee. It's like both you believe that no matter what, at the end of the day, Democrats will vote Democrats and Republicans the same. Is that taking it for granted, though?

WALSH: You may disagree with me. I think primaries are like family fights, you fight it out, and somebody then represents -- I'm getting the look -- somebody represents the family.




That's just my face.


COATES: That's resting humor face.

ALLISON: Right. I love that.

COATES: Resting sarcasm.

ALLISON: No, no. I think you're right. Like you -- you have the opportunity to have the marketplace of ideas within your party and then identify who you want. And not just maybe who you want, but who you think has the best chance of winning a lot of times. And in this instance, I just think there are a lot of different components at play. But at the end of the day, it's probably going to be Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

COATES: Well, we shall see what happens. And maybe Nikki Haley, if she continues beyond to produce it, we have to wait and see on that as well.

Joe, Ashley, please stick around. We've got five days to go until a partial government shutdown. And it's the fourth time, the fourth time in four months. I will ask Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary. Is this any way to run a government?



COATES: You know, Donald Trump, he's appealing that massive $454 million civil fraud judgment against him, his sons, and the Trump Organization. Former president has to pay that penalty, of course, to secure a bond to also cover it, which would stop Attorney General Letitia James, excuse me, from actually seizing his property. Otherwise, the interest keeps on accruing, adding up at an annual rate of 9% until he has paid it all in full.

Now, it's not clear yet how Trump plans on coming up with that huge amount of money needed for the appeal. According to Forbes, he has an estimated $426 million in cash and liquid assets, I think, the sneeze at part of roughly $640 million he holds in personal assets.

Well, sort of the money man himself diving in with Shark Tank's judge, Kevin O'Leary, otherwise known as Mr. Wonderful and chairman of O'Leary Ventures. Kevin, good to see you back here. Every time I think about this number, it seems astronomical to the average person. Frankly, it is an astronomical figure.


And between the penalty in this case, the $83 million to E. Jean Carroll, that's more than half a billion dollars. And you got this recent Forbes estimate saying that he didn't have the cash. So, how is he going to come up with that money? KEVIN O'LEARY, CHAIRMAN, O'LEARY VENTURES: Well, even if you're a billionaire, having half a billion liquid is kind of unusual. But, by the way, Laura, this bond, like everything else in this case, is unprecedented.


O'LEARY: I don't recall a bond issuance anywhere near this ever for a personal situation ever. I mean, usually these things in real estate end up $20, $30, $40 million, and you basically get an aggregate of your portfolio, you stake it. The bond fee itself to put the agreement in place is anywhere from one to two and a half percent. So, you're going to lose that right out of the gate. So, there's a cost to all of this that you never get recoup.

But I think the narrative on this case has it's not even politics anymore. It's more about, what is the risk profile of New York State, given all these unprecedented situations around development? Because New York is one of the primary markets on Earth for real estate development. It's -- you think about New York City and particularly in commercial real estate or retail or, you know, obviously, condos and everything else. It's one of the number one markets, maybe London, maybe Abu Dhabi, maybe New York, but it's taking on a new risk profile because all of this stuff is unprecedented. The size of the penalty is unprecedented. The law that was used --

COATES: But Kevin --

O'LEARY: -- to garner it, to create it --

COATES: Hold on. Before you go on, why are you focusing on the risk profile of a state like New York? If the risk profile really is about -- if somebody has committed this activity or criminal behavior or in this case, the civil matter of the attorney general's office, isn't the risk profile for the lens of not making those steps to get yourself exposed to this liability? Why is the focus on New York itself?

O'LEARY: Well, New York is the only state that has ever used this law in this way in 75 years to get this outcome. We know the outcome of the case. And then New York is the only state ever to award this unprecedented amount against a crime that had no victims in the sense that no monies were lost. That's also new and never been done before. So --

COATES: Well, the attorney general on that point, though, Kevin, the attorney general does say that there are victims. And you and I -- you know, we have had conversations about this in the past. She is saying, and I know you take issue with this, but she is saying that even though the lenders did make some money from Mr. Trump, they were the purported victims in this case because they could have gotten more money, and this financial penalty reflects those lost profits.

And you think that that is not only unprecedented which, frankly, in many respects could be, but that that is the real problem in terms of the future of development and for those thinking about New York. O'LEARY: Well, that's a valid claim you're making, but maybe they would have made 20, 30, 40, 50 million more. Is the penalty commensurate with that loss? A 10 X seems a little excessive and undoubtedly will be challenged in the appellate court.

But this is not about Donald Trump anymore. It's about New York and risk. And that's the way developers like I'm looking at it. I love New York. My kids live in New York. It's the number one market on Earth. But the question is, can I risk it? Can I risk putting $3.6 billion in the ground in New York right now while things are so what I know?

I don't want to call this -- I mean, it's so toxic, so volatile, so unknown. All of this stuff is just waking everybody up around the world, saying, what's going on in New York?

And I'd argue to the people in New York, and I've said these many times, maybe you should think about the management you have that's doing this to you because it's not making you the best place to take risk. That's all I'm saying. It's not about politics, not about Trump. It's about risk.

COATES: I hear you. But, you know what? Some people are waking up to this realization. When you're talking about putting three or four billion in the ground in New York, the average person doing business or trying to get a loan in Manhattan or in New York state more broadly, they're trying to get an interest rate. They can get a 30- year on something. And even then, they're pulling together resources.

It sounds, again, to go back to my original point, for the average person, they're looking at these laws that are on the books through the lens of what the average person would be held to account for.

But let me just go -- you struck a chord with me when you talk about the management of things because I can't help. I'm in Washington, D.C. And when I think about the management of things, Kevin, I'm thinking a lot about what's happening over on Capitol Hill.


And this deadline coming up on Friday, you know, I watch you all the time on Shark Tank, we all do, and I cannot imagine that you as a businessman would look at something like Congress, for example, what's going on there, and say, a lot of debt, vulnerable to shutdowns all the time, happening, you know, multiple times with a span of a year. How do you, from the business perspective, evaluate a company like Congress, for example? I mean, you're worried about the risk and investment in New York. What do you make of Congress?

O'LEARY: Well, Laura, we've all seen this movie before --


O'LEARY: -- dozens of times. The drama, the deadline, they're going to shut the government down. No, they're not. That never happens. And that's why the market doesn't care. In the last minute, there's going to be some bipartisan agreement that kicks the can down the road 90 days and we deal with this again in three months.

What would be a good ending to this story is shut the government down for once. Let's get some real drama. But we know you're not going to do that. Congress is so divided. It's so partisan. These are very, very difficult times for anybody that's a lawmaker in Washington. And so, they're not going to go home. It's going to be the 48 hours. Everybody is going to be awake and blah, blah, blah. Everybody has seen the movie before. It's almost getting boring.

COATES: Well, I've seen the movie before. And thank you. Do not tell my bosses to keep me up for 48 hours before this all happens. But let me ask you, do you really think, Kevin, that the government ought to shut down just for the drama sake? You obviously think that, you mean it would mean that if a bluff was called, maybe people would be incentivized to do more to prevent it?

O'LEARY: Well, you know, but the problem is, no, I don't want to see the government shut down. That's very bad for the American brand.

COATES: It is.

O'LEARY: And I work in this economy. No, I don't want to do that. But I'd really like to stop doing this over and over again. We're all tiring of it. We know the outcome, the last-minute agreement. But it's not a fixed agreement in the sense that it has longevity. It's a short agreement kicking the can down the road. That's not the way to run the government.

And I think most people would agree with that on a bipartisan basis. I mean, it really, really consumes a lot of time every 90 days, whenever it is, and it's not healthy.

But the world knows -- the whole world seen the movie. Everybody on Earth knows this movie. And so, that's why they don't sell a lot of tickets to it anymore. It's not going to be that much drama. I guarantee you they won't shut down the government, yada, yada, yada, woof, woof, woof, and we'll move on the next day for a 90-day deal.

COATES: Have you not been paying attention, Kevin, to the way that movies are made now? Everything is a remake. Everything is done again.


So, they're just following the whole Hollywood thing. Thank you very much. Kevin O'Leary, I'm going to hold you to that guarantee that you made for this coming Friday. Maybe Congress will listen and say, well, if he said it, it must be true. Kevin O'Leary, nice to see you.

O'LEARY: Thank you. Take care.

COATES: Here's to our next sequel, my friend. Also, there are huge cases before the Supreme Court, and I do mean significant, dealing with free speech, particularly online. Here's the big question. Should a state be able to regulate what you see on social media platforms? Well, the arguments were made before the Supreme Court today. I'm going to tell you about what the Judicial Nine had to say about it next.



COATES: All right, time for a pop quiz. Don't worry, it's multiple choice. If your mother tells you to be quiet because she doesn't know like what you have to say, has she violated your free speech? A, yes. B, no. Or C, your mother isn't the government so the First Amendment doesn't apply to her. Well, if you guessed C, then you have passed the test.

Here's a trickier one the Supreme Court is trying to answer right now. Again, it's multiple choice. It's 11 o'clock at night. I got it. If social media platforms like Facebook or YouTube or X tell you to be quiet because they don't like what you have to say, have they violated your free speech?

A, yes, because they're kind of like the government. No, they're private companies, not the government, that's B. Or C, maybe. Well, this one might just come down to maybe. I'm sorry there's no all of the above option for all of you remembering your entire high school career.

But the Supreme Court is trying to figure this one out. First of all, no, social media companies are not the government. If they were the government, it would be a different ballgame.

Generally speaking, the government has to be what they call content neutral, meaning you cannot censor or punish people based on what they're going to say.

But there are those who claim that these companies might as well be considered the government. And Texas and Florida laws say that these companies are censoring conservative voices when deciding what content they can remove from their platforms.

But those laws are now before the Supreme Court. And the social media companies argue they, in fact, violate their own speech rights. Now, some justices today appear sympathetic to their argument.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT (voice- over): And I wonder since we're talking about the First Amendment, whether our first concern should be with the state regulating what we have called the modern Public Square.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT (voice-over): It seems like in Buckley in 1976 in a really important sentence in our First Amendment jurisprudence, we said that 'The concept that the government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.'

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: So, who is right? Joining me now, Carl Szabo, VP and general counsel of NetChoice. That is the company acting as the lead plaintiff and challenging both those laws before the Supreme Court.


Carl, so glad you're here. The immediate reaction, people, is hold on, how is a social media company, the government, that the First Amendment would actually apply? Your argument is that they're not and this is out of bounds.

CARL SZABO, VP AND GENERAL COUNSEL, NETCHOICE: Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean, if the states Florida and Texas were to take your multiple choices test, I'd say send them back to bed because they clearly do not understand what they're doing.

The First Amendment is pretty clear. It says the government may not force any of us, you, me, CNN, any of us, to say something we do not want to say. And there are plenty of times that people come up and say, I want to be on your show. And you say, no, I don't want to have you on my show. Or you should do the news this way. Well, I don't want to do the news that way.

But the state of Florida and Texas are saying the exact same thing to websites. And no, they can't because that's their First Amendment protected speech. And here you have two states, Florida and Texas, that are actually trying to force websites like Facebook and YouTube, but even sites like Etsy --


SZABO: -- to host content that they don't want to host. It is so crazy that even these laws would require Etsy to be forced to sell sweaters with swastikas on it. They don't want to sell that. Why should they be forced to sell that? That's not in their interest. That's a violation of their First Amendment.

COATES: This comes down, in many respects, to the idea of censorship. And obviously, it's the government who cannot do that, as opposed to a private individual. But there are arguments being made that -- and some are making them. No, they should be state actors. Trump famously made this argument several years ago, feeling that he had been censored.

When you look at this argument about them being a state actor, is it really coming down to that they are omnipotent or omnipresent in places? That's not enough to be the government.

SZABO: Yeah. It doesn't work for a number of reasons. One, it doesn't match reality. So, if you don't like what's going on in Facebook, you can go to YouTube. You don't like YouTube, you go to X. You don't like X, you can go to Truth Social or Rumble, conservative platforms. So, it doesn't match the facts.

But it doesn't match the law either, because there had been case after case where the famous case, the Miami Herald v. Tornillo, the U.S. Supreme Court said, you know what? Even if you are a monopoly, you're still entitled to First Amendment protection.

Or you look at a case out of California, PG&E. California PG&E, a public utility, still entitled to First Amendment protections. So, there's no way to do an end run around the First Amendment, and that's by design.

COATES: Let me ask you, though, coming out of the oral arguments. Do you feel confident the Supreme Court will see things your way? It's hard to read the tea leaves sometimes.

SZABO: Yeah. I mean, sometimes, reading tea leaves is way more clear than trying to read nine justices. But at the end of the day, we have 200 years of First Amendment law saying it is the right of individuals, the right of businesses to decide what content is appropriate for them and not the government. And at the end of the day, that's what they'll find, that's what they'll decide, and that protects all of us.

COATES: Well, I'm out of tea leaves, Carl, but I'm glad you stopped by. We'll see what they actually end up saying. We know they might just take till June. So glad to have you here. Thank you so much.

Well, there have been several fertility clinics in Alabama now pausing IVF treatments. This after just last week's ruling. And now there's new scrutiny on that chief justice of the state Supreme Court who cited the Bible in his opinion. We'll dig into it next.



COATES: At least three fertility clinics have paused operations following the Alabama Supreme Court's embryo ruling. The decision ultimately said that embryos are children. But let's look up and look at the words used to back it all up. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker cited the Bible to make his point. And that's not the first time, frankly, that he has done this.

Tom Foreman is at the magic wall to help us take a deeper look. Tom, what did you find?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chief Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court routinely talks about his far-right Christian beliefs. He sometimes criticizes his fellow justices for not turning to God more when making legal decisions. And he was elected to this office because that's how it works in Alabama after presenting himself as a religious zealot, which he still does. Listen.


TOM PARKER, CHIEF JUSTICE, ALABAMA SUPREME COURT: We need to find what God's call is on our life and pursue it so that we can be used of him in his kingdom for his purposes.


COATES: And Tom, that way of thinking is really clear, frankly, in his concurrence with the recent ruling on embryos, right?

FOREMAN: Yeah, absolutely. Time and again, he cited the Bible, as you noted, Christian values, and he said that's what Alabamians want. We believe that each human being from the moment of conception is made in the image of God, created by him to reflect his likeness. It is as if the people of Alabama took what was spoken of the prophet Jeremiah and applied it to every unborn person in this state. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.

He also said in all of this, the doctrine of the sanctity of life is rooted in the sixth commandment. You shall not murder. And furthermore, he said, life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God who views the destruction of his images as an affront to himself.

Laura, all of this sounds like a sermon, but this is in an official state Supreme Court ruling.

COATES: I mean, many people would look at this and say, what happened to church and state being separate? And he seems completely comfortable with mixing public duty, his private beliefs, even though he has been elected.

FOREMAN: Yeah, and it goes even more than that.


He favors what is called the so-called Seven Mountains Mandate. This is an idea that's very strong among evangelicals and Pentecostals. It started in the 1970s, really took off about 10 years ago. What it says is that Christians are supposed to dominate families, education, religion, entertainment, media, business, and importantly, government. Listen to his take.


PARKER: We have abandoned those seven mountains, and they've been occupied by the opposite side. God created government. And the fact that we have let it go --


PARKER: -- into the possession of others is heartbreaking for those of us who understand, and we know it is for him.


FOREMAN: All of this is why some critics say Parker is actually arguing not for a democracy but for a theocracy in which Christians are not merely the majority in the country, which they still are, but that they rule absolutely. Laura?

COATES: It's pretty stunning, the way you've broken it down, and just seeing it really in an official document, one that has the entire nation wondering what will come next. Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Well, there has been a lot of hand wringing in the Republican Party in the wake of overturning Roe v. Wade with that Dobbs decision. Is the party feeling buyer's remorse with decisions like those that are coming out of Alabama? We'll talk about it next.



COATES: Is the GOP feeling some kind of, well, buyer's remorse in the wake of overturning Roe v. Wade? Just last week, Alabama ruled that embryos or children mean that people in the state could be held liable for discarding an embryo. So, what does that mean for the Republican Party? Well, a lot of the GOP's top brass are now trying to scramble to get on the side of supporting IVF. Listen.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you comfortable with IVF as a procedure?

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): I am. You have a lot of people out there in this country that they wouldn't have children if it wasn't for that.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): I think it was a terrible ruling.

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): I can't speak to that particular case, but --


LEE: -- generally in favor of that.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Well, I think the court correctly assessed the law, but I believe the Alabama law needs to change. People who want to have a family should have the government and the law on their side.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): We want to make it easier for people to be able to have babies, not make it harder. And the IVF process is a way of giving life to even more babies.

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Do I support the IVF procedure? 100% I do. It should be made available.


COATES: A lot of this set off by letters that a Republican's campaign arm is urging candidates to support the fertility treatment.

I want to bring back former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh and CNN political commentator Ashley Allison. Okay, I've often heard this phrase of Republicans have caught the car. I want to unpack it further, though, and wonder, do you think that the advocacy in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade was short-sighted and not contemplating all the different iterations of what it could really mean?

WALSH: Laura, I say this as a pro-life former elected official. Most Republicans never thought Roe would really be overturned. You and I were talking. Did they anticipate what might happen if it was overturned? They never thought it would. It was the way we raised money. It was the way we riled up the base. The base wanted it overturned. But most Republican elected officials never expected it to be. So, they weren't ready for any of this.

COATES: So, Mifepristone, the IVF, all considerations. That's interesting because it sounds like, to your point, it's easier to campaign than legislate on the issue.


ALLISON: Well, you would know what your party was thinking better than I would, but I don't necessarily believe it. I think that when you make a 30-year plan and you work decade after decade, you might thought it was going to take 50 years and not 30, but it took 30, and then you overturned it.

It's no surprise that right after that, we started to see bans on six weeks, criminalization of doctors, criminalization of women, prevention to travel to different states. And now with IVF, many abortion rights advocates, many reproductive rights advocates have said long, the fall of Roe means the fall of reproductive freedom and all that that is encompassing of.

Now, whether or not you knew how it was going to happen, whether you thought it was going to be through this court case or this governor or this state legislator, is a different way, but there was a theory to take away the woman's bodily autonomy in every form with the fall of Roe, and now we're just seeing it play out.

COATES: Let me ask you, Joe, on that, and you were right to identify these two different terms. There is the idea of abortion and reproductive rights in terms of how it's being discussed. Republicans seem to be quite fearful that they are being associated with anti- reproduction.

WALSH: Oh, my gosh. Listen to them run from this IVF thing, because this is anti-life. This is anti-allowing letting men and women -- women have babies, literally have families. They're scared to death of this.


WALSH: They should be.

COATES: -- how do they course correct?

ALLISON: Stay out of our doctor's offices.



That's how -- that's how you course correct it. You actually like stay out of women's doctor's office, let them make choices for their body, and we would all be good. But they don't want to do that. WALSH: They're going to embrace IVF as much as they can. But I think

it's too late.

ALLISON: It's too late because they have shown their cards. They have shown themselves for who they are. I said to a friend this weekend, I said, I think that they -- the Republican Party probably put a memo out on the plan to do after Roe, and somebody forgot to tell the Supreme Court justices, don't make this ruling unless Donald Trump wins in November.

It's a little conspiracy theory, but it felt like they pulled the trigger a little too fast. But this was always going to be the plan. They just did it nine months earlier if Donald Trump ends up being president.

COATES: I mean, abortion remains on the ballot, even if in some places an invisible ink. But this issue, very important. Now, reproductive rights. We'll see how it all fares.

Joe, Ashley, thank you both so much. And thank you all for watching.

Our coverage continues.