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Supreme Court Refuses To Block Texas Abortion Ban; Deadly Flooding Paralyzes New York City And New Jersey. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired September 02, 2021 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kaitlan Collins live in New York where we are covering the catastrophic flooding that happened overnight.
But we are also covering some other breaking news that happened overnight, and that's the Supreme Court breaking its silence and now weighing in on this restrictive Texas abortion ban that went into effect the previous night. And many had wondered why they had not said anything so far -- and now they have, saying they are going to decline to block this restrictive ban.
I want to bring in CNN's Joan Biskupic, and CNN's Jeffrey Toobin.
Joan, what can you tell us about what the decision was that the Supreme Court has made here? And remind our viewers about this Texas state law and why people were so concerned about it.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure. Good morning, Kaitlan.
I cannot overstate the magnitude of what happened last night by five to four vote for women in Texas, for constitutional rights nationwide, and for the justices themselves and their relations with each other in a very bitterly divided set of opinions. The justices let -- explained why they had not intervened the night before when this Texas ban on abortions went into place.
And as you say, remind our viewers that it's essentially a six-week ban on abortions. Most women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks. And the law in Texas had an unusual enforcement mechanism in which state officials aren't the ones who are going to ensure this ban but, rather, private citizens have essentially been deputized to report and bring a case against anyone who assists -- aids and abets a woman with a -- who is more than six weeks pregnant to have an abortion. The justices have let this take effect at midnight a day ago. And last night, with like two minutes before midnight, Kaitlan, the justices issued this opinion. The five conservatives, in an unsigned opinion -- it was Justices Alito, Thomas, and the three new Donald Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett -- said they do not see the injury right now to women or to health clinics that brought the case in letting this law take effect.
That right now, there are too many complicated legal issues. They, in some ways, conveniently threw up their hands to say this is something we can't handle at this time. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that they're effectively hiding their heads in the sand.
And the real stunner here, also, is the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts -- certainly, a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush -- signed on with the dissenters saying this is unprecedented. This is such an unusual law. It appears to be written to evade judicial review. And that's exactly what happened here.
Again, I just can't stress this moment.
And one last little postscript. It was one year ago this month that Ruth Bader Ginsburg suddenly died and Amy Coney Barrett succeeded here. This case last night is only possible because of these new five justices and the absence of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
COLLINS: Yes. Donald Trump is no longer in office but we are still seeing the reverberations of that decision and that time that he did have.
Jeffrey Toobin, what is your response to this dramatic move by the Supreme Court?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think just the most important thing to emphasize is that Texas, a state with 29 million people in it -- abortion is illegal for all intents and purposes. This has never happened in a state since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided.
I mean, this is an enormous event in the lives of the American people and, of course, especially, American women. Because this has been a constitutional right that has been understood and reaffirmed over and over again by the Supreme Court.
But, Donald Trump said repeatedly he was going to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe versus Wade.
And that's what they have done, along with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. And they have done it in a particular -- in a way that I think calls into question the legitimacy of the court as an institution. They didn't even wait to hear a full argument of a case. They just sort of did it on the spur of the moment without hearing a full case.
By declining to intervene in this case they have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade in Texas, if not in the whole country. And I think the least the Supreme Court owes us is explanations for what they do, and we didn't even get that from them yesterday.
COLLINS: Yes, it is surprising we did not get any kind of explanation behind this.
And as you just said, Trump said when he was coming into office those are the justices he wanted to see on the Supreme Court. So it wasn't exactly a surprise to anyone.
But, Sen. Susan Collins repeatedly insisted as they were confirming several of these -- and including the last one -- the last one that President Trump had -- former President Trump had confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett -- that she believed Roe v. Wade was settled law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: His precedents overturned.
COLLINS: He noted that Roe had been reaffirmed 19 years later by Planned Parenthood versus Casey and that it was precedent -- unprecedented. He said it should be extremely rare that it be overturned and it should be an example --
BASH: And you have, obviously, full confidence.
COLLINS: I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: Well, so much for that. Well, you know so much for that. I think a lot of people --
BISKUPIC: Yes, and that's the whole point is that it has been precedented. Kaitlan, the whole point is that it has been --
TOOBIN: -- a lot of people thought --
BISKUPIC: -- precedented and that Susan Collins and the dissenting justices last night said look at where our country has been for nearly 50 years to -- in just -- after 72 hours of thought, essentially, as Justice Kagan said, to effectively reverse it is a major development.
COLLINS: Jeffrey, go ahead.
TOOBIN: Well, no, it just -- you know, I don't know if Susan Collins was deluding herself or being deluded, or simply lying, or was lied to by Brett Kavanaugh. But I think everyone knew, even at the time -- or most people knew at the time what she was saying was not likely to be vindicated. And it now has been proven to be false. But this -- you know, I remember when I covered Supreme Court nominations and John McCain always used to say elections have consequences. And Donald Trump was elected and there were three vacancies during his tenure and he filled them with abortion rights opponents. And that was one of the major issues, or it should have been, in the campaign, and now we're seeing the consequences.
And believe me, this is just the beginning. Texas will be a model for the rest of the country -- the red states that want to ban abortion, and they are already starting to do it.
So, we are heading to a system where there will be abortion illegal in major parts of the country. Not the whole country because many blue states will keep the right. But we are heading very quickly to a system where abortion will be illegal in a third or more of the country.
COLLINS: Jeffrey and Joan, thank you both very much. We'll be waiting to see what President Biden has to say since he has not weighed in. But yesterday, he did say this Texas ban, he believed, violated constitutional rights.
I do want to get back to the other breaking news, though, here in New York and in New Jersey where the remnants of Hurricane Ida have swamped the area and left many stranded either in subway stations, in cars, on buses, in their homes. At least eight people are now dead.
And so, I want to bring in the New York Democratic nominee -- New York City mayoral Democratic nominee, Eric Adams. Eric Adams, what are you seeing this morning, and what did you hear about this overnight as this flooding really caught everybody off guard?
ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL NOMINEE (via telephone): Yes, thank you so much for having me on.
And it did -- you know, it caught everyone off guard. I spent almost until 4:00 a.m. this morning just really moving around the city early in the evening. For the first time, I saw complete flooding on the outbound side of the Brooklyn Bridge. I've never witnessed that before or while I lived in the city.
And it just was a real devastation, the number of lives that were lost. And it's just a real wake-up call to all of us how we must understand how this climate change is impacting us.
COLLINS: And, Eric, what are people who are stuck supposed to do? I was just talking to Beverly Price. She was on her way to New York -- or to work last night. She has been stuck in a subway station since 11:30 p.m. last night and she said other people have been stuck there since 10:00 p.m. They just have no way to get home. So what are they supposed to be doing right now?
ADAMS: Right now, it's imperative to wait this out. We have people stuck on trains. And as a former transit police officer, one of the most dangerous things you can do is to walk on the track area and leave the train.
You have to allow the emergency service individuals and organizations -- and agencies to get in and get the people out of the system. Right now, this is one of those moments where you have to just wait this out, let the water recede, and let the emergency service people get in and do their job. This is where we are at this moment.
COLLINS: Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City, thank you for joining us this morning. I know you've had a late night and we'll check back in with you later.
Up next, we are going to continue with our coverage of what is happening here in New York. John Berman has arrived on the scene and he will be joining us live right after this.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. This is CNN's special live coverage of this historic and pretty catastrophic storm in the northeast. I'm John Berman live, finally, in Times Square, along with Kaitlan Collins. It's great to see you in person.
COLLINS: Glad to have you join us. Glad you made it safely.
BERMAN: It was an unbelievable trip, I have to tell you.
COLLINS: So what did you see? Tell us about your arrival here because you saw a lot of cars that were just abandoned, right?
BERMAN: So, I live -- to give people -- I live about 30 miles north of New York City. My commute in, in the middle of the night, takes 40 minutes normally. This one took close to three hours. And I think it's amazing I got in at all based on what I saw.
So, the situation is we had just as much rain up there around the city -- you know, three to five inches. It came down so quickly. Trees down just everywhere because the ground has been saturated.
COLLINS: I know.
BERMAN: So, roads impassable.
But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst of it was on these parkways and highways headed into the city where clearly, there was flash flooding overnight -- catastrophic flooding. And we've seen some of the video.
There were just cars abandoned -- abandoned in the middle of the road. At one point, traffic going in was at a standstill and I saw 20-ish cars just abandoned on this parkway. And clearly, there had been flash flooding. The ground was covered in this mud and this dirt and these cars were just left there.
No drivers to be seen and they were all headed in the wrong direction. So everyone overnight must have just been scrambling to get wherever they could.
And then -- so wherever the roads were closed, people were trying to work around the closed-off areas and navigate their way into the city. And it's -- and it's just a mess. It's really difficult to get in.
COLLINS: And it's a flash flood emergency, which is the first time this has ever happened in New York City --
COLLINS: -- which is higher than a flash flood warning. That's what I think most people are familiar with -- a flash flood watch, a warning.
This is a flash flood emergency and it's reserved, according to the weather service, for events where there is potentially the threat of catastrophic damage to not only property and transportation, but human life. And we've seen that, unfortunately, now.
We were just talking to the mayor of New Jersey who was saying that people were swept away in floodwaters.
COLLINS: That people were unaccounted for. And we know eight people have died here in New York now as a result of this. These are -- these are deadly effects from Hurricane Ida.
BERMAN: I believe in it. I saw -- on the way in I saw ambulances, when we had to wind our way through neighborhoods, taking people out of homes on stretchers, whether they had had medical emergencies and couldn't get out because of the floods. Whether it was because they were stuck in water, maybe in their basements or first floors, I don't know -- but clearly, there were a lot of people affected. And you could tell it was difficult for them to get to the hospital.
And I did see -- in addition to these cars abandoned, I saw lots of accidents, too, where you had cars pointed and smashed in ways which were just unnatural -- clearly, swept away at different times.
COLLINS: Right. And so, I think the question that we've seen here in New York City is how people are getting home because that has been a massive problem --
COLLINS: -- where people were out and about as this happened because it happened so quickly here. It wasn't a slow rainfall that happened over the course of several hours. This happened where a lot of this fell in one hour and people were out commuting.
We just talked to Beverly Price. She was on her way to work and she tried to go to the bus stop and they said there are no buses -- no buses coming. She went to get to the -- on the subway. They said it's delayed. She
got on one and could not get on another. So she has been here -- not at her home, not at work -- since 11:30 p.m. last night.
And obviously, the subway is the main artery that people use to get around here and now, it's incredibly delayed. They're hoping to get it back online fully by the end of the day. But right now, as people are going to work, a lot of them are walking. We are seeing some --
COLLINS: -- driving, but nowhere near the level of traffic that you normally see over in Times Square --
COLLINS: -- at this time in the morning.
BERMAN: No. Normally, this place would be packed.
I do have to say given what I've just seen over the last 2 1/2, three hours, this is a little bit of an odd scene, seeing people out. I'm thinking there are people here who maybe went to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 last night --
BERMAN: -- and are waking up now seeing blue skies. They don't know what happened.
BERMAN: But if you just get a little bit out of the city where these roads are just a mess, and it really -- you can't imagine going to work today like these people here are who can just walk out of their homes.
COLLINS: And the governor of New York was saying they don't want people going to work right now. They want people staying home so these emergency crews can get there to assess the damage. Because that, of course, is a big concern I think -- is that a lot of people were unreachable last night as this was playing out. Because it played out overnight and a lot of people were at home and they weren't out in the city.
BERMAN: And I have to say if you have cell phones you did get warnings throughout the night -- these various types of flash flood warnings. It's not that you don't pay attention to them -- you do. But you don't understand what it means, I think if you're in the New York City area or the northeast because what do you know about flash floods here? We haven't really had this type of flash flood, as you were just saying.
BERMAN: So I'm not sure people even knew how to react to that type of warning.
COLLINS: No. I think people just thought -- we were talking about this yesterday. We thought it was going to be a lot of rain here.
Eric Adams was saying he has never seen something like this --
COLLINS: -- since he's lived in New York. And was saying this is the level of this. You expect a lot of rain, you're not expecting this much.
BERMAN: All right, our friend Brian Stelter, CNN chief media correspondent -- he is an anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES." He is in New Jersey right now -- Brian -- waking up to the same thing we all are here, which I imagine is just quite a sight to see. Tell me what's going on where you are.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Yes, and the weather is playing tricks on people because now it is so pleasant out. It is so calm. The sun is shining. And that's what happens when one of these major storms rolls through. Now you're going to have a beautiful day in the northeast.
But there's a lot of recovery to do and a lot of river flooding that is still yet to come, John and Kaitlan. Look at last night in Gloucester County. This is Mullica Hill, New Jersey. A major tornado sweeping through a subdivision. You simply do not see tornadoes like this in the northeast.
We can show you what some of the local residents said afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the train sound. And when I stepped in the house I looked out and I saw my furniture just, whoosh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I was putting down the garage door, I heard this rattling. My daughter ran out and said get in the house quick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It got black, like, instantly and everything -- just boom. And you could hear like -- the lights were flickering and everything. It just completely wiped out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Again, a serious tornado -- a tornado emergency declared in Jersey at the height of this storm. And there are several other locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where folks are going to be out today looking and surveying the damage to see if other tornadoes also touched down.
One of my concerns this morning is in Philadelphia. The Schuylkill River is cresting at a major flood stage. Looking at record high water and some water already pouring over the banks of the Schuylkill, of the Delaware River. And we're going to see that all the way up and down the 95 corridor today.
We know in Newark, United has already suspended operations. New Jersey Transit suspending most of its rail lines. And still, at this hour, flash flood warnings in and around Boston.
So where I am, it looks like it's over. The sun is out. But there is going to be a lot of this, I think, aftermath we're going to be hearing about for hours to come -- John and Kaitlan.
BERMAN: Yes. Just to be clear, what Brian said there is important. It may look nice out now but the impact is not over. You still have swollen rivers and streams. You still have roads that are impassable.
And we just got that news from Brian, also, that United has suspended flights out of the airport in Newark, and you've seen the scene there with the flooding and whatnot.
So everyone, sit tight where you are.
Our special coverage continues right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: All right, welcome back. This is CNN's special live coverage of this catastrophic storm and flash flooding in the northeast. I'm John Berman live in Times Square along with Kaitlan Collins. And, Kaitlan, the things you have seen and the people you have been talking to this morning, simply extraordinary.
COLLINS: It's been a devastating morning for so many people who were not expecting this level of catastrophic flooding as we are seeing the remnants of Hurricane Ida sweep the northeast.
Here in New York City, they felt it incredibly hard as many people were out last night as this record rainfall was happening here, breaking a record that was set just last week.
And now, nine deaths have been reported -- eight in New York, one in New Jersey, including an 86-year-old woman who was found in her basement just before midnight by her son.