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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87. Aired 5- 6a ET

Aired September 19, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, she was small in stature but will be forever remembered as a giant in American history. This morning, the country mourns the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

It is Saturday, September 19th. Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.


Justice Ginsburg died yesterday from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her family in Washington, D.C. She was 87 years old.

Now this morning, flags are flying at half-staff at the White House. The same honor ordered at the Capitol and the Supreme Court.

BLACKWELL: Now there was a vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court after news broke last night. And she leaves behind a legacy there on the court and of course that seat, 45 days out from an already heated presidential election. It is clear this race has now been intensified.

We'll have more now on the political fights that have already started in just a moment but, first, CNN's Jessica Schneider has a look at Ginsburg's life, and the grit and tenacity that she was known for earning her the nickname, the notorious RBG.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ruth Bader Ginsburg's rise from a humble Brooklyn neighborhood to the nation's highest court was a classical American story.

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT: What is the difference between a bookkeeper and New York's common district and a Supreme Court justice? Just as one generation, my mother's life and mine, bear witness where else but in America could that happen.

SCHNEIDER: She was smarted, tied for first in her class at Columbia Law School. But in the late '50s and early '60s the glass ceiling stood firm. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were three strikes against her. First, she

was a woman. Second, she was Jewish. Third, she had a young child.

SCHNEIDER: She turned to teaching law and fighting gender discrimination for the ACLU.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very much with the model of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund led by Thurgood Marshall, she had this idea that you had to build precedent step-by-step.

SCHNEIDER: In 1980, Ginsburg became a federal appellate court judge.


GINSBURG: So help me God.

GINSBURG: Thirteen years later, she was named to the Supreme Court by President Clinton, the second woman on the bench. The first, Sandra Day O'Connor was glad to see her.

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The minute Justice Ginsburg came to the court we were nine justices. It wasn't seven and then the women. And it was a great relief to me.

SCHNEIDER: As a justice, Ginsburg consistently voted in favor of abortion access and civil rights. Perhaps her best known work on the court writing the 1996 landmark decision to strike down the Virginia Military Institute's ban on admitting women. She was also known for her bold dissent, like the one she wrote when the court stopped the 2000 Florida ballot recount, struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and ended the contraception mandate for some businesses under the Affordable Care Act.

GINSBURG: In our view, the court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.

SCHNEIDER: In 2007, the high court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, a factory supervisor at a tire plant in a high profile pay discrimination case. Ginsburg urged Congress to take up the issue in her dissent. 20 months later, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill that President Obama signed into law.

After Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, Ginsburg became the most senior of her liberal colleagues. But she didn't slow down. Stephen Colbert discovered that the hard way, trying to keep up with RBG's famously tough workouts.

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE-NIGHT HOST: I'm cramping and I'm working out with an 85-year-old woman.

SCHNEIDER: Ginsburg hired a trainer after treatment for colorectal cancer in the late '90s. In 2018, doctors treating the justice for broken ribs discovered cancerous growths on her lung. The surgery was successful but the recovery caused Ginsburg to miss oral arguments at the Supreme Court for the first time in her career. She was also treated several times for pancreatic cancer. But always

stayed up in her court work. Even after losing her husband of 56 years to cancer, Ginsburg was back on the bench the next morning.

GINSBURG: I love the work I do. I think I have the best job in the world for a lawyer. I respect all of my colleagues and genuinely like most of them.


SCHNEIDER: Her best friend on the bench was the late Justice Antonin Scalia, her ideological opposite.



SCALIA: Except her views of the law, of course.


SCHNEIDER: They shared a laugh about Ginsburg drinking wine before nodding off at the State of the Union.


GINSBURG: I wasn't 100 percent sober because before we went to the State of the Union --


GINSBURG: We had dinner together, and Justice Kennedy brought in --

SCALIA: Well, that's the first intelligent thing you've done.


SCHNEIDER: In her later years, she gave rock star status with millennials thanks to social media.

GINSBURG: It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the notorious RBG.


SCHNEIDER: The nickname was a play on the name of the late rapper, the Notorious BIG. There were books, clothing, tattoos, even a species of praying mantis in her honor, along with a recurring "SNL" sketch.


SCHNEIDER: There was a film, "On the Basis of Sex," and a documentary produced by CNN. "RBG" was an unexpected box office hit and gave the justice an even larger platform to share her lifelong mission of gender equality. GINSBURG: People asked me sometimes, when will there be enough women

on the court? And my answer is when there are nine.



PAUL: Justice Ginsburg, she left a profound impact on the court. And now whoever ultimately takes her seat can certainly shift the balance of the court. And that is a lifetime of -- that lasts that long.

BLACKWELL: Yes. It could go on for decades.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Her granddaughter told NPR that days before her death as she lost her strength, Justice Ginsburg dictated this statement. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

PAUL: Now the Senate isn't hesitating in taking up the political fight to come over the court. In the nation's capital a debate is already raging hours after we've lost her over whether a nominee should even be put forward before the election.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As the news broke of Justice Ginsburg's death, the president was speaking at a rally in Minnesota. He was already on stage, he was apparently unaware of the news, and the shift of course in the campaign.

CNN's Joe Johnson is in Washington, D.C. now.

Joe, the president was told immediately after he left the stage, and how has the president reacted so far?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Honestly, the president's reaction, Victor, was presidential. He praised Justice Ginsburg. In fact, he put out a White House statement just a little while after the president got back, praising her as a brilliant mind, saying that she showed how people can disagree without being disagreeable. And also talked about her opinions saying decisions on legal equity involving women and the disabled have inspired Americans and great legal minds alike.

After that speech in Minnesota, the president did speak very briefly to reporters, praising the justice and in fact not talking at all about replacing her. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She just died? Wow. I didn't know that, I just -- you're telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I'm actually sad to hear that. I am sad to hear that. Thank you very much. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So that's what the president had to say, staying away from that important issue of replacing Justice Ginsburg. On the other hand, Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the United States where this entire confirmation issue will play out, he was not quite as subtle as the president. He, too, put out a statement again praising Justice Ginsburg.

But the very last line of that statement, indicating that the president's nominee will get pay vote in the United States Senate. So despite the fact that people here are trying to shy away from talking about replacing Justice Ginsburg, it is certainly on the minds of Republicans. And it's also a huge gift for President Trump.

This comes 46 days before the election. He understands that a conservative pick could galvanize his support on the right and perhaps help him in some way. The question is how they're going to play that. It's also a sticky situation, quite frankly, for the United States Senate especially for Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who will have a big say in any confirmation process once the president names someone.


Those Republicans, especially those vulnerable Republicans, can certainly expect to get a lot of pressure as their election races have essentially been nationalized with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Back to you.

PAUL: Yes, a very, very good way to put it, Joe. Joe Johns there for us. Joe, thank you.

BLACKWELL: So Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Clinton. And in response to her death, the former president wrote this. "Her 27 years on the court exceeded even my highest expectations when I appointed her. Her landmark opinions advancing gender equality, marriage equality, the rights of people with disabilities, the rights of immigrants and so many more moved us closer to a more perfect union. Her powerful dissents, especially her ringing defense of voting rights and other equal protection claims remind us that we walk away from our Constitution's promise at our peril."

PAUL: Ariane de Vogue is live for us now at the Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg we know had this trailblazing career. I mean, her decisions on gender equality, gay rights, and these issues, they will impact America for years to come. With her presence absent there, however, Ariane, help us understand what is to come in the next few months and weeks ahead, as there's some sort of void to try to be filled just by the absence of her.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Right. What's key to remember with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is she was a legend even before she got put on the high court. She worked on this area of gender equality. As a young lawyer, she went across the country, knocking down these laws that treated men and women differently. She knew that very often she'd be appearing before male judges.

Sometimes she chose a male plaintiff to make the point. And of course, she became this iconic figure so unusual for a Supreme Court justice. You'd go across the country, you'd see swag, you'd see T-shirts that said "You Can't Have the Truth without Ruth." I interviewed a young woman who had her image tattooed on her arm. And of course she was nominated in 1993 by Clinton and she did become the most consistent liberal voice, the leading liberal voice on issues such as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights.

But it's worth noting that one of her proudest decisions was knocking down an all-male admission policy at a state school. But she was so often in dissent, right? And one of her big dissents came in the Lilly Ledbetter case that had to do with pay discrimination. Another one had to do with Voting Rights Act. That's when the Supreme Court, the majority struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

She wrote a dissent that was so powerful that it inspired young people across the country, even somebody put that dissent to music. And she inspired women across the country. And that started here at the Supreme Court. Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. They said that their path to the court was cleared because of somebody like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg was the second woman to be put on the court and when the two other women joined for a while, she served alone.

She said, I look to the right, and there's a woman. I look to the left, I'm in the middle. This is what America looks like.

And one more thing I have to talk about last term because it was a blockbuster term. We had so many big cases coming up before she was diagnosed, of course, back in February. She kept it quiet from the public. Instead, she kept her head low. She was just a dominant voice in an abortion case. And in another case, she was -- the courthouse doors shut because of COVID. And the justices were having oral arguments by phone, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a health mishap.

She was in the hospital bed. She called in from her hospital bed, and I remember her grilling a government lawyer. She said she'd always work and though she no longer had the steam to continue with it. And even three weeks ago, she was working with one of her clerks on a book. So she did, she worked until the very end on her legacy and she's going to leave a gaping hole on this court.

BLACKWELL: Grit and strength. Not just a legacy there on the court, but as you mentioned there, pop culture. There aren't many kids who dress up as a Justice Breyer for Halloween but we have seen plenty of Justice Ginsburg.

Ariane de Vogue, for us there, we'll check back later this morning. Thanks so much.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, he spoke about Ginsburg last night. He also addressed Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell's pledge to hold a vote for whoever President Trump nominates to replace her.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider.


This was the position of Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before That's the position the United States Senate must take today. And the election is only 46 days off.


BLACKWELL: CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox is with us now from Capitol Hill.

Lauren, good morning to you. Senator McConnell is saying to his colleagues, keep your powder dry. We're starting to hear a few little inklings, a few hints of what some of the more moderate members, vulnerable Republicans will do. And he said, hold off on the statements.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Victor, and McConnell making it crystal clear last night. He plans to bring the president's Supreme Court nominee to the floor of the Senate within the year. Now, when exactly that plays out, that's going to be the topic of many conversations over the upcoming hours, days and weeks. And what I'm hearing right now is that the more likely scenario is that McConnell would wait until after the election.

Remember, lawmakers will return for eight lame duck sessions. But that makes things more complicated because you have to remember, elections have consequences. And there is an opportunity that Democrats could take the Senate majority from Republicans. There's also an possibility that Trump could lose in November. And if that's the case, it might make things harder for McConnell to convince moderate Republicans that after the voters have spoken, he need to get this nominee, President Trump's nominee, through the Senate in a lame duck.

That's why some conservatives that I'm talking to behind the scenes are pushing McConnell to do this before the election. Of course, that's complicating for people like Cory Gardner running for re- election in Colorado and people like Thom Tillis in North Carolina. So there are a lot of factors that are going to have to be looked at in the upcoming hours and days. But like you said, McConnell sending that message and just to really a few members, keep your powder dry.

Don't lock yourself into any particular position this early. He's going to be looking at a few key Republicans. Susan Collins, up for re-election right now in the state of Maine. Lisa Murkowski, someone who voted against Brett Kavanaugh and against Majority Leader McConnell's wishes a couple of years ago. He's also going to be looking at Mitt Romney who voted for impeachment back in January. Those are just a few of the members. He can only lose three. If he loses a fourth, then he doesn't have the

votes he needs. So those are the factors right now. Now that could even be complicated further. And bear with me, but there is a possibility that if Martha McSally loses in Arizona, because that is a seat that was held by John McCain, there is a potential that Mark Kelly, the Democratic challenger, could be installed at the end of November.

That means that a lame duck vote gets even more complicated for McConnell. He has less ability to hold that conference together if he loses more votes, so just something to keep in mind that this is a very complicated chess game.

Another thing to keep in mind, McConnell is very good at chess games in the United States Senate.

PAUL: Lauren Fox, beautifully broken down, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We've also got some breaking news. This is from Rochester, New York. Several people have been shot. We know that two people are dead, 14 have been wounded after a mass shooting on the east side of the city.

PAUL: Now we're still getting details, but we know that Rochester Police say the incident is being investigated right now. And as we get more of those details, we'll certainly pass them on to you.

BLACKWELL: And we will continue the coverage of how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shaped modern American life, fought for equal rights across this country.



GINSBURG: Well, I had the idea of being a lawyer was a pretty good thing. You could get a job and work for k. But you could also help keep the society in tune with our most basic values. I wasn't fully appreciative of the hurdle that I would face because 1956, when I started law school, there was no anti-discrimination law, no Title 7. Certainly no Title 9. And it was totally up front in saying, we don't want any lady lawyers in the south.


BLACKWELL: The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg there. Overnight, more reaction has come in to the passing of Ginsburg. This is from President Barack Obama, he said -- and this is part of the statement, "For nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court on the land, she was a warrior for gender equality. Someone who believed that equal justice under the law only had meaning if it applied to every single American."

PAUL: He went on to say, "Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn't about the abstract of ideal of equality, that it doesn't only harm women, that it has real consequences for all of us. It's about who we are and who we can be."

BLACKWELL: With us now to talk about the passing of Supreme Court Ginsburg is CNN political analyst Margaret Talev, politics and White House editor for Axios.

Margaret, good morning to you. You know, it was interesting. The president was on stage in Minnesota and had no idea how this race had changed in just a minute. How should or are Republicans approaching this decision about how and when to replace, not any justice, but Justice Ginsburg?


MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, good morning, Victor. Behind the scenes, our understanding from every Republican we talked to, whether at the White House, in the Senate, or inside the conservative movement is that they are getting ready to move forward very quickly. What does that actually mean, though? As we know, the president has had, basically, since he took office, a running list of people who he has been considering for Supreme Court vacancies. And he has had quite a record number in his presidency now.

As recently as last week, we saw an updated version of that list. We know that Amy Coney Barrett continues to top that list, but there are several other women and several other candidates he has ready to go. The question is two-fold. Number one, how quickly does he announce his choice? And then of course, number two, how quickly do Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators proceed?

I certainly expect the president to say who he wants to go with before the election. That is a different question from whether or not a vote could be possible. But as a means to energize his base, 100 percent, he understands the power that has to shift the conversation away from the coronavirus, to motivate turnout. It has worked for him in the past and he believes it could work for him again.

PAUL: OK. So that what you led me right into the question I wanted to ask, because up until this point, this has been an election essentially that has swirled around COVID. How does her loss change the trajectory of what we will see in the next 45 days?

TALEV: Well, it is immediately a vote based motivation question for the president. The consideration is -- in the past, we have seen this to be much more of an energizing issue for Republican voters, for conservatives voters than for Democratic voters or for liberal voters. Does that change? We've seen some evidence in polling. The Democrats are more galvanized around this issue than in the past.

But there's just no infrastructure that compares with the Federalist Society or any of the various engines and group from evangelicals, from churches, to the political arm that have in the past turned out in the Republican Party around this issue of justices. For President Trump, it answers all of the -- it has in the past answered all of these questions about, well, what about how he conducts his personal life or what about how he treats people on Twitter? And the answer for many conservatives has been that's not my cup of

tea, but he's delivered on judges and justices. And so that will continue to be a rallying cry. It's a different calculation for many of the Republican senators in some of these pivotal states whose positioning in the weeks to come could absolutely impact turnout in their races. So a situation in theory where the president could win or a Republican senator could lose.

So, as you've seen with McConnell, he is urging key Republicans don't lock yourself into any statement right now. There's going to be a real effort to kind of game-out what are the down ballot implications, what are the up-ballot implications. And it's kind of incredible that we're talking just hours after her death about this politics. But she understood that and that is why she dictated that closing wish to her granddaughter.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You've got three vulnerable Republicans on Senate Judiciary, starting with the chairman himself, locked in a race with Jamie Harrison there in South Carolina, Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis in North Carolina. But we know that the senators are trying not to lock themselves into statements now but we do have their statements from 2016 after President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. So we're going to run through some of them this morning and we're going to start with Senator Cornyn.

Because we heard from Lauren Fox that the plan is potentially to take up the confirmation hearings in the lame duck. Here's what Senator John Cornyn of Texas said in 2016 about that idea.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): This nomination will change the ideological balance of the Supreme Court for a generation. Justice Scalia served for 30 years. So because of that, because of all of this, I believe the American people should have their voices heard in the selection of the next Supreme Court nominee.

I know there's been some members of the press who've asked about, well, if not now, how about in a lame duck session of the Congress? That is after the election before the new president is confirmed. I think that is a terrible idea. If you believe in the principle that the American people's voice ought to be heard, it makes no sense to have an election, and then to do it and not honor their selections.


BLACKWELL: How are they trying to get themselves out of these very clear, concise arguments against exactly what they're planning to do?

TALEV: Well, technically, I think the way they're trying to do it is to say that was different because President Obama was Democrat and Republicans controlled the Senate. And that's different than if both the sitting president and the Senate are Republican controlled. But the bigger answer to your question is, I just don't think it matters. I mean, I just -- I would be shocked, yes, if we would see Republicans and leadership get this close to the goal line and then blink because they made a promise four years ago.

Lindsey Graham, yes, the clip will be played, there are probably ads being cut right now where he's saying you can hold it against me. OK, you can hold it against him. But it doesn't -- can you imagine, I mean, the pressure he's going to face from within his own party and his desire to move on this. So I just -- I don't -- I think it matters at all. And I think the question for Democrats, if all of this happens as we're discussing, is that if President Trump and Senate Republicans move forward, and then if there were to be an election result where Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House, there would be enormous pressure on Biden to consider court packing or some other modification of the court on how it looks today.

PAUL: All right. Margaret Talev, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

TALEV: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, we take a look at Justice Ginsburg's most notable decisions and dissents. Stay with us.



BLACKWELL: Well, people have been lighting candles and laying flowers there outside the court for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Hundreds showed up at the steps of the court to pay tribute overnight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just feel gravitated to be here. I mean, for younger folks like ourselves she represents so much, so much progress that's been made, and so it just felt like a natural place to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just felt like I should bring my daughter down here and kind of demonstrate to her the impact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on our family. As a military service member, I had followed her and the things that she did to open schools up for especially VMI, for all genders, so I thought I should bring my daughter down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was actually at an event earlier this year in February, where she was speaking. And it just to be in the same room as her, it felt you could feel the power of her presence and the impact she's had in our society and throughout history. And just to know that she's no longer with us, it just feels like such a loss.


PAUL: Take a look at other candlelight vigils taking place in cities around the country. In Denver, Colorado. San Francisco, California, supporters are holding signs, they sang songs, all, of course, honoring Justice Ginsburg.

BLACKWELL: And she was well known for her often fierce dissents in a lot of important rulings. Joining me now is CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer.

Julian, good morning to you. First, just the loss of that voice where just a couple of weeks out from the start of the 2020 term, what that loss means to the court and how it realigns the positions that we saw in the 2019 term of Chief Justice Roberts and others.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, foremost, it's just the loss of a real giant on the court, one of the more important justices in recent years. And so, for the court, it's a period to mourn that loss. But it's also the loss of someone on a liberal bloc that has been fighting pretty consistently against gender discrimination and for democratic rights such as voting. And now the balance on the court is going to shift even further to the right. So this is going to have a significant long-term effect on the kind of rulings we see.

PAUL: She -- I mean, obviously, women's right, immigrant rights, gay rights, her focus was always equality.


PAUL: How -- what did she do, specifically? Give us an example or two, just so people understand the significance that she leaves behind and the gap that is now there on the Supreme Court no matter how short that gap may be.

ZELIZER: Sure. One of her first big rulings, I think, three years after coming on to the court, was the Virginia Military Institute. And being part of a decision that state funding couldn't go to an institution that denied admission to women. And that's a core principle that in the 1990s was still operational. And in that decision and subsequent dissents, including a series of decisions involving Obamacare, she always stood up for gender equality, reproductive rights being part of public policy. Even when she was losing, her dissents were very strong and articulated that principle.

BLACKWELL: So if Vice President Biden wins in November and as Lauren Fox there at the Capitol suggests the plan is for Mitch McConnell to confirm a Trump nominee in a lame duck session, there will be the pressure on Vice President Biden to pack the court, add a 10th, 11th or more justices to the court. What's history tell us about the plausibility of that or the popularity of that idea?

ZELIZER: Well, Democrats will all remember when Franklin Roosevelt tried to do that in 1937 and 1938. And the result wasn't that the court was expanded, although the court would change, but the result was a conservative backlash that took place in Congress where people said FDR was being tyrannical and a lot of Democrats are worried that that kind of response would happen today, that that would actually mobilize conservatives and leave Biden without a court that had changed.

So, I think that's going to loom large. In the short term, I think President Trump is going to be able to deliver via Senator McConnell a court that is decidedly to the right, as a result of what's just happened.


PAUL: People -- there are a lot of people, Julian, that look at what's happening today and think we cannot certainly get more divided than we already are. Is it possible to see even more division after this?

ZELIZER: For sure. Every time we think that (INAUDIBLE) -- and you see it's even worse. And here you have a court battle right in the middle of a heated election. The nomination is going to start to move soon, I would expect. And that will only amplify and maybe worsen a lot of divisions that exist over core issues in public life right now.

BLACKWELL: So, we know that the opening of this seat will energize President Trump's base. But does this energize the Democratic Party as much? I mean, will this bring both sides to an equal level moving forward for the next 45 days? Or is this something that primarily the right, especially the marquee issue of life will lean on?

ZELIZER: Historically, conservatives have been more mobilized around court issues than liberals. That's just a fact in terms of how this plays out. And I expect that might be the same, especially this time because it looks like in the next few months, Republicans who basically achieved what they wanted in terms of shifting the court. So other than court-packing, in many ways, Democrats won't have as much of a battle in the next presidential term if it is a Biden. So I think based on history of conservatives will be much more mobilized in the end.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're still waiting to get some of those statements from Republican senators, although Mitch McConnell is asking them to keep their powder dry. And we'll see if they have more to say today.

Julian Zelizer, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: We'll be back.



BLACKWELL: So this morning the U.S. is getting closer to 200,000 deaths linked to COVID-19. Almost 30 states reported an increase in new coronavirus cases this week. A close to 50,000 new cases reported yesterday alone. On average, the U.S. has seen an average in new cases reported daily, but that number is down from the weekly highs reported in July.

PAUL: And there are increasing concerns political pressure may be driving the development of a vaccine. President Trump claims that a coronavirus vaccine will be approved, manufactured and ready for distribution to, quote, "every American by April of 2021." By next year. That timeline, however, doesn't match those laid out by his own health advisers, medical researchers or even the companies that are making the vaccines. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll have manufactured at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year. And likely much more than that. Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month. And we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April.


PAUL: CNN's Erica Hill reports on the conflicting information that's coming from this president's administration.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Get tested, that's the latest guidance from the CDC for anyone who's been in contact with an infected person. Revised again after it was revealed changes last month that focused on testing those with coronavirus symptoms did not come from CDC scientists.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of this conflicting information and questions of political motivation are really hampering the efforts to take control of this virus and to get back to our normal way of living.

HILL: The virus is not under control.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE DOCTOR: We're trending in the wrong direction.

HILL: A blunt assessment, as the country adds more than 44,000 new cases and is about to pass 200,000 COVID-related deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've grown numb to the numbers, 200,000 deaths from this virus. Most or many of those deaths were avoidable.

HILL: Cases are up in 30 states in the past week, just four posting a decline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is concerning. Like I said before, we watched this like a hawk.

HILL: Georgia has now topped 300,000 total cases, the fifth state to do so. Wisconsin, where the president held a rally last night with few masks and little social distancing, reporting more than 1600 new cases yesterday, the most in a single-day since the pandemic began. Two entire dorms at the University of Wisconsin now in their second week of quarantine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was hoping this is like the worst case scenario, but at least they're like I'm glad they're taking steps even though it's very -- everything escalated very quickly.

HILL: Providence College urging students to stay home after more than 80 students tested positive in just two days.

As schools at every level work to keep students and staff safe, a new study finds as many as 51 percent of school employees may be at an increased risk for COVID-19 because of underlying conditions, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and age. Low-skilled support staff face the highest risk. And concern is growing about younger people passing the virus to more vulnerable populations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our societies have opened up, we are seeing outbreaks in younger populations. Part of that has to do with the way people are socializing, people are going out and about, and living their lives and trying to get back to what is this new normal.

HILL: A new normal that increasingly includes a lot of the old normal, bars in Nashville expanding to 50 percent capacity today. The Tennessee Titans announcing plans to welcome limited fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had months to prepare for this day and feel extremely confident in the safe stadium plan.

HILL: As we learned 10 people who attended last week's Kansas City Chiefs game have been told to quarantine because a fan near them tested positive.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.


PAUL: And if you're just joining us, we want to talk to you about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg yesterday. We're going to be covering that throughout the morning, throughout the whole day, and remind you that there is a special CNN film "RBG" airing tonight at 10:00 p.m. We'll be right back.



BLACKWELL: These statements we're seeing on social media about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg really illustrate the breadth of her impact as a cultural icon. Let's start here with the veteran journalist, Dan Rather. He wrote this, "A shock. A sadness. A great loss. The passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a hole in a nation already reeling."

PAUL: The NBA's Golden State Warriors tweeted this, "A trailblazer, an icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dedicated herself to movements affecting change from the ground up. Real change, enduring change happens one step at a time. Voting is a step. Rest knowing that we will not rest."

BLACKWELL: And Mariah Carey tweeted this, "Thank you for a lifetime of service. Thank you for changing history. We will never let it be undone. RIP, RBG."

PAUL: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was known as the notorious RBG, and that of course to a rapper and fellow Brooklynite Notorious BIG. BLACKWELL: Yes, she earned the title for her fierce battles over equal

rights, also her resilience in the face of personal loss and health complications. Let's listen here to some of her more remarkable speeches over the years.


JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT: If you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself, something to repair cares in your community.

No door should be closed to people willing to spend the hours of effort needed to make dreams come true.

We are a nation made strong by people like you.


In my lifetime, I expect to see three, four, perhaps even more women on the high court bench. Women not shaped from the same mold but of different complexions.

We are at last beginning to relegate to history books the days of the token one at a time woman.

The number of women who have come forward as a result of the Me Too Movement has been astonishing. My hope is not just that it is here to stay, but that it is as effective for the woman who works as a maid in the hotel, as it is for Hollywood stars.


GINSBURG: I have had the great good fortune to share life with a partner who believed at age 18, when we met, that a woman's work, whether at home or on the job, is as important as a man's.

It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.


GINSBURG: I have thought of that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership, I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court of the United States.


GINSBURG: When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one's ability to persuade. To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That's what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself, but for one's community.


GINSBURG: Thank you so much. Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP)