Return to Transcripts main page


Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Hobby Lobby; Democrats Work on Legislation Following Hobby Lobby Ruling; G.M. Trying to Make Amends For Faulty Car Scandal; 3 Missing Israeli Teens Found; Preview of Sebastian Junger's New Documentary, "Korengal"

Aired June 30, 2014 - 13:30   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: That's a key question. This is a company with religious beliefs and, therefore, they don't have to pay for contraception. Can a company, who has a religious belief that, say, opposes gay marriage, say I'm not going to honor insurance obligations to a same-sex partner? Does it open up that possibility?

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I think it opens it up. Because the fact is they're crossing the Rubicon here. This was the flip-side to Citizens United. There, corporations have speech rights. Now corporations have religious rights, like persons. So the next question is, how far does this go as people make objections to other federal laws on religious federal grounds? We have bakers and photographers who are objecting to being forced to supply services to same-sex couples. Those cases have to re-evaluated.

SCIUTTO: This is another big decision. 5-4, right down party line, right? Appointed by Republicans, vote one way. Appointed by Democrats, vote the other way. We saw Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent, a very strongly worded dissent. How much of a problem is that for the nation's Supreme Court to have that kind of political divide on these key defining issues?

TURLEY: This is an ideological divide. I know people have been talking about the gender of the justices. But this is more ideological than chromosomal divide. These are people who are following well-established philosophies.

Now, in defense of this court, they've just issued a series of unanimous decisions that surprised many of us, including another loss of the Obama on the Fourth Amendment. This has not been a good time for the Obama administration. They've been found to have violated the Fourth Amendment in a case, then the separations of powers in another case, now the First Amendment --


SCIUTTO: Does it fuel that conservative argument that there is overreach executive overreach --


TURLEY: It is definitely going to do that. It really does reinforce the stereotype of an administration that's going outside the lines. SCIUTTO: Looking ahead, there was another -- just very quickly, there

was another case today, a bit lost in the Hobby Lobby coverage, but regarding unions. Explain the importance of this.

TURLEY: Yeah. This is another important decision. The Supreme Court came and said, you know, these home care workers do not have to give money to the unions. You can't force them to do that. The unions had an argument that said we have to negotiate for nonunion members --


SCIUTTO: The home care workers get benefits, salaries, et cetera.

TURLEY: Exactly. But these are the workers of the future. These home workers look a lot like the future labor force. This is saying that unions are not going to be able to get those types of dues from them. It's a very significant blow for them.

SCIUTTO: Another case where it may be defined, it seems, on paper, very limited, but it could have broader ramifications.

TURLEY: I think it does, yes.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, Jonathan Turley --

TURLEY: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: -- from George Washington University, helping us break it down.

Senate Democrats are working on new legislation already in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling. That's according to a Democratic leadership aide. The aide says that Senate Democrats will, quote, "do something," and are moving towards a floor vote on a bill soon.

The head of the National Abortion Rights Action League had this to say.


ILYSE HOGUE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ABORTION RIGHTS ACTION LEAGUE: The more disturbing precedence that was set today was when five male judges said this discrimination against women is not considered discrimination, and I think the application of that as we move forward is going to be very important.

We are calling on Congress today to right this wrong and make sure every woman in the country has access to any kind of health care that they need.


SCIUTTO: You get a sense of the strong feelings about this ruling based on the reactions you're seeing out there on the steps of the Supreme Court. Republican Congressman James Lankford represents the Oklahoma district

where Hobby Lobby is headquartered, and he's joining us now from Oklahoma City, live.

Thanks for joining us, Congressman.

REP. JAMES LANKFORD, (R), OKLAHOMA: Nice to be here.

SCIUTTO: You were a strong supporter of Hobby Lobby from the beginning. What's the significance of today's ruling?

LANKFORD: This is a statement about religious freedoms. Does the First Amendment still matter? Do you have freedom to be able to express your faith at home only or can you also express that at work? The whole challenge was if you have a business, and as the Supreme Court ruled today, you're still an individual, even within your business. These closely held companies are really family owned businesses. Can they live out their faith practice of how they establish their business? For Hobby Lobby, they started literally in their garage when they set up principles that they still operate their business. Though it's very large now, they still function under those same set of values they started off with in their garage. The statement today was from the Supreme Court, you can still live out your faith principles even if you're a big business. It's not just a small business but a large business can also do that.

SCIUTTO: This is the issue you hear from critics of this ruling. They say it allows employers to restrict their workers' health care decisions, and as a result of that, sets a disturbing precedent.

I want you just for a moment to listen to what the representative from the Center for American Progress Funds said after this ruling. Have a listen.


EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: What this ruling does is it moves in the direction this court has been moving already, which is talking about corporate personhood. Really treating corporations like people. Saying that the corporation has a religion itself and that should be imposed upon its employees.


SCIUTTO: How do you respond to that argument? Does it allow employees, in effect, to impose their religious beliefs on their employees? Because a lot of these companies, it's not just six people in the garage. It's thousands or tens of thousands of workers.

LANKFORD: Sure, yes. The statement of the Supreme Court actually made today in their opinion was corporations are made up of people. Then to say you have these mysterious entities, these businesses that operate but there are really no people involved, begs the reality on the ground. These corporations really have people that work in them. The statement they made in their opinion was the Fourth Amendment. You can't just walk into a company and say we want to search a corporation and go through everything because that corporation is made up of individual people there. You have a Fourth Amendment protection to be secure in your houses, your person, your papers, your effects. So does a freedom of faith. You have the opportunity to be able to live out your faith, not just have a faith, but to actually practice that faith as well.

SCIUTTO: The question is, what -- if you are an employee and your faith is different from the employer, I mean, corporations are people -- some of these are very big companies with thousands of people, presumably, with very different religious views -- what about the concern here that with the ruling like this, the senior management may think one way but that doesn't mean their employees agree and should be denied this kind of support, for instance, for contraceptives?

LANKFORD: I would say the court was very clear today on that as well. They say no one's being denied their opportunity to have contraceptives. This is not about contraceptives. Availability is still out there. There are both government and locations to do this. The court put the burden back on the federal government to say this is something they feel they're compelled to do. There are other ways to do this that do not remove the religious freedoms from those individuals within those companies as well. There are other avenues to do it that are less oppressive basically on that company that actually accomplish the same purposes. The Supreme Court wasn't pushing away and saying you shouldn't have contraceptives. The Supreme Court was saying you can't take away someone's religious freedoms so that someone else has access to this. There are other ways to do it that are least restrictive.

SCIUTTO: And you make a good point because one result of this ruling is that not that people won't get the contraceptives, but actually the government will pay as opposed to the company in this case.

Thanks very much to Representative James Lankford.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: He's joining us from Oklahoma City, a supporter of this decision.

Coming up next, General Motors is trying to make amends over its faulty car scandal. We'll meet with the man who is helping them do that.


SCIUTTO: At least $1 million -- that is how much General Motors says it is or offering to the families of those who died as a result of defects in G.M. cars. The company made the announcement just a short time ago.


KENNETH FEINBERG, ADMINISTRATOR, G.M. COMPENSATION CLAIMS: Money is a pretty poor substitute for loss. You could give people $20 million, $30 million, $50 million. It's a pretty poor substitute. It's the limits of what we can do, unfortunately. We can't bring people back. We can't restore limbs. It's the best we can do.


SCIUTTO: Poppy Harlow has been following the story and joins me now.

Kenneth Feinberg there, of the 9/11 Compensation Fund, B.P. Oil Spill.


SCIUTTO: -- big crises. You'll never have enough money to replace loved ones. But are these figures in line with what we were expecting? It's $1 million plus loss compensation, right?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So he gave examples. If someone's younger and they died, their potential earnings were much higher. Or if they were severely injured, a child, for example, he gave a range of anywhere from $2.2 million to $7.8 million they could get. They have to prove the approximate cause is the ignition switch defect. G.M. said there is no cap. They will pay out whatever Ken Feinberg determines. G.M. has no say in that. They have to pay what he determines. Also, they're not counting contributory negligence if someone was speeding, texting.



HARLOW: Which is a very interesting development. They will be granted that. He will be the judge and jury, the final arbiter on all of this.

I want you to listen to this. We sat down for an extensive interview. What he talked about in terms of how on earth you really value a life.


FEINBERG: I guarantee you, as sure as anything, based on experience, there will be many, many claimants who will say, but is it enough? How can money ever be enough if you've lost a love one or a quadriplegic or permanent brain injury? Money is a pretty poor substitute, I must say, for a loss and horrible life-altering injury.


SCIUTTO: So, first off that comes to mind, it looks like G.M. is trying to draw a line on this. Can the victim's families still sue even after?

HARLOW: No, they cannot.

SCIUTTO: By agreement?


HARLOW: They have to agree to this number. Once they find out what it is, they cannot take G.M. to court. This is a company that last year made $155 billion in total sales. So Ken Feinberg said, of course, you'll have people say it is never enough. How can it be enough?

But I want you to listen to also part of our conversation about where he really draws the line on whether this is really about going after G.M. or about helping families and victims. Listen.


FEINBERG: This program is to compensate victims. If you want punitive damages, if you're determined to wage a litigation war against G.M. and try and secure millions in damages, don't come into this program. This program is designed to fully compensation victims and their families.


HARLOW: Some of the victims' families were there at the press conference. I had a chance to talk to them. Some of them said they are considering this. It's not about the money. It's about the legislation. Making it tougher for these auto companies. It's about G.M. actually changing its ways.

I did ask Feinberg if he thinks the Department of Justice prosecutors have a criminal case here against G.M. or any individuals. He said, you know, I'm an attorney but that is not my purview. I do not know. He wouldn't weigh in on that. That's the big question, will the Department of Justice find G.M. criminally liable? If so, that changes the game.

SCIUTTO: Based on what you know, is this going to be enough to make most of the families satisfied?

HARLOW: I have no idea.


HARLOW: Some of them have told us they'll take this all the way to trial. They're not going to settle. They're not going to take any amount of money. They want to send a message. They think if they get paid off, then what does this do. But other people, they will accept this. We're going to see how many people opt into the program. They're going to start accepting those claims August 1st.

SCIUTTO: Poppy Harlow, following the story with G.M.

Thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: I want to bring you some breaking news now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SCIUTTO: Israeli media says the bodies of three missing Israeli teens have been found. You may remember they disappeared June 12th near a settlement in the West Bank. This breaking news coming out that the Israeli prime minister has called an emergency security cabinet meeting as well.

We have our own Ben Wedeman in the region.

Ben, what can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, we now have confirmed with Israeli security sources that the three bodies were found just north of Halhu (ph), not far from where we are, have been found. The bodies of those three missing teenagers. We're told they were found in an open field, just a 15-minute drive from where they originally disappeared at 10:30 p.m. on the 12th of June. This is an area, of course, just south here, south of that, Hebron. Those two Palestinian cities have now essentially been closed off by Israeli military and police. The entrance to Halhu, right behind me, you cannot get in at this point. We also understand that friends and supporters of the families of the three teenage boys are gathering at their houses to express their sorrow, to -- their condolences as well. We don't know where this is going to go at this point. But certainly we can expect some very tense hours in the West Bank and -- tonight -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: Ben, there have been no claims of responsibility. We know that Israeli officials have pointed the finger at the Palestinian Authority, even Hamas. Has anything changed since then? Is there any more information as to who was behind this?


WEDEMAN: I'll redial --

SCIUTTO: Ben, can you hear? Jim Sciutto.

We've lost Ben Wedeman. We've lost Ben Wedeman who is in Hebron, just with the breaking news. We've just learned, U.S. Israeli security officials confirming to CNN that three bodies of three missing teens -- they've been missing since June 12th in the West Bank of Israel -- have been found and identified. Our own Ben Wedeman is on the scene.

After this break, we'll have more details on this troubling story.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SCIUTTO: We return now with breaking news out of Israel. CNN has confirmed, speaking to Israeli officials, that the bodies of three missing Israeli teens have been found. The three teens went missing June 12th in the occupied territories of the West Bank. We also learned that Israeli officials have convened an emergency cabinet meeting in response to this.

We're joined by Michael Orrin, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

Michael, there have been no claims of responsibility to this point. Who do Israeli officials believe were behind this? MICHAEL ORRIN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Jim, hello.

It's a very, very sad day for the people of Israel and for Israel supporters around the world. These were three beautiful teenagers, Eval Yirach; Gilad Shaare; Natalie Franchel, also a citizen of the United States. Their families have become to the people of Israel. Huge rallies in support of the families. The families have given support to the people of Israel in a time of profound trauma.

Israel has assigned blame to Hamas. Hamas is the effective sovereign in the Gaza Strip. Hamas celebrated the kidnapping of these three youngsters. They handed out candies to young people in celebration of this kidnapping. And Hamas, as of this morning, for the first time since the cease fire in 2012, is firing rockets at southern Israel. So Hamas is the perpetrator in the eyes of Israel. And I think not only in Israel's eyes. And there will be repercussions.

SCIUTTO: Looking at the faces that we have on the air now, the three young teens who were killed, and as you say, is a case that has electrified and captivated the Israeli public in the last 18 days since they went missing. What do you expect the reaction to be from the Israeli government, the Israeli military, particularly in light of, as you mentioned, the fact they blame Hamas for this?

ORRIN: Well, already, the Israeli air force has been active over the last 48 hours in striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. There has been a buildup of Israeli forces in the region for the possibility of a larger-scale confrontation with Hamas. But I would assure you, the Israeli public stands very united at this time. And responding forcefully to this act of brutal atrocity on the part of Hamas against three teenagers.

It was mentioned earlier this occurred in what was called the occupied territories. But two of these kids lived in Israel, 367 Israel. It's not about the territories. It's not about settlers. It's about three beautiful Israeli kids who were just coming home from school, were kidnapped, and apparently murdered in cold blood.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's indeed a sad ending to a story that has captivities not just Israel but the world in these 18 days since they went missing.

Thanks very much to Michael Orrin, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

And just recapping our breaking news here for CNN. CNN has been able to confirm through Israeli officials that the bodies of three missing Israeli teens, missing since June 12th, have been found dead in the West Bank. An emergency cabinet meeting has been called presumably to discuss how Israel will respond to this. Israel blames the terror group, Hamas.

We'll be right back with more details after this break.


SCIUTTO: U.S. soldiers have fought in some of the most dangerous places in the world recently. Filmmaker and journalist, Sebastian Junger, charts their journey in a new documentary. It's called "Korengal." Takes us back to Afghanistan, delving into the emotional reality of modern war.

Our Anderson Cooper talked with the filmmaker about why he made it and what we, as Americans, can learn from it.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, A.C. 360: So, Sebastian, even though "Korengal" picks up where the film "Restrepo" left off, you said it's different. It's trying to understand rather than experience. What do you want people to understand?

SEBASTIAN JUNGER, FILMMAKER AND JOURNALIST: Well, you know, "Restrepo" came out in the middle of two wars. I wanted civilians to get a feel for what combat is like for the soldiers we sent over there. "Korengal" is different. It's an attempt to inquire deeply into how combat affects these young men. It was made out there in the 2nd Platoon Battle Company in the Korengal Valley. And there were some very interesting conversations with these guys that we had about the consequences of all this. A lot of them afterwards really missed it and wanted to go back, which is a puzzling thing on the face of it, if you think about how hard it was and dangerous. And on the other sort of end of the spectrum, one guy ruminated for a while over whether God hates him for the killing they did. And then he hastened to add, but I would do it all over again the same way if I had to. So it's very complex stuff for these soldiers.

COOPER: But wanted to go back because of the intensity of the experience, because it was -- you -- you know, you talked to soldiers, to Marines, to those who have served, and they say often that it's -- there's nothing like it anywhere else. There's nothing like the bond they had with others, that there's nothing like the experience.

JUNGER: I think in combat you're sort of dosed, if you will, with two very potent chemicals. One is adrenaline, obviously. An enormous amount of adrenaline in combat. I think men in particular respond very, very strongly to that experience. And the other is just sort of human closeness. They -- they're sleeping shoulder to shoulder with each other over the course of a year on a remote ridge top, completely inter-reliant on each other for their survival. Out of Restrepo, there was no Internet, no phone, no TV, no nothing. They were just on a ridge with each other for a year. And that kind of intense human closeness, I think, actually reproduces our human evolution, our evolutionary past quite closely. And I think they come out of that experience really kind of missing it and missing the security of it. And they get back to this wide-open society, all of a sudden, they're alone again. And I think it's very, very unsettling for them. Those are the two things I think they really miss.


SCIUTTO: This new film is a follow-up to Junger's Oscar-nominated war documentary, entitled "Restrepo," which if you haven't seen, I'd really recommend. We knew very little about the last few years of Nelson Mandela's life.

The father of modern South Africa passed away in December. And now, for the first time since his death, Nelson Mandela's widow is speaking out publicly.

Our own Christiane Amanpour asked her if Mandela was aware of South Africa's struggles in his final years.


GRACA MACHEL, WIDOW OF NELSON MANDELA: I would say that he was aware about all these things, maybe until about two years back. But I decided to save him, to protect him from getting involved and knowing in depth what was going on, because he was such a sensitive person. And he wouldn't be able to act on those issues. And I felt, why to keep him with a heavy heart where he is not able to make a difference to change the situation.


SCIUTTO: You can see more of Christiane's interview beginning next hour on CNN International and also later on

That's it for me here with the "Wolf" show.

NEWSROOMS with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

All yours, Brooke.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, thank you so much.