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tv   The Sixties  CNN  February 13, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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this is cnn breaking news. >> we are continuing to follow the breaking news tonight. the death of u.s. supreme court justice antonin scalia at the age of 79. he died in his sleep of natural
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causes during a hunting trip at a ranch in texas. president obama praised scalia as a towering legal figure in his remarks tonight, and he said he will nominate a replacement for justice scalia in due time saying it is his constitutional responsibility to do so. scalia was a hero to conservative legal scholars. he was not on the bench at the time that roe versus wade was decided but he stood in ardent opposition to the high court's decision in that case, and in an exclusive in-depth interview with former cnn anchor piers morgan justice scalia took piers into his thinking on roe versus wade. >> my special guest, justice antonin scalia and his co-author brian garner. let's turn to roe v. wade because you -- justice scalia, you had very strong opinions about this time. i know you do now. why were you so violently opposed to it? >> i wouldn't say violently.
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i'm a peaceful man. adamantly opposed. >> adamantly. >> adamantly. basically, because the theory that was expounded to impose that decision is a theory that does not make any sense. and that is, namely, the theory of substantive due process. there's a due process clause in the constitution, which says that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. that is obviously a guarantee, not of life, not of liberty, not of property. you can be deprived of all of them, but not without due process. my court in recent years has invented what is called substantive due process by simply saying some liberties are so important that no process would suffice to take them away. and that was the theory used in
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roe versus wade. and it's a theory that is simply a lie. the world is divided into substance and procedures. >> should abortion be illegal in your eyes? >> should it be illegal? i don't have public views on what should be illegal and what shouldn't. i have public views on what the constitution prohibits and what it doesn't prohibit. >> but the constitution, when they framed it, they didn't even allow women to have the right to vote. they gave women no rights. >> come on. no rights? >> did they? >> of course. they were entitled to due process of law. >> all kinds of rights. >> you couldn't send them to prison without the same kind of trial a man would get. >> but, again, it comes back to changing times. the founding fathers would never going to have any reason at that time to consider a woman's right to keep a baby or to have an abortion. it wouldn't have even entered their minds, would it? >> i don't know why. why wouldn't it? >> because at the time -- >> they didn't have wives and
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daughters they cared about? >> they did, but it was not an issue that they would ever consider framing in the constitution. >> i don't -- >> women began to take charge in the last century of their lives and their rights and so on and began to fight for these. everybody believed that was the right thing to do, didn't they? i mean, why would you be instinctively against that? >> my view is, regardless of whether you think prohibiting abortion is good or whether you think prohibiting abortion is bad, regardless of how you come out on that, my only point is the constitution does not say anything about it. it leaves it up to democratic choice. some states prohibited it, some states didn't. what roe versus wade said was that no state can prohibit it. that is simply not in the constitution. it was one of those many things -- most things in the world -- left to democratic choice. and the court does not do democracy a favor when it takes an issue out of democratic
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choice simply because it thinks it should not be there. >> how do you as a conservative catholic, how do you not bring your personal sense of what is right and wrong to that kind of decision? because clearly, as a conservative catholic, you're going to be fundamentally against abortion. >> just as the pro choice people say the constitution prohibits the banning of abortion, so also the pro life people say the opposite. they say that the constitution requires the banning of abortion because you're denying someone life without due process of law. i reject that argument just as i reject the other one. the constitution in fact says nothing at all about the subject. it is left to democratic choice. now, regardless of what my views as a catholic are, the constitution says nothing about it. >> what has been your hardest decision, do you think? >> my hardest? >> yeah.
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>> you don't want to know. >> i do want to know. >> no. it's the dullest case imaginable. there is no necessary correlation between the difficulty of a decision and its importance. some of the most insignificant cases have been the hardest. >> what has been the one that -- >> it would probably be a patent case. you want me to describe it really? >> no. >> of course. >> all right. what has been in your view the most contentious? what's the one that most people ask you about? >> contentious? well, i guess the one that created the most waves of disagreement was bush versus gore. okay? that comes up all the time, and my usual response is get over it. >> get over the possible corrupting of the american presidential system, justice scalia? >> look, my court didn't bring the case into the court. it was brought into the courts
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by al gore. he is the one who wanted courts to decide the question. when richard nixon thought that he had lost the election because of chicanery in chicago, he chose not to bring it into the courts. but al gore wanted the courts to decide it. so the only question in bush versus gore was whether the presidency would be decided by the florida supreme court or by the united states supreme court. that was the only question, and that's not a hard one. >> no regrets? >> oh, no regrets at all, especially since it's clear that the thing would have ended up the same way anyway. the press did extensive research into what would have happened if what al gore wanted done had been done county by county, and he would have lost anyway. >> when people say about you that you're this fantastic justice -- no one disputes that -- incredibly charismatic, and you ask the most questions. apparently --
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>> i don't ask the most questions. >> apparently, you do. >> no, that's not true. >> apparently someone has said that in the last 25 years you are the guy that asks the most questions. >> i used to be. >> you ask more than justice thomas, right? >> that's a low bar. >> it's just a bit weird. the guy can join the supreme court and literally not ask any questions? >> no, that's not so unusual. thurgood marshall rarely asked a question. bill brennan rarely asked questions. in fact, a lot of them -- i was the first one who started asking a lot of questions. i appeared before the court once before i became a judge. i was serving in the justice department. and i got two questions the whole time of my argument. they both came from byron white. it was not at all unusual for justices not to ask questions. >> let's take another break. >> so leave clarence alone. >> in fairness to justice thomas, he has a principled reason. he told me in his interview, and this is all on the record, he
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does not ask questions because he thinks it's too cacophonous there are too many questions as it is, and he doesn't want to add to the cacophony. >> that's one way of looking at it. >> all right. ahead, justice scalia opens up to piers about his relationship with those eight other justices. at ally bank, no branches equals great rates. it's a fact. kind of like bill splitting equals nitpicking. but i only had a salad.
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piers morgan asked scalia about his relationship with the other justices on the bench at that time. >> the kind of man you are. are you a good colleague? how do you get on with your other supreme court justices? because you all must be -- you're all highly intelligent, very opinionated people. are there clashes there? >> there are clashes on legal questions, but not personally. the press likes to paint us as nine scorpions in a bottle. that's just not the case at all. >> well, the big buzz at the moment is that you and justice roberts have had a bit of a parting of the ways, you've gone from being best buddies to warring enemies. >> who told you that? >> i think i read it in some of the papers. >> you shouldn't believe -- >> credible sources. >> you should not believe what you read about the court in the newspapers because the information has either been made up or given to the newspapers by somebody who is violating a confidence, which means that person is not reliable. >> so you've had no falling out
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with justice roberts? >> i'm not going to talk about -- no, i haven't had a falling out with justice roberts. >> loud words exchanged? >> no. >> slamming of doors? >> no. >> nothing like that? >> nothing like that. >> best buddies? >> my best buddy on the court is ruth bader ginsberg. has always been. >> and yet you disagree with her on just about everything. >> just about everything. >> what do you like to do when you're not presiding in the supreme court? >> i like to play tennis, and in my later years, since i'm circuit justice for the fifth circuit, i have gotten into hunting. so i do a lot of hunting of various animals. >> you've been hunting with dick cheney, haven't you? >> i have indeed. >> what was that like? you lived to tell the tale, which isn't always the case. >> dick cheney is a very good wing shot. >> humans or animals? >> ducks. >> you got into trouble over
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that. because they said there was a potential conflict in something you were presiding over. how carefully do you think -- before you accept an invitation to go hunting with dick cheney, how hard do you think about that as a potential conflict? >> well, in that case i had accepted the invitation long before the case that was the alleged source of the conflict was before the court. but -- and that was nothing. cheney was not personally the defendant. he was named because he was the head of the agency that was the defendant. and justices have never recused themselves because they are friends with the named head of an agency. in fact, justices are friendly with a lot of heads of agencies and cabinet officers and whatnot. if we had to recuse ourselves every time one of our friends was named, even though his personal fortune was not at stake, we would not sit in a lot
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of cases. so that was a tempest in a teapot. >> when people say you are overtly political with some of your decisions, some critics do, how do you feel about that? does that annoy you? >> i usually don't read it. >> is this news to you? >> i think it's patently false. i mean, justice scalia has a record of deciding many cases that go against his personal predilections. the flag burning is just one example. but a good judge does that. a good judge will decide cases based on a governing text that goes against what the judge may think is wise policy. isn't that true? >> look, i have ruled against the government when republicans were in the administration, and i've ruled for the government when the democrats were in the -- i couldn't care less who the
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president is or what the administration is. >> do you think any of your colleagues act from a politically motivated manner? >> not a single one of them. >> i know you can't discuss anything in the last session, but a classic example would be the health care thing, some would say. >> i don't think any of my colleagues on any cases vote the way they do for political reasons. they vote the way they do because they have their own judicial philosophy, and they may have been selected by the democrats because they have that particular philosophy, or they may have been selected by the republicans because they have that particular judicial philosophy. but that is only to say that they are who they are and they vote on the basis of what their own view of the law brings them to believe. not at all because -- the court is not at all a political institution. not at all. not a single one of my colleagues. >> when you see justice roberts,
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chief justice roberts, getting criticized for being political, for being partisan, does it offend you that his integrity would be questioned like that? >> it offends me that people point to the fact -- and they didn't used to be able to when david souter and john paul stevens were still on the court. they often voted with the appointees who were democratic appointees so that the 5-4 decisions was not always five republican appointees versus four democratic. now that they're off, it often does turn that way, but that is not because they are voting their politics. not because they're voting for the republicans or voting for the democrats. it's because they have been selected by the republicans or selected by the democrats
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precisely because of their judicial philosophy. so it should be no surprise that the five appointed by the republicans tend to have a certain judicial philosophy and the four appointed by the democrats tend to have a different one. i mean, that's what elections have been about for a long time. >> when you lose a -- or a case goes against what you would like it to go, what do you do? do you go have a few drinks? chill out? how do you deal with failure like that? because these are big deals. you're a supreme court judge. >> probably mutter something under my breath or something. but, i mean, you know, you play the hand you're dealt. that's all. and you can't take it personally. >> let's take a final break. i want to come back and talk to you about family because i know you're a huge family man. you've been married a very long time to a long-suffering woman, would you say? >> i'd say so, yes. >> i'll find out just how long-suffering in a moment. i wanted to put the odds in my favor.
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welcome back to our breaking news coverage tonight on the death of justice antonin scalia. the president saying tonight he does intend to nominate a justice to replace scalia. what will happen then is in the hands of the senate. this is touching off what could be and will be a huge political fight inside the beltway. former cnn anchor piers morgan sat down with justice scalia for an exclusive interview back in 2012. here's more. >> back with justice scalia and bryan garner, co-author of an excellent book, "reading law:the interpretation of legal texts."
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have you ever broken the law, justice scalia? >> have i ever broken the law? >> yeah. >> i have exceeded the speed limit on occasion. >> ever been caught? >> oh, yes. i've gotten tickets. none recently. >> that's it? that's the only criminal action in your life? >> yeah. i'm pretty much a law-abiding sort. >> i like the phrase "pretty much." it gives me somewhere to go. >> i'm a law-abiding sort. >> what is your guilty pleasure? >> my guilty pleasure? i don't have any guilty pleasures. how can it be pleasurable if it's guilty? >> i've got lots of guilty pleasures. >> no, you don't. >> yeah, i do. everybody does. anything you get up to that -- >> that i think i shouldn't do? smoking. >> you've been married for how long? >> 52 years. >> an amazing marriage. nine children. >> yes. >> how many grandchildren? >> 33. >> amazing.
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what has been the secret of such a longstanding marriage, do you think? >> maureen made it very clear early on that if we split up i would get the children. >> we said before the break that possibly she was a long-suffering wife. did you mean that? >> she has worked very hard. i have not gone after the dollar for most of my life, so we didn't have a lot of money and she didn't have a lot of help at home, and raising that many kids without a nanny or without for many years even people to help with the housework was hard. she worked very hard. >> i ask this of all my guests. i don't see why you should get away with not answering it. how many times have you been properly in love in your life? >> properly in love?
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i think maureen is it. >> you struck gold. >> oh, yeah. >> will you ever retire? >> of course i'll retire. certainly i'll retire when i think i'm not doing as good a job as i used to. that will make me feel very bad. >> and as we sit here now, what would you say your greatest achievement has been as a supreme court justice? >> wow. i think despite the fact that not everybody agrees with it, i think the court pays more attention to text than it used to when i first came on the court, and i'd like to think that i've had something to do with that. i think the court uses much less legislative history than it used to in the past. in the '80s 2/3 of the opinion would be discussion of the debates on the floor and the committee reports, and that doesn't happen anymore.
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if you want to talk about individual -- >> i mean, on that point, on the legislative history point, again, critics would say to you, well, hang on a second, because you're such a constitutionalist and always go back to the way they framed the constitution and so on, they debated that. that is in its way legislative history, isn't it? >> what is? what is? what is? >> the framing of the constitution. the framing of amendments and so on. what's the difference really? >> i don't use the -- madison's notes as authoritative on the meaning of the constitution. i don't use that. i use the federalist papers but not because they were -- the writers of the federalist papers were present. one of them wasn't. john jay was not present at the framing. i use them because they were intelligent people of the time and therefore what they thought this language meant was likely what it meant. >> why do you have such faith in those politicians of that time? these days if the current crop
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of politicians created some new constitution, people wouldn't have the faith, the unburning, unflinching faith that you do. why are you so convinced that these guys over 200 years ago were so right? >> you have to read the federalist papers to answer that question. i don't think anybody in the current congress could write even one of those numbers. these men were very, very thoughtful. i truly believe that there are times in history when a genius bursts forth at some part of the globe, like 2000 b.c. in athens or quinn quinncento, florence for art. and i think one of those places was for political science. madison said he told the people
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assembled at the convention, gentlemen, we are engaged in the new science of government. nobody had ever tried to design a government scientist fickscie before. they were brilliant men. >> do you wish we hay few of them now? >> i wish we had a few of them now. and i certainly do not favor tinkering with what they put together. >> justice scalia, it's been fascinating. thank yo >> thank you. i enjoyed talking with you. >> bryan. it's an amazing book. anyone who listened to that will want to go read it. it's a weighty toem. it's full of humor as the interview's been. and i think it will give people a much better understanding of what you're all about. >> all right. there you have it. that was piers morgan's exclusive interview with justice antonin scalia from july of 2012. pretty amazing insight into the court's most prominent conservative mind. justice scalia passed away today at the age of 79. and i want you to take a look at this. before we go to break, you're looking at live pictures from
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our nation's capital where flags at the capitol and at the white house are at half staff. a city and a nation mourning the loss of a justice who served on the nation's highest court for 30 years. also bracing for what could be an epic confirmation battle, essentially pitting president obama against a republican-dominated senate. much more on that, next. text mom. boys have been really good today. send. let's get mark his own cell phone. nice. brad could use a new bike. send. [google] message. you decide. they're your kids. why are you guys texting grandma? it was him. it was him. app-connect. from the newly redesigned volkswagen passat. right now you can get $1000 presidents' day bonus on new 2015 or 2016 passat, jetta or tiguan models.
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all right. we are continuing to follow the breaking news tonight. the death of u.s. supreme court justice antonin scalia. he dpiied at the age of 79 earlr today. we know he died of natural causes in his sleep during a trip to a ranch in texas. he was appointed in 1986, confirmed unanimously, appointed by then president ronald reagan. he was the first italian-american to serve on the nation's highest court. just a short time ago president obama praised the man he said "influenced a generation." >> for almost 30 years justice antonin nino scalia was a larger than life presence on the bench. a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions. he influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.
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he will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the supreme court. justice scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy, the rule of law. tonight we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time. >> president obama also said in those remarks tonight that he will nominate a replacement for justice scalia in due time, saying it is his constitutionality responsibility to do so. and as darkness fell this evening in our nation's capital, the flag outside of the supreme court was lowered and then raised to half staff in honor of justice scalia. michelle kosinski, cnn white house correspondent, is live with me tonight. michelle, i wonder, a, your thoughts on what the president said today, talking about a larger-than-life presence on the bench, even though ideologically this is a president who could not be more opposed to a justice
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than to perhaps justice scalia. >> right. you think about what scalia wrote against obamacare, more recently against the gay marriage ruling. i mean, really using some biting language there. especially on the latter one. i mean, that's something that we read very recently where he was such a force for that line of thoug thought. directly opposed to the white house. but president obama, he didn't hold back in the influence that scalia held and what he meant to the court and to legal thought in this country. before the president then got into okay, here's what comes next, yes, i am going to nominate somebody, i expect it to be a timely hearing, a timely confirmation, which is very unlikely to happen. but the president also wanted to add his own thoughts that this is supposed to be bigger than any one party. it's supposed to be beyond the
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partisan fighting. this is about our democracy. and we're going to be hearing a lot from the white house along those lines. as we have been for the past several months. and when you look at some of the president's other nominations for the attorney general, loretta lynch, for example. that took many months. the white house was furious at the delays that senate republicans caused on that front. she was eventually confirmed, of course. and ten republican senators crossed party lines to finally confirm her. but that was one example of how bad this could be. in fact, senator claire mccaskill, a democrat from missouri, called that episode base, ugly politics at its worst. you kind of think what's going to happen with this now? this could be president obama's last big battle. i mean, there were thoughts it could be, well, maybe some of
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his issues that are before the court now, maybe it would be some additional executive action he would take and congress's reaction to that. but now it could very well be this. if the senate, republicans in the senate won't take this up or won't tha vote that nominee in, what that means and the repercussions it would have on cases, on the makeup of the court and really important issues for this country moving forward, poppy. >> no question about it. michelle kosinski live for us in washington tonight. michelle, thank you so much. we'll be watching washington very closely. this was no doubt the first question in the gop debate tonight. we'll bring you some of that next. style... ...reinvented. sophistication... ...redefined. introducing the all-new lexus rx and rx hybrid. agile handling. available 12.3-inch navigation screen
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i'm talking full time delivery of 7 grams of protein and 6 essential nutrients. ever see a peanut take a day off? i don't think so. harness the hardworking power of the peanut. all right. reaction tonight at the republican presidential debate to news that president obama does intend to nominate a successor to supreme court justice antonin scalia, who passed away earlier today. first the candidates held a moment of silence for the 79-year-old justice, and then they weighed in. >> well, i can say this. if the president, and if i were president now, i would certainly want to try and nominate a justice. >> i do want to take a second as
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we reflected on justice scalia, it's amazing. it's not even two minutes after the death of judge scalia, nine children here today, their father didn't wake up. his wife, you know, sad. but you know, i just wish we hadn't run so fast into politics. >> we are one justice away from a supreme court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states. >> the constitution actually doesn't address that particular situation. but the fact of the matter is the supreme court obviously is a very important part of our governmental system. and when our constitution was put in place, the average age of death was under 50. and therefore, the whole concept of lifetime appointments for supreme court judges and federal judges was not considered to be a big deal. >> i do not believe the president should appoint someone. and it's not unprecedented. in fact, it's been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a supreme court
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justice. and it reminds us of this. how important this election is. someone on this stage will get to choose the balance of the supreme court. and it will begin by filling this vacancy that's there now. and we need to put people on the bench that understand that the constitution is not a living and breathing document, it is to be interpreted as originally meant. >> the simple fact is the next president needs to appoint someone with a proven conservative record similar to justice scalia, that is a lover of liberty, that believes in limited government, that consistently applied that kind of philosophy, that didn't try to legislate from the bench, that was respectful of the constitution, and then fight and fight and fight for that nomination to make sure that that nomination passes. >> some reaction tonight from the gop debate there. also reacting tonight, the democratic presidential candidates, hillary clinton, saying this moments ago at an event in denver, colorado. >> know that our thoughts and prayers are with the scalia family tonight.
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and i'm also thinking and praying for the future of our country. it is outrageous that republicans in the senate and on the campaign trail have already pledged to block any replacement that president obama nominates. now, i'm sure we'll all have a lot more to say about this in the coming days. so let me just make one point. barack obama is president of the united states until january 20th, 2017. >> and senator bernie sanders said this about the justice moments ago. >> it appears that some of my republican colleagues in the senate have a very interesting view of the constitution of the united states. and apparently, they believe
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that the constitution does not allow a democratic president to bring forth a nominee to replace justice scalia. i strongly disagree with that. [ cheers and applause ] and i very much hope that president obama will bring forth a strong nominee and that we can get that nominee confirmed as soon as possible. >> senator bernie sanders there weighing in. coming up next, two long-time friends of justice antonin scalia tell me about the man he was, the father, the grandfather, the friend, beyond his time on the bench. have my g all knotted up. i've tried laxatives... but my symptoms keep returning. my constipation feels like a pile of bricks... that keeps coming back. linzess can help.
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all right. tonight we are looking back at the life of supreme court justice antonin scalia. he was found dead this afternoon while on vacation at a ranch in texas. the conservative justice was known as a colorful character, jovial, with quite a sense of humor who also had a profound impact on american law and on the high court. earlier i spoke with time warner general counsel paul capu skrchlt c krichlt o, who clerked for justice scalia and remained his close friend. here's what he told me. >> let me start by offering my
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condolences and prayers to mrs. scalia and the kids and grandkids. he loved his family so much. and my heart goes out to him now. you know, he was a pure joy to work for. he was a man who cared intensely about getting the answer right. he paid no attention to who was the plaintiff, who was the defendant. politics didn't matter to him. he cared so much about getting the answer right he either under the constitution or if he was interpreting a statute. you know, i worked for him when i was twenty i guess seven years old, and you'd lock yourself in his office and, you know, it was no longer supreme court justice and student just out of law school. it was whoever made the best argument prevailed. he loved that. he loved to mix it up. he often said to me that if he could change one thing it was
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that when he's deciding a case he often struggled long and hard to figure out what the right answer was and then he used to joke with me that when he wrote the case he wrote it with a great deal more certainty than he may have had while he was trying to figure it out. >> let me ask you a question. it's jeff toobin here. so i've been talking about originalism and trying to explain why that's such a significant idea for the supreme court. what's originalism and why is it so associated with justice scalia? >> well, originalism is also textuali textualism, which i think is quite related, and i think justice scalia believed in both. justice scalia -- what's important about that idea is in a system of divided government the default rule is that we have a democracy and the people vote
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and the majority wins. and how he viewed the constitution and how originalists view the constitution is as an exception to that. there were certain things like the first amendment, freedom of speech, that we wouldn't put up to a vote. but when you view constitutional rights in that manner, as an exception to democracy, it leads you to i think a much narrower or a word that's often used stricter interpretation of the constitution because it's a grave and serious thing to say if people cannot decide this for themselves. so he adhered to a view that said look, if we're going to take certain things out of the political process, if we're going to say that the people can't decide through their chosen representatives, we can only do that with a text of the document and the original intent of those who wrote the document is fairly clear.
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a great defender of democracy when you view it that way. sorry, poppy. >> oh, no problem at all. thank you for being with us and shedding this light. very few people have gotten the opportunity like you have to clerk with him and see the inner workings of how his brilliant mind worked whether you agreed with his decisions or not. can you take us into, a, the side of him that was so funny, the humor is what we hear so much about. and also into his unique friendship with justice ruth bader ginsburg, his sort of ideological contrast. >> he was -- justice scalia was not only a very warm and a very kind man, he was a very engaging -- very interesting and broad and very witty and funny guy. and in a town like washington, d.c. that's become increasingly partisan he's a man that's always had deep and enduring
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friendships on both sides of the political aisle. he can see the good and the valuable and the funny and the fun and the interesting in everyone. and you know, he was -- he had a tremendous wit. just a tremendous wit. >> tremendous wit. memories from paul cappuccio, a former clerk and very good friend of justice scalia. our thanks to him. later this week cnn will host two republican presidential town hall events in south carolina ahead of the primary there. all six republican candidates will participate. marco rubio, ted cruz, ben carson will appear on wednesday night. donald trump, jeb bush, john kasich will appear thursday night. both town halls hosted by our very own anderson cooper. they both begin at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. the town halls will give south carolina voters the opportunity to question directly the candidates and of course the passing of supreme court justice scalia will be addressed as well. the republican presidential town
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halls wednesday and thursday, 8:00 p.m. eastern, only right here on cnn. washington, the government, the supreme court. justice scalia's colleagues, friends, and family all mourning him tonight. a justice who left his mark on american law. no question. a legacy that will stand for decades. scalia's death marks the end of an era but also the beginning of what could be an enormous political fight, with the president vowing to nominate a successor to justice scalia in a republican-controlled senate, two sides with very different visions of who should take that critical spot on the u.s. supreme court. i'm poppy harlow in new york. thank you for being with me tonight. aaron burnett continues our coverage, next. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. and good evening. i'm erin burnett. welcome to our special coverage of tonight's gop debate.
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we are following two major breaking stories. first the crucial debate coming just one week before that south carolina primary. the stakes could not be higher, and tonight's debate reflected that loud, angry, combative by all. the gop field now down to six. donald trump, ted cruz, marco rubio, john kasich, jeb bush, and ben carson met on the stage of the peace center in greenville, south carolina. donald trump was the prime target on that stage tonight, and for the rest of the field they were battling to be the trump alternative, and it got nasty. we're also following the other major breaking news story tonight. the death of supreme court justice antonin scalia at age 79. he was a leading voice on the court for 30 years, a giant among conservatives, and his deaths loomed large over tonight's debate. the battle over his replacement has already begun, and joining me tonight our team of cnn analysts and contributors. i want to turn our analysts first for a quick take from each of them on who were the winners and losers tonight. with me now are chief political analyst gloria borger, legal
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analyst jeffrey toobin, cnn political reporter nia malika henderson, political director david chalian and presidential historian douglas brinkley. it's tight seating over here because there's a lot to talk about. let's go down the line here, win-lose. gloria. >> i think it was jeb bush's best debate. he was combative. he participated more than i've seen him in the past. and i think -- and i'm always wrong about donald trump. but i think this was also the debate in which we saw donald trump participate the most. but i think accusing the bushes of lying about weapons of mass destruction may have crossed the line in pro-military south carolina. >> this was more demolition derby than debate. this was really a raucous screamfest. and i think there were bad moments for every candidate. but ted cruz has decided from the very beginning that he wants to be the most conservative candidate running. i think that's what he was
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tonight. and that's what he wants to be. >> all right. nia? >> i thought rubio's rehabilitation strategy pretty much worked tonight. he didn't have any major gaffes. at times he looked a little bit robotic but at least he wasn't repeating himself over and over again. he got in i thought a good talking point around poverty. that's the candidate i think he wanted to be originally, talking about poverty. and i think in some ways george bush was a winner and a loser. >> george? >> george bush. because some people wanted to hug him. jeb did. marco rubio did. kasich did as well. and then you had trump there dumping over him. >> i would agree with gloria. i think this is jeb bush's strongest debate performance. i think we finally got back to that trump versus bush fight that we saw at the beginning of the debate series starting last summer. that sort of came back today in a very clear way. i also think the rubio-cruz battle was very, very important tonight as well. we'll talk about that. i think it was vintage trump.
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i don't know. i think trump looked like the front-runner that he is tonight. i think he displayed exactly the kind of performance that has won him the support he's gotten thus far. i agree with you, gloria, about in the very military-centric state of south carolina if perhaps he went a bit too far, sounding almost sanders-like when it came to the iraq war and wmd. but i don't -- that may not win him any new voters. i don't think it turns a single one of his current supporters away. >> but eventually he has to get to 50. >> i think donald trump won the debate. he was bombastic. he was a bully. many times you just wanted to shake the tv at him. but in the end he's leading by a wide margin in south carolina and i don't see somebody pulling him down. the other ones sort of clustered. cruz gets some points. i agree with what everybody said. rubio some points here. but in the end i think donald trump has to be very pleased with this performance. he came ready to rumble and he did. >> this is going to be a great conversati

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