tv Caught on Camera MSNBC February 13, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm PST
website, caught on camera msnbc.com. i'm contessa brewer. that's all for this edition of "caught on camera." defying the rules. >> there's no greater adrenaline rush. >> there's something wrong with me. >> defying the odds. >> it is just in my dna. >> i have a lot of fun and take a lot of physical abuse at the same time. >> even defying gravity. >> well, i think i would jump out of an airplane. >> when i do a big jump, anything can happen. >> it is all in a day's work for the extreme athlete. >> what we are doing is really a different sport altogether. it is extreme and it is dangerous. >> and in sports like these, you can't reach such extremes without risking your very life. >> it is not as glamorous as it
looks. you get hurt a lot. >> it is huge, like, 6-foot wall, solid wall of snow just like mowed me over. >> this is not happening. this is surreal. this didn't just happen. >> i had a major head injury, i had bleeding on the brain. i broke all of my ribs, i punctured both lungs, ruptured my speen. >> these folks would have it no other way. >> i'm like fonz, you know? >> old saying goes, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. >> the game is on. >> caught on camera, the danger zone. welcome to "caught on camera," i'm contessa brewer. an extreme athlete, they take
risks, push boundaries, breaking records, breaking the rules and breaking a few bones along the way. and danger, it is all part of the game. remember how your mother would say, if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you? well, daryl freeman may have said yes, but only if he could do it on a skateboard. in our first danger zone video, he does exactly that. >> i've done a lot of stupid things, but i guess that's the first one that i actually caught on camera with a lot of different angles. i would consider myself an adrenaline junkie. i think i'm addicted to it. if i'm supposed to work, i want to go skate. it pretty much consumes my thoughts at all times. >> daryl's specialty is downhill skateboarding, which he says takes a special skill set. >> you have to not be afraid of blood, pain, you have to want to go faster. i think there's a lot of friends that i used to skate with and they would get hurt a few times and that was enough for them. i guess if you enjoy the pain
and the challenge of just trying to make it to the bottom of the hill and survive or make it to the bottom of the hill without falling, once you do that, you want to make it to the bottom of the hill faster than the last time. i guess you've got to want the thrill. >> like the rest of the risk takers you'll meet in this show, it's all about pushing limits. i want to warn you, anything you see here don't try at home. >> it is just like any challenge, like mountain climbing or a video game, just trying to get to the finish, just trying to make the next one the best one and do it as fast or as good as you can. >> it's a friend's spontaneous suggestion that plants the seeds for the jump. >> a friend of mine came over and said, daryl, let's go jump off the bridge. so we ran over and just leaped off and ever since that night it was kind of something we were just joking about, like one day we have to skateboard off the bridge. in the back of my mind i was somewhat serious about it.
you are always looking for new obstacles and new things to, i guess, to make the artsy side of skateboarding better. >> he puts the plan into motion choosing the mission bay bridge in san diego. >> we have a lifeguard and a boat, so we had somebody in the water. we had a lot of friends. we ended up doing this stunt. from the time the ramp was on the bridge to off the bridge it was four minutes, 30 seconds, i believe. it was pretty quick. and we were just hoping no policemen would drive by in that time. >> since what they are doing falls somewhat outside general traffic safety rules, they move quickly. >> love you brother. >> but, of course, the unforeseen obstacles are the one that complicate things. in this case, it is something called speed wobbles. >> speed wobbles are when your board is not adjusted properly. maybe your settings are a little too loose and you are not prepared for speed or your weight is distributed unequally.
in this case, the rope pulled me forward and often of my axis and somewhat off balance, so when i hit the ramp, i was still in get rid of the speed wobble mode rather than fly off bridge mode and i was pretty much out of control when i hit the ramp, so there was no chance that i would have done what i expected to do. >> the flip he does as he launches off the bridge, not grandstanding, he says. >> the flip was not part of the plan. i just wanted to launch off the ramp and have a nice view, hang out with the birds and just do a nice big air right into the water and then get rid of my board at the last second. because of the speed wobbles, i was leaning too far back when i hit the ramp. i was probably still going a little too fast and i just got ejected and ragdolled and then i just held on for the ride. as i'm flying through the air, i was mostly thinking, safe landing, like hit the water safely. i belly flopped. >> it is not exactly the graceful landing he is hoping for.
>> when i hit the water, it was painful. i was stunned. the water was cold, freezing cold. i don't like cold water. i couldn't breathe. i was thinking my boat looked like it was really far away and it was coming to me really slowly and my skateboard was floating, so i just started swimming towards my body to stay afloat. i couldn't remember what to signal my lifeguard to tell him i needed help, but i was okay. i was able to stay afloat. i wasn't sure if i was going to pass out, but i was afraid it was possible. >> he stays conscious, catches his breath and makes it safely to the lifeboat. and says that while this stunt crossed into the danger zone, today it is less about the danger and more about the speed. >> my future plans, i think for right now, racing in the downhill circuit would be exciting enough for me. i don't have to launch myself off bridges and get my kicks at the moment. danger is not my middle name, but i guess i've always had injuries from doing stupid things, so there's always been
something wrong with me. >> speed is fun. speed is my middle name. coming up, a motorcycle jump leaves its rider dazed and confused. >> i don't have any memory of the jump that night. >> a mid-air collision puts a sky diver on a crash course with the ground. >> for a brief time i thought that i was going to die. and a skier tries to outrun an avalanche. >> when i saw the video, that's when i really came to terms with how incredibly monstrous this thing was. >> when "caught on camera: the danger zone" continues. ♪ ♪ (vo) making the most out of every mile. that's why i got a subaru impreza. love. it's what makes a subaru,
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beat his record of nearly 81 miles per hour on an active volcano in nicaragua. it is to be the last ride of his professional career. known as the red baron, barone prepares with a specially designed mountain bike prototype. he makes the trek and gets ready to go. he mounts the bike and hits the slope. he flies down the volcano at a dizzying speed. suddenly, the bicycle seems to disintegrate underneath him and he's hurdled over the handlebars. his helmet ripped off him. he tumbles down the slope for nearly 110 yards. when he finally comes to a stop, he is still conscious but
barely. he is rushed to the nearest hospital an hour and a half away. eric says the high speed was too much for the prototype bike causing it to collapse. the good news -- before the accident he reaches more than 106 miles per hour. breaking his previous record. the bad news, eric suffers massive injuries, including six broken ribs, a broken leg and a head injury. his right hand is nearly torn off by the fall and he undergoes three shoulder operations. it is nearly two years before he is fully recovered. the man known as the red baron -- richard lui at msnbc
headquarters in new york. nbc news just confirming right now that supreme court justice antonin scalia has died. again, supreme court justice antonin scalia has died at the age of 79. the details that he was found dead at a west texas ranch at the age of 79. the details surrounding his passing are still coming into us here at msnbc and nbc news, but again, we are confirming supreme court justice antonin scalia has died at the age of 79. he was found dead today at a west texas ranch. also possibly a luxury hotel or luxury resort, from what we are hearing at this moment. again, u.s. supreme court justice antonin scalia found dead. we will continue to follow more
details on antonin scalia, but for now here is a report from our correspondent, pete williams. >> i antonin scalia do solemnly swear. >> the first ital supreme court justice was put on the court by ronald reagan. though he later became a lightning rod for criticism, he was confirmed unanimously, 98-0, after telling senators he had no plans to reshape the law. >> i am not going onto the court with a list of things that i want to do. >> once there, he became one of the most outspoken conservatives, an author of fiery dissents. the landmark case of roe v. wade he said was wrongly decided declaring rights that the founding fathers never intended. >> abortion, homosexual, nobody ever thought that they had been
included in the rights contained in the bill of rights. >> scalia said judges should be bound by the words of laws they interpret, not the ideas behind them. >> we're not governed by the drafter's intent, we're governed by laws. what the law is, is not what the drafter intended but what the drafter enacted. >> reporter: though generally unsympathetic to criminal suspects, he led the court in expanding the rights of defendants to confront their accusers in court and limiting a judge's power to use evidence in 17 tens unless it was proved during a trial. and he wrote the ruling that said the second amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a firearm, the court's most important gun case ever. scalia was an advocate for conservative causes off the bench too, helping to establish the federalist society which encouraged the appointment of more right-leaning judges. >> mr. justice scalia and his wife, maureen. >> he met his future wife on a blind date when both were in college. they had nine children, five
boys and four girls, two later become lawyers follow their father. >> i like thinking about the law and figuring out the right answer to legal problems. and it's sort of top of the heap for a lawyer who has those interests. >> and in the process, he became one of the most influential justices in the court's history. pete williams, nbc news, at the supreme court. >> nbc's pete williams with that report. looking at the life of justice scalia, in fact pete williams joins us on the phone or i believe with us right now out of washington, d.c. pete, what do we know about this report that justice scalia has passed? >> well, what we know is a couple of things here. we haven't gotten any official word from the supreme court yet, but court personnel are on their way in and i'm sure we'll be hearing an official statement from the court here shortly. but what we have been told is
that he died very suddenly, very unexpectedly in texas, apparently of natural causes. he was at a resort in west texas over the weekend. the court is in something of a break right now. the traditional time of year when the justices are not in the courtroom for about a three and a half, four-week period where they sort of basically get ready for the ending of the term, which is always a big punch. he was at a ranch called the sabolo creek ranch, in the big bend region. according to folks who were there, he arrived on friday. there was a private party that he attended, but he did not appear for breakfast. so he apparently died sometime in bed overnight and then his body was discovered this morning. the governor of texas, and this is the only official statement that there is at this point, the governor of texas, governor greg abbott, has issued a statement
saying he was a man of god, a patriot, an unwavering defender of the written constitution, the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the constitution. and then he ends his statement, this is the governor of texas, by saying that he and his wife extend our deepest condolences to his family and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers. so what's going to have to happen now, of course, is that this is a vacancy on the supreme court. certainly he was among the older justices, but from all indications, he was in robust health. he enjoyed the out of doors. he was an avid fisherman, fly fisherman and hunter and he spent a lot of time outside of washington pursuing those outdoor activities and he kept up a pretty consistent speaking schedule too. so he was, you know, no one that anybody thought of as frail or in ill health, but advanced age
and the supreme court have a way of bringing these surprises and this very unpleasant and very surprising development certainly is one of them. so this leaves a vacancy on the court. now as the supreme court heads toward the end of its business with some big decisions coming that would likely have been 5-4 decisions either way. so a vacancy on the court now casts some doubt over how much the court can do. you can still have supreme court decisions with eight of the nine justices. this happens many times during a term when justices voluntarily take them off a case or recuse, as they say in the law, because of such things such as family conflicts or previous involvement in a case or financial conflicts, they will take themselves off and the court will still hear cases and decide them with just eight justices. but if there's a tie, then there's really no decision.
so this does several things. it casts a doubt about the remaining issues in the term, which were going to be some of the most contentious over the president's immigration policy, restrictions, ironically, in texas on abortion, the future of public sector unions, and the president's policy on contraceptives an whether religious institutions can get a break from those. all those questions now are going to be in some state of uncertainty. and the other thing is trying to get a supreme court nominee confirmed during an election year. that is always a difficult task. it raises the possibility that this supreme court term will finish without its full slate of nine justices and may start without a full slate of nine as well. the president will have to pick a nominee, president obama, and the question here is whether the senate will even consider a nominee under these circumstances in the middle of an election year.
normally when supreme court justices think about retiring, because of ill health or whatever considerations, they don't historically do it in an election year if they can all avoid it because they don't want the nominee of their replacement -- the nomination of their replacement to be a political football. when something like this happens there is no choice but it is a very difficult time and it's certainly going to be something that the senate is going to have to think about, whether they're going to leave the supreme court with just eight justices and wait until the presidential election to see if a republican gets elected and will appoint the next nominee or go ahead and fill this vacancy. i would be very surprised, frankly, if a vacancy can be filled in time for the next term to start when it starts in october, richard, but it's such an unexpected thing, such a sudden thing, it's such a shock, and that's the way these things tend to go. i recall a few years ago when
chief justice william rehnquist was suddenly diagnosed with very serious cancer and died quite quickly afterwards. it was a shock and a surprise. that's the way these things sometimes happen. >> nbc's pete williams with this breaking and unfortunate news that we're hearing right now, supreme court justice antonin scalia passing away at the age of 79. that news coming into us today just within the last several hours. pete, stand by, i want to bring in tom goldstein, author of "scotus blog." what do you know about the news that we are reporting right now, the passing of antonin scalia. >> yes, that's -- we do know that within the family of clerks, not the scalia family itself, but the staff, the law clerks that are very close to the justice and to the family, it's understood to be correct, that justice scalia did pass away. as pete says, the most important
thing will be to get confirmation from the court itself, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt the report. and several reasons to conclude that it's accurate. >> tom, from your sources and this is a space you know so well along with pete here, what do you know -- what have you been hearing from your sources about what has transpired within the last 24 hours? as pete williams was just telling us, not known justice scalia for having any health issues of concern within recent time. >> no, i don't think that anyone really knows the cause, at least that's been disclosed. it's so soon. it's just regarded as, you know, a tragedy for the court and for the scalia family, the extended scalia family, which is extremely close. even on a court that's incredibly ideologically
divided, he was adored as a justice and respected as a man. the more liberal members of the court would say that they were incredibly appreciative of him. he had a famously poison pen and incisive mind, but nobody thought the less of him for it. completely unexpected, but this is what happens with human beings. when you have several members of the court who are in their late 70s and going into their early 80s, you know, unfortunately things like this happen. >> it's very difficult for the family there of 11, nine children, also leaving a wife behind, maureen mccarthy, and nine children as well as we were discussing earlier with pete through this is report as well. tom, if you could stand by. i'd like to bring in alan dershowitz. alan, thanks for joining us,
unfortunately on such sad news that we're hearing at the moment, the passing of a supreme court justice according to the reports that we're getting right now. and from what you know, from what you've heard about the passing of justice scalia, what are some of the reactions that you're having as well as that you're hearing as well as perhaps any contact that you might have with the family there? >> well, i've known justice scalia since he was a young law professor in his 30s. probably he is the most innovative and transformative justice in modern history, certainly modern history and conservative aspect of the court. he introduced activist conservatism. he was a lovely man in person. we spent some time together in israel, we spent time together at harvard. he came to my class, we debated. you know, we had a kind of love, but antagonistic relationship. i disagreed with many of his opinions but i admired his
intellect and the consistency of his views. he is probably the most influential conservative ever to serve on the supreme court of the united states. and history will remember him very fondly. while disagreeing with many of his substantive opinion, particularly on the rights of women, the rights of gays, particularly disagreeing with his opinion in bush versus gore, nonetheless his brilliance shown through. he had an incredibly interesting way of writing and expressing his views. and the court will never be the same without him. and of course president obama now has the incredibly difficult task of trying to fill this with somebody who could be confirmed by the existing senate. it's unlikely he'll be able to do it, but he might prefer to pick somebody who would be acceptable to the senate than to pass completely and let it go to
the next president. so that will be -- that's being discussed in the white house right now, i assure you. >> pete williams is still with us. pete, justice scalia, if i've got my dates correctly here, was the second oldest of all the justices, is that correct? and this, as we see the passing of justice scalia. we were just hearing from alan dershowitz here about what this might mean going forward and perhaps picking forward to replace the second oldest justice with somebody that might be acceptable to both sides. >> that's right. justice ruth bader ginsburg is the oldest, then scalia and then ken today. i want to pick up on a point that alan dershowitz is making. while he had a very well developed sense of judicial philosophy and knew exactly what he thought, he never shrank from the debate. one of his good friends was
nadine strossen from the aclu and he loved to get in debates with her. he loved to get into debates frequently with his colleague on the court, stephen breyer, who has a very different view of judicial interpretation and interpreting the constitution. and they went at it publicly. he liked the debate. he liked the law. he used to tell students who came to visit him he relished the discussion. he liked the intellectual combat and he always did so, you know, despite the vituperativeness of his discensents, he enjoyed the public debate. >> he was a native of new jersey, somebody from the northeast, well known in his state no doubt here. and as we look and you were mentioning this before, pete, of the key issue that he was so
crucial and so open, if you will, about his opinion on these topics, outside of the court, what will it mean for these specific issues and topics and the votes themselves that you were mentioning earlier? might they be delayed? >> well, it raises the possibility that these cases could ending up in a tie. this sometimes happens, as i say, when justices recuse themselves, take themselves off of the case because they have financial family or they previously worked on a case, for example, so we get these 8-8 ties -- or 4-4 ties with just eight justices. that means that the lower court decision stands. it's as though the supreme court never heard it. there's no majority opinion. so it basically would put these issues off for another day. they would still be heard, they would still be decisions, they would still be voted on and they may not be necessarily be 4-4 ties. but they could be 6-3 votes.
he could have been on the -- or i mean 6-2 votes. so who knows how they would come out. but the cases will be decided, but it certainly raises the possibility that the decision won't mean anything because it will be a tie and these issues will just have to come around again. and it does in essence postpone them in the sense that you have to wait for these issues to be resolved until you have a court of nine justices and they try again. this has happened before. >> and again, if you're just joining us here on msnbc, nbc news confirming supreme court justice antonin scalia passing today at the age of 79. we understand this has happened at a resort in west texas not too far from the border necessarily of mexico. again, in west texas at a resort there at the age of 79.
he was born march 11th, 1936. 29 years, four months and at least 17 days he served as a supreme court justice. alan dershowitz, professor at harvard, still with us. alan, you said you knew him well. >> yes. >> can you remember or share with us the last time you spoke with him? >> the last time i spoke with him was at the supreme court of the united states when i was visiting there. he came and spoke to some students. he was always happy to speak to students. you know, i knew his father. his father was a teacher, a professor of romance languages at brooklyn college when i was a student there. and his father was a charming and very intellectually vivacious, very conservative man who had come from italy. brilliant as well. and justice scalia and i
actually bonded over my knowledge of his father when he was a professor at brooklyn college. >> from that last conversation, can you share with us what you talked about and was he discussing any of the cases with you specifically and no doubt with the students that he was probably asked about the very cases that pete was just discussing? >> well, the subject was church and state. and three of us were there. justice scalia, i was there and nathan lechltwen, who is a terr lawyer, orthodox jew, a very, very close friend of justice scalia. and the subject was how to reconcile the establishment clause of the first amendment with the preexercise clause of the first amendment. the justice never talked about cases that were pending, but he would talk about his general philosophy. he had written some of the most important decisions on the
preexercise clause and some of the most important decisions on when something becomes an impermissible establishment of religion. he was, as you know, a deeply, deeply religious person. in fact he and i had a very strong exchange of views on capital punishment and whether or not his views were consistent with the views of the catholic church. and, you know, he was a very religious catholic and very firm constitutionalist and wrote famously that if he ever had a conflict between his religious views and his constitutional views, he might have to resign from the supreme court and he wrote an essay about that showing why the conflict had not arisen. but he was always torn between his religious views and his constitutional views, both of which were extremely important to him. >> and, pete, part of the complexity of antonin scalia along with what alan was just telling us is that, pete, he was
known and many have said as an intellect and that many of his opinions, many of what he has written will be considered and has been considered some of the best in the supreme court's history. >> set that question aside and tell you that we now have the first actual formal word from the supreme court. it's a statement from the chief justice, john roberts. i'll read it to you. it says on behalf of the court and retired justices, i am saddened to report that our colleague, justice antonin scalia has passed away. he was an extraordinary individual, admired and treasured by his colleagues. his passing is a great loss to the court and the country he so loyally served. we extend our deepest condolences to his wife, maureen, and his family. that from the chief justice, john roberts, coming out here now at 5:34, the first official word from the supreme court about what we had already
learned, which was that justice antonin scalia, associate justice of the supreme court, who has been -- who served on the court since 1986, he actually arrived on september 26th of 1986, appointed by president reagan, that he died apparently overnight of natural causes while vacationing in texas. >> pete, as you bring us that latest news also, the governor of texas, greg abbott, tweeting out in addition to perhaps previous statements that he shares the grief saying, quote, in his twitter account, devastating loss of justice scalia, a legal giant who steered the supreme court onto the constitution. god bless him. that is greg abbott in his twitter account he's sharing the grief that no doubt the scalia family is going through. as we were discussing antonin scalia here, pete, before you got in that statement, there was
what he was known for, being an intellect, writing some of the most well written opinions, some say, in the history of the supreme court and justice that sharpness of mind that professor dershowitz was also sharing with us about what he knew of antonin scalia. >> well, he had a very definite view of how to interpret the law and how to interpret the constitution. he was a brilliant man, one of the court's, if not the court's most gifted writer. his opinions were always extremely readable. i think there's a question here that historians will look at about to what extent he was able to persuade his colleagues to follow his lead. i asked him about that a couple of years ago after he had a book that came out about how to interpret the law. and i asked him, i said, hasn't the court really kind of come your way in some ways on this
originalist -- so-called originalist idea of interpreting the constitution and he sort of scoffed at the idea that his colleagues would follow his lead. he said they have all got their own ideas. but his opinions were forceful. he certainly brought the court around in a couple of ways. number one, i think he will be remembered in terms of his decisions for getting back to basics on the issue of fair trial rights by juries. he sort of led the court's move in a whole series of decisions and if professor dershowitz is still with us, i'd be eager to hear what he feels about this, but the whole idea that you shouldn't be sentenced or punished for some fact or some notion that the jury didn't find. that judges can't after the jury has done its thing and after the trial is over, the judges can't go back and say, well, there's also these other factors i have to consider that a defendant did
so i'm going to amp up the sentence. the whole idea that you should be able to confront the witnesses against you in the trial, so that when there's expert testimony, you can't just read the expert's report, you need to get the expert into the courtroom and be able to confront them. that's an important constitutional fair trial right. those were two areas in which justice scalia was really i think kind of led the court. >> professor dershowitz, reacting to what pete williams was saying there, he'd like to get your thoughts on his statement there. professor dershowitz, are you still with us? okay, we now go to dahlia from slate. we're just getting in the news and just reporting here the passing of justice antonin scalia at the age of 79 born in 1936. and you heard what our justice
correspondent, pete williams -- dahlia, if you could give me your response to what justice scalia will be most known for as we look at his passing today. >> well, i agree completely with pete, that what he will be known for in some sense is this larger than life, flamboyant personality. he was a jokester, he was a tremendous craftsman when it came to writing. i think history will remember him as one of the most pointed and ferocious critics of his colleagues when he didn't agree with them, but also just a flamboyant and charming person who was really unlike so many of the other justices who were really striking in how reserved they are. he'll be remembered, i think, for the deep, deep friendship he had with ruth bader ginsburg, which i think was a surprise to everyone, the most liberal and conservative justices on the court. and he'll be remembered for being, i think, a juggernaut in
reversing the warren court revolution and leading the court to a really dramatically conservative direction on issues from church, state, race, affirmative action, always writing in the strongest terms. >> dahlia, what will this mean for the chemistry of the court now? >> well, now we have a court that is really 4-4. i think you can't put too fine a point on this. this term the court had undertaken to decide affirmative action and abortion and contraception and case after case that would have made this the biggest term that any of us can remember. now we have a 4-4 court and it will be remarkable to see going forward how this looks. so i think barring some miracle in which someone is confirmed very, very quickly and as everyone has said, that's impossible to envision with this senate, i think we're going to look at a court with a term that
would have been the biggest term of our lifetimes, except it may not be. >> dahlia, stand by. pete is stacknding boy with us well. i'd like to go to kelly o'donnell who's at the white house. kelly, what are you hearing from where you're at? >> good afternoon, richard. the president is on the west coast and he will be away through tuesday enjoying some downtime and then also hosting a summit of asian leaders, so no official word yet from the white house. but the next steps, of course, would be for the president to go through the process of naming a nominee and making a selection to the court. the hard part will be to determine has this white house prepared a list of names already. sometimes when we have seen in some of the illnesses that have taken the life of a supreme court justice in the last several years, there was sort of a short list prepared that they could move forward on and at least give some consideration. we don't know if president obama
has that kind of name in his pocket. but once the president would make this nomination, it then goes to the senate and the judiciary committee, which is run by republicans in the current congress. and given the timing of this, it will be very difficult to go through the process in a quick fashion because any nominee to the court would have to be vetted, presumably if that nominee already comes from the bench and has been through a confirmation process, that is helpful, but if we look back at some of president obama's nominees to the supreme court, months go by where there is a vetting process, a very detailed questionnaire, meetings with senators, typically all 100 will eventually meet with the nominee, and then the process is the judiciary committee would vote and then it goes to the full senate. it could easily stretch through the remainder of the president's term. and especially with republicans having control, they have the ability to control the tempo as well and so a successor for
antonin scalia could be ultimately decided by the next president, and that will change the shape of the campaign that we're seeing, because now this question of what type of justice and what type of court will become a very central part of the conversation in both parties. and so that's something that we'll be watching over the next several days. john kasich, governor of ohio, he has responded with a statement. so has ted cruz. we're told that hillary clinton is involved in events and may not have been informed yet herself. and so we will see how the response from candidates will at first -- the first wave will certainly be to honor the memory of antonin scalia, for conservatives especially, to talk about his commitment to the court and his mark on the court. and for democrats, expected to be an opportunity for them to change the narrative about where the court's direction may go in the future, if a democrat is elected in the election in november. so this will be a real question
of timing, what can be done and who has the greatest political will in the months ahead to control how this plays out. the first steps will belong to president obama. there will be a period of time certainly to grieve the loss of antonin scalia. a period of sort of respectful rest before there is a flurry of questions about who might be the next nominee. but it will be an enormous part of the political conversation in the months ahead. richard? >> kelly o'donnell at the white house. kelly, stand by. we are just getting that breakdown of what the process might be going forward. as we go through this news and if you're just joining us, i would like to update you. just learning here at msnbc this afternoon the passing of antonin scalia at the age of 79. the supreme court justice was found at a west texas resort not too far away from the
mexico/u.s. border. again, just learning that this afternoon. justice antonin scalia passing at the age of 79, leaving behind his wife as well as nine children. rachel maddow joins us right now. rachel, as we were hearing from kelly here what is next, while there is this grieving period that no doubt the family is going through right now, then there will be those tough questions that kelly was trying to address. >> yeah, richard, that's right. credit to kelly, that was an incredibly useful and cogent summary about what to expect. obviously at a time like this first thoughts have to go to his wife and his family and his friends. justice scalia was a larger than life person with a huge impact on the course of his country. he was also by all accounts absolutely beloved by everybody who knew him and was close to him, including his fellow supreme court justices who were
his ideological opposites. it's easy to lose sight of because this is such a politically consequential moment and turning point for our country. but as a man, he lived a huge and full and beloved life and the passing of him as a human being is something that we don't want to let pass too quickly. >> right. >> with that said, any time there is a vacancy on the united states supreme court, all american politics realigns to account for that fact. for it to be happening with this justice, who is -- among this group of very, very conservative justices, who we know president obama -- we know that president obama would not replace him if he has the opportunity with somebody who has the same ideological inclinations because justice scalia was not thought to be ill, he's not the oldest justice on the court. because we're in the middle of this both lame duck presidency,
second term and also this incredibly hot and unpredictable primary season, which is going to lead to, i think, a hot and unpredictable general election season, it's almost harder to imagine something that is going to be a bigger shock to the system than this. it was something that barring some major national security event, this is kind of as big a jolt as we can get. and so i think anybody who's going to predict exactly what's going to happen here is going to be embarrassed by those predictions just within the next few weeks. but i do think that we are going to have to look for nontraditional circumstances in terms of how supreme court justices are replaced and how new ones are picked, because the republicans control the senate, because justice scalia was such an ideological figurehead on the right, because we know that president obama would replace him with somebody very different than that, all those things combine for a very unpredictable future. if i had to throw one scenario into the mix, this might be the
kind of time when the president would choose a nominee who effectively has already been vetted, somebody who can kind of jump the line in terms of the united states senate, somebody who has recently been through a rigorous confirmation process, somebody who, for example, is a cabinet level official in the obama administration already, the first person who springs to mind for that kind of a scenario is homeland security secretary jeh johnson, who is a very reserved and nonideological person but has served in several administrations as a top pentagon lawyer, as a very trusted national security expert and legal mind and is now running the biggest agency in the government outside of the pentagon or the veterans affairs department. somebody like that could conceivably be so nonobjectionable to the united states senate that maybe they would allow that sort of confirmation process to go
ahead, even when another judicial nominee, who might more typically be on the short list would get held up by this republican senate trying to hold out for the hope of a republican president to pick a nominee. so i'm not saying that's what's going to happen, but i do think that kind of a scenario might be one of the prospects here because of the unusual confluence of circumstances that justice scalia's death represents. >> rachel, as you've been covering on your throw and all throughout msnbc here the election yourself and you touched on it briefly there, what do you think this will mean for the election and what the candidates might say or do on the campaign trail? >> you know, it's interesting. i have been kicking around the idea of doing a feature on my show about the stakes for the supreme court, talking about i think the average age of retirement for a supreme court justice in the maude eodern era years old and there are a number of justices over 78, including justice scalia at the time of
his death, 79 years old. two things are going on, i think, with this election and the supreme court. number one is something that always happens, which is that the supreme court always lurks as an issue that is particularly motivating to donors in particular. it's not the kind not the kind of thing that candidates hear a lot of questions about in town halls, for example, but the donor class, in both parties tends to be very, very concerned about supreme court justices, and it's the kind of thing that you hear candidates talk about at fund-raisers, even if they're not talking about it on the stump. so i think that general level of interest, particularly among the donor class, is there, and it is heightened this year, because of the age of so many of the justices on the court. that's one thing. the other thing, though, that's going on, is that this year, for some reason, candidates on both sides, both republican and democratic candidates, have been a little looser than usual in terms of throwing around litmus tests that they would have for
supreme court nominees. they have been willing to name individual justices who they like, and who they would like to see more of. you've seen direct criticism, not just of ideological opposites, but you've seen, for example, the republican front-runner, donald trump, criticizing, by name, chief justice roberts, who, of course, is a republican appointee and a conservative justice. usually, it has been more typical in our politics that even in the heat of the presidential campaign, the supreme court is kind of held at arm's length a little bit, or at least there's some decorum, there's certain things you don't say, there's certain ways you try not to prejudice the process, even when people are very concerned about it. this year, those norms sort of haven't been hued to. and kands on all sides, for example, have been talking about what their litmus tests are, and on the democratic side, it tends to be preserving abortion rights and wants to strike down citizens united. on the republican side, it seems to be willingness to overturn roe versus wade and some other laundry list of issues. we've had a few nominees on the
republican side talking about abiding supreme court orders, and that the supreme court shouldn't be the supreme law of the land. so there's just some basic stuff about how the supreme court is handled by candidates that doesn't, isn't holding to form this year. again, that's another factor that makes it all the more unpredictable. obviously, the candidates will have to start talking about this a lot. i think the real focus of energy and the real focus of attention and what is now going to become the most important political place in the country, it's not going to be nevada, it's not going to be south carolina, it's going to be the united states senate. and whether or not that body allows this president, with a year left in his term, to choose a nominee to replace supreme court justice antonin scalia. if they're going to hold the supreme court to eight seats, so we essentially have a functionless supreme court for an entire year, because of a political hope that a republican makes a nominee instead, i mean, it's -- that's just going to change everything, richard. it really is going to put a whole new focus on our politics. >> that calculus that you've discussed so well. rachel maddow, host of the
rachel maddow show, thank you, rachel, so much for that perspective. and speaking of what rachel was saying there, and that is, how candidates will address the passing of justice antonin scle scalia at age 79 is a question. the debate will be there tonight for the republican candidates. and hallie, you already have some reaction from some of the candidates. >> we do, john kasich, donald trump, ted cruz here, richard. so let's sort of run through some of the reaction from some of these republican candidates. almost all of them praising scalia for his constitutionalism. john kasich saying he was an essential principled force for conservative thought and a model for others to follow. donald trump's spokesperson, moments ago, telling nbc news that he's offering his sincere it condolences to the scalia family. he called justice scalia a remarkable person and a brilliant supreme court justice,
saying his career was defined by his reverence for the constitution and his legacy of protecting americans' most cherished freedom. and for donald trump, who had clerked for justice rendquist back in the day, saying he fundamentally changed how courts changed the statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text, after decades of judicial activism. cruz also sending an interesting tweet, richard, and something we may see from more republicans moving forward. he says justice scalia was an american hero. we owe it to him and the nation to ensure that the next president names his replacement. this is something you and racial just were talking about. this idea that the fight to replace justice scalia could be one that stretches over the next year and a half, potentially after this election. you also talk about the debate tonight. this is undoubtedly reshaping what the moderators will be asking about, and sort of the opening minutes of this debate. it will be stunning to not hear the candidates talk about it, i
would imagine that the candidates are currently preparing to remark on the passing of justice scalia and to talk a little bit about his legacy and what this means for their election fight moving forward. richard? >> hallie, thank you for that reaction from the candidates there in south carolina, as that debate gets going tonight. hallie jackson there on site with their reaction and potential changes in the rundown of that debate. that's happening tonight. i want to get over to chris matthews. chris, the legacy of antonin scalia. who is, who was antonin scalia? >> well, he was a very consistent guy. very roman catholic in his religion. very loyal to his religion, faithful and devout, i believe. and very conservative in his reading of the constitution. i would say he had sort of a unitary look at life. his religion, his judicial philosophy. his politics. they were all consistent with each other. he was able to live a life, when
i interviewed him once off the record, years ago, i remembered thinking about him, and this isn't giving away anything, except, what i left with was the impression that he said, an early 1950s guy like my father's friends at the knights of columbus, just regular catholic in his conservatism to the church, which was all something he brought into his judicial philosophy as well. he brought them all together. so he would be pro-life, if you will, to use the shorthand in a way that was very consistent with his religion and his reading of the constitution and its limitations. what's going to be interesting tonight, is if donald trump jumps on to original intent. because, clearly, scalia is an original intent sort of guy. and if he gets into this whole question of what does natural born citizenship mean, he would be the kind of person that ted cruz would like to name, i would think, politically, and ideologically, and yet, he's the very kind of guy that would probably cling to an original
meaning of -- an original meaning of the natural born citizen, which would probably put, you know, ted cruz's citizenship or his eligibility for the presidency somewhere in peril. >> chris, as you are alolooking back at that conversation you had with justice scalia, what kind of person was he? how would you describe him as the kind of person, what was he like as a person? >> well, he's likable. he was, you know, italian american, the kind of guy with catholic roots. i grew up in that world of irish and italians. and he was that kind of guy. he was just very comfortable. he would have been one of dad's friends in the knights columbus. he would have played cards together, gone bowling together, played golf together. he was, to me, a very comfortable presence. even though i'm a liberal on most of these issues, i felt that he was the kind of guy that i was very comfortable with, as
a human being and a fellow roman catholic. he was content. everything fit with him. it wasn't like a lot of us, where we had that view politically, that view philosophically, and that view religiously, and we tried to honor the teaching version of our church, but also tried to recognize that we live in a country that's based upon freedom of religion and a diversity of thinking and we try to reconcile it all, it's sometimes awkward. whereas with him, i don't think anything was awkward. his philosophy judicially and his politics and religion all fit together pretty comfortably. and of course, that all comes together in terms of abortion rights, which he didn't believe in. >> and to his family, and, you know, leaves behind his wife, maureen. he has nine children. as you're alluding to, his parents, father, and immigrant from italy, what do you know of justice scalia's youth? when he was growing, when efs
tae he was attending harvard, when he was going to law school, what formulated who he was early on in life. >> since i grew up with all these people, with my own family, where i'm second generation, i think that they were very patriotic. extremely so. and extremely proud to be american and gut patriots. they loved the country and in their gut, and because of what it meant to come over here, for their families to come here. like all immigrant families. and i think that, you know, i just know that the catholic church was very conservative and he grew up in a very conservative church. he went to confession about every week, he went to communion. you had holy days, you put ashes on your forehead on ash wednesday. you prayed in latin. i could just tell you, this is
how i grew up. i just knew how he grew up. very conservative, priest was the boss. the nuns took orders from the bishops and the priests and everything was very hire arkical, and you accepted it. and your families were very big on respect for authority, and they taught you respect for the teachers, for the priests, for anyone in authority, policemen, for example, for example believing in authority figures and in the regular order of things. i don't want to get too far here, but that's the way we're all brought up, and i'm sure he fit that to a "t." >> chris, i want to ask you, what the next steps are for the senate and the president, but i do want to update our viewers who are just joining us at the top of the hour. if you are just joining us, we have just learned this afternoon the passing of supreme court justice khalantonin scalia at t age of 79. his body was found at a resort in west texas, not too far from the mexico/u.s. border.