tv Assassination of Dr. Tiller MSNBC February 13, 2016 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
and people should vigorously disagree with aspects of the man but at the end of the day i think we should celebrate this man for being a giant in the raw and giving our country so much. >> there thank you for joining us. we appreciate your time on a tough day. you are watching msnbc. 8:00 p.m. east coast time. 5:00 in the west coast lt we are in special live breaking coverage, discussing and reporting on the death of justice antonin scalia. dying today, 79 years old. he was found in west texas where he was on a hunting vacation doing something he loved. something we've been discussing with friends and admirers and people who reported on him throughout his life. he was the longest serving member of the court. 30 years. not the oldest. he was the same age as justice kennedy. and younger than ruth bader ginsburg who he had a famous
friendship with of kinship and almost, despite their well known differences on certain high profile cases. we begin appropriately in our 8:00 p.m. our with pete williams who has been covering this seismic event, given that justice scalia was seen in all public measures as healthy of and of sharp and keen mind. i go right to you with the latest. >> the latest is that the court is now in the process of arranging for the memorial service in consultation with his family. we may hear statements from the other justices. we won't hear much from the supreme court probably for another couple of days. this comes at a time when the supreme court is in this period of dead in the winter where the court is not in session very much. they adjourned until late january. this is the normal period when
they are off doing teaching and things like justice scalia was doing down in texas on their own time, getting ready for the big push to get to the end of june when the supreme court puts out the last opinions. so the court was really widespread around the country. now the justices will be coming back here for the memorial service and the funeral, which we'll hear the details on soon. we understand that he died in a guest ranch in texas where he was down on a trip, and that he was given last rites by a local catholic priest who arrived at 2:45 mountain time, west texas time. that would have been about 4:45 in the afternoon eastern time. he was apparently in good spirits yesterday. attended a party last night. but then didn't appear for any of the events today. and his body was discovered earlier today. so it is quite a shock. quite sudden. justice scalia had been robust in every sense of the word.
very active. he was an outdoors man, a fisherman, a huntsman. a very aggressive questioner during oral arguments and he had a very sharp pen. one of the most talented writers. his opinions, when they were dissent, they were always the most readable of the court's. a very big surprise. and it leaves a couple questions in addition to the nomination question which i know you'll be exploring with some of the other folks yet to come. there's the question of cases before the supreme court. the court was divided ideologically 5-4 on so many issues. now you have the prospect of 4-4 ties on the big questions that have yet to be decided and some even yet to be argued such as the future of the president's immigration policy. what is to become of public sector unions, restrictions on access to abortion clinics in texas, a law that if it is
upheld would undoubtedly be copied by other states. the question of religious affiliations, religiously affiliated institutions, what they have to do to provide contcould not contraceptives. whoever won in the lower court will prevail. it will be if there is a tie as though the case never happen in the supreme court. there will be no precedent to the decision. the decision doesn't count. so those questions would have to come back at another time if they'll be before the supreme court. >> what's hugely significant for the very much inter-related issues you mentioned, that the nomination battle which could draw out for some time. could it last until the next election would leave the 4-4 split on a host cases. you mentioned his sharp writing. viewers watching will remember
you as the lead voice on the supreme court out there every day when these decisions come down. you're the first person bringing that news based on the opinions, as you get them. walk us through you as a chronicle of the court, what you thought of his opinions when you spend more time with him or his dissent which are the most crackling of his writing. for those who read his opinions, out. current members of the court, the most crackling, the most flowery at times, the most passionate at times in his writing. >> and the most entertaining, frankly. the most interesting to read. very vivid. he liked to quote popular songs, poetry. he was a sharp writer, an entertaining writer, a vivid writer. some justices write opinion that's don't even excite the people whose cases are before the court. they're full of the legal jargon. his were very, very dynamic
opinions. very readable to anybody. he liked that kind of very alive language. it is the way he talked. it is the way he spoke. the kind of questions he asked from the court. he also had a very consistent judicial philosophy. that came through as well. now you know, as i'm sure you've been talking about here. sometimes those dissents could sting. he could really stick it to his colleagues when he thought they were wrong. he described someone's views as legal arble bargle and apple sauce. they never did any lasting damage. as i'm sure you've talked about here. one of his closest friends on the court was his ideological opposite. ruth bader ginsburg. they were close friends. this he got to know each other on the appeals court. they were both opera buffs. they enjoyed each other's company, as unlikely as that might seem. and justice elena kagan, when
she came, made a point of going hunting with him. he made friendships with lots of people. not just his ideological soul mates but he enjoyed the combat of ideas. and he also loved the law. as he told me in an interview a couple years ago, it is a great job for someone who loves the law as he did. it was his great passion. and sometimes he got a little carried away with it. but he left a very, very strong impression. >> pete williams, nbc justice correspondent. thank you again for your reporting on this. we go to the white house where kelly o'donnell has new information. >> good evening. we now can tell you that president obama will be making a statement about the death of justice scalia at 8:30 eastern time, 5:30 pacific. the president is in california and he had a day where he was sort of on a down day playing golf. but his purpose for being in california is to host a summit of ten asian leaders.
he's had some time reflect on the death of justice scalia. he was informed while he was on the golf course. he is getting himself together and we expect he will make a short statement talking about justice scalia's go service and perhaps giving us more specific information about his own intentions on the unique role on being able to nominate someone to serve as a successor for scalia. as a president, this is an opportunity to talk about the importance of the court. how he would hike to see the court reflected in a new pick. i suspect more importantly, in this moment. he will give more thought to the loss for this family, the loss for the court and the supreme court community. and really kind of taking us back to a more traditional moment when the death of an official hike this happens. there is a bit of a pause before all of the gaming out of next scenarios takes place. in ourheimer speed society, we've already gotten to that place.
politically seeing some of the conversations already happening in an election year. we can tell you that the president will make short remarks from california where he is taking some time -- >> the issue, what we see now is that may make perfect sense. indeed, most normal people, not in the hustle bustle of washington would say this man just died. it is the weekend. let's pause and reflect only as you said. the reality as you know, it is not just the presidential candidates who are doing a debate tonight. now the leader of the senate republicans and the senate judiciary committee which will hold nomination hearings are saying point blank, don't even send us a name. we don't think there should be a process. so sooner or later or through aides, we would expect the president to make it clear that he will exercise his constitutional authority. i've heard not on the record but just generally from the administration, they are going to proceed as normal.
not hold back on their right to nominate. >> would you expect that. the president won't be told by those in the senate what he should do. all i'm saying is that the president plays a unique role in moments like this to focus the country's attention on things like the service of justice scalia who of course the president disagreed with in terms of ideology. the importance of the court. i think when you're talking about something that reaches a presidential level statement, it won't be something that is out of the likes of twitter. it will have a more somber tone. it will be more reflective. then as the days pass there will be more reflective. >> for sure the president striking a different tone and playing a different role. especially when you have the sudden and unexpected death of a public official here. one with a lifetime appointment.
moving more broadly from those logistics or those political points, speak to us a little about president obama's relationship with this supreme court. i'm thinking of how it all began with chief justice john roberts swearing him in in a way the chief justice said it was so nerve-racking, then flubbed the lines and redid it to the obamacare cases where the chief justice went one way with a block of more democratic pointes to uphold obamacare. justice scalia very vigorously twenl other way. to the issue of guns. an issue where this president has called for major reform and tried to address the legal and constitutional kernels about gun control while justice scalia from his perch on the supreme court and exercising his own authority, expanded gun rights in this country. someone who has followed all this on the hill. your thoughts on that larger
relationship here. >> and i think you can point to the very tense relationship they had over state of the union nights when president obama spoke very pointedly about the citizens united decision. we've seen since that time that the full complement of the court would not attend the state of the union. that was in part a protest. and in part a sign that as two co-equal branches of government, i think there was a sense the justices did not feel it was appropriate to be sort of lectured about their decision from the president. of course, the president felt very strongly that they not have that right. the president has had an town make a real mark on the court with two nominees. justice sotomayor and just kagan. i was on the hill watching that process where a name is offered. we begin a very vigorous process of watching the senate go
through a very, very detailed back ground check and questionnaire. even for those who might have considered for a different decision. to go through the supreme court process is much more vigorous and time consuming and it is something that even at a best case, typically takes a few months. because of all the process of the behind the scenes process. and then talking to senators personally, first those members of the judiciary committee to decide if the nomination should go forward. and then all 100 senators. so president obama through justice sotomayor and justice kagan has been able to shape the court already. and i think there was much more of an expectation that perhaps there might be a retirement like ruth bader ginsburg. was she well and how is she
doing and she remained on the court. and there was some thought that the president might be able to replace someone from the liberal wing of the court in the last few years of his presidency and that did not happen. that adds to the jolt of this sudden passing of justice scalia. he is from the conservative wing. which is why you have such a pro found response of republicans. >> i want to break in. i went to you knowing that the president is about to speak. we now have the first statement from hillary clinton, which unlike president obama, as you mentioned, he may be restrained. she is not. she said her thoughts and prayers are with the family of justice scalia, of course, but she goes on to say the republicans in the senate, on the campaign trail who are calling for justice scalia's seat to remain vacant dishonor our constitution, hillary clinton is saying.
quote, the senate has a constitutional responsibility that it cannot abdicate. you're at the white house but you've also been on the trail for us. i wonder if you can handicap what we're seeing in this political back and forth. >> those on the campaign trail cannot wait for a process to unfold. decisions about their candidacies and how they position themselves really are measured in minutes and seconds sometimes. that makes sense for secretary clinton who was a member of the senate. knows how it works. to push back sharply. there are two different universes in the republican party. the republican candidates are really about this election year politics. mitch mcconnell is calling the shots on capitol hill. and he will certainly have in his mind how it will affect the campaign trail. one of the things i've learned covering the hill and the white house, there is a real difference in how members of the senate, in positions of power,
view their role compared to the broader political land scape. so mitch mcconnell is making very strong statements. followed up by the. i think the more likely outcome is the president will make a nomination. it might be someone not a consensus candidate. someone who might appeal to some republicans. and we would go through the process and perhaps the nomination fails because they cannot get it through. that could be one scenario that could happen. if that is the way it looks politically for the president, perhaps he goes for a more ambitious choice from a democratic or liberal perspective in making a she can as opposed to one he might try to win over some republican votes. that will be in the president's domain to figure out. politically you can see that happening. where the president has a constitutional obligation to move forward. the senate has a role to play to
confirm. and those could come really into a clash over the next several months. and we may end up with a vacancy, even though president will likely ask the senate to consider a nominee. >> as you say, and you followed this closely on the hill. there are a lot of legal experts who say that the justices that are on the current court from president obama's appointments, kagan and sotomayor, were carefully selected. she said she doesn't think she would be appointed and make it through confirmation process today. and yet for many republicans as we've been reporting, that is a bridgeway too far. senator lindsey graham spoke to me within the last hour and said he would need an orrin hax type. so this will be front and center on the hill and the presidential campaign trail. thanks for your reporting from the white house tonight. we will probably be going back to kelly. we'll be hearing from president
obama as we've said tonight, around 8:30 p.m. eastern. 5:30 pacific. we will carry the president's remarks live. it will be his first public remarks about the passing of justice scalia and of course, a chance for him to potentially address explicitly or implicitly what has been now a complete chorus of calls by republicans for him to abld indicate adicat. that's all within the next 12 minutes. we'll be back after a short break. comes to small business, she's in the know. so strap yourselves in for action flo! small business edition. oh, no! i'm up to my neck in operating costs! i'll save the day! for plumbers and bakers and scapers of lawn, she's got insurance savvy you can count on. you chipped my birdbath! now you're gonna pay! not so fast! i cover more than just cars and trucks. ♪ action flo did somebody say "insurance"? children: flo! ♪ action flo cut! can i get a smoothie, please?
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as the chief correspondent for the new york times. we're also awaiting, i want our viewers to know, the first reaction from president obama. we'll go directly to the white house to hear from him when he speaks live. you see it in the lower corner of the screen. your thoughts on justice scalia's passing. a man you observed up close for a long period of time. >> of course, i was as shocked as anyone else. i think his influence on the court is perhaps a little bit exaggerated if you try to name the important opinions that he actually wrote. not the ones that he voted with the 5-4 majority but the ones he actually wrote. it is not a very long list. in part because he was a very polarizing figure. if there was a very close case, a chief justice was not necessarily going on invite justice scalia to try to hold a majority together.
so i think we have to be kind of clear-eyed about that. >> i think you're raising an important nuance about the supreme court. they're the people who write the opinions and their words have the force of law. and then there are the people who use the court as a perch to do other things. i was mentioning in an interview earlier, at the 25-year mark, he was asked about his victories. and he said damn few. so his assessment itself, at least with the idea of writing, controlling opinions was not as many as he would like. or as many as some might have suggested. and yet i think in the broader sense of being a supreme court justice with a large following and conservative legal circles, in the federalist society, in law schools, as we await a republican debate among republican politicians who talked about who they would want to see on the court. he may have been second to none, linda. >> sure.
i think the major takeaway is now this election is a referendum on the future of the supreme court. and one might say or think, and i did think, that it always should have been a referendum. now we can't resist that. so let the games begin. the games have begun today within minutes of the news breaking. i hope in the coming months we'll hear some sober thoughts about what has been going on at the court. what fork in the road we've arrived at. and it will be plenty fascinating and there is really nothing more important about this election. >> certainly true now with this vacancy as that becomes issue number one in 2016. we're talking to linda greenhouse, at yale now.
perry joins us from washington as well. we talk about the politics of this. so stay with us. respond to linda's point. this is now the number one issue in the election? >> i do agree. i assume we'll hear the president, i don't think abdicate this issue. i think he will suggest he has ten months in office and there may be some thinking he should get to pick the appointee. i think he will push the public. and you hear them saying they want him to push for someone so i think that will be important going forward. it does raise the issue. we're talking about the fifth justice, scalia is part of a five republican appointee majority. as linda said, who controls the court? the court has rarely discussed this campaign so far. now it becomes the number one or one of the top two issues in
this campaign. you will hear about it at the debate. you've heard ted cruz talk about appointing a new justice. it is we'll hear that he should pick someone earlier than later. >> we have to cut in to say we had a new statement from hillary clinton. ten minutes ago i received it from her aides saying it would be an abdication to block this. it is now the position. bringing back in alleged a greenhouse only point on where the debate goes. how unusual would it be as a matter of history for the senate republicans to take a position that no nominee is acceptable here? >> i think there is some historical precedent for that. when lbj.
he had that going forward, we would have had justice fordice. i get where they're coming from. i think we should see this in the perspective of how the republicans have behaved on judicial nominations generally. for instance, just the other day. the president nominated a really distinguished fine sitting district judge to, from alabama to be on the appeals court. an excellent record and terrific educational back ground and so o on. the republicans said no, we won't confirm him. so that was nuts. i'm not holding my breath for anything very productive to happen in the next ten months
with respect to confirmation of a supreme court nominee. >> perry, go ahead. >> mostly i've heard republicans saying that there's essentially no consideration of any kind of appointment. the one dissenting voice we've heard is lindsey graham, a more moderate reference. more in the moderate wing of the party. what he said was, i'm open to some kind of consensus choice if we and the president can agree to it. the name he game after that was orrin hatch who is a fairly conservative member of the senate from utah. been on the judiciary for a long time. i don't think democrats view him as a consensus nominee. not as conservative -- >> he said that in an interview with me in our breaking coverage here from south carolina. what was interesting, i had to push him on it. he made the argument that he has voted for obama nominees before but the democrats changed the rules. it is a fair press denial to know both sides have tried to move the goalpost on how to do
judicial nominees. >> to linda's point, there have been time where this was a roadblock. to see it as, to mitch mcconnell who runs the senate. in her view, unusual and extreme. then orrin hatch example. it's one thing to say center left. if they're center right, then they're closer to when a republican president would pick. it's not just that they've said they don't want a nominee. in general this last year you're seeing republicans are saying we won't work on criminal justice. they've said they don't want to work on obama on a lot of issues. they want him to stop being president in a lot of ways.
so i don't think they'll cooperate. how does he think he can move? he hand had much success moving the center republicans so this will be an argument, making the idea. can we have the idea of having no ninth justice for ten months? that will be the case he's making. that is a case to the public and hoping they influence the more moderate members of the senate. it will be a very tough case. because the republicans are not like i said, they're blocking a lot of appointees of obama. blocking a lot of things that he's trying to do on almost every issue. not throughout his term but particularly, the republicans see the end of the term is near. we can kind of stop him and then hope we win the election. >> i want to bring in carey sanders who has been out on the campaign trail covering donald
trump. if you've heard this conversation, it has been partly about justice scalia's record and life as he passes away today but also about the high octane politics. what are you seeing out on the trail? >> interestingly, i'm here at the debate site just outside where you can see lots of people who have gathered. voters who are very enthusiastic. i stopped and talked to some of them. clearly all are part sandal. their here supporting their candidates. but clearly they seem to see that the death of antonin scalia, making this current primary here for the republicans, and for the democrats, quite frankly, that much more important. they realize what's going on. i was curious to see what sort of issues do they follow from the supreme court? and i also spoke to the former
u.s. attorney from, the u.s. attorney from the southern district. all of them seem to say that issues like row v. wade are always on the tip of people's tongues. citizens united. it is those issues that people say to themselves, i may not follow the supreme court that closely but do i recognize the importance of it. and of course, if president obama is blocked with an appointment, then they're all wondering, what candidate plays best. when i spoke to kendall coffee, he said at first blush you might think this would play to those more traditionally politicians like jeb bush or hillary clinton. but he points out that he has been wrong, as so many people have been, about the impact donald trump has had on the campaign. so many of the vote here's are supporting donald trump, somewhere around 9% or 15% are people who have never voted before and they're coming out to
specifically support donald trump because they're energized by him. donald trump tweeted earlier today about the death of antonin scalia. he. it is a massive setback for the conservative movement and our country. i think the word i pick up on is conservative movement. as you know, within the republican party there has been some derigs here of whether donald trump is a true conservative. and he chooses. >> i want to put the question to you. this question may have been never been asked, what kind of justice would donald trump appoint? >> that's what's intriguing about donald trump. nobody really knows what he will actually, what he would actually do about anything.
if you read the conservative blogosphere, there is a great distrust. would he get message and would he act on it? so i think it is a real wild card form side of the street. >> yeah, wild card indeed. maybe a wild card in disappearing ink, given how he has moved around already in the primaries. for folks just joining us, we've been doing special coverage of the death of justice antonin scalia. the white house aides are saying the president will speak in the next few moments. we're speaking with kerry sanders and nbc's perry bacon. knowing i may cut in at any time when the president comes out. you look at justice scalia's record. i've said on air today, that he had become something like the ronald reagan of legal conservatives.
it was as if he could do no wrong and he was the standard that had been set. we hear about litmus tests like roe v. wade or overturning for justices. when you talk about jeb bush, when he was asked in debates in two thourk he said he would look to someone like thomas or scalia. and everyone felt it was scalia first given his conservatism and his more colorful personality, as opposed to clarence thomas' relative quiet. what about that? legal conservatives as well as the republican party in this death have lost someone, even if he didn't write many majority opinions, someone who came to define what a good legal conservative should be? >> right. you saw tonight greg abbott, the governor of texas. he put out this statement in which he said, i hope the next justice lives up to justice scalia's rule of law.
it was that scalia was the primary author of the written constitution. that there were too many justices out there. i think scalia had been a symbol for a kind of legal approach. and i think tonight, we'll hear from him. i think the candidates will be asked, what kind of justices do you like? what mold do you want to pick somebody in? i think you'll hear like in 2000, a lot of scalia, a the love clarnls thomas. not as much as john roberts who has defended obamacare twice. i'll be particularly interested to watch tonight. ted cruz was a clerk on the supreme court. so i think tonight is the one time where in terms of looking at the candidates, he is much more versed on legal issues than the other candidates. and i think it is potentially a in it for him to show that and to speak for he will quenly
about the issues. >> you make such an interesting point. i want to draw you out on it. it is not just where people stand. from what we can tell, the entire leadership of the republican party within a few hours has taken the same position. no obama nominee, the supreme court, sight unseen. so not so much just on where they stand on that. but who knows what? you make the possibly ted cruz who has done well thus far is i think by any stretch the best lawyer on the stage. the most practiced legal mind. he already has that reputation. he has an exchange about who will take advice from whom on constitutional issues when the eligibility issue came up. i saw him out on the trail as you've seen him with your own eyes. he worked his work. his litigation into his appeal. so at a level of basic topical expertise, are you saying this might help him? >> do i. you saw last week that debates
matter. and being too. of a talking points person and not appearing to know deaths of issues can hurt you. marco rubio would tell that you first hand. so you have someone who is a clerk on the supreme court. justice rehnquist, of course. these guys will have the same position on the supreme court. no obama-pointee now. we'll pick someone, not an activist. they'll all say something very much like that. so the key thing tonight is, if, we're going to have follow-up discussion. this happened very recently today. so cruz is very advantaged in the fact that he is, he argued many cases in front of the supreme court. he can talk about that legal experience. that's a big -- usually debates are, donald trump says i ran a
business. i am forgetive at it. jeb bush talks about being a governor. tonight he can talk about the real world experience he has and he was very effective. >> i want to tell the viewers exactly what's going on. if you look in the lower corner of the screen, you will look at remarks, payments just set out at the presidential podium. you see that in the lower right-hand corner. we have been told the president would speak as early as 30 past. we're nine minutes past that. he could come out at any moment. he speaks in a time of political turbulence. his former secretary of state and main democratic favorite for the presidential nomination, hillary clinton now, and i was just e-mailing with her aides, saying that republicans would dishonor the constitution. so everyone is eager to see what
the president says. religi what is the president's right tone to hit in this moment? >> he has a perfect try it nominate someone. you can say it is his obligation to nominate someone. it is an interesting political moment. given the fact whoever he nominates is most likely not going to be confirmed and given that as i said earlier, this election becomes a referendum on the future of the court. if the president nominates someone who has great appeal to people in the country, blockedbly the republican senate, that's just, it just heightens the debate as people go to the polls. >> i heard you say he or she may likely not be confirmed. i don't think we know any of that as you allude to. it depends on who is nominated. it may be very popular for republicans to immediately seize
the most anti-obama ground here in their political primary season. and that is all about a hypothetical against whoever this president appoints. certainly one can imagine names as the court is tied up. >> that's my point exactly. given the republican stance, nobody no how, the president could claim the upper hand. the moral high ground or the political high ground by nominating someone with great appeal. so it is a very important moment for the democrats. >> kerry sanders, if you're still with us with this debate -- we don't have kerry sanders. going back to perry bacon -- and he is there. live television. kerry, if you can hear me -- >> i'm trying to get a little information from an insider. give me a couple minutes. he doesn't want to use his name.
>> go ahead. i appreciate that. that's how it looks when we're all doing our reporting on one hand and doing breaking coverage with no commercial breaks on the other hand. thanks for staying with us. you see reporters moving in and out of the shot awaiting the president's remarks about justice scalia and what comes next. so as kerry works the phones. going into the start of the debate you already talked about how ted cruz may benefit. i question whether donald trump, who has been basically bullet proof and impervious to so many other moments people thought might have hurt him. i question whether he is prepped. you can only do so much reading and twittering going into tonight. you mentioned marco rubio suffered from the idea he had talking points. if this is a detailed discussion, can donald trump name anyone other handle the judge judy that he would consider for the court? >> it is a great question. i would argue for a lot of candidates, this is a great question to ask. if they're asked, who would you consider to name on the supreme
court? i think that's a hard question. not just because, like up, donald trump may not know a lot of appellate judges who would be qualified but that does box you into a potential list of names. you start naming people who you might pick for the supreme court. that gets into all kinds of, you own, what have their writings been? who have they donated money to? i think hillary clinton should be wary of who she would pick for the supreme court. this is a very tough question to ask. even asking them, what their litmus test would be. that's a hard question too. voters have an aversion to hearing that you will not pick a judge because you have this litmus test or that one. we know there are tests in reality. a democratic judge has to agree with roe v. wade. who would you name to the court and what kind of criterion would
you put on your choices? and i'll be very curious about donald trump or a ben carson, a very detailed response to that question. >> you mentioned ben carson. i asked him that question last week in new hampshire. he said i'm not naming names. i said who on the current court reflects the type of jurisprudence you might use. he didn't want to answer that. i want to give an update. we're told by the white house on this obviously fast unfolding story, the president will speak within the next 60 seconds. i'm telling you what i'm learning as i'm learning it. i can also tell that you bill clinton just weigh in the on this for the first time. he spoke glowingly of justice scalia. we're going to show that you video later because we're waiting for the president. president obama coming out any moment. we'll bring that to you. after that, president bill clinton, who has had his share of nomination battles.
a lot to get to here. linda, as we await the president dourgs expect him to say anything about justice scalia's opinions? he is a law professor in his own right. >> i have no idea. >> perry, do you feel presumptuous? >> he night talk about scalia's quality, the way scalia writes. he is known for writing colorful opinions. you can talk about that without necessarily talking about, my understanding is obama disagrees with most of what scalia has written. there is probably a way to talk about his influence on the court. his relationship with ginsburg and so on. i don't presume to know what the president will say. >> i don't presume to know either. i can tell you from past precedent, this is a president who knows the law well and is fluent in it. we were talking about how the republicans might sound if they're catching up on the fly with this story.
obviously, constitutional law professor barack obama who studied, taught at chicago and good study at harvard i wouldn't be surprised if he might discuss the way that justice scalia influenced thought on the court. influenced conservatives. we see the president coming out. let's listen in. >> good evening, everybody. for almost 30 years, justice antonin scalia was a larger than life president on the bench. brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, inice issive wit. he influenced lawyers and students and profoundly shaped the legal landscape. he will no doubt be reynold as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to be 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. antonin scalia was born in trenton, new jersey, to an italian immigrant family. after graduating from georgetown university and harvard law school, he worked at a law firm and taught law before entering a life of public service. he rose from assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel, to the judge on the d.c. circuit court to associate justice of the supreme court. a devout catholic, he was a proud father of nine children and grandfather to many loving grand children. justice scalia was both an avid hunter and an opera lover. a passion for music that he shared with his dear colleague and friend, justice ruth bader ginsburg. michelle and i were proud to welcome hill to the white house
including in 2012 for a state dinner for prime minister david cameron. and tonight we join his fellow justices in mourning this remarkable man. obviously today is a time to remember justice scalia's legacy. i plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. there will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. these are responsibilities that i take seriously, as should everyone. they're bigger than any one party. they are about our democracy. they're about the institution to which justice scalia dedicated his professional life and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned.
but at this moment, we most of all want to think about his family. and michelle and i join the nation in senting our deepest sympathies to justice scalia's wife maureen and their loving family, a beautiful symbol of a life well lived. we thank them for sharing justice scalia with our country. god bless them all and god bless the united states of america. >> we've been listening there to president obama speaking from rancho mirage, california. his first public remarks on the unexpected death of justice antonin scalia at the age of 79, having served 30 years on the supreme court. the longest serving member, a darling of the conservative movement and an influential member by any measure. perry bacon is with me. we heard the president talk about justice scalia as someone who influenced a generation and profoundly shaped the legal land
scape. the president reference to justice scalia as referring his life to the rule of law. that is as you know, one of the highest compliments you can pay a judge. the notion even if they had strong views, even if they were embroiled in legal controversies as the supreme court invariably is, they were a juryist and a person of the law first. not a person of ideology or opinion or god forbid, a partisan outcome. i thought that was to my ear, within the legal community, and the way lawyers and judges think about it. one of the highest compliments that president obama could pay justice scalia. >> right. and there were brief remarks but the president really tried to commend justice scalia for the influence he had on the law. he also commended him for energetic opinions, energetic style was the words the president used. for his influence on the law
itself. the president, i assume, disagrees with many of scalia's findings within the law but he went out of his way to praise his achievements on the court. and as you've noticed, schee has lot of influence for conservatives which president obama acknowledged. >> then you get to the other point which he put succinctly. this is a white house that were it ever unsure about the intransence of the opposition. it struck me that he really picked one sense to say it. he said i will meet my obligation to appoint someone to the court and i expect congress to meet its constitutional obligation to consider and vote on that person. >> the phrase he used was i expected -- the phrase was timely vote. so i think that's the thing to
take away from this. is that he expects there could be some kind of vote. obviously, there are 54 republicans in the senate. that means the vote could be no. the idea was to sort of force the republicans to have a vote period. and not just to drive this process along and have hearing after hearing after hearing and delay and never vote. you can see the opening argument here is to demand the republicans, consider the nominee and have a vote on it. that's important considering you've heard republicans say obama should not even nominate anyone. she wait until the election is decided and let the new president elect someone. you saw the president, very brief remarks but very firm. he is going on nominate someone, period. >> one more question with you and then you'll hang with us with kelly o'donnell. the headline on the screen is no longer justice scalia dies. it is president obama, i plan to nominate a successor.
and yet, perry, this is one of those moments. that's not really a headline in normal political history. the president always nominates a successor. indeed it would be weird not to. there is an obligation to staff the courts. there have been big fights. fdr famously overdoing and it trying to add seats to the court to break the pushback to the new deal that was coming from conservative members against his economic agenda. and there were times where there were road blocks. certainly, in normal functioning washington governance, it is not news that the president would fill the appointment of a deceased member of the court. >> exactly. if writ october of 2016, i think there would be more, it would seal more complicated. a month from then, a new president would be elected and
presumably want to pick someone. we're in february right now. so we're talking about obama is going to be president for ten more months. it is in some ways not surprising that he would want to pick someone for the court. we're talking about a court that is now four republican appointees, four democratic appointees. the notion that both sides are being very highly aggressively partisan is not, and the republicans do view this as, you can imagine a scenario. if they sort of allow a fifth democratic appointee, a liberal to be on the court. that is a big setback for them. >> there's no question. sometimes you have appointment that's don't make big a difference. bringing in kelly o'donnell at the white house. no question replacing an arch conservative with anyone in the obama mold would be a shift in the jurisprudence of the court. >> absolutely.
that's what's making so many republicans nervous. they did not anticipate this. as we talked about, i think the president's remarks followed the line that we had expected. needing to strike that balance between showing almost to justice scalia and then signaling but not getting really into the details about his own intentions. so we also had a clarification from the chairman of the judiciary committee. republican chuck grassley of iowa. and his office is telling me that he is making the point, in 80 years there has not been, a small difference but a telling difference. republicans are not saying they didn't expect a nominee to be put forward. the question is will they confirm one. >> and this brand new sound, president obama on a rope line responding to this news today. here we go.
>> first of all, my thoughts are with his family and his friends. justice scalia, he would find it hard to believe that i would say this. i always kind of liked justice scalia. he never pretended to believe something he didn't. he never pretended to be anything he wasn't. and i think that's one reason by all accounts, he became good friends with justice ginsburg whom i appointed to the supreme court. they treat each other with respect and they sat down and have honest arguments. that's all you can ask of a man. nobody is right all the time. >> that was bill clinton speaking to report orders a roam line there. just reacting to the news of justice scalia's death and how he was not a pretender and that formed his friendship with ruth bader ginsburg. i want to say thank you to all the experts who joined us in our
breaking coverage in what is a sad day for court watchers and a momentous day when there's news in public life. we'll be live at 11:00 p.m. eastern. 8:00 p.m. pacific. tonight, live, 11:00 p.m. for a post gop debate coverage and more on scalia news. see us then and thank you for your time tonight. can be yours for... twenty grand? -no! we are giving it away for just 3 easy payments of $4.99 plus tax! the lines are blowing up! we've got deborah from poughkeepsie. flo: yeah, no, it's flo. you guys realize anyone can use the "name your price" tool for free on progressive.com, right? [ laughing nervously ] ♪ [ pickles whines ] i know, it's like they're always on television. what? hey, i heard you guys dcan help med. with frog protection? sure, we help with fraud protection. if there are unauthorized purchases on your discover card, you're never held responsible. you are saying "frog protection"? fraud. frog. fraud! i think we're on the same page. at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. fraud protection.
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