War in Ukraine: airstrikes, drones and a looming counteroffensive
This week saw heightened tensions in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. A wave of drone strikes hit the Russian capital Tuesday morning, bringing the war to Moscow for the first…
Anger erupts over legislation being called anti-LGBT in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere. The Supreme Court deadlocks on a union dues case, delivering a major victory to organized labor. And the Court hints it’s seeking to avoid a 4-4 split in the case of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. A tough week for Donald Trump, who caused outrage with comments on abortion, and trails Ted Cruz in the polls ahead of the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday. And the FBI unlocks the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, ending a legal battle with Apple. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The U.S. economy grows by 215,000 jobs in March. Ahead of next Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin, Ted Cruz leads Donald Trump by 10 points in a new poll. And the Supreme Court deadlocks over union dues. Here for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent for CBS News, Lisa Desjardins, political director of the PBS NewsHour and Ed O'Keefe, congressional reporter for The Washington Post.
MS. DIANE REHMAnd we will be taking your calls a little later in the program. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MR. MAJOR GARRETTGood morning.
MR. ED O'KEEFEGood morning.
MS. LISA DESJARDINSGood morning.
REHMGood to see you all. Lisa, I'll start with you. On this jobs report, 215, 000 jobs added, but the rate ticked up by a tenth of a percent to 5 points.
DESJARDINSThat's right. And essentially, what we've seen, if we take the long view of all of these jobs reports we've seen over the past few months, Diane, we're seeing the economy is just hitting this stable place that is not a high growth place. It's stable, solid jobs to keep the unemployment rate around the same point. If you dig into those numbers -- and the jobs report is so great to dig into.
DESJARDINSIf you dig into them, what's happening is we're seeing far fewer layoffs. We're seeing far fewer temporary workers losing their jobs. People aren't losing their jobs, but more people who were not employed are entering the work force. So those two things are balancing out and that's why we're not seeing massive unemployment number change.
REHMThere's also an increase, Ed, in the wage picture.
O'KEEFEYeah, I was just looking at that again. Up 7 cents for the month, 2.3 percent year to year. That's often one of the data points that critics of the administration will look at and say, well, the unemployment rate's been dropping, but is there more money actually going into the wallets of people who are employed and it suggests that it is. And a 63 percent labor participation rate, which is up about a half a percentage point since the fall, when it fell to its 40-year low.
O'KEEFESo, again, all the numbers are starting to sort of turn around and go up, which is why the unemployment rate ticked up slightly because more people are starting to look for work.
GARRETTPositive trend lines for sure, but by no historical standards would this be a robust recovery and the indicators are that where we are in our U.S. economy is improving, but improving gradually. And on the campaign trail, Diane, which I've spent a considerable number of months on, the conversation is resonating if a politician, any politician, says it's not good enough and you're not satisfied, nor should you be.
GARRETTThat's not just Republicans saying that. Bernie Sanders says that, Hillary Clinton says that and it reaches a captive audience because statistically, these numbers suggest an improving and good economy, but for many places in this country that I visit and many voters I talk to, either they don't feel it or hasn't materially changed their lives for the better.
REHMMajor Garrett, he's chief White House correspondent for CBS News. I do want to get to the presidential campaign a little later, but I want to ask about the Supreme Court and its decision or lack thereof on organized labor. Is that a victory, Ed?
O'KEEFEWell, it's a victory if you run one of these public sector unions in the 20 states or so that allow it. But what it signals, I think, more broadly, is the fact that the death of Scalia now really does have a profound effect on the ability of the high court to do its job. A 4-4 split decision in a case regarding whether California teachers should be forced to pay dues to a state teacher's union, this is something that's been on the books, basically, for 40 years that says unions can collect fees from non members and more than 20 states allow this.
O'KEEFEIf it had been ruled invalid or had been, you know, tossed out, it would've seriously jeopardized the status of public sector unions across the country. What now happens, essentially, is the status quo is maintained. And we may start to see this in a series of decisions, whether it's related to unions, whether it's related to healthcare. More critically coming soon, the president's immigration policy. A lot of this could be thrown into turmoil. But the difference with this one is that, essentially, it was sort of a blanket policy across the country and this was one specific challenge that would've affected everyone.
REHMSo what does this mean that it goes back to state legislatures, Lisa?
DESJARDINSIn this case, it means that the lower court ruling stands. This was just a nine-word decision, but it does have profound effects and in this case, that means that the union wins, that the union continues to charge these dues and teachers continue to have to pay for it. But, Diane, that's just a short term effect. The truth is that while this shows the court is having an inability to really make decisions now on some of these things, it's temporary.
DESJARDINSAnd we may have a rehearing of this case. We may have other cases like this that are in the pipeline that will ultimately decide this issue.
REHMWhat about the concern over a 4-4 split on the dispute about birth control, Major Garrett?
GARRETTSo the court asked today -- this week, rather -- the various plaintiffs in the seven cases that have come to the court dealing with what the Affordable Care Act requires in terms of providing contraceptive services and devices and how that relates to religious institutions, nonprofits and religious colleges who don't want to provide either that insurance company, those devices or those services because it violates their religious moral perspectives.
GARRETTThe court said, look, can we figure out a way to work around this? Can we figure out a way -- and they're -- essentially the court said we're not gonna rule on this yet because we'd like to have some original thinking to figure this out.
REHMThat's a pretty unusual move.
GARRETTCan you figure out a way -- very unusual for the court 'cause usually the court says here's a dispute, here's the law, here's the precedent and here is our distillation of the law, the precedent and the facts. In this case, the court said, is there another way? And can you help us find another way? Either that may involve Congress, may involve a regulatory change of the emphasis within in the Affordable Care Act or can private insurers -- which the government says, look, you've got to work through the private insurers.
GARRETTThis is actually the Obama administration saying we have to go through the private sector and the private insurers, not the government. But can you figure out a way to meet the requirement of the law, which is to provide contraceptive care and services, through private insurers, but without forcing these institutions to notify them, pay for it or do so against their objections?
DESJARDINSThe details here are so interesting, Diane. This comes down to a one page document that these organizations need to sign saying we object to having to provide contraceptive coverage. That was an exemption the Obama administration came up with after the Hobby Lobby case. And in the organization, a lot of folks say, well, why don't they just sign that document and say, we object to this coverage? What the organizations are saying here is very important.
DESJARDINSThey're saying, when we sign that document, when we say we object to carrying contraceptive coverage, that triggers automatically that coverage going into place by another health insurer. And we feel, by signing that document, we are causing the very thing that we object to.
GARRETTWell, complicit in that process.
GARRETTAnd that complicity is at the heart of their legal objection.
O'KEEFEThe mere fact that they're asking for this sort of compromise and there actually seems to be a willingness on all sides to do it, again, I just think this is fascinating, how it shows that the court now, in essence, it's almost acting like a civil court. It's trying to bring everyone to some kind of a settlement and not actually making a ruling because they're incapable of doing that.
DESJARDINSWe talk about judicial activism so much.
DESJARDINSThis is judicial mediation, I guess. I'm not sure.
O'KEEFEIt is and it's almost like, as they always claim legislating from the bench, you're essentially enacting a policy through the judges and, you know, Congress could step in and try to codify this compromise at some point. But again, it shows you absent a ninth vote, this is the kind of stuff that's gonna keep happening.
REHMNow, in addition, you've also got the FDA coming out with new rules on abortion, which I found so interesting, Lisa.
DESJARDINSRight. This is a new rule on something called the abortion pill. It used to be called RU486 and the FDA has now said, we think it is safe to use much later in pregnancy, a few week later in pregnancy. It used to be limited to the first seven weeks. Now, the FDA is saying a woman can use this pill to terminate a pregnancy up to the first 10 weeks. They've also made it easier in terms of how many doctors visits the woman must have.
DESJARDINSThis is a very large extension of what is a common way to terminate a pregnancy. A fourth of abortions in this country happen through a medication like this. A lot of people don’t realize. So as much as the conversation this week on abortion has focused on the campaign trail, the truth is, this decision by the FDA is something that will affect both sides of that debate much more, I think, than the words of Donald Trump.
DESJARDINSThis is something that will -- if you're looking from the sort of abortion rights side, this will give more women access, easier access to abortion. If you're looking from the anti-abortion side, this is something that they think is -- could be a major problem.
REHMHas the number of abortions gone down in the last few years?
DESJARDINSYes. It has been going down. That's right.
REHMAnd is that because of the pill?
DESJARDINSNo. There are -- there's a lot of academia trying to figure out why it's going down. That might be one reason. Another reason is the number of teenage pregnancies themselves have gone down. There are some people who think maybe more contraceptive use is affecting this. They're not sure why, but the number has gone down.
REHMLisa Desjardins, she's political director at the PBS NewsHour. We'll take a short break here, and when we come back, we'll get to the campaign and other issues and your calls. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. Our friendly legal court expert at NPR, Nina Totenberg, called. She says, when talking about the labor case that the Supreme Court tied on 4 to 4, it does not go back to the lower court. It failed on a tie vote so the precedent stands. The precedent says, you can charge partial fees to pay only for negotiation. That is, bread-and-butter issues, they are not union dues, they are fair-share fees that pay for bread-and-butter that everyone benefits from.
GARRETTThat's a 9th Circuit Court ruling from 1977, I believe.
GARRETTAnd that precedent now stands. And this case was challenging that, seeking to overturn it. And the fascinating thing about it was, before Scalia's death, based on the arguments and the general orientation of the court, based on those who watched the questions and answers during the hearing, suggested it might have been a 5-4 reversal...
GARRETT...of that precedent.
REHMExactly. So, Nina, thank you, as always, for your clarification. We had a flurry of gay and lesbian legislation and strong reaction this week, Ed. Tell us how and where it started.
O'KEEFEWell, the two big ones that everyone has been focused on primarily are in Georgia and in North Carolina. The governor there in Georgia, Nathan Deal, a Republican who is term limited, vetoed a bill that basically would have allowed people or organizations or churches to deny services that run -- excuse me -- counter to their faith, including same-sex marriage. So if you were a church, you could have said no. If you were a florist who's personally opposed to same-sex marriage, you could deny them the ability to buy flowers from your shop. Shot this down primarily under pressure from the business community.
O'KEEFEOf course, Georgia -- a big corporate hub for Delta, for Home Depot...
O'KEEFE...Coca-Cola, the NFL, Disney and other Hollywood studios all said, we're opposed to this. You know, we will pull our business from the state. The NFL had said that there was a possibility the Super Bowl might not be played in the state at some point in a later date. Disney -- it does a lot of movie producing in the state, thanks to tax credits -- said they'd pull out as well. So the bill was vetoed.
O'KEEFEAnd then down in North Carolina, you had another bill there signed by Pat McCrory, who's the Republican governor up for reelection this year, and basically requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.
REHMWhat does that mean? They have to take a birth certificate into the restroom?
O'KEEFEWell, this was designed to essentially reverse civil rights legislation that had been passed in the city of Charlotte that would allow a transgender person to basically, you know...
DESJARDINSChoose whichever, yeah.
O'KEEFE...choose whichever one to go into. There was concern among some Republican legislators about this. They pushed that bill through pretty quickly and the governor signed it with very little notice. The ACLU and other groups now very upset about this, going to try to challenge it. Again, the business community has stepped in. Bank of America, a major employer in Charlotte, opposed to this. American Airlines, which employs 14,000 people in the state, a big hub there at the Charlotte airport, says they're upset about it as well. He's standing by this, the governor is. Signed he says, quote, "to stop the breach of privacy and etiquette," unquote.
DESJARDINSIt's fascinating. What they did in this law in North Carolina -- and they did it very quickly, they called an emergency session within one day, this was passed and signed by the governor.
REHMWhy? Why? Why an emergency session?
DESJARDINSThis became a concern primarily over bathrooms and primarily over exposure of children in schools, this kind of thing. But we've seen this concern before from the right and we've seen it in the 1980s with the Equal Rights Amendment. That was almost passed but it was blocked in a sense by this argument that, oh, we'll have unisex bathrooms. Now you can argue whether or not that was true. A lot of people say that was a false-flag argument. But in this case, what happened here was based on this rising tide of concern over bathroom usage. And, of course, many progressives in North Carolina think this is ridiculous. But -- and many conservatives are worried about kids in school.
DESJARDINSBut I want to point out, Diane, that this actually goes farther than just bathroom use. What happened in North Carolina is they changed their entire discrimination law in order to do this. They changed it -- now it says that in North Carolina, you cannot discriminate on race, and it adds the word biological in front of the word sex. So that means you -- now it does not -- it does clearly allow for discrimination based on sexual preference or sexual choice on transgender. Now it's opening -- it's saying that we can only outlaw discrimination on biological sex. It's tightening the laws on discrimination.
GARRETTRight. It's a reaction to the cultural either misgivings or hesitancy that are raised by the transgender -- revolution is probably too strong a word -- but transgender identity and its more acceptable conversation in the country now and its application in law, which is new. I mean, we have to acknowledge this is a new conversation our country is having. And progressives were a part of the conversation for a long time. Most of America was not. And there is a gap between understanding...
GARRETT...you talk to your friends about it, there is a general unaware -- I'll just say my friends, they're like, we're not -- what is this all about?
GARRETTWhat is the difference between biology and later-in-life identity and how you recognize yourself.
REHMBut what I want to...
GARRETTAnd the collision with law and culture is showing itself up in North Carolina. And this attempt to place biological definitions is a retrenchment...
REHMBut what I need...
GARRETT...and reaction against that.
REHMWhat I need to understand is, is somebody going to be standing at the restroom door and asking for ID?
O'KEEFEWell, maybe not a law enforcement official. But I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually hear of a case where somebody was sort of standing guard or looking for it at some -- in some neighborhood somewhere in this country.
O'KEEFEI mean, this is also a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling last year that started to legalize same-sex marriage.
O'KEEFEI mean, activists who are opposed to this now realize that the best way to go about enacting laws or policies that at least try to protect people who are opposed to this is to go to the state legislators or go to the city councils or go to the school boards and implement these kinds of changes.
DESJARDINSThis is such an important fault line. Think about what we've been talking about this morning on the show. With the exception of the union case, we've been talking about the FDA and the abortion pill. We've been talking about these transgender regulations. And we've been talking about how America deals with contraception. And these are all issues of sexuality and reproduction. This is the fault line, not just in our politics but in our policy.
REHMAll right. I want to ask about the showdown between the FBI and Apple. It came to an end this week, how?
GARRETTBecause a third party figured it out, as Apple suggested, a third party might be able to figure it out, as the government hoped a third party might be able to figure it out. And the -- this, for the moment, put in abeyance this collision course that the federal government and law enforcement, writ large -- state police departments, local police departments -- and technology firms -- not just Apple, everyone else in the technology world had a stake in this argument -- about what is the acceptable confluence and what are the responsibilities and what does the law require if there is a legitimate investigatory purpose of the government in either a pending law enforcement or terrorism case or post hoc terrorist investigation...
REHMDo we have...
GARRETT...meaning after the fact.
REHM...any idea who that third party or what that third...
GARRETTI personally do not. There are lots of companies and countries claiming that they were the one.
GARRETTThere's a firm in Israel that is claiming that it was the one. Nobody has a vested interest in identifying who the one was. But lots of people have a vested interest in saying they were the one.
O'KEEFEI think what's interesting is there was reports this week of a case in Arkansas, I think it was a murder case, where the prosecutors asked the FBI to use this technology and unlock the suspect's phones and they did it immediately. And that, again, speaks to the warnings that Apple had made, which is, if you do it to us in this case, in this specific terrorism case regarding the San Bernardino incident, what's stopping the Justice Department or any law enforcement agency from starting to do it in any kind of case -- a custody case, a kidnapping case, a murder case? And, sure enough, almost immediately after they announced that this was happening earlier in the week, by midweek we learned that they were doing it somewhere down in Arkansas.
REHMOkay. But if it is done for the good of finding justice, if I may use that phrase, what's the big objection?
O'KEEFEWell, how much time do we have? I mean, you should devote an hour to this.
O'KEEFEYou'd get a lot of calls.
O'KEEFEBut, you know, I -- again, it speaks to the issue of privacy. It speaks to the issue to some extent of copyright, you know, if you're someone who has built this iPhone and the system that goes with it, to be violating it or to be trying to intrude upon it, I mean, there's some legal arguments there. And just the idea that, you know, you have now crossed into a whole new threshold when it comes to what the government can and cannot know about you when it can and cannot access about you.
GARRETTAnd there's a question of, do you give up your privacy if you are a criminal suspect or a terrorist yourself -- you have committed a terroristic act. Have you given up that? So maybe individually you have but this goes to Ed's broader point, which is this is not being asserted only on the basis of an individual rights to privacy, it's being asserted on a corporation's right to proprietary technology innovation.
GARRETTAnd that's the crossroads.
DESJARDINSRight. This goes to government power. I think that's what the objectors are worried about. Sure, you can trust the government in this case. But America wasn't built on a population of people who trusted their ruler.
REHMAll right. And on that note, we are in the midst of a presidential campaign. They're campaigning in Wisconsin before Tuesday's primary and it shows Senator Ted Cruz ahead...
REHM...in that primary by 10 points. Boy, you sure had a lot of commentary about the comments of Donald Trump this week.
GARRETTAbsolutely. It was a incredibly busy week to try to make sense of everything that was going on around the Trump world. I spent all week in Wisconsin, just got back yesterday. Quickly on the politics there and why Wisconsin is important and why it's a different setting for Donald Trump. First of all, this is -- let's just talk about the Republican conversation, because that's what this is. This is -- it's an open primary but it is essentially a Republican conversation in a state that has been roiled with Republican activism for the better part of six years. This is not a sleepy state when it comes to politics and Republicans talking and being active in politics.
GARRETTYou had Scott Walker elected, a recall, a reelection. Everything, statewide initiatives on things around the Walker legislative approach. Very intense. It has a well-developed, articulate and powerful talk radio network in Wisconsin that is well entrenched with the activists and Republican primary voters there. And they're all against Donald Trump. And it is having a material effect on Trump's campaign.
GARRETTHe was ahead when -- before the campaign got really engaged in Wisconsin. He is now at least 10 points behind. I would not be surprised if he lost on Tuesday by 12 or more points. I believe his upper potential as far as delegates is 6 out of 42. They're allocated by congressional district and by a statewide winner. Ted Cruz could get the lion's share of those delegates, vastly complicating Trump's mathematical approach to winning the nomination outright.
REHMBut that's the horse race.
GARRETTThat's the horse race.
REHMWhat are the issues that people in Wisconsin care about?
O'KEEFEWell, it isn't necessarily abortion, or at least the way he was talking about it this week. And I think that's what upsets so many of them. I think, just like everywhere else, it's the economy and concerns with Washington and how it's, you know, whether or not it's really doing the work of the people. I think the other element there in Wisconsin we always forget, Paul Ryan is from there.
O'KEEFEAnd Reince Preibus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee is from Wisconsin. So you have this confluence of activity and characters in the party who are all from there. And the fact that they're against Trump, I think, could very well all come together next Tuesday...
O'KEEFE...and deny him a big win.
REHMHis comments on abortion sure didn't help.
DESJARDINSThat's right. That was -- Chris Matthews sat down Donald Trump and, sparked first by a question from an audience member in a town hall format, they talked about abortion. Chris Matthews said, should a woman be punished if abortion is made illegal? And Donald Trump said he -- in that interview, he said he thought it should be banned. He's since walked that back. Chris Matthews, I think, by my count asked him eight different times to see -- do you think the woman should be punished. In the end, Donald Trump said, yes, she should be punished somehow. Wouldn't say how.
DESJARDINSNow the campaign immediately recognized that this was a misstep. Most conservatives, most in the Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion Movement believe that the woman should not be punished and that it should instead be doctors or anyone who carries out that procedure. So the campaign knew it had a problem. They sent out one statement, then sent out another. Then he reversed himself.
REHMAnd there was a third statement.
DESJARDINSThat's right. That's right.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." He has already had a tough time with women generally.
REHMThat statement's not going to help, Lisa.
DESJARDINSI think that's right. And I think that you see, of course, Planned Parenthood, women's organizations, pouncing on this. They think this is a good moment for them. But I do want to point out, when you look at Trump's numbers with women, his disapproval ratings, it varies by state, sometimes are in the 60s or 70s with women. But that's with all women. When you look at Republican women, it is lower. He is somewhere in the 30 or 40s for disapproval. So I'm watching very closely to see the next poll. Does this affect Republican women? Does this affect his voters?
DESJARDINSAnd one other thing about these abortion comments, Diane, that I think has been overlooked, is it wasn't just that he said, yes, I think women should be punished, but that he made up his mind during that interview. This is a major policy decision and it seemed like he was thinking on the fly, as it was happening, something that it seems his campaign probably regrets.
REHMNow, to what extent is Chris Matthews going to be blamed for pushing, pushing, pushing?
GARRETTThat's what you have to do. It was a serious question. It was a completely logical follow up. And one of the things that's very difficult with Donald Trump is working through that process of follow-up answers.
REHMBecause he doesn't like to give...
GARRETTBecause he doesn't and he is very cagey. He is extremely shroud. And he tried, in this interview...
GARRETT...if you go back to it, he tries to redirect Chris Matthews to get him wrapped around the axle of Chris Matthew's own Catholic faith. And what, well, what do you think about that and are you comfortable with that? Donald Trump, I've dealt with him many, many times. He is a -- I won't say he's a master, but he is very accomplished at redirection and shifting direction to get himself out of uncomfortable places. He didn't this time.
GARRETTAnd to Lisa's point, it was improvisational. And there is a great improvisational theatrics about Donald Trump always. But when you have the pro-life community as rapidly as the pro-choice community condemning a remark, you know something important has happened. And for those in the community that oppose abortion rights, they have never articulated a position that women should be punished -- always clinics or doctors. And they understand or they believe and they articulate the point of view that the woman, from their point of view, is a victim. And for Trump to misunderstand that, to them, signals that his now pro-life or against abortion rights position may simply be political and has no genuine thought behind it.
REHMAll right. And quickly, Ed, Trump's campaign manager charged with battery this week.
O'KEEFEThat's right. Corey Lewandowski now charged with simple battery, a misdemeanor in the state of Florida, where this allegedly happened, punishable with up to $1,000 fine or a year in jail. Lewandowski says he's absolutely innocent of these charges and plans to fight it. There'll be a May 4 court date. This all happened back on March 8 at a press conference there in Florida. Afterward, Trump was making his way through the room, had talked to some reporters. Michelle Fields, this reporter, says she was nudged, whished, pushed, shoved away. A court apparently will take a look at it.
REHMEd O'Keefe of The Washington Post, Lisa Desjardins of the PBS NewsHour, Major Garrett of CBS News, all here to answer your questions after a short break.
REHMAnd welcome back. Let's talk, before we open the phones, about Bernie Sanders, who has been on a winning streak. Ed O'Keefe.
O'KEEFEThat's right. He's done quite well. What did he win last week? I'm losing count, he's done so well. Washington State, Hawaii.
DESJARDINSSix of the last seven.
O'KEEFERight. Polling suggests that he may pull ahead and win in Wisconsin next week. He has caught up to Secretary Clinton in New York and there, while he may not win, the goal is to sort of rob her of a big win. Something that's 60 percent plus in what is her political home state. And his neighboring state, and his home state, if you think about it, because he was born in Brooklyn. It all comes to New York. But he, but he has, you know, he's kept, he's kept her on her toes. And...
REHMBut now isn't there some talk of another debate?
REHMBetween Sanders and Clinton.
DESJARDINSThat's right. In New York, that both sides seem to agree that they will have a debate before the New York vote.
REHMAnd for whom would that be a benefit?
DESJARDINSI guess you'd -- I think the Bernie Sanders people, whenever you're behind, you want more debates. But it depends on how well they do, of course. It depends on who does well in that debate.
GARRETTWhen you're ahead, you don't want to debate, but when someone's catching up on you, guess what? You need one.
GARRETTSo, they both need it. Hillary Clinton needs a debate because the dynamic is shifting beneath her feet. And when that happens and you're the frontrunner, you have to re-engage. You have to prove you're not afraid and you have to get back and remind people why they've supported you all along. And I've always thought, and these, I think these debates, on the Democratic side, have reinforced this. Hillary Clinton does not fade when she debates. She does quite well.
GARRETTThey're a very good venue for her. If I were her campaign, I would say, the more the merrier. Because the net effect for her is generally speaking, positive. And would be, I think, in the case of New York, probably more so.
O'KEEFEYeah. And as an upstate New Yorker, I would put in a good word for upstate and say they should debate up there. And not at...
DESJARDINSNot in Brooklyn?
O'KEEFE...not at the Barkley Center in Brooklyn.
REHMAll right, let's open the phones, first to Emily in Raleigh, North Carolina. You're on the air.
EMILYHi. Thanks so much for having me.
EMILYI grew up in Raleigh, I'm from Raleigh, I live here now and I'm embarrassed for my state this week after the passing of House Bill 2. But there are so many good things happening here with technology and education and the arts that I hope that in November, we can use this issue to see a change in leadership here in North Carolina to get them better press attention in the future.
DESJARDINSRight. I think that that is a real issue and we see that the economics of these situations drive the politics as we saw in Georgia. And I can even take you back to South Carolina and the Confederate Flag. Why was the Confederate Flag brought down in the first place? Because of tremendous economic boycotts. That's a concern that I think the LGBT transgender community is going to bring out more and more in North Carolina.
REHMLet's go to Union City, Indiana. Hi Vick. You're on the air.
VICKThank you, Diane. I like your honesty.
VICKMy question for your guests is what was the best decades for the middle class, when they could have a job, could buy a home, and save money and put their kids through school?
REHMMy guess would be the 50s and 60s.
GARRETTAnd 60s. Post World War II America, when the economic system of the country was not only the most powerful in this country, but globally, when suburbanization and wages rose. And there was a consumer society that met the demands of the post-World War II baby boom era. And one of the things that afflicts our modern politics, our contemporary politics is A, a nostalgia for that time, and a misplaced sense that that was the norm. It was not the economic norm of our country. It was an experiential oddity.
GARRETTWe, as a country, had lived through many, many cycles of boom and bust economic times. Some larger and smaller than others, but a rather constant sense of peril and then rebirth, peril and rebirth. And what the 50s and 60s gave was this kind of idyllic, economically speaking, only economically speaking, 20 years of steadily rising wages.
GARRETTAnd job placement. And prosperity.
REHMAnd home prices.
GARRETTYes, and home prices. Absolutely.
REHMAnd the home prices. Let's go now to Sycamore, Illinois. Hamish, you're on the air.
HAMISHYes, good morning and thank you for taking my call.
HAMISHI -- my question is about the Supreme Court. I'm an independent voter, so I don't go along with any party. But my question is, why is the news media not forcing this issue on the Supreme Court? It's unconstitutional and unlawful and why isn't the Supreme Court themselves battling to get -- to make themselves a whole court?
REHMHasn't Justice Roberts spoken out on this?
DESJARDINSI -- you've caught me off guard on that. I know how the media uncovered that.
O'KEEFEHe did. He did a few weeks before Scalia died, actually. He had made some comments, I believe, in a speech, suggesting that if this kind of thing were to happen, the Senate should hurry up and deal with it. And other scholars had warned about it. We had a -- there was an article we had in the Sunday Outlook section of the Post in January that foretold all of this. And I remember reading it. And it said, we may enter a period in which there is a 4-4 split on the Court for a long time. Check your appeals courts and you'll notice that most of them are now run by Democrats. And people kind of scratched their heads and said, that will never happen.
O'KEEFEA month and a half later, it happened.
REHMOkay. So going to our caller's question.
REHMWhy wouldn't the Court speak out now itself and say, we need to break this tie.
DESJARDINSWell, the Court is not a political body. And the Court does not, in the Constitution, well, ah, you guys got me.
O'KEEFENot by construct.
DESJARDINSYou guys got me.
GARRETTIt's not by construct.
DESJARDINSPerhaps I should put it this way...
O'KEEFEHow many empty phone lines are there?
DESJARDINSI know. I'm having a rough three minutes. But I'll put it this way, the Court is not a legislative body. And in the Constitution, the caller said why is not the media talking about this unconstitutional action, well, the Constitution actually does not have a timeframe for when a President's nomination for the Supreme Court must be voted on. That's not in the Constitution. So we're sort of in a constitutional limbo land.
GARRETTRight, it's not unconstitutional. It is highly unusual and it is, from the minds of the White House and those who support the President, a dereliction of duty, but the Constitution provides the Senate for advise and consent powers as it stipulates and as it directs. And the majority decides. And what is unusual is historically, majorities have never decided to not do anything.
GARRETTThey've decided to have hearings and confirmation and votes.
GARRETTAnd contestation, yes, but they've never decided not to do anything.
O'KEEFEAnd, you know, look, there are a few opportunities every year where the Justices speak and everyone should just keep a close eye on those, because at some point, one of them is probably going to say something. And it would be most relevant and powerful, probably, if it came from Justice Roberts.
REHMI hope so. I hope so.
O'KEEFEChief Justice Roberts. But it could happen.
DESJARDINSBut I'm glad Hamish is keeping the media's feet on the fire. We need to hear that.
REHMAnd here's a point from Twitter and a few have come in like this, regarding the best time for the middle class, maybe for white folks, the 50s and 60s were brutal for blacks, regardless of the growing white middle class.
O'KEEFEThey have a point. They do.
DESJARDINSI think this is what you were...
GARRETTWhat, what, what I was saying, if you look at the economic data at large, for the country at that time, on our historic way of measuring. So, if you were to ask that question in an academic sense, I gave the proper answer. The Twitter reaction is positively right. There was nothing economically, morally, or socially just about the Jim Crow era in the South in this country in the 50s and 60s. And economic opportunities and advancement for minority populations in this country has caught up and has improved throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s and into this new millennia.
GARRETTAll of that is true. That has occurred by legislation, by federal regulation, and by mutual consent, which is an evolution in this country and a positive one at that.
REHMAll right. And let's go to Sam in St. Louis, Missouri. You're on the air.
SAMHi, thanks for taking my call.
SAMI'm a pro-choice Democrat and I see nothing wrong with Trump's view regarding punishing women if abortion were illegal and they sought one. Because it's not a pro-life or pro-choice statement. It's a statement in favor of the rule of law. And not punishing them, to me, makes about as much sense as saying, somebody who hires a hit man to kill somebody, the hitman is the only person who's legally responsible and not the person who hired him. So, you know, I'm not in favor of banning abortion, but I think if you write a law, you should have to live with the consequences.
REHMAll right. Lisa.
DESJARDINSThis is what the Trump campaign is saying that he was trying to say. You can -- but I think that there are two issues here, why this has raised such a fury. Not only did he say women should be punished, but he also said abortion should be banned. So, that might get into an area where we've got Sam on a different side than Trump.
REHMHow did he get from being pro-choice to anti-abortion? When did that transition...
DESJARDINSDonald Trump says it was the birth of one of his children that changed him. And that he saw the baby, and he had a new sense about life. And that he recognized, in his view, that he needed to change his opinion on abortion. Now, of course, there's also back and forth over exactly how that came about, but that's what he says.
REHMThank you. All right, let's go to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We knew we were going to have several calls from North Carolina today. Jean, you're on the air.
JEANI have a comment about Chris Matthews on his interview. He is the only person who's been able to keep Trump on question. He was relentless.
JEANAnd I was cheering aloud in my living room, I'll tell you.
JEANIt made my day.
JEANMaybe others will follow his lead. We'll pass that on to Chris.
O'KEEFEJust quick, I would say, observation, I think part of the reason why that was doable is because he was in a form that he doesn't normally sit for. In front of a live studio audience, live on television, face to face with the guy asking him questions. He too often, has been allowed to take questions by phone and so that makes it very difficult to conduct an interview with him.
REHMHasn't that now been banned?
O'KEEFEDepending on the network. Major's is very good about this...
DESJARDINSKudos to CBS.
O'KEEFE...they insist on face to face interviews and, you know, but he still does it.
DESJARDINSAnd I want to speak up for the News Hour. The reason Donald Trump has not been on the News Hour is because we also will not take a phone interview and we want him to be sitting next to Gwen Eifell or Judy Woodruff when they talk to him.
REHMIt really does make a huge difference.
GARRETTAbsolutely. And one on one, face to face and within a town hall setting also makes a big difference, but CBS This Morning will not take Donald Trump on the phone at all. Face the Nation did early. No more. And never on the evening news. It's a policy that CBS News follows consistently and I'm quite proud of.
REHMAll right. To Donna in Silver Spring, Maryland. You're on the air. Donna?
REHMPlease turn your radio down.
DONNAOkay. Can you hear me?
REHMYeah. Sure can.
DONNAThank you, Diane, for taking my call.
DONNAI -- instead of a question, I have a solution to the transgender problem with the bathrooms. There are bathrooms now that are called family bathrooms and that works great with men and women and the children. And I think what we should do, instead of having women and men, just have unisex bathrooms and reconfigure the bathrooms, the stalls, to make them so you can't see in and get rid of the urinals. And have all the bathrooms just unisex bathrooms.
REHMWhat do you think, Ed?
O'KEEFEIt's -- I've seen it. And then, you know, some communities certainly are comfortable with that. I was at a place in Miami a few weeks ago and noticed that, in the restaurant, actually, that all of them were unisex and, you know, you'll find that everywhere -- or, every so often in different places across the country. And that's potentially one solution, sure.
REHMYou know, isn't there even some suggestion that on all kinds of federal forms, you will stop asking gender.
O'KEEFEOh, they've done that. They've done it on anything from passport applications to the census data. It's now spouse one and spouse two or parent one and parent two. And that was done by the administration over the last eight years.
O'KEEFEIn response to concerns of LGBT activists and people who had petitioned the government.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And let's go to Cincinnati, Ohio. George has been waiting a long time to ask you this question, Major.
GEORGEHey, good morning, Diane.
GEORGEMajor, I just really enjoy your commentary and insight. I want to ask you a quick question. If Wisconsin falls the way it looks like it's going to, I guess it's really two questions, because one, do you think, now, a brokered convention really is likely or it could happen? And two, do you think it has to fall to one of the leading candidates, either Trump or Cruz or do you think that John Kasich really has a chance or perhaps an outside candidate?
GARRETTExcellent questions, George. I think a contested convention after Wisconsin will be, if not a mathematical certainty, a mathematical probability. Because Cruz will gain the lion's share of delegates there. That will complicate Trump's approach to the magic number of 1237 and it will create, around Trump, a question of his wearability. And that's really the next most important phase for Donald Trump. Can you continue this momentum, and after a loss in Wisconsin on favorable terrain, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, can you keep your momentum going?
GARRETTOr will this consolidation of the anti-Trump vote really begin to deplete the momentum you thought was undepletable? The second question is, could somebody else emerge? Well, right now, the convention rules, which can be rewritten, stipulate that to be recognized as a nominee, you have to have won eight states. Who might rewrite those rules? Well, those who are empowered to go to the convention. They will either be Trump or Cruz delegates. Because they've won the most contests. Neither campaign is disposed to having that rule written.
GARRETTBoth campaigns want to keep this eight state rule, because it leaves the options to them...
GARRETTAnd them alone. Leaving open two options. Cruz cutting deals for delegates. Trump cutting deals for delegates. So, the vested interests of Trump and Cruz mitigate against the possibility of that rule being changed and absent that rule change, no one else can be recognized on the floor as a potential nominee.
O'KEEFEI'm in total agreement with Major and having tracked this now a little more closely, and we'll be tracking it in the coming weeks, I can tell you that, you know, this is totally uncharted territory for a lot of these guys. They've gone back and hired some old guns who had to do this in '76 and '80 for Gerald Ford and for Ronald Reagan. Because that's the last time this happened. And in the case of Kasich, George, cause I know all of you in Ohio are very curious about whether you're ever going to get your Governor back.
O'KEEFEHe is looking at about 15 states where he did a tour in 2014 and 2015, pushing for a balanced budget amendment. This was before he was really running for President. And this is places like Arizona, South Carolina, Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, as a way of sort of going to those delegations and saying, if for some reason, that rule 40 changes about the eight states, think of us second. At least. If you're bound in a certain way to somebody in advance, at least keep us in mind. There's an old song, "Keep Me in Mind," and that's essentially what Kasich is singing to these guys.
DESJARDINSI think what's important to keep in mind, too, is that in the past, contested conventions have not worked out well for the nominees in the general.
DESJARDINSYou know, except for maybe 1880. But I think that this kind of comes to this overall theme, which is the Republican Party entered this cycle, trying to be organized and get their nominee early. They tried to game the whole thing, move up the big states, and it's an incredible irony that the exact opposite has happened.
REHMAll right, we'll leave it at that. Lisa Desjardins of the PBS News Hour. Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post. Major Garrett of CBS News. What a long time before the election. Thank you all for being here.
GARRETTThank you so much, Diane.
REHMAnd thanks all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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