METROFOCUS: JULY 11, 2019

After an arrest and investigation, the city is vowing to further crack down on predatory taxi medallion brokers and debt collectors who aim to shake down drivers. New York Times investigative reporter Brian Rosenthal recently joined us to discuss the situation that led some to take their own lives. The cannabis-based product is all the rage for those seeking alternative health treatments without the high pot delivers. Will an upcoming Food and Drug Administration hearing put an end to its availability? Roe v. Wade and the future of a woman’s right to choose may soon be on the SCOTUS docket. ABC Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Dan Abrams will join us with analysis and next steps.

Aired on May 30 & July 11, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' TAXI CAB SUICIDES AND BROKEN DREAMS.

FIND OUT HOW SCORES OF DRIVERS WERE CONNED INTO RECKLESS LOANS THAT COST THEM THEIR SHOT AT THE AMERICAN DREAM.

> CBD, THE CANNABIS BASED PRODUCT IS ALL THE RAGE FOR THOSE SEEKING ALTERNATIVE HEALTH TREATMENTS OUT THE HIGH THAT POT DELIVERS.

WILL AN FDA HEARING BE A BOON OR A BUST FOR THE FAST SELLING ELIXIR THAT SOME CALL A WONDER CURE.

> AND THE SUPREME COURT GETS READY FOR A POTENTIAL SUPREME SHOWDOWN.

WHAT MAY SOON BE ON THE DOCUMENT, ROE VERSUS WADE AND THE FUTURE OF WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHT TO CHOOSE.

DAN ABRAMS IS BACK WITH A REVIEW OF THE BENCH AND WHAT LAYS AHEAD.

> THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

> DROWNING IN DEBT AND SOME EVEN DRIVEN TO SUICIDE.

UNTIL RECENTLY DRIVING A CAB IN NEW YORK CITY WAS VIEWED AS A GATEWAY TO THE MIDDLE CLASS ESPECIALLY IF DRIVERS COULD GET THEIR HANDS ON A COVETED MEDALLION.

BUT DRIVERS TOOK OUT LOANS MANY OF THEM COULD NOT AFFORD.

WHEN UBER AND LYFT TOOK OVER THE STREETS, THEIR VALUE PLUMMETED, DRIVING SOME TO FINANCIAL RUIN AND SOME EVEN TO SUICIDE.

NOW A 'NEW YORK TIMES' INVESTIGATION REVEALS THE REASON FOR THIS MEDALLION MELTDOWN, A MASSIVE LENDING SCAM DATING BACK DECADES, ALSO ALLEGING CORRUPTION AMONG CITY, STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES MEANT TO ENFORCE FINANCIAL LAWS.

JOINING US NOW IS THE REPORTER WHO BROKE THE STORY BRIAN ROSENTHAL.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT WAS A VERY REVEALING REPORT THAT YOU ALL DID AND AN EXTRAORDINARILY IN-DEPTH REPORT.

LET ME START BY PROVIDING SOME CONTEXT FOR SOME OF OUR VIEWERS.

WE TALK ABOUT MEDALLIONS.

WHAT ARE THESE MEDALLIONS AND WHAT'S THE ROLE THEY PLAY IN TERMS OF FOLKS OPERATING TAXIS IN NEW YORK CITY?

SO IF YOU WANT TO OWN A YELLOW CAB AND HAVE IT ON THE STREETS, YOU HAVE TO GET ONE OF THESE MEDALLIONS.

THERE ARE 13,000 OF THEM ORIGINALLY ISSUED BY THE CITY.

ONCE THEY WERE ISSUED THEY COULD BE RESOLD.

ABOUT HALF OF THEM ARE OWNED BY FLEETS, BY BIG CORPORATIONS THAT OWN HUNDREDS OF CABS.

THE OTHER HALF ARE OWNED BY INDIVIDUAL DRIVER OWNERS.

IN THE STORY YOU SHOW DRAMATICALLY THE INCREASE IN THE COST OF THESE MEDALLIONS, TALKING ABOUT NOT THAT LONG AGO ABOUT $100,000 AND THEN A FEW YEARS AGO UP OVER A MILLION DOLLARS.

HOW DOES THAT DRAMATIC INCREASE HAPPEN?

WELL, I TELL YOU HOW IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

IT DIDN'T HAPPEN BECAUSE THE CABS WERE MAKING MORE MONEY.

THAT WAS GOING TO BE MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION BUT THAT'S A GOOD WAY TO START OFF.

THE REVENUE THE CABS WERE MAKING BASICALLY CHANGED.

WHAT CHANGED WAS A FEW THINGS.

FIRST OF ALL, THE CITY STARTED SELLING NEW MEDALLIONS AT AUCTIONS AND THEY STARTED AHEAD OF THOSE AUCTIONS PROMOTING THE SALES BY TAKE ING OUT ADS ON TELEVISION, IN RADIO, IN NEWSPAPERS SAYING THIS WAS BETTER THAN THE STOCK MARKET, THAT THIS WAS A PATH TO A WORRY FREE RETIREMENT.

SO THAT WAS GOING ON.

THEN THERE WERE ALSO PEOPLE WHO WERE MANIPULATING THE PRICE, PEOPLE THAT ALREADY OWNED A LOT OF MEDALLIONS WOULD GO TO THE AUCTION AND PURPOSELY OVERPAY TO BUY A MEDALLION BECAUSE THAT WOULD MAKE EVERYBODY ELSE THINK MEDALLIONS WERE WORTH MORE.

SO THAT WAS GOING ON.

BUT THE BIGGEST FACTOR THAT WE FOUND LEADING TO THIS HUGE PRICE INCREASE WAS ACTUALLY THE LENDING PRACTICES BY THE BANKS AND BY THE INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE LENDING MONEY TO THE PEOPLE THAT WERE BUYING MEDALLIONS.

LET ME GO BACK TO SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU MENTIONED HERE.

IT REMIND ME OF MY DAYS AS A PROSECUTOR AND A DEFENSE ATTORNEY WHERE I WAS INVOLVED IN A NUMBER OF CASES THAT HAD TO DO WITH STOCK FRAUD.

AND WHAT YOU DESCRIBE IN THE ARTICLE IN MANY WAYS SOUNDS LIKE A CLASSIC STOCK MANIPULATION.

SO HLET'S START OFF WITH THE CITY.

WHY DID THE CITY DECIDE WE WERE GOING TO PUT MORE OF THEM ON THE MARKET HERE?

JUST TO MAKE MONEY FOR THE CITY?

AT THE TIME, THIS STARTED IN 2004 UNDER FORMER MAYOR BLOOMBERG.

AT THE TIME HE SAID THAT THE CITY WAS GROWING, MORE PEOPLE NEEDED MORE CABS.

BUT WE FOUND THAT AT THE TIME HE HAD A $3.8 BILLION BUDGET GAP.

AND THIS WAS ONE OF THE WAYS THAT HE WAS TRYING TO FIX IT.

YOU MENTIONED THE CITY.

I REMEMBER SOME OF THESE ADS.

AGAIN, LOOKING AT SOME PARALLELS TO THE STOCK MARKET, SOME OF THEM REMINDED ME OF WHEN YOU HAD COMPANIES THAT ARE GOING TO GO PUBLIC AND THEY'RE OUT ON THEIR DOG AND PONY SHOWS PITCHING THIS SAYING THIS IS A GREAT INVESTMENT, BETTER THAN OTHER THINGS ON THE STOCK MARKET.

HOW SURPRISING WAS IT TO FIND THAT THE CITY'S OUT THERE ADVERTISING TO PEOPLE, THIS IS BETTER THAN THE STOCK MARKET?

IT WAS VERY SURPRISING.

THINK ABOUT IT.

THIS IS THE REGULATORY AGENCY.

I MEAN, IT'S AKIN TO THE REGULATORY AGENCY THAT OVERSEES, YOU KNOW, McDONALD'S TALKING ABOUT HOW GREAT McDONALD'S HAMBURGERS ARE.

I MEAN, IT WAS A VERY UNUSUAL POSITION FOR THE CITY TO BE IN.

THERE WAS DISCOMFORT EVEN WITHIN THE CITY AGENCY IN WHAT THEY WERE DOING.

A LOT OF PEOPLE FELT THIS WASN'T THE RIGHT THING FOR THE CITY TO BE DOING, BUT THEY KEPT DOING IT ANYWAY.

UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU OUTLINED IN TERMS OF SOME PEOPLE DRIVING UP THE PRICE OF THESE FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT, I'M SURE FOLKS WHO READ YOUR ARTICLE AND LISTENING TO OUR CONVERSATION HERE NOW SAYING, I'M NOT UNSYMPATHETIC TOWARD THE FOLKS THAT WENT OUT AND BOUGHT THESE MEDALLIONS, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IF THEY LOOK AND THEY SEE THAT IT USED TO BE $100,000 AND NOW IT'S OVER A MILLION DOLLARS AND THE COST OF RIDING IN A CAR IS NOT GOING UP THAT DRAMATICALLY, THAT WAS JUST A BAD ECONOMIC DECISION FOR THEM.

SO WHAT ARE THE ADVOCATES FOR THE DRIVERS SAYING IN RESPONSE TO THAT SUGGESTION, LOOK, IT'S TERRIBLE THAT YOU'RE IN THE SITUATION, BUT YOU JUST MADE A BAD DECISION?

SO IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE THESE DRIVER OWNERS MADE A BAD DECISION BUT I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THE CONTEXT.

90% OF TAXI DRIVERS IN NEW YORK CITY WERE NOT BORN IN THE UNITED STATES.

THEY CAME OVER TRYING TO ACHIEVE THE AMERICAN DREAM.

THEY CAME INTO A SYSTEM IN WHICH THEY WERE TOLD THAT THE WAY TO ACHIEVE THE AMERICAN DREAM IS TO BUY A MEDALLION AND THEY WERE TOLD BY THE CITY THIS WAS A PATH TO A WORRY FREE RETIREMENT.

THIS WASN'T JUST LENDERS OUT THERE PUMPING UP.

RIGHT.

BUT IT WAS ALSO THE CITY OF NEW YORK SAYING BETTER THAN THE STOCK MARKET.

CORRECT.

AS THE BUBBLE WAS REACHING ITS PEAK, A LOT OF PEOPLE SELLING THE MEDALLIONS AND LENDING THE MONEY WERE ACTUALLY FLEET OWNERS WHO WERE SELLING MEDALLIONS TO THEIR OWN DRIVERS.

THAT'S BASICALLY YOUR BOSS COMING TO YOU WITH A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY.

YOU HAVE A LEVEL OF TRUST IN THAT PERSON AND SO YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO AGREE TO THE DEAL THAT HE IS PROPOSING.

OBVIOUSLY YOUR REPORTING IN THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' HAS GOTTEN A LOT OF ATTENTION HERE.

WE'VE HEARD NOW SOME OFFICIALS SAYING WE WANT TO TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK AT THIS.

WHAT IS TAKING A GOOD HARD LOOK MEAN IN TERMS OF ANYTHING THAT COULD BE HELPFUL FOR THESE FOLKS THAT FIND THEMSELVES UNDERWATER IN TERMS OF THE MONEY THEY BORROW?

IT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

ONE OF THE COMPLICATIONS HERE IS THAT WE DID NOT FIND THAT ANYTHING THAT THE HENLENDERS AN THE PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY WERE DOING WAS NECESSARILY ILLEGAL.

IT MAY WELL HAVE BEEN UNETHICAL OR IMMORAL BUT YOU DIDN'T FIND THERE WAS ILLEGAL CONDUCT TAKING PLACE.

NOT NECESSARILY, YES.

AND ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THAT IS THAT THESE LENDERS CLASSIFIED THESE LOANS AS BUSINESS LOANS, WHICH IN SOME WAYS THEY ARE.

DRIVING A TAXI IS A BUSINESS.

BUT THEY WERE IN MANY WAYS PERSONAL LOANS BECAUSE IT IS ONE PERSON.

IT'S A BUSINESS BUT THE BY WAS THE ONE PERSON.

RIGHT.

ALSO THEY HAD TO GUARANTEE THE LOAN WITH ALL OF THEIR PERSONAL ASSETS AS A CONDITION OF THE LOAN.

THE FACT THAT THEY CLASSIFIED IT AS BUSINESS LOANS MEANS THERE ARE A LOT FEWER RULES AROUND THOSE LOANS.

IN TERMS OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW, THERE ARE INVESTIGATIONS.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'LL FIND.

THE REAL PROBLEM NOW IS THAT THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF DRIVER OWNERS WHO ARE WAY UNDERWATER ON THEIR LOANS AND TO BAIL THEM OUT WOULD COST AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF MONEY.

AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, IT WAS MARVELOUS REPORTING, SUCH A GREAT INDEPTH LOOK AT A DIFFICULT PROBLEM THAT MOST PEOPLE DIDN'T REALIZE EXISTED.

CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES AT THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' FOR DOING A REALLY GOOD JOB ON THIS.

THANK YOU.

TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU CAN READ THE FULL REPORT BY THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

> THREE LETTERS ARE POPPING UP ON COFFEE SHOP SIGNS, BEAUTY PRODUCT LABELS AND EVEN IN DOG TREATS.

CBD.

WHAT IS THIS CANNABIS BASED COMPOUND?

I TOOK A DEEP IDENTIFY INTO THE WORLD TO TAKE A LOOK.

WHEN PATRONS POP INTO 7 LEAF CLOEFR A HEMP BASED WELLNESS STORE IN BROOKLYN THEY'RE OFTEN LOOKING FOR REMEDIES TO PROBLEM.

PAIN MANAGEMENT, AUTO IMMUNE AND ANXIETY, SLEEP IS HUGE TOO.

FOR THE STORE OWNER PLANT BASED WELLNESS IS A FAMILY BUSINESS.

HER PARENTS STARTED A LINE OF HEALTH FOOD STORES IN 1971 CALLED THE HEALTH NUTS.

IN ABOUT 2015 THERE JUST STARTED BEING A LOT OF INTEREST ESPECIALLY FROM PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND PEOPLE WITH DEGENERATIVE DISEASES AROUND CBD AND WHAT IT WAS ABOUT AND IF IT WAS SAFE.

SHE AND HER FAMILY BEGAN DOING RESEARCH, VISITING COLORADO AND CALIFORNIA.

SHE SAYS CBD WAS MORE TABOO THEN.

AFTER ALL, IT COMES FROM HEMP.

AFTER DOING SOME INVESTIGATION AND GOING OUT WEST AND TALKING TO THE EXPERTS, WE JUST KNEW IT WAS SOMETHING WE HAD TO OFFER TO PEOPLE THAT WEREN'T FINDING ANY OTHER SOLUTIONS IN PHARMACEUTICALS OR IN THE PLANT WORLD.

CBD IS ONE OF MORE THAN 100 CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS CALL EED CANABINOIDS.

RESEARCH HAS BEEN DONE TO STUDY THE EFFECT CBD CAN HAVE ON PEOPLE WITH HEROIN USE DISORDER.

HE SAYS CBD WAS FOUND TO CURB CRAVINGS AND ANXIETY.

PATIENTS WHO HAD A HISTORY OF HEROIN USE DISORDER WHO ARE CURRENTLY NOT ACTIVITY ADDICTED, WHEN THEY WERE SHOWN VIDEOS OF HEROIN PARAPHERNALIA OF NEEDLES AND SYRINGES AS OPPOSED TO NEUTRAL VIDEOS TO ELICIT CRAVING, THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD GOTTEN CBD FROM US IN THE STUDY HAD LESS CRAVING THAN THE PATIENTS, THE SUBJECTS WHO HAD GOTTEN A PLACEBO.

INTERESTINGLY, A WEEK LATER THAT EFFECT WAS STILL PRESENT.

HE SAYS THE STUDY'S FINDINGS ARE IMPORTANT BECAUSE CRAVING IS A FUNDAMENTAL ASPECT OF ADDICTION.

IF A SAFE MEDICINE COULD BE FOUND TO HELP ALLEVIATE CRAVING, THAT WOULD BE A MAJOR ADVANCE IN THE TREATMENT OF OPIOID ADDICTION.

THE MECHANISM OF ACTION OF CBD, HOW IT WORKS IN THE BRAIN, REMAINS RELATIVELY UNKNOWN.

BUT ITS POTENTIAL MEDICAL USES ARE PROMISING.

THERE WERE NO ADVERSE EFFECTS FROM THE CBD.

SO FROM AN ADVERSE EFFECT AND SAFETY POINT OF VIEW, CBD HAS A VERY FAVORABLE PROFILE.

IT'S NOT YET READY FOR PRIME TIME.

WE DON'T KNOW THE CORRECT DOSAGES.

WE DON'T KNOW THE EXACT DOSING SCHEDULE.

BUT THERE CERTAINLY IS A SIGNAL HERE THIS MAY BE A HELPFUL MEDICATION, NOT TO REPLACE THE MEDICATIONS WE'RE CURRENTLY USING, BUT THESE CBD COULD BE ADDED INTO THAT REGIMENT AND COULD BE HELPFUL TO GET A BETTER OUTCOME.

HE WARNS THAT THE DEMAND FOR CBD HAS OUTPACED SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE COMPOUND.

HE POINTS TO A RESEARCH LETTER IN THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION SHOWING INACCURACIES IN PRODUCT LABELING AND SAYS THE LENGITIMACY OF SOM PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET IS QUESTIONABLE.

IT'S GETTING TO THE POINT THAT ALMOST EVERYTHING HAS CBD IN IT.

WE THINK IT'S GREATLY EXAGGERATED RIGHT NOW AND DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.

THE MARKET HAS BEEN FLOODED WITH PRODUCTS AND NOT ALL OF EQUAL.

FOR CUSTOMERS LOOKING TO BUY HER WELL RESEARCHED TOP PICKS 7 HE -- HE FOUND CBD GAVE HIM THE SAME ABILITY TO MORE EASILY RELAX AS A GLASS OF WINE.

I FOUND THAT JUST KIND OF LIKE A GUMMY OR A MINT OR SOMETHING WAS A REALLY NICE WAY TO TAKE THE EDGE OFF, NOT IN A WAY THAT FELT LIKE I WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE BUT JUST THAT I WAS A BIT RELAXED.

CBD WAS TAKEN OFF THE LIST OF SCHEDULE ONE DRUGS IN DECEMBER 20 2018.

BUT THE LEGALITY REMAINS A CONFUSING GRAY AREA.

THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH INFORMED RESTAURANTS THEY CANNOT SELL CBD INFUSED FOOD OR DRINK ITEMS.

THE U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION HAS ADVISED IT'S UNLAWFUL TO ADD CBD TO FOOD OR DRINK.

WE ARE CURRENTLY INFORMING BUSINESSES IN NEW YORK CITY ABOUT THIS REGULATION AND HAVE IMPLEMENTED AN EDUCATIONAL PERIOD TO HELP THEM ACHIEVE COMPLIANCE.

THE BAN IS SET TO TAKE EFFECT THIS SUMMER UNLESS FEDERAL REGULATORS DEEM CBD OKAY FOR FOOD AND DRINK CONSUMPTION.

THE FDA WILL HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING ON MAY 31st.

THERE'S ALL THESE INTRICACIES IN OPERATING THAT YOU KIND OF HAVE TO BE ABREAST OF IF YOU WANT TO RUN A BUSINESS.

BUT THAT'S WHAT RUNNING A BUSINESS IS.

SHE SAYS IF RULES CHANGE TO THE POINT WHERE SHE CAN'T OPERATE HER BUSINESS, THEN SHE WON'T.

BUT SHE DOESN'T THINK THAT WILL HAPPEN.

AS FOR BEING ON THE FOREFRONT OF SOMETHING THAT MAY LEAVE PEOPLE SCRATCHING THEIR HEADS, SHE'S NOT WORRIED ABOUT THAT EITHER.

MY FAMILY HAS BEEN IN KIND OF A CONTROVERSIAL INDUSTRY FOR 50 YEARS.

YOU HAVE TO THINK WHEN THEY STARTED THERE WAS NO ORGANICS OR HEALTH FOOD.

IT SEEMS NATURAL NOW BUT IT WASN'T INTUITIVE.

IT'S THE SAME THING WITH THIS.

STATES BOTH RED AND BLUE ARE TAKING UP AN ISSUE THAT'S DIVIDED THE COUNTRY FOR DECADES, ABORTION.

EARLIER THIS YEAR IN NEW YORK STATE ENACTED STRONG NEW LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR ABORTION RIGHTS.

STATE LEADERS SAY THE MOVE WAS NEEDED SHOULD THE SUPREME COURT DECIDE TO OVERTURN ROE VERSUS WADE, THE LANDMARK CASE THAT ESTABLISHED FEDERAL PROTECTIONS FOR THE PROCEDURE BACK IN 1973.

BUT IT'S A MUCH DIFFERENT STORY IN MANY OTHER STATES INCLUDING DOWN SOUTH WHERE STATES LIKE ALABAMA RECENTLY PASSED LEGISLATION EFFECTIVELY OUTLAWING ABORTION ALL TOGETHER.

THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' REPORTS THAT THE NATIONAL RACE TO PASS NEW LAWS STARTED LAST YEAR WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP MADE JUDGE BRETT KAVANAGH HIS SUPREME COURT PICK.

SOME BELIEVE HE MAY WELL BE A CRUCIAL FIFTH VOTE AS THIS FIGHT PLAYS OUT.

FOR MORE WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE BACK WITH US DAN ABRAMS.

ABC CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT AND THE COAUTHOR OF THE BOOK 'THEODORE ROOSEVELT FOR THE DEFENSE' THE COURTROOM BAT TTLE TO SAFE HIS LEGACY.

LET'S TALK SOME CONSTITUTIONAL AND POLITICAL BACKGROUND IF WE CAN HERE.

IT'S OFTEN SAID THAT A PRESIDENT, THEIR GREATEST LEGACY MAY WELL BE THE SUPREME COURT.

WHAT'S MEANT BY THAT AND HOW IS THAT PLAYED OUT FOR US IN THE PAST?

THERE ARE A FEW AREAS THAT A PRESIDENT HAS THE SOLE POWER TO INFLUENCE SOMETHING AS MUCH AS THE PICKS TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT.

YES, THERE'S SENATE CONFIRMATION, BUT IT IS REALLY HIS CHOICE.

AND IT CAN FUNDAMENTALLY SHAPE THE DIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY.

NOW, SO FAR WE HAVEN'T HAD ONE OF THESE FUNDAMENTAL GAME-CHANGING SUPREME COURT APPOI APPOINTMENTS.

THERE'S BEEN A SLOW EVOLUTION.

THE COURT IS MORE CONSERVATIVE TODAY THAN IT WAS 25 YEARS AGO.

BUT STILL WE'RE WAITING FOR THAT BIG SWITCH, WHICH IS CONSERVATIVE APPOINTED IN PLACE OF LIBERAL THAT FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGES THE BALANCE OF THE COURT.

AND THE COURT HAS NEVER BEEN SO DIVIDED IN TERMS OF THESE 5-4 DECISIONS.

SO THOSE PICKS MATTER MORE THAN EVER.

IN THE LAST TEN YEARS THE PICKS HAVE BECOME EVEN MORE BECAUSE OF THAT 5-4 DIVIDE.

AS WE KNOW, EVEN A PRESIDENT'S SIGNATURE LEGISLATIVE SUCCESS CAN BE OVER TURNED.

YEP.

ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU HAVE A NEW CONGRESS COME IN.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICES APPOINTED FOR LIFE.

THEY'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

IT'S TRUE.

WE TALK ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY, THE PRESIDENT HAVING ENORMOUS POWER.

IT'S TRUE.

BUT YOU'RE RIGHT, IT'S TEMPORARY.

YOU CAN HAVE A LEGACY THAT LASTS FOR 40 YEARS.

AS I MENTIONED, ROE VERSUS WADE 1973 AND JUDICIAL NOMINEES ARE OFTEN IF NOT ALWAYS ASKED ABOUT THE NOTION OF LEGAL PRECEDENT.

YOU AND I KNOW THE TERM IT STANDS DECIDED.

AND I SUSPECT THAT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT THINK, WELL, IF IT'S BEEN DECIDED YOU CAN'T UN-DECIDE IT.

NO.

EXPLAIN THAT TO US.

THEY CAN DO WHATEVER THEY WANT.

THE PRINCIPLE THAT IS APPLIED HAS BEEN YOU HAVE RESPECT FOR PREVIOUS DECISIONS.

AND THE REASON FOR THAT IS SO THAT YOU DON'T HAVE THE SAME SITUATION THAT YOU HAVE IN THE POLITICAL WORLD WHERE YOU GET A NEW PRESIDENT IN AND SUDDENLY THE WORLD CHANGES.

THE POINT IS THAT WHEN IT COMES TO SOMETHING LIKE THE COURT WHERE YOU WANT A LEVEL OF DEPENDABILITY, YOU WANT A LEVEL OF CONSISTENCY AND YOU WANT RESPECT FOR PREVIOUS DECISIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE.

BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN JUSTICES WHO ARE ON THE COURT RIGHT NOW WHO HAVE BASICALLY SAID I'M NOT REALLY THAT CONCERNED.

JUSTICE THOMAS BEING ONE OF THEM.

WITH WHAT THE PRECEDENT IS.

IT SEEMS THAT JUSTICE GORSUCH IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE PART OF THAT BLOC AS WELL.

BUT I THINK THOSE WHO THINK ROE VERSUS WADE IS GOING TO GET OVERTURNED ARE MISTAKEN, MEANING, THIS IS WHY THE ALABAMA LAW, I THINK, IS PROBLEM FOR PRO LIFE NOT PRO CHOICE.

A LOT OF PEOPLE MIGHT FIND THAT UNUSUAL.

IT'S THE HARSHEST LAW IN THE COUNTRY.

NO GAMES.

NO WE'RE DOING THIS TO PROTECT THE MOTHER.

WE'RE DOING THIS ENSURE THEY HAVE HOSPITALS.

THERE'S NO EFFORT TO WINK AND NOD HERE.

THIS IS SAYING WE ARE BANNING ABORTION, PERIOD.

TH UP TO THIS POINT THERE'S ALWAYS BEEN ARGUMENTS LIKE, WELL, COME ON, CONSENT ON THE PART OF PARENTS OR SHOULD THERE BE CONSENT OF A HUSBAND OR MAKING SURE NO ONE IS GETTING AN ABORTION BASED ON THE RACE OR SEX OR GENDER OF THE CHILD, ET CETERA.

THERE IS ANOTHER SIDE TO ALL OF THAT.

SO IT ALLOWS THOSE WHO OPPOSE ABORTION TO SAY THAT WE ARE JUST IMPOSING WHAT'S CALLED AN UNDUE BURDEN.

THOSE MAGIC WORDS.

THE COURT CASE RECENTLY SAID THERE CAN BE SOME RESTRICTIONS AS LONG AS THEY DON'T CREATE AN UNDUE BURDEN.

RIGHT.

THE QUESTION BECOMES WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.

THAT'S WHY YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE LITIGATION.

PEOPLE OFTEN SAY WHY ISN'T THIS SETTLED AND THE ANSWER IS WHAT'S AN UNDUE BURDEN.

ALABAMA IS NOT PRETENDING.

SO IT'S THE KIND OF CASE WHERE EVEN PAT ROBERTSON SAYS, YOU KNOW, THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR.

WHEN PAT ROBERTSON SAYS IT'S GONE TOO FAR, THERE'S A REASON.

HE GETS IT.

HE KNOWS IT'S A POSSIBLE PROBLEM FOR THEM.

SO THE MORE DANGEROUS CASES FOR THE PRO CHOICE SIDE ARE THE ONES THAT WILL JUST CHIP AWAY SLOWLY, MAKE IT HARDER AND HARDER AND HARDER FOR WOMEN THE GET ABORTIONS IN PARTICULAR STATES.

YOU OFTEN HEAR PEOPLE INVOLVED IN LITIGATION SAY, OKAY, WE'RE TAKING OUR CASE TO THE SUPREME COURT AS IF EVERY C CASE GETS TO GO TO THE SUPREME COURT.

WHAT'S THE REALITY IN TERMS OF HOW OFTEN CASES ACTUALLY GET TO THE SUPREME COURT AND WHAT IS IT THAT DRAWS THE JUSTICES' ATTENTION TO MAKE THEM SAY, OKAY, WE WANT THIS ONE.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF CASES THE COURT WILL SAY WE'RE NOT HEARING IT.

THAT MEANS THE LOWER COURT OPINION IS EFFECTIVELY AFFIRMED.

THE NUMBER LAST YEAR MIGHT HAVE BEEN AROUND 10,000 APPLICATIONS AND THEY HEARD 70 CASES.

THERE'S GOING TO BE A NUMBER OF AT LEAST -- I SHOULDN'T SAY NUMBER.

THERE'S GOING TO BE A BIG ABORTION DECISION IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS.

IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO HAPPEN.

WHICH OF THESE CASES IT'S GOING TO BE, THERE ARE ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT STATE LAWS, DIFFERENT RESTRICTIONS.

MY GUESS IS THEY'LL COMBINE THEM TO SOME DEGREE AND MAYBE IMPLEMENT A DIFFERENT STANDARD.

BUT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT THERE WAS A LOUISIANA CASE RECENTLY WHERE THE LOWER COURT ACTUALLY RULED THAT A VERY TOUGH LOUISIANA LAW WAS OKAY TO IMPLEMENT.

SO TRIAL COURT SAID NO GO.

APPELLATE COURT SAID WE DON'T THINK IT'S AN UNDUE BURDEN.

AND THE SUPREME COURT ISSUED A STAY, MEANING, ENOUGH OF THE JUSTICES BASICALLY SAID WE'RE GOING TO HOLD OFF ON LETTING THEM IMPLEMENT THIS LAW.

IT WAS ROBERTS AND THE FOUR LIBERALS AND EVEN KBRETT KAVANAH SAID WHILE HE WOULDN'T NOT HAVE GRANTED THE STAY, HE WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT THE BURDEN WOULD BE.

DO I THINK THAT KAVANAUGH IS GOING TO BE A PRO CHOICE JUSTICE?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

BUT WHEN IT COMES TO OVERTURNING ROE VERSUS WADE, I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE ROBERTS AND I THINK KAVANAUGH WOULD BE MORE RELUCTANT THAN SOME PEOPLE THINK TO PURELY OVERTURNING ROE VERSUS WADE.

THE ALABAMA CASE.

YES.

OR ANY OF THESE CASES TO BASICALLY SAY WE'RE GOING TO IGNORE ROE VERSUS WADE FROM NOW ON AND STATES CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT.

WE ALWAYS LEARN A LOT MORE WHEN WE CHAT WITH YOU ABOUT THESE THINGS.

WE COULD TURN THIS AROUND AND I COULD BE ASKING YOU AND YOU'D KNOW IT BETTER.

YOU AND I HAVE DONE THAT BEFORE.

PLEASURE AS ALWAYS.

AGAIN, I WANT TO MENTION GREAT BOOK 'THEODORE ROOSEVELT FOR THE DEFENSE' THE COURTROOM BATTLE TO SAVE HIS LEGACY.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY -- ♪

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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