The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 06/25/15

Linda Greenhouse, E.J. Dionne, Russ Sullivan, Jeff Bingaman

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, tomorrow in South
Carolina, it`s going to be really quite an emotional day obviously –

MADDOW: It`s going to be an emotional day, it`s going to be a long day of
services, and that`s going to be very intense.

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: President Obama has been winning all week in the Senate, in the
house and today in the Supreme Court where Chief Justice gave him a big win
on Obamacare over Republicans who have tried for the past five years to
dismantle that law.


declared that in America, healthcare is not a privilege for a few, but a
right for all. The setbacks, I remember clearly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you are adamantly opposed to any federal
healthcare reform, would you raise your hand?




Look at how this bill is written. Can you say it was done openly?

scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.

BOEHNER: Struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people – hell no,
you can`t!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This should not be passed by anyone unless they eat it.




REPRESENTATIVES: The bill is passed.



the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a big – deal –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: History will be made at the Supreme Court as the nine
justices weigh in on the signature achievement of Barack Obama`s

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five justices of the Supreme Court agree it`s
constitutional because it`s a tax.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And Obamacare is an absolute disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Texas Senator Ted Cruz versus the world.

CRUZ: We should fund every bit of the government, every aspect of the
government, except for Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cruz`s strategy, defunding Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, a lot of folks have been talking about our new
healthcare enrollment website.

OBAMA: Let`s face it, we got a problem. Let`s say it hasn`t worked the
way it`s supposed to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How it`s been crashing and freezing and shutting down
and stalling and not working and breaking and sucking.


OBAMA: The setbacks I remember clearly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today in a landmark 6 to 3 decision, the Supreme
Court voted to uphold nationwide subsidies.

OBAMA: Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken
this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court,
the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.


O`DONNELL: This is the biggest winning week for President Obama in his
second term and it`s only Thursday.

He won a big legislative victory on international trade, securing fast
track negotiating authority that will allow him to complete negotiations on
the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill and the president won big in the
Supreme Court today, preserving his presidency`s most important domestic

Health insurance subsidies for six and a half million people in 34 states
came down to the court`s interpretation of six words, “an exchange
established by the state.”

And whether Congress intended those words to also mean states where the
federal government runs the health insurance exchange.

Writing for the majority of six on the court, Chief Justice John Roberts
said, “while the meaning of the phrase an exchange established by the state
may seem plain when viewed in isolation, such a reading turns out to be
untenable in light of the statute as a whole.”

This was the scene in the Oval Office after the ruling was announced and
shortly after that picture was taken, President Obama went to the Rose


OBAMA: And today after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken
this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or
repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the
Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

Because of this law and because of today`s decision, millions of Americans,
who I hear from every single day, will continue to receive the tax credits
that have given about eight in ten people who buy insurance on the new
marketplace as the choice of the healthcare plan that cost less than a $100
a month.

This is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political
talking points. This is reality. We can see how it is working. This law
is working exactly as it`s supposed to.

In many ways, this law is working better than we expected it to. For all
the misinformation campaigns, all the doomsday predictions, all the talk of
death panels and job disruption, for all of the repeal attempts, this law
is now helping tens of millions of Americans.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Russ Sullivan who served as Staff Director of
the Senate Finance Committee during the drafting and the passage of the
healthcare law.

Also with us, E.J. Dionne, an opinion writer for “The Washington Post” and
an Msnbc analyst, and joining us Linda Greenhouse, a journalist in
residence at the Yale Law School and a former “New York Times” Supreme
Court reporter.

Linda Greenhouse, your reaction to the Supreme Court`s decision today.

LINDA GREENHOUSE, JOURNALIST: Well, I think when the – when the President
said this is reality, that was the reaction of the majority of the Supreme
Court, I think that`s what really turned this case.

You know how Chief Justice Roberts doesn`t like the Affordable Care Act,
which we are now calling SCOTUS care as Justice Scalia did, Justice Kennedy
who joined him in the majority certainly doesn`t like the Affordable Care

We know that from what he wrote three years ago, but they stared reality in
the face. They stared, I think in the face of disaster for the Supreme

Had the Supreme Court in this very flimsy, cobbled up, phony piece of
litigation disabled the law from serving these millions of people. It was
just a fascinating thing to see where reality trumps ideology at this

O`DONNELL: And E.J. Dionne, it strikes me as a very conservative opinion
in the sense that the chief was simply saying, look, here are our
guidelines for these kinds of situations.

And I am following them very carefully. And as Linda pointed out in
something she`s written today, Chief Justice Roberts used Scalia`s own
words against him from previous opinions.

I want to read a couple of those, where Justice Roberts quotes Scalia
saying, “the words of a statute must be read in context and with a view to
their place in the overall statutory scheme.”

That was the argument that the chief was making today. He also said, and
this is again quoting Scalia, “a provision that may seem ambiguous in
isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory scheme.”

There was Justice – Chief Justice Roberts using just the boilerplate as we
understand it about how you interpret ambiguous statutes.

think one of the reasons Scalia`s dissent may have been so angry is, Scalia
in many ways was dissenting from Scalia.


DIONNE: Because –


DIONNE: He had written those things both in earlier decisions and also in
other writings in his book. And by the way, I am – I am an uneducated
person, I have never heard of jiggery-pokery.

He accused the majority of engaging in interpretive jiggery-pokery and said
their arguments were applesauce. But you know, you`re right, this is
classic court deference to the legislative branch.

Justice Roberts wrote in – he wrote in every case, we must respect the
role of the legislature and take care not to undo what it has done.

And I think there was a real fear that the conservative majority here might
do the very thing that Justice Roberts said they shouldn`t.

You could argue the court did that in the citizens-united case undoing
years of law on campaign finance. You could say they did it again on the
Voting Rights Act.

But this time, as Linda said, this was such a flimsy case that if the court
really would have brought unbelievable discredit on itself, and really I
think threatened its own legitimacy if it had tossed Obamacare on this –
on this reading of those few words.

O`DONNELL: Russ Sullivan, first of all, congratulations, you must be
breathing easy tonight. You were overseeing the staff on the Senate
Finance Committee drafting this language, the legislative council drafting
the language.

There was another committee involved in the Senate, a lot of this language
got merged over in Harry Reid`s office and somewhere in that hallway
between the Finance Committee and Harry Reid`s office, this error occurred.

And it seems very plainly, I mean, anyone who`s been around legislation can
recognize it as a drafting oversight, a drafting error. And the Supreme
Court figured that out, which seem to me to be a pretty easy thing to
figure out.

absolutely, Larry.

The Senate, which is where this provision emanated from because the
language – particularly this tax credit language was the Senate language
which was signed into law after President Kennedy died and the house agreed
to pass it.

Was the discussion of a number of senators – all really – all hundred
senators for months and months.

Not once during that time did I ever hear a Senator, Republican or Democrat
state that they believed that the states should decide whether these
individuals and their states would give the tax credit or not.

That simply was not the intent from the original proposals that Senator
Baucus and Senator Harkin and others put out. And it were debated openly
and publicly for months.

O`DONNELL: And Russ, let`s be frank about it. This bill was passed in the
messiest way any major piece of legislation has ever made it through the

First going through normal procedures, and then in a panic move, ripping
half of it out and jamming that through in reconciliation.

That was all unprecedented, untried maneuvers before, and that`s exactly
where you are likely to get, in fact, at 2:00 in the morning, drafting
errors like this, important ones because this was an important drafting
error slipping in there.

SULLIVAN: That`s certainly –


SULLIVAN: True, Larry, but I would point out that this particular tax
credit provision and its structure were not part of the reconciliation
provision that was the second bill passed that accommodated some of the
house concerns.

O`DONNELL: Right, but not to get too tied up in it, the problem with doing
it through the reconciliation is, once you were passing that one, that bill
couldn`t reach over and change anything that was in the other part.

So you had these two different bills and then they couldn`t really talk to
each other legislatively as they were – they were moving through. But
Russ, we can go on and on about that for hours –


O`DONNELL: And Linda –

GREENHOUSE: If I could – if I could –

O`DONNELL: Good, Linda, the point that we`ve always seen in these
situations before is the Congress recognizes things like this within a few
months and they always used to pass these bills called technical

Where they – and, you know, with that sentence, that should be fixed a
little bit. And even people who voted against the bill originally would
come along and vote for the technical correction because they just thought,
well, it should be at least technically what they intended.

GREENHOUSE: Well, I think we`re getting a little hung up on, you know, the
specific language. I think what was so strong about the Chief Justice`s
opinion is that he steps back from that and looks at the statute as a

It doesn`t –




GREENHOUSE: How messy the process was.


GREENHOUSE: And you know, one of the interesting ironies of the way this
case comes out is that, of all the members of the court, it`s Justice
Scalia who always says don`t bother me by talking about the legislative
history and what happened in committee and who said what and blah-blah-
blah, just give me the statute.

And as Chief Justice quoted the Scalia opinions, give me the statute as a
whole. Give me the statute as a coherent whole. And that`s the basis on
which I`ll interpret it and that`s exactly what the Chief Justice`s
majority did today.

O`DONNELL: And Linda, to stay with your point that you made earlier that
the chief is no fan of this law. I think a lot of people might be
misinterpreting how much depth he went into in describing exactly how the
law works.

The way I read that is, he is doing that to explain to Scalia this is why
we cannot use these words over here to determine the totality of the bill.

GREENHOUSE: Well, I think that`s right. He`s explained – maybe he is
explaining it to himself, but –


GREENHOUSE: Thinking though, one interesting thing is that the briefing,
the number of friends of the court briefs that came in the interval between
last November, which is when the court very surprisingly reached out and
grabbed this case and put it on their docket.

And the time of the argument this Spring, dozens of briefs came in. And I
think it really – these briefs really provided an education for the court
about why those five words, you know, was it an error? Was it not an error?

I mean, that really doesn`t matter. The – what the briefs did was to
educate the justices about what this law is about. And why it matters and
who it matters to.

It matters to the business community, it matters to the insurance industry.
It matters to the Catholic healthcare industry, they filed a brief with the
capital hospital system.

You know, wide range of people from this – some red states governors filed
a brief. So, you know, there was a real educational process that went on,
and I think that was reflected in the Chief Justice`s opinion.

O`DONNELL: All right, a quick break. Don`t anyone move, we`re going to be
right back with one of the senators who was there at the creation of
Obamacare. He will join us.

And later, a couple who had to wait 50 years to get married.


O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush versus Donald Trump in the presidential debate stage
just got much more interesting today, thanks to a new Hampshire poll and
Chief Justice Roberts.


ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: Well, Justice Roberts is a disaster.

He was put there by Bush, Jeb Bush actually wanted him to get that position
and Justice Roberts is the one that gave us Obamacare.

It should be called Roberts Obamacare. Because a year ago, if you
remember, the original, he voted shockingly in favor of Obamacare. Now
he`s done it again.


O`DONNELL: So now, Obamacare is Jeb Bush`s fault, according to Donald
Trump. Jeb Bush has not replied to Trump, who is now running second to
Bush in the latest New Hampshire primary poll.

More on President Obama`s winning week next.



OBAMA: If the partisan challenge to this law had succeeded, millions of
Americans would have had thousands of dollars worth of tax credits taken
from them.

For many, insurance would have become unaffordable again. Many would have
become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone`s premiums could have gone
up. America would have gone backwards.

That`s not what we do.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, former Democratic Senator from New Mexico Jeff
Bingaman who served on the Senate Finance Committee and helped develop the
Affordable Care Act.

And Senator Bingaman, you were on the Health Education Labor Committee, the
other senate committee that was involved in drafting the two packages that
ended up into the bill, and so, you saw every angle on this thing.

I assume you were not surprised that the Supreme Court figured out what you
were trying to do.

surprised and I think Chief Justice Roberts said it well that Congress was
trying to reform the markets, it wasn`t trying to destroy them.

And clearly the interpretation that Justice Scalia was advocating to the –
on the court would have substantially destroyed markets for healthcare in
many states.

O`DONNELL: And Linda, I just want to go back to you on this. That
although the chief went on at length about those kinds of details about
what would happen, it was all done in service to his legal argument of –
and his position of finding the – basically the structural integrity of
the bill required that it`d be interpreted the way he did.

GREENHOUSE: Right, as you pointed out earlier, this is really conventional
statutory interpretation.

And you know, the one – the one vulnerability, I think, that there was to
the case, is you know, the court might have said, OK, it`s just a statute.

It`s not the constitution, the previous healthcare case was a
constitutional case. You know, and if Congress doesn`t like the way it`s
turned out, Congress can fix it.

That would have been a very cynical move because we know that the way
Congress is set up right now, there`s not a chance in the world that they
could – the two houses could get together and pass something that would
have been a fix.

In fact, many Republicans on the Hill were rather terrified at the notion
that it would be thrown back to them. So, this was really a conservative
stance by a conservative judge looking at how you interpret a statute.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something that President Obama said today
about how Obamacare is different from Social Security or Medicare. You
don`t get a card that says Obamacare. Let`s listen to why he said that.


OBAMA: Across the country, there remain people who are directly benefiting
from the law but don`t even know it. And that`s OK.

There`s no card that says Obamacare when you enroll. But that`s by design.
For this has never been a government takeover of healthcare despite cries
to the contrary.


O`DONNELL: Senator Bingaman, has that turned out to be one of the
political weaknesses of Obamacare as it works out here in the country?

Is it there is no card, no one is walking around with a card that says, oh,
this is how I got this.

BINGAMAN: No, I think that is one of the political weaknesses of it, and
clearly, there are continued pressures to increase cost in healthcare and
of course, all of that is blamed on Obamacare at this point.

Even though I think it`s pretty clear that Obamacare is reducing any cost
growth that might have occurred. But there`s very little credit given to
the legislation for a lot of the good things that it contained and has

O`DONNELL: And Russ Sullivan, I think we all remember when President
Clinton was trying to do this and he gave that address to a joint session.

That I know Senator Bingaman was attending – where he held up a card, you
know, saying we pass this healthcare law and you`ll all get this card and
everyone would have known where their health insurance was coming from.

In any of the conceptual discussions of how this was going to work, was
that issue ever raised? How are people out there going to know that they`re
getting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act?

SULLIVAN: It was not the focus in the Senate. The focus was on how to
design a program that will help employers, will help individuals, and will
help the federal government in its budget.

And it was not about selling the program. In fact, the Democrats probably
lost part of that battle over how the bill became to be characterized.

O`DONNELL: And E.J., it contains this other component which is largely
invisible to consumers that Senator Bingaman just mentioned.

That – and that is that the insurance rates and your insurance costs, and
there is the argument that well, this Affordable Care Act is saving you
money on your insurance costs, but they are going up.

And so the argument is simply, they would be going up higher if it were not
for this legislation. And that`s just a really tough political case to

DIONNE: And you can never make that political case. And I think the other
difference, say, with Social Security or Medicare is that all seniors, base
– or virtually all seniors are eligible for those programs.

Whereas Obamacare is targeted to the large number but a minority of
Americans who don`t have health insurance.

So there are an awful lot of Americans surround – probably all of us on
this panel or who have healthcare in some other way.

Now, there are particular benefits for Obamacare that accrue to everybody
like there are no more lifetime limits on your insurance.

You can`t be turned down for having pre-existing conditions, but most
people don`t know about those things.

And so it`s always been – there have always been a lot of different
reasons why it`s a tough sell. And because they were trying to run it
through the private market system, it was very complicated.

And complicated legislation is hard to sell.

O`DONNELL: And Senator Bingaman, politicians, when they`re doing something
of benefit, always want to figure out the way to get a specific credit.

The crudest version of it we see in road building projects all the time,
where you see the governor putting his name right out there on a sign,
taking credit for repaving this road.

But it looks like that`s the part of this that – it could never quite be
figured out, is how down the road would the Democrats and the people who
supported it be getting credit for this?

BINGAMAN: Well, I think Russ Sullivan`s right that, that that really
wasn`t the focus and that`s probably a deficiency in the thinking that went
on at the time.

But that`s very true. Not enough was considered about how do you sell this
to the American people? How do you persuade people that this is good for
the country?

That this, in fact, will reduce the growth and the cost of healthcare for
everybody? And I`m convinced myself that it accomplished that to a
substantial extent, but people don`t know it.

O`DONNELL: Linda Greenhouse –


O`DONNELL: Quickly before we go, I`d like to get your reaction to the
court`s other very important decision today that it announced about the
Fair Housing Act and basically supporting – how the courts supported it?

GREENHOUSE: In a way, yes, in a way, this was almost a more surprising
outcome than the upholding of the Affordable Care Act.

This case questioned whether the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which is one of
the major civil rights statutes in the country can be applied when the
claim is not one of intentional discrimination in housing policy or housing

But rather a program or policy that has a disparate impact, a racially
disparate impact. And I won`t get very technical about it, but basically
the court and an opinion by Justice Kennedy preserved that kind of claim
under the Fair Housing Act in a – in a narrow way.

I mean it`s going to be tougher to prove those claims than it was before.
This is not a 100 percent win on the civil rights side, but it had given
the appearance – this case had given the appearance that it could be –
could have been a 100 percent loss.

And so, net-net, it was another good day for the Democrats and for the
administration you might say.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Justice Kennedy`s opinion said “the court acknowledges
the Fair Housing Act`s continuing role in moving the nation toward a more
integrated society.”

Linda Greenhouse, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and Senator
Bingaman, great to see you again, thanks for joining us tonight.

BINGAMAN: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Coming up next, Ezra Klein will join us to discuss President
Obama`s win with the Supreme Court and his big win in Congress on the
Pacific Trade agreement.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It has been a week of wins for
President Obama in the Supreme Court and Congress. The Senate approved –


– Fast-track Trade Promotion Authority yesterday, which will allow the
President to join with 11 foreign countries to form the transpacific
partnership if those negotiations are successful.

The Senate also approved Trade Adjustment Assistance for American workers
who might lose jobs as a result of the new trade agreement. And the Senate
approved the African Growth and Opportunity trade bill.


The House of Representatives passed Fast-track Authority last week. Two
weeks ago, House Democrats voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance even
though that is a revered Democratic Party accomplishment, first enacted
under President Kennedy.

House Democrats cynically voted against one of their most important
programs simply as a tactical exercise, a tactic that failed. Today, in
the House, –


– Democrats reversed themselves completely and voted overwhelmingly in
favor of Trade Adjustment Assistance, with the final vote being 286 in
favor, 138 opposed.

And so, the President ends the week winning a 6-3 vote in the
Supreme Court, and winning the votes of virtually every House Democrat who
voted against him on the same thing just two weeks ago.

Joining the discussion now is –


– Ezra Klein, Editor-In-Chief of and MSNBC Policy Analyst. Ezra,
your reaction to the big wins – to the Supreme Court today and to what`s
happening on trade, as it moves through Congress.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: Well, from, I think, a legacy in human
standpoint, ObamaCare is the big win. And I think it was a sort of
overwhelming one.

I think we`ve now hit a point of genuine no-return, without lull, where
there are no more legal challenges of sufficient consequence to threaten
the law`s basic functions. But, also, I think you saw with Republicans,
even in their hypothetical responses to the King Burwell case.

They now know the laws here of the state, too. When you have folks like
Senator Ron Johnson and other Republicans putting forward their sort of
temporary response bills, they were all as sort of internally contradictory
and flawed as they might be.

They were all trying to figure out some way to extend these subsidies. By
2017, this law is going to be covering roughly 20 million Americans. And
there`s just no way anybody is getting rid of it at this point.

There`s a fundamental right in this country to have affordable healthcare,
at least as long as you meet a pretty wide range, a pretty broad range of

So, I think that`s really important and a real legacy piece for Obama and a
real improvement in people`s lives.

The trade deal is interesting because we still don`t know on some level.
We expect that the final trade the bill will pass, right. This is all
setting the way for the transpacific partnership deal to pass.

But, currently, it has not been shown publicly to anybody. So, that, I`m a
little bit more in the position of preserving judgment on.

I agree with you that the gambit House Democrats attempted to try to keep
Obama from having the authority to move that trade deal through without
amendments. That gambit has fallen flat.

Obviously, it`s been completely reversed now. But I think it`s still a
little bit early to see how much trouble TPP has already. It just had a
lot more friction than I would have –


– expected. So, I don`t want to make overly-sweeping predictions about

O`DONNELL: But, Russ Sullivan, some of the –


– arguments against it are going to disappear. I mean, this notion that
its secret which Ezra wrote about wisely, that will disappear because every
word in it is going to be public for months before there is an up or down

And so, what do you expect to see as it moves forward now, now that the
President has negotiating authority.

of all, I think that it`s significant because the President partnered with
a Republican majority to pass this legislation, which will give him the
authority to negotiate the Transpacific Partnership and other agreements.


As we go forward, I think because of efforts of Senator Wyden and others,
to make the process more transparent, there is going to be more potential
to buy in to the agreement that`s finally negotiated.


There`ll be more chances for Members of Congress to see it, to react to it,
to examine the goals, and for the American public to analyze it. And I
think that enhances the chances of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement
making it through Congress.

O`DONNELL: And, E.J., help me with my memory. I can`t remember a more
cynical vote cast by House Democrats than to vote against their own program
couple of weeks ago, simply as a tactic and a completely cynical vote.

And then, today, just now, “Oh, forget it. We`ll vote for it now.”

been plenty of other cynical tactics used. I think they made an assumption
which turned out to be right, which is that, one or another, we are
eventually going to get this passed.

And, I think, what`s going on here are a couple of things. I think
Democrats, or a lot of Democrats who are genuinely ambivalent about this
trade bill, they`re under a lot of pressure from their Labor friends to
vote no.

But when they look at it economically, they`re not sure. There are some
provisions in the potential treaty they`re worried about. But they don`t
really want to undercut the President, and they don`t really want to
undercut the United States and Asia.

I always thought the foreign policy arguments for this were stronger than
the trade arguments.

Did Democrats get anything out of all this. Here`s what I think they might
have gotten, and we`ll see when the final deal is made, I think they`re
worried about provisions having to do with Vietnam, which has really
atrocious labor standards.

And they want to toughen up the way the treaty deals with them. They`re
worried about the way pharmaceutical companies are treated. And I think
they`re going to see some tough negotiation on that language.

So, we`re going to find out if all of this – all of these maneuvers by
Democrats had any effect on the administration or not. Having said that, I
think, in the end, the bill will – the treaty itself will probably also
have to pass with mostly Republican votes.

O`DONNELL: And, Ezra, the Democrats have already achieved big gains in the
Trade Promotion Authority. There are specific instructions written in
there that Senator Wyden was the principal author of, that had never been
forced on presidents doing these negotiations in the past.

KLEIN: Senator Wyden has been really pushing to make this process a lot
more transparent going forward. And I think that this is something bigger
and it`s going on, I think, around a lot of friction you see around this

There is a belief that has been long-standing in Washington that, in order
for trade deals to work, they need to be highly secretive. The secrecy is
an important ingredient of getting it passed.

Because if it`s not sufficiently secretive, then there`s going to be too
many voices coming into it in the middle of it. And you`re not going to be
able to negotiate something because every possible deal will leak and it`ll
blow up the whole thing.

And I think a lot of people are starting to – and I`ve heard this from
inside these negotiations – that a lot of – this is beginning to be re-
evaluated and that, increasingly, it looks like the secrecy is making
people believe there`s malfeasance here, that there is a back – that
there`s backroom dealing, I mean there obviously is backroom dealing.

But the secrecy has become a liability. And you need to, somehow, inspire
trust in this process earlier on. Because, right now, we have a process.

It is so complex. There are a lot of players including, by the way, labor
unions who really do know a lot of what`s going on in this bill.

But, the fact is, unless you have a very sophisticated lobbying apparatus,
you really can`t be involved. And, at this point, people go out and are
able to make the bill look terrible, the deal look terrible, even though
they don`t actually know what`s in it.

Just saying it is secret over and over and over again has proven to be so
damaging that, I think, the administration, at this point, and future
administrations are going to have to try something different during future
negotiations if they`re going to have this passed a little bit more

O`DONNELL: And, Russ Sullivan, the points Ezra just made have actually
forced this new process, this time around, where the trade agreement will
be public literally for months before there is a vote on

And they`ve been public before, before the vote, but never with this very
carefully laid out long period of time.

SULLIVAN: It`s precisely right, Lawrence. And that will give the American
people and businesses and others time to analyze it, to evaluate its impact
on them, and to give real information to their representatives.

Look, the process on the treaties is moving like the process on
legislation, has been moving in the Congress for years, more open and

O`DONNELL: Russ Sullivan, thank you for your invaluable experience and
guidance tonight. Ezra Klein, thanks for joining us. E.J. Dionne, thank
you for being here.

DIONNE: Good to be here.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the story of a gay couple who –


– had to wait over 50 years. And, in the meantime, one of them legally
adopted the other, so that they could have a legal family relationship.



“The New York Times” reports this week that, in Austin, Texas, a tall,
beaded man walked in to a tattoo parlor, where a man named Kelly Barr works
and asked to have a Confederate flag tattoo removed.


This is what the flag looked like when he walked in. The man told Mr. Barr
that he had decided to get the flag removed when he saw the pained look on
a middle-aged black woman at his gym on Monday.

You see it, the bandana there going across the skull. And that`s what they
did to it.

Here`s what the tattoo looks like now. The man told Mr. Barr, “If South
Carolina can take theirs down, I can take mine down.”


Coming up, the story of a gay couple together for over 50 years, who had to
resort to desperate measures because they could not get married.



NORMAN MACARTHUR, MARRIED TO BILL NOVAK: Bill and I met in 1963 at the
wedding of a sister of a friend of mine. And because it was many years
ago, we were seated together at the young people`s table.

We moved in to New York City in early 1964 and we have been happily
together ever since, 52 years.


O`DONNELL: Seventy-eight-year-old Bill Novak and 76-year-old Norman
MacArthur have been together –


– for over 50 years. But only recently were they able to marry, a right
that the Supreme Court may now be on the verge of granting to all gay and
lesbian couples in America. Bill and Norman –


– tell their story in a video MSNBC produced in partnership with


MACARTHUR: Bill and I met in 1963 at the wedding of a sister of a friend
of mine. And because it was many years ago, we were seated together at the
young people`s table.

We moved in to New York City in early 1964 and we have been happily
together ever since.


MACARTHUR: When we moved to Pennsylvania, we became aware that, legally,
we were considered strangers. We had no legal underpinning at all through
our relationship.

And we were told by our legal advisor that hell would freeze over before
Pennsylvania did accept same-sex marriage.

NOVAK: Not having legal protection among gay couples, we heard stories,
horror stories, of one of the partners passing away, and the other partner
totally ignored and pushed aside by blood relationships.

The only option was to use whatever legal process there was to protect
ourselves. It was the word, that adoption was the way to do it, the only
way to do it in Pennsylvania.

We adopted each other in the year 2000. And so, it`s been a 15-year
relationship as father and son. But we knew who we were.

And the fact that, legally, we`re father and son did not mean that much to


Now that Pennsylvania is enlightened, we decided to take advantage of it
and proceed with the marriage.

MACARTHUR: Going into the courtroom, we were unsure as to what the judge`s
decision would be. And it soon became obvious that he would grant the –
they getting the adoption –

So, this is where it was all made legal.

The courtroom burst into applause and I burst into tears. But tears of
happiness certainly.

NOVAK: Adoption vacated, they`re wed soon.


I was freed of thinking of myself as father. And we were free to proceed
with the marriage.

MACARTHUR: To finally be able to be married after 53 years was an almost
indescribable feeling. When we started our relationship, marriage was so
out of the question that it wasn`t even on the horizon.

NOVAK: So, literally, we had a 52-year engagement –


– and a quick marriage.



O`DONNELL: We`ll discuss the Supreme Court decision that might be
announced tomorrow about same-sex marriage after this break.


The Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage could come tomorrow or
Monday. And, in 2013, on this program, I discussed the case with one of
the plaintiffs, James Obergefell.

At the time, his struggle was simply to have the state of Ohio recognize
his marriage to John Arthur. Their story is on our Web site –

Details on the Supreme Court case, next.



down on the marriage issue, one thing is undeniable, there has been this
incredible shift in attitudes across the country.

You know, when I became president, same-sex marriage was legal in only two
states. Today, it`s legal in 37 states.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is MSNBC Supreme Court Analyst Tom Goldstein.
He`s also Co-Founder and Publisher of SCOTUSblog. Tom, what are the
options before the Supreme Court in this decision on same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court could recognize that there is a right to same-sex
marriage, that couples who want to get married can do that anywhere in the

Option two, if you have a state that wants to recognize it, say, in
Massachusetts, a couple can go there and go to somewhere else, go back home
to Texas and Texas would have to recognize it, or the Supreme Court could
turn all those options down and say, “We`re going to leave it to the

All three of those are possibilities.

O`DONNELL: Which one is, in your view, most strongly supported by the
Constitution as we see it today.

GOLDSTEIN: I think, probably, the first. If you just think about these
couples as being actual human beings, that these are important
relationships, they have true families that involve –


– real love, that it does amount to discrimination to say that they can`t
have marriage equality.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to two sound bites from Justice Anthony
Kennedy, because they may be in conflict with each other and he may be the
one who decides this.

Let`s listen to what he said.


ANTHONY KENNEDY, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: This definition has been with us
for millennia. And it`s very difficult for the court to say, “Oh, well, we
know better.”

Same-sex couples say, “Of course, we understand the nobility and the
sacredness of marriage. We know we can`t procreate but we want the other
attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be


O`DONNELL: Tom, which of those thoughts is more likely to guide Justice

GOLDSTEIN: The second probably. Justice Kennedy has been a hero to the
gay rights movement. He`s been the justice in the center of the court, who
has provided the fifth vote for recognizing that laws that discriminate
against homosexuals are a form of invidious discrimination.

And I think he`s torn, that`s how he is. He really does mull these
questions over. But he will land on the side of recognizing the right to
same-sex marriage.

O`DONNELL: Tom, does the Supreme Court – in announcing this, they have
the option – they can announce it tomorrow, they can announce it on
Monday, which is their last day for announcements – but, with the funeral
of State Senator Clemente Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina – the
President is speaking at the funeral, this very large and important event -
- is that the kind of thing where the court would say, even when they had
planned to release it Friday, to say, “Let`s wait. Let`s let South
Carolina have that day. Let`s release it Monday.”

GOLDSTEIN: No. The justices just don`t think like that. When they`re
ready to go, they go.

And they just don`t concern themselves about what`s happening in the rest
of the world, with almost no exception.

O`DONNELL: Tom Goldstein, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Really appreciate it.

GOLDSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: We will have coverage of that funeral of State Senator and
Reverend Clementa Pinckney here on MSNBC tomorrow. The funeral is
scheduled to start at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Our coverage will continue both before and after that service. President
Obama will be delivering the eulogy there.

That`s it for THE LAST WORD tonight. Chris Hayes is up next.


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