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

Guests: 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Five years ago, we finally 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? (CHEERS) (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Look at how this bill is written. Can you say it was done openly? REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: This is a Ponzi 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. (LAUGHTER) JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Touch‚. (LAUGHTER) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The bill is passed. (CHEERS) (APPLAUSE) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. (APPLAUSE) 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 presidency. 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. (LAUGHTER) 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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 accomplishment. 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 Garden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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 Act. 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 Court. 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 point. 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. EUGENE JOSEPH DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. In fact, I think one of the reasons Scalia`s dissent may have been so angry is, Scalia in many ways was dissenting from Scalia. O`DONNELL: Yes -- DIONNE: Because -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- 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. RUSS SULLIVAN, FORMER STAFF DIRECTOR, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: Yes, 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 body. 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 -- GREENHOUSE: Well -- 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 -- GREENHOUSE: Yes, if -- 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 corrections. 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 whole. It doesn`t -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- GREENHOUSE: Matter -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- GREENHOUSE: How messy the process was. O`DONNELL: Yes -- 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 -- O`DONNELL: Yes. 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? Blah-blah-blah. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT & CHAIRMAN, TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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. JEFF BINGAMAN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Well, I really wasn`t 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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 accomplished. 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 make. 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 -- GREENHOUSE: Yes -- 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 programs. 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. GREENHOUSE: Bye. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It has been a week of wins for President Obama in the Supreme Court and Congress. The Senate approved -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- 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 -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- 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 conditions. 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 -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- expected. So, I don`t want to make overly-sweeping predictions about it. O`DONNELL: But, Russ Sullivan, some of the -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- 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 vote. And so, what do you expect to see as it moves forward now, now that the President has negotiating authority. RUSS SULLIVAN, FMR. SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE STAFF DIRECTOR: Well, first 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) 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." E.J. DIONNE, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think there have 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 bill. 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 smoothly. 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 it. 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 transparent. 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 -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) "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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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." (END VIDEO CLIP) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Seventy-eight-year-old Bill Novak and 76-year-old Norman MacArthur have been together -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- 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 -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- tell their story in a video MSNBC produced in partnership with (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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. BILL NOVAK, MARRIED TO NORMAN MACARTHUR: Fifty-two years. 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 us. (LAUGHTER) 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. (LAUGHTER) 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 -- (LAUGHTER) -- and a quick marriage. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: We`ll discuss the Supreme Court decision that might be announced tomorrow about same-sex marriage after this break. (COMMERCIAL 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 -- THELASTWORD.MSNBC.COM. Details on the Supreme Court case, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: However the decision comes 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. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) 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. TOM GOLDSTEIN, MSNBC SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Three things could happen. 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 country. 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 legislatures." 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 -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- 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. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) 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 fulfilled." (END AUDIO CIP) O`DONNELL: Tom, which of those thoughts is more likely to guide Justice Kennedy. 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. END