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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/21/22

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Masha Gessen, Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Joel Motley


MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. History was made today as confirmation hearings began for the Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson. No president has ever chosen a more qualified nominee for the Supreme Court than Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Constance Baker Motley served as co-counsel with Thurgood Marshall in the case that made segregated schools illegal, Brown versus the Board of Education.



I`m so glad you reported on Constance Baker Motley who justice -- Judge Jackson quoted, and praised today in her opening remarks. I was fortunate to meet Constance Baker Motley once or twice, and she died in 2005 at the age of 84.

Her son, Joel Motley, will join us tonight. He`s a Harvard law school graduate.


O`DONNELL: And I want to get his reactions to what he heard in that hearing today about his mother and the rest of what Judge Jackson had to say.

VELSHI: I`m looking forward to watching that, my friend. Thank you very much, Lawrence. Have a great show and I`ll be watching.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you.

Well, it was a historic day in the United States Senate when the Judiciary Committee for the first time in its history, had a confirmation hearing for black women nominee to the United States Supreme Court. That was a very long time in coming.

Senator Amy Klobuchar was in the room today for this historic hearing, and she will join us in a moment. Senator Klobuchar was also in Poland last week where she saw what is happening, as now over three and a half million refugees have fled Ukraine.

At least 10 million Ukrainians have been forced out of their homes. That means close to one-fourth of the population of Ukraine`s homeless, as Vladimir Putin continues a military attack on Ukraine with a strategy that appears to be, not just a military engagement with Ukraine`s armed forces, which Russia first been losing so far, but also an out-of-control genocidal rampage against the Ukrainian people.

Vladimir Putin is deliberately and knowingly killing babies and children. That is his way of war. That is what he wants to terrorize people into surrender. The death toll for children is officially 112. Every number in the death tolls that we have from Ukraine is an unreliable number, and probably an understatement, at this point. It will take time to clarify those numbers.

But one number emerged today in Russian media, briefly, before us taken down. And we have been a mistake, or may have been a subversive act against Vladimir Putin that someone in Russian controlled media briefly posted this, today. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, doing the special operation in Ukraine, the Russian armed forces lost 9,861 people, and the 16,153 people were injured.

Now, that number of Russian owned worse is killed is close to the American intelligence estimate, but it is less than the Ukrainian governments estimate of Russian soldiers killed, which as of today, is as high as 15,000. Now, assuming that the Russian number those briefly posted today is correct, Russian soldiers are being killed at an extraordinarily high rate. Not seen since World War II. All estimates of Russian military deaths, including the Russian number posted today, are higher than the total number of American military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, over a 20-year period.

And according to the Russian number posted today, more than 2,000 Russian soldiers are being killed every week. Compare that to America`s bloodiest war since World War II, the Vietnam War. 543 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam in the month of April, 1969. The single greatest loss of life of American soldiers in one month in Vietnam, and that was 543. And Russia may be losing 20 times more than that, in a similar period of time. All of those needless Russian military deaths are entirely the fault of Vladimir Putin.

We will be joined tonight by the New Yorkers` Masha Gessen, who will anticipate how Vladimir Putin on the Russian people will deal with this unprecedented loss of Russian soldiers.


This weekend, Vladimir Putin made Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy an offer that Vladimir Putin thought President Zelenskyy could not refuse. Surrender the city of Mariupol, and Russia would stop trying to murder everyone there and allow the people of Mariupol to safely leave. President Zelenskyy refused, saying they would first have to destroy us all to have the ultimatum unfulfilled.

On Sunday, Russia bombed an art school in Mariupol with about 400 people sheltering inside. No official word yet on deaths and injuries there.

In the city of Kherson, Ukrainian media outlets reported that Russian troops used stun grenades and gunfire to disperse a rally of anti-invasion protesters. This surveillance footage captures the protesters running, trying to escape. At least one person was wounded.

In un addressed of the Ukrainian people today, President Zelenskyy said, quote, during this invasion, heroes have constantly declared themselves among the millions of our people. Once ordinary Ukrainians, and now fighters. Men and women who stand up for our state everywhere in the south, in the east, in the north, in the center, in the west, and abroad, standup so that banning me does not believe that this is a reality.

But we will make them believe. And we will make them remember that they are not welcome. And they will never be. I appeal to all Ukrainians, wherever you are, do everything to protect our state, to save our people. Fight, fight and help.

Drive these slaves out. Drive the occupiers out. So that Ukraine lives, so that all of us live within it, free and peaceful, which we love so much.

Today, President Biden held on a conference call with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Today, a senior NATO official told NBC News, quote, and for not in a stalemate, we are rapidly approaching one. The reality is that neither side has the superiority over the other.

And we begin tonight, as we always do, with NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv, Ukraine.

Cal, what is the situation tonight?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, Lawrence, I think over the weekend will we see is these devastating attacks actually picking up on the population, and in some of the cities, where we can determine a frontline, now that frontline has blended into residential areas. Mariupol continues to be the example of all of the horrifying things happening in this war. More than 80 percent of the buildings there have now been destroyed. It is now officially three weeks in that city without power, without water, without any food relief whatsoever.

We know, for example, that earth strikes hit that theater. That people were sheltering, 1,300 people were inside. We still don`t have a good idea of who survived, because rescue crews just cannot stay above ground long enough to do any meaningful work. So what happens is, there are some small breaks in the fighting, and we see happening there is what happens, which is as many civilians basically run for cover.

The reality is we don`t know many people have been killed in the city. We just don`t have the visibility into, it and again, the people who are left behind are often elderly. People are just going to leave it all. Were seeing key fail tonight in the capital as well we saw last night, which is an increase of bombardment.

There was an airstrike in the mall there. It took out a number of residential buildings around it. And, again, this is what we`re seeing play. Out civilians love mine in the cities are paying the price for this war, and, again, we just on a good idea. At least eight people were killed in the strike and that number could be far higher.

Finally, to the city of Kherson, you pointed it out, it is worth talking about more. This is the only city that the Russians have been able to take and holds, but this on your skin is what a Russian occupation looks like. It looks like civilians marching towards soldiers, and then those soldiers indiscriminately firing. Using live ammunition, trying to kill as many protesters as they can using smoke, using these flash bang grenades.

But, again, it`s a sign that Russian militarily cannot actually hold these areas. We saw this for example in Kharkiv, a place where we saw civilian bodies in the streets and the bodies of Russian soldiers unclaimed. This is now starting to develop across the country in the places that Russians have a hold on.

Last thing I`ll mention, Lawrence, we don`t have a good idea of how many POWs there are here in Ukraine, how many Russian soldiers were taking alive. You mentioned that number, near 10,000 dead, there are hundreds and we see them every day on TV, live Russian soldiers have been captured here in Ukraine -- Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: Cal, what clarity do we have on Ukrainian soldiers lost in battle?

PERRY: We don`t know the about out at all, something the government doesn`t want to talk about. We also know among the civilian teams how heavy losses are there. Keep in mind, most of the defense in the place like Kyiv are civilians, who have picked up weapons and gone to the fronts, we just don`t have good visibility on that either, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you very much for joining us, again, and please stay safe. Thank you, Cal.

And joining us now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She recently visited Poland`s border with Ukraine. She`s also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You are in Poland I believe last week seeing the effects of the refugees, the refugee situation just pouring over that border. One more do you think that the United States can do to help these refugees?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, humanitarian aid from all over the world, I`m glad the president is going not just to Brussels, but also to Poland. What you`ve seen here, Lawrence, and you`re a student of history, is a country in Poland that is taking these refugees into their hearts, into their homes.

Over 1.7 million, when I was just there a week ago, more even now. This is a country that as you know from the fossils invaded by the Nazis, by the Russians, by the Prussians, by the Hapsburgs, and now as our ambassador there, Ambassador Brzezinski, said, it is as if their grandparents dreams are finally being realized. Their country is standing up against evil and helping the democracy next door.

And as we saw those scenes, as Cal was describing, as we`ve all seen all day of Mariupol, Vladimir Putin appears to know no limits. And the fact that we are now sending in more weapons, like the switchblade drones, like the 800 more Stingers, the 2,000 more Javelins, more ammunition, that is part of this. We have to continue to supply these brave Ukrainian troops, and sometimes, civilians with the weapons they need to defend them selves, because as he pointed out, this is a big country, over 40 million people, and they are determined to resist.

And if Vladimir Putin thought he was going to come in and be welcomed by roses, it`s Molotov cocktails, and they`re never going to give into him.

O`DONNELL: What is the most important lesson you brought back from Poland that you could share with the president about the situation with the refugees?

KLOBUCHAR: The refugees that are coming over our, for the most part, moms and kids and senior citizens. And they`re all leaving someone behind to fight. And they know there is the right thing to do, but so many of them are literally shell-shocked. Some of them were 15 miles away from where that cruise missile just last weekend took out the training center with dozens and dozens of people killed.

Some of those people had decided that morning to come over. So they were literally shell-shocked. And then there are others who made the decision a few days before, but their whole lives were left behind. All they had was their backpacks and what was in their suitcases. And so, a lot of our role here right now is still lead to keep the coalition, together with the president has done so well with these crippling sanctions. And then to make sure that these refugees all have a place to live.

O`DONNELL: Senator, you are obviously in the judiciary committee hearing today. You will be in the hearings for the rest of the week. There was a time, not that long ago, when this concept didn`t exist. The Supreme Court confirmation hearing was invented in 1916 for the first Jewish nominee to the Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis.

And so, we had 427 years, not a single supreme justice had to answer a single question from a single senator ever at any time. What has been accomplished by this new process, the confirmation hearing?

KLOBUCHAR: I think this hearing is still important. It`s difficult owners all of our colleagues smear her. But I have no doubt that this nominee and Judge Jackson is going to be so strong tomorrow. If you caught our opening today, she started out talking about her grounding in her fate, her belief in God, her grounding and her country. How much you loved America.

And to me, you saw all of these criticisms evaporate before your eyes, because she`s such a strong person. So as accomplished in this hearing? People get to see her. They get to see her strength.


Senators get to ask your questions, and while some of them, right, she can`t answer. She can answer questions about her decision-making process, her judicial philosophy, how she approaches cases. And, for I think, America right now, as we`re looking in a moment I think it`s connected to what`s happening in the world around us. We`ve realized, we cannot keep our democracy. We can`t take it for granted. We can take our course for granted.

We`re emerging out of a pandemic. And we want to enlarge not as grounded plus million silos, as I said today, but instead with the steadfast belief that what unites us is bigger than what divides us.

She`s going to have that moment to show us with that is all about. Not only is this historic, first black woman nominee. We`ve had 115 justices, and here she comes along to open so many doors for so many in front of her.

But, also someone with incredible experience, and you`re going to see that loud and clear tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us at the end of your very busy day. We really appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Lawrence, it`s great to be on.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, no print coverage of the war in Ukraine has been better than "The New Yorker`s" reporting, thanks in great measure, to our next guest. Masha Gessen, who was born in Moscow, and has lived and worked in Moscow and the United States. Masha Gessen joins us next.

And later, we`ll be joined by a dear friend of mine, Joel Motley, whose mother was the first black woman appointed to serve as a federal judge. Judge Constance Baker Motley was a legend to many, including Ketanji Brown- Jackson, who Praised judge motley today in our confirmation hearing. Joel Motley will join us with his thoughts and feelings about today`s historic Senate confirmation hearing.



O`DONNELL: When will the Russian people know how many Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine? And how will they react to the? There was a brief moment today when one Russian news site posted the number of 9,861 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine, and 16,153 wounded. That was quickly taken down.

And what does it mean for Russian resistance to Vladimir Putin when, according to one estimate, as many as 250,000 Russians have fled from Russia since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine?

In her new reporting from "The New Yorker", our next guest, Masha Gessen, describes some of the people fleeing Russia. Quote People have fled Russia because they fear political persecution, conscription, and isolation, because they dread being locked in an unfamiliar new country that eerily resembles the old Soviet Union, and because, staying in a country that is waging war feels a moral, like being inside a plane that`s dropping bombs on people.

They have left because the Russia they have built uninhabited is disappearing, and the more people who leave, the faster it disappears.

Joining our discussion now is Masha Gessen, staff writer for "The New Yorker", and author of the book, "Surviving Autocracy".

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I -- we have been concentrating on the exodus from Ukraine, which is important and life-saving under urgent. But you are reporting on another exodus from Russia. What does this mean for Russia that it is losing the kinds of people who cannot morally tolerate what is happening there?

MASHA GESSEN, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: It`s odd, it`s inevitable, but it`s odd to compare that exodus from Russia to the people who are being displaced by war from Ukraine. And I think a lot of the people that I talked to are hyper aware of that comparison and I agree to point out, look, this is not the same disaster. The disasters what`s happening in Ukraine.

And yet, there are all these people and have the world in Moscow. Pretty much everyone I knew, certainly the people who made my community, up and left in less than two weeks. It`s not just a number of people, but just how vast people have gone. And these are largely people who made up civil society in Russia, the journalists, the educators, the activists, the NGO founders and leaders. So, it is, by some estimates, over a quarter a of million people and they are the people who are in an increasingly repressive society were creating some space for interaction and interdependence, kindness, freedom, thought.

O`DONNELL: And what I`ve read in your accounts of them is that, I don`t hear them asking for sympathy, I hear them expressing guilt for what has happened. I hear them, in your reports of them, talking about hoping for a future where they can get beyond this.

But, the thing that isn`t there, I don`t I`m reading, is any sense of, oh, feel sorry for me, feel sorry for, us we had to flee Russia.

GESSEN: Yes, I think most people I talked to are very careful not to say feel sorry for me, because, again, the comparison is inevitable. I think people are still sorting it out, and they will be sorting it out for a while, the sort of -- the degrees of responsibility and guilt that they feel.


They mostly reject the idea of collective feels. But there is a sense of responsibility and it`s odd that the people who engage are the people who did anything at all to try to prevent us. But many of them say, look, we obviously didn`t do enough, because we didn`t prevent it.

O`DONNELL: Do -- does this reduce the possibility of a reckoning for Vladimir Putin because these are the people who are leaving? And will there be any kind of reckoning if and when the Russian people find out what the Russian losses are in Ukraine?

GESSEN: That`s a great question. I think there are a couple of brush to it. One is what happens now. Are Russians going to find out what kind of losses there in Ukraine?

And I think we have to understand that if they do, it will take a long time, possibly years, because a lot of people who are already dead are going to be considered missing in action. Or, they might even be a while for that to be acknowledged, because they have to surrender the cell phones before they were deployed.

Russians have legalized the use of mass graves, they`re using mobile crematoria. So, people -- families who don`t hear from their loved ones, maybe weeks or months before they really start to consider the possibility that these people are dead. And then, also, with the total crackdown on media, you don`t get to see that information getting around. It`s a vast country. People are being conscripted from all over country.

So, in a situation was that he is really itemized and people are not talking to anyone in their immediate surroundings, it maybe quite a long time, if it ever happens, the people realize how vast the losses are. So, it`s sort of one kind of reckoning.

And the other kind of reckoning is, you know, what happens after Putinism ends? It will end at some point. And we could have seen in the last few weeks that I think is incredibly disturbing is that not only are independent media being forced to shut down, but they`re also, on many occasions, forced to remove their web sites, and remove their archives.

And so, what is the material, what is evidence that we are going to be dealing with for a reckoning after Putinism? We had this problem after the Soviet Union collapsed. It`s been 31 years and there still isn`t an account.

O`DONNELL: Masha Gessen, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We appreciate up.

GESSEN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, there has never been a more qualified nominee for the United States Supreme Court then Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson. In fact, most of the 115 Supreme Court justices and our history do not even come close to Judge Jackson`s qualifications.

Neal Katyal and Michelle Goodwin will join us next.



O`DONNELL: No president has ever chosen a more qualified nominee for the Supreme Court than Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

When I was born here in Washington, my parents were public school teachers and to express both pride and their heritage and hope for the future, they gave me an African name, Ketanji Onyika (ph), which they were told, means "lovely one".

My parents taught me that unlike the many barriers that they have had to face growing up, my path was clearer. So that if I worked hard, and I believed in myself, in America I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be.


O`DONNELL: No member of the Supreme Court has ever had a better educational credentials than Judge Jackson. An honors graduate of Harvard College and an honors graduate of Harvard Law School. Now several justices have had academic credentials equal -- equal to Judge Jackson but none, not one, has ever had better academic credentials.

And in fact, most of the 115 Supreme Court justices did not even graduate from law school. Only 49 of them were actually law school graduates. For its first 127 years, the Supreme Court was a bastion of affirmative action for white Christian men only. Those white Christian men did not have to compete with any women, any people of color, any Jewish people, just white, Christian men.

For 127 years white Christian men had it all to themselves and most of them did not have to go to law school to become Supreme Court justices. They got their legal training by hanging around a law office somewhere. That was good enough for 127 years of white Christian men being the only people allowed to even be considered on the Supreme Court.


And not one of them ever had to answer a single question from a senator about anything. Not one of them had confirmation hearings. Not one.

At least one of those people was confirmed by the full Senate the day after he was nominated. That`s how easy it was. Then in 1916 came the first Jewish nominee for the United States Supreme Court, Harvard Law School graduate Louis Brandeis and that is when the confirmation hearing had to be invented.

The white Christian men of the Senate wanted to ask questions of the first Jewish nominee to the Supreme Court. After Justice Brandeis was confirmed, the Senate stopped asking questions for decades. They had no questions for Stanley Reed in 1938, the last Supreme Court justice who did not graduate from law school.

Only in the television age did confirmation hearings become routine for Supreme Court justices, and that was entirely because senators wanted to be on TV.

No Supreme Court justice has had better judicial experience than Ketanji Brown Jackson. Only ten Supreme Court justices out of the 115 ever served as federal district judges meaning they actually had to conduct trials in courtrooms with the people whose lives were being affected sitting right there in front of them.

Judge Jackson has also served on the most important federal appeals court. Only 30 of the 115 Supreme Court justices had some experience as judges in federal appeals courts.

And unlike anyone currently serving on the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson has actually served as defense counsel for criminal defendants. She knows what it is to face the might of the United States government in court. As a federal public defender, Ketanji Brown Jackson stood up in court for the defendant she was representing. The case was announced as "the United States of America versus the defendant".

What that feels like. Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the only justice on this current court, who knows what it feels like to stand in a federal courtroom representing one person against the full prosecutorial power of the United States of America.

Now you can argue that there have been other Supreme Court nominees who are as qualified, as Ketanji Brown Jackson but there have been very, very few of them and none -- none who are more qualified.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are not about qualifications. They are about preening senators glorying in their minutes on camera. Judge Jackson used her opening statement today to thank the people who helped her arrive at this moment.


JACKSON: My parents have been married for almost 54 years, and they`re here with me today. I cannot possibly thank them enough for everything they have done for me. I love you, mom and dad.

My very earliest memories are of watching my father study. He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books.

I would like to introduce you to my husband of 25 years, Dr. Patrick Jackson. We met in college more than three decades ago, and since then he has been the best husband, father and friend I could ever imagine. Patrick, I love you.

I`m saving a special moment in this introduction for my daughters, Talia and Leila. Girls, I know it has not been easy, as I have tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career, and motherhood. And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right. But I hope that you have seen that with hard work, determination and love it can be done.

My high school debate coach, Fran Berger (ph), may she rest in peace. She invested fully in me including taking me to Harvard, the first I had ever really thought of it, to ensure a speech competition. Mrs. Berger believed in me, and in turn, I believed in myself.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Neal Katyal, law professor at Georgetown University and former acting U.S. solicitor general. He`s an MSNBC legal analyst. And Michele Bratcher Goodwin, chancellor professor at the University of California, Irvine Law School and host of the podcast "On The Issues With Michele Goodwin".

And Professor Goodwin, let me begin with you, and just open the mic to your reaction to what you saw today.


MICHELE BRATCHER GOODWIN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE LAW SCHOOL: We saw history in the making today. We saw parents incredibly proud of their daughter. We saw parents, who are working class, who worked so hard, who came from segregated schools and backgrounds see something incredible achieve through their family.

We saw a loving husband, not since Marty sitting behind Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with such incredible love in his being. We saw that today with Judge Jackson`s husband.

And then unfortunately, what we also saw today were scurrilous attacks on Twitter. We saw demeaning behavior take place in the Senate, which is unfortunate. I hope that we won`t see more of that this week. But I am doubtful that things will get better amongst those who have already prepared themselves to attack Judge Jackson`s record.

But let me say this and you really started it out so well, Lawrence, which is that we saw Democrats have real pride in a candidate that really could not have been better, a better candidate selected by President Biden. And that was very clear from the way in which the Democrats in the Senate spoke of her today.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, you have a lot of experience with this process, and I just want to open your mic to your reactions of what you were watching and feeling today.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. You almost got to feel bad for the Republicans. You know, they`re committed to opposing her. They just haven`t figured out why. They are fumbling around for a reason. Anything that might, they hope will stick.

And you know, Lawrence, as you said, I do have some experience. I`ve argued 45 cases at the Supreme Court. And what I saw today in Judge Jackson was someone who frankly belongs there. She had the poise. She had the character. She had the brilliance.

And you know, the Republican opposition, what did they talk about? They talked about high crime rates, they talked about carjacking. I don`t know what in the world that has to do with Judge Jackson. I`m not sure if they`re going to bring up high gas prices and connect that somehow to her next.

But look, we all knew that this was a brilliant judge. As you say her qualifications are beyond any sort of dispute.

But I think what America saw today was a normal and decent person. And that is not always the case with all Supreme Court justices if you look back over history. But this is someone who is connected to her parents, to her children, to her community. And at the same time, she happens to be a brilliant, brilliant jurist.

So I think -- you know, I really hope the Republicans think through what they are doing here because to oppose her, I think, is frankly insane.

O`DONNELL: It was an emotional day for Senator Cory Booker. Let`s listen to some of what he had to say.


SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): When you came to my office really, I was a little kind of nervous even. And then you started talking about your family and your parents.

I want to tell your parents, you and I have something in common. We are both around the same age. Both of our parents graduated from HPCUs. My dad, Mr. Brown -- Dr. Brown is also an Eagle. He went to North Carolina Central just like you.


O`DONNELL: And Professor Goodwin, as you know, he kept going from there. It was a very special moment for him to be there in this historic hearing today.

GOODWIN: That`s absolutely right. And really, when you think about, it was for everyone. Not just for Senator Booker but Senator Klobuchar. This is really an outstanding candidate.

And it`s worth taking note, too, how she was introduced by Professor Fairfax. And it was just such an impassioned introduction, and I think this is a wonderful moment in U.S. history which should actually be embraced.

The unfortunate thing is that there were so many attacks that have taken place, it really serves poorly or reflects poorly on the Senate Republicans that are doing so.

This is a moment of pride for everybody, including the children in their various states. I mean it is unfortunate that this process has unfortunately become so degraded even before today.

But let`s be clear about something here. As you mentioned, outstanding credentials. And the reality is that the vote counting for her confirmation will not actually need the Republicans.

I hope that this is a bipartisan process that leads to her confirmation much like we saw in her previous confirmation hearings, like what we saw with Justice O`Connor when she was confirmed unanimously. And also when we saw Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg confirmed with only a few naysayers.


O`DONNELL: And Neal Katyal, Judge Jackson went through this just last year with this same Senate with this identically same committee for her confirmation to the circuit court. So she`s as ready for this as you could be.

KATYAL: 100 percent. And that`s why I find, like for example, Senator Lindsey Graham`s, you know, concerns about her, totally ridiculous. He`s now claiming that she has all these problems.

She hasn`t written any opinions in the last year that make her any different than she was the year before. Last year he voted for her, and now all of a sudden, you know, she has all these serious concerns.

And so they`re just making stuff up. I mean we saw the Senator Grassley today attack living constitutionalists and the like. None of this can be pinned on her with any effectiveness.

And so, you know, I really do hope the Republicans rethink their ridiculous opposition to her.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal and Professor Michele Goodwin, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

KATYAL: Thank you.

GOODWIN: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: And still ahead, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson praised Judge Constance Baker Motley today, the first black woman to ever serve as a federal judge in the United States. Judge Motley`s son, Joel Motley, will join us next.




JACKSON: I stand on the shoulders of so many who have come before me including Judge Constance Baker Motley, who was the first African American woman to be appointed to the federal bench, and with whom I share a birthday.

And like Judge Motley, I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the words engraved on the front of the Supreme Court building, "equal justice under law", are a reality and not just an ideal.


O`DONNELL: Constance Baker Motley served as co-counsel with Thurgood Marshall in the case that made segregated schools illegal, Brown versus the Board of Education. And she was appointed as a federal judge by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966. The year before President Johnson chose Thurgood Marshall, as the first black Supreme Court justice.

Judge Constance Baker Motley served in federal district court with senior status in New York City until her death in 2005 at the age of 84.

And joining us now, Judge Constance Baker Motley`s son, my dear friend, Joel Motley. He is chairman emeritus of the Board of Human Rights Watch.

Joel, thank you so much for joining us tonight. This is very special for me. And I want to just get your reaction to how you are feeling today when your mother was once again invoked and praised in this Supreme Court nomination process.

JOEL MOTLEY, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS, BOARD OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well thank you, Lawrence. It is a very special feeling. And historic for all the reasons that you`d mentioned.

My mother was nominated to be the first black woman federal judge. James Eastland, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee held her nomination for a year. He had a particular anger about her, because she represented James Meredith, who you see there in the picture, who integrated Ole Miss in his state. And he and others from the south were out to get her.

O`DONNELL: I was also wondering today, Joel, if you have any advice for future Supreme Court justices, teenage daughters because you, as a teenager, had a hero at the breakfast table every morning. What`s that like?

MOTLEY: Well, it`s still your mother and my father there. They are still your parents. So there`s all the regular aspects of that. But then every now and then, even when I was very young, to see her on television with these civil rights cases, let me know that she was quite special.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to what Professor Lisa Fairfax said today about these Harvard college roommates. There are four of them actually who all got together. These black girls, freshman at Harvard College who all ended up as very important Harvard Law School and lawyer graduates like yourself. Let`s listen to this.


LISA FAIRFAX, JUDGE JACKSON`S ROOMMATE: I was roommate and a VERY dear friend at Harvard College and Harvard Law School of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who I am so very honored to introduce to you today and to the American people.

Ketanji and I met during our first days of college nearly 35 years ago. Those first moments when you wonder if you belong, she is the friend that made sure we all did.


O`DONNELL: Joel, you know what those first moments are like, at both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Did you identify with that description of them getting together?

MOTLEY: I Certainly did. The first days at Harvard College were a lot more fun than the first days of Harvard Law School, I can assure you of that. and in fact in the law school, it really can be quite terrifying. I think everyone who`s been to any law school and those of us who went to Harvard as well, can testify to that.

But it is with the strength of your friends, like you saw today in this clip that really help you get through it.

O`DONNELL: Joel Motley, it is so great to see you. Thank you very much for joining us tonight with these memories of your mother. Thank you very much.

MOTLEY: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will get tonight`s LAST WORD next.



O`DONNELL: Here is more of what Ketanji Brown Jackson said today in her opening statement.



JACKSON: Members of this committee, if I am confirmed I commit to you that I will work productively to support and defend the constitution and this grand experiment of American democracy that has endured over these past 246 years.


O`DONNELL: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts right now.