The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block Texas abortion law. The Senate cleared way for Congress to raise debt ceiling.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It is a real triumph, through sheer will and effort, the healthcare workers and leaders in Jefferson County were able to protect their community. They should be held up as a great example of beating the odds and a reminder that good and difficult things are within our grasp with will and diligence.
That is "ALL IN" for this week.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: I feel like at this point, you are mastering the ability to tell very dark stories and also find the silver linings. It`s well done, my friend.
HAYES: That`s the job these days, I guess.
MADDOW: Seriously, that`s the job. Absolutely.
All right. Thanks very much, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour, happy to have you here on a Friday night.
We`re going to start tonight with a story we first brought you last week and today has taken a new sort of baffling turn. If you saw our coverage of the story last week, you`ll remember it, because it starts with a really unsettling 911 call. This was just over a year ago, December 6th last year, just before 10:00 p.m. on December 6th and a woman named Ruby Freeman in Cobb County, Georgia, the suburbs of Atlanta, she called 911. It was not the first time she called 911 around that time, she had in fact been begging the police for help and for protection repeatedly because she was getting a deluge of threats and harassment, really violent, really specific threats over the phone, by text, by email, over social media.
But on the night of December 6th, last year, 10:00 at night, December 6, these people who were threatening her turned up at her front door.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUBY FREEMAN, CALLER: I`ve been having terroristic threats. I`ve been having harassing phone calls and emails, and they came out and made a police report yesterday. And last night, about 10 minutes after 9:00, somebody was bamming on the door and now somebody`s bamming on the door again.
Oh, they screaming. They still bamming on the door.
911 DISPATCHER: Okay.
FREEMAN: They still bamming on the door. Lord Jesus, where`s the police?
911 DISPATCHER: They`re on the way, ma`am.
FREEMAN: Oh, God.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ruby Freeman is 62 years old. She`s the woman on the receiving end of all the vitriol and all the threats. And as of December 6, that night, that 911 call last year, it was in-person intimidation.
And she`s not a public figure. She`s a 62-year-old retiree, grandmother. She ran a boutique business selling fashion accessories. But suddenly, after the election last year, she became public enemy number one in Trump world. She became public enemy number one to all these very angry, vituperative people she had never met. And it happened because President Donald Trump accused her, her personally, by name, of stealing the presidential election from him in the state of Georgia.
So we played that 911 call from her last week when it was published in the latest installment of this incredible, ongoing "Reuters" series about threats and harassment against election officials and election workers in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
Ruby Freeman`s daughter had long been an elections worker in Fulton County, which is Atlanta, Georgia`s biggest and most heavily Democratic county. When the election approached, it turned out that Fulton County looked like it was going to be understaffed for the election because of COVID. So, Ms. Freeman`s daughter asked her mom, Ruby, if she would sign up as a temporary worker to process ballots on election day.
She did so, and the two of them, mother and daughter, worked with other election workers through the day and night processing ballots in Atlanta, at the State Farm Arena.
But as President Trump and his colleagues, co-conspirators, I don`t know, President Trump and his crowd set to work try to flip the election results, trying to get Georgia to overturn Biden`s win in Georgia and say Trump won instead.
One of the pieces of so-called evidence that they ginned up to justify for their case for Georgia to throw out the election results was a video clip from the closed circuit television video, the surveillance video on election night at the State Farm Arena and that video clip happened to show Ruby Freeman, the woman who just heard on that 9/11 call, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, doing their jobs as election workers.
The video clip literally just showed them doing what they were supposed to be doing, taking ballots out of the secure containers, that ballots were transported in on election day and then taking those ballots out of that container and running them through the below ballot counting machine.
That`s what they were supposed to do as election workers. That`s what they were paid to do, what they did as election workers.
But former President Trump and his lawyers took this otherwise anodyne clip of these two black women running ballots through the ballot counting machine like they`re supposed to. They took that anodyne clip and they started telling everybody what that video tape actually showed was Ruby Freeman and her daughter stealing the election. Trump lawyers showed the video to Georgia Republicans in the state legislature and they showed it to right wing news out outlets and all along showing this clip, saying what it showed was these two women counting suitcases full of illegal ballots.
Well, how could you tell the ballots are illegal? Well, look, they`re coming out of these cases. Well, yes, those are the kind of secure cases ballots are transported in on Election Day to be counted by election workers. Oh, yeah, but look at these tape, look how guilty they look, look at these black women and those ballots. They must be illegal ballots, right?
Look how -- look how illegal this all looks. Just say this is them doing something illegal and people will believe it.
Gentlemen you see on your screen here, Mr. Hannity, from the Fox News Channel, he ran the clip on Fox News, as if it showed something ominous or illegal even though it did not. Almost immediately, conservative website identified Ms. Freeman and her daughter by name.
Then, Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani began identifying them by name in his wackadoodle presentations to, among other things, George Republicans in the state legislature.
President Trump himself played this video clip on a massive jumbotron at a rally in Georgia. Again, it`s just the video clip showing these women doing what they`re supposed to be doing, taking ballots out of the secure containers they are held in and putting them through the ballot machine. But they kept saying every time they showed the clip that it showed a crime. How can you tell it shows a crime? Well, just look at it, these black women with the ballots. Look how criminal it looks.
You may also remember that infamous phone call in which President Trump tried to pressure the Georgia secretary of state into finding enough Trump votes in the state somewhere to overturn Biden`s win. In that phone call, Donald Trump mentioned Ruby Freeman`s name 18 times, called her a professional vote scammer and a hustler.
The head of elections in Fulton County said after that call, the harassment of Ruby Freeman and her daughter got even worse, quote, it just kept going.
Well, today, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea Moss, spoke with reporters for the first time about what they`ve been going through. They spoke with Reuters reporter Linda So and Jason Szep who`ve been doing this remarkable work on threats to election workers across the country.
But just as a little sort of window into what this has been like for these women, listen to the conditions they felt they had to lay down just to be comfortable talking to these Reuters reporters about what they`ve been through.
Quote: For this story, the two women agreed to be interview on the condition that the reporters not take photos, publish audio recordings of the meeting or disclose where the meeting took place. Both Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman have changed their appearances since the photographs were widely circulated after the election. "Reuters" agreed not to describe how they look now.
The story continues, quote: Offering the first detailed account of their ordeal, the two women told "Reuters" of threats of lynching and racial slurs along with alarming visits by strangers to the homes of both Freeman and her mother. Freeman told "Reuters" she moved from house to house of fear of her safety. Moss avoided leaving her home except for work and said she remains wracked with anxiety and depression.
Ms. Moss`s teenage son also targeted by threats and racist messages. He started failing in school. The 14-year-old high school freshman was using his mom`s old cellphone. He needed the device to connect to the internet for virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic. It was the only way he could get online.
As threats inundated that phone, the young man could not concentrate. His grades slipped. Strangers battered him with threatening and racist voice mails and texts. One told him, quote, be glad it`s 2020 and not 1920. You`d be hanging along with your mother.
One threat shook her deeply. It said she had a, quote, cute little boy, which she took as a veiled threat to her son`s life.
Ruby Freeman said their alarm peaked in January when an FBI agent told them a suspected January 6th rioter had been arrested and found with a list of names of people to be executed. Ms. Freeman and her daughter`s names were on that list.
Before she became target of Trump supporters, Ms. Moss said she enjoyed being the outgoing face of the Fulton County elections office, getting, for example, filmed for training videos, answering calls from voters. She tucked her business card into the envelope of every voter registration application card she mailed out. When voters called for help, she enjoyed talking to them.
Today when here office phone rings, she`s afraid to answer. She tries to avoid giving her name. She rarely leaves her cubicle. Asides from commuting, she avoids going out in public. She says she`s lost the energy to cook or clean or even walk the dog.
She says in a soft voice, quote, I can`t enjoy anything. I just really have lost myself.
But here`s where we get to today`s very strange turn in this story, a head spinning thing that occurred in the midst of all this and which "Reuters" is reporting on for first time today. If you`ve seen coverage of this today, the thing that`s gotten all the headlines is a celebrity angle, possible connection of events to a famous person, and we`ll get to that.
But just first try to experience this story as Ruby Freeman experienced it, right? When she got this weird out of the blue visit from a mysterious stranger, after she`d been receiving all of these threats for weeks and weeks after the election. "Reuters" has put together this story from interviewing Ruby Freeman and her daughter and from police reports and police video that they obtained.
So this part of the story happens on January 4th. So it`s about a month after that 911 call we played at the top of the show. At this point, Ruby Freeman and her daughter and her family including her mother, they`ve all been under siege for a month with just an avalanche of death threats, harassing calls, e-mails, people showing up at their houses and banging on the door and demanding to be let in saying they`re there to make a citizens arrest.
That`s been going on for a month at this point, right? From early December to early January. At this point, it`s January 4th. Somebody knocked on Ms. Freeman`s door.
Ruby Freeman understandably would not open the door. She called a neighbor. She asked the neighbor to come over and talk to whoever was on her porch and find out what they wanted. So, the neighbor came over from next door and talked to this woman who was standing outside Ruby Freeman`s door. And this woman told Ms. Freeman`s neighbor she was there because Ruby Freeman was in danger, and she has been sent to provide assistance.
Ms. Freeman is so freaked out after the past month at that point she calls 911 again, and she asks them to send a police officer over to her house just so she can step outside her front door to talk to this stranger. The stranger says she`s there to do and Ms. Freeman is in danger, she`s been sent to protect her, to get her protected from some imminent threat.
She wants to hear about that, but she asks for a police officer to be there. She calls the police department, tells the woman I will talk to you but not without a police officer present. Police officer arrives and speaks with the woman outside Ruby Freeman`s house, quote the woman gave her name as Trevian Kutti. She said she was sent by a high profile individual whom she didn`t identify to give Ms. Freeman an urgent message. Quote: Confess to Trump`s voter fraud allegations or police would come to her home in 48 hours and she would go to jail.
The police officer suggested that the two women, if they were going to meet, should meet at a police station, so Ms. Freeman could feel safe. So they all went to the police station, and Ruby Freeman and Trevian Kutti, the supposed crisis manager who wants to speak to Ms. Freeman and some other guy who she brought with her, they all sat down in the police station while a police officer stands nearby. And it`s because that police officer was standing nearby that there is body camera footage of that part of the meeting.
So we`ve got on tape some of that meeting as captured by police body camera and as published today in edited form by "Reuters". The audio is a little bit hard to hear. You can make it out, but it`s a little bit hard to hear. "Reuters" is the entity that added the subtitles you`ll see here on your screen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVIAN KUTTI, CRISIS MANAGER: Thank you.
POLICE OFFICER: No problem.
RUBY FREEMAN, ELECTION WORKER: Hi.
KUTTI: Good evening, how are you?
Thank you so much for agreeing to meet with us. We didn`t want to frighten you, but we had to find you within this time frame. I`m here because I receive a call, not that I didn`t know about this situation before because I had heard, but it wasn`t, a serious concern for me because I had (INAUDIBLE).
We would like to let you know first and foremost, we have put in placement a way to move you, to secure you, from what may be authorized over the next 48 hours.
We have probably 48 hours in which to move you.
We would do it on your schedule. I cannot say what specifically will take place. I just know that it will disrupt your freedom and (INAUDIBLE) the freedom of one or more of your family members. I would like to connect now on the phone, Harrison Ford --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m just going to stop right there for a second. You can see in the subtitles there they`re talking about Harrison Ford.
To be clear they`re not talking about Harrison Ford the actor. It`s not even clear they`re definitively talking about a person named Harrison Ford. But it`s clearly somebody else who is working this person who`s speaking to and ultimately threatening the election worker Ruby Freeman.
So don`t be distracted by Harrison Ford as if it`s the actor. It`s definitely not. But, here, let`s go back to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KUTTI: I would like to connect now on the phone, Harrison Ford, who would be taking this situation to a detailed level for you, to let you know exactly what is at stake, what choices you have. Whether you would choose or not to deal with us, I am not your enemy.
This is Garrison, he works with me. You are a loose end for a party that needs to tidy up. I work with some of the biggest names in the industry. Crisis is my thing.
One thing we don`t want to do for you is to create another crisis. I`m going to call Harrison Ford and I`m going to put him on speaker.
FREEMAN: And who`s Harrison Ford?
KUTTI: Harrison Ford is a Black progressive crisis manager, very high level, with authoritative powers to get you protection that you need.
I do (INAUDIBLE) then officer to know this is at this moment, a conversation between private citizens. I am hoping that you are trusting that this information doesn`t go any further. I have to honestly advise, I don`t know her background.
OFFICER: I could step over there if you`re -- if you`re comfortable. That fine?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At that point, the police officer whose body cam footage we`re watching here, that police officer leaves the room or goes and stands further away because this crisis manager lady who`s laying out this -- this very dangerous situation for Ruby Freeman she needs to know about, apparently this part she doesn`t want the police officer overhearing, the supposed plan to get Ruby Freeman safe, to move her and it has to happen urgently in the next 48 hours.
But what "Reuters" reports happened next after the police officer moved away, according to Ruby Freeman is that this crisis manager lady got this guy who she`s been describing on the speakerphone, and quote, over the next hour, the woman in the room with Ruby Freeman and the man on the speakerphone tried to get Ruby Freeman to implicate herself in committing voter fraud on election day. Trevian Kutti offered legal assistance in exchange.
Ms. Freeman recalled Kutti saying, quote, if you don`t tell everything, you`re going to jail.
`Reuters" continuers, quote, growing suspicious, Ms. Freeman jumped up from her chair and told Kutti, quote, the devil is a liar before she called for an officer.
Later at home, Ms. Freeman Googled Kutti`s name and discovered the woman was, in fact, a major Trump supporter. This, my friends, is where the story couldn`t get any weirder. It gets weirder because in addition to being a major Donald Trump supporter that woman, Trevian Kutti, apparently works for Kanye West, the hip hop star.
More importantly than his music career in this context, it`s important to know that Kanye West was a massive Trump supporter. You may recall that Kanye West briefly ran for president 2020 in a campaign that was a transparent effort to help Trump`s campaign by trying to siphon Black votes away from Democrats that Mr. West supposed campaign was actually run by Trump operatives and didn`t mind anybody knowing that.
But in addition to working for Kanye West, in an online biography that`s now been deleted from the web, Ms. Kutti also claimed to serve as a member of the, quote, Young Black Leadership Council under President Donald Trump. We can`t find any evidence if there ever was a Young Black Leadership Council under President Donald Trump. But she claimed there was one and that she was a member of it.
We tried multiple times in multiple ways to reach Ms. Kutti tonight to find out about her claimed connections to the Trump administration and the Trump campaign. We have not heard back. When I say we`ve tried multiple times in multiple ways to reach her, I really mean emphasis on multiple.
But now, this all raises a potentially kind of explosive question, right? These folks who were trying to get Ruby Freeman to confess to having committed election fraud, were they there talking to her just as private citizens, just as concerned citizens, or were they there on behalf of the Trump campaign?
Did the Trump campaign know they were doing this? Did the Trump campaign send them to try to get some confession out of Ruby Freeman?
They said they needed to act within 48 hours? Well, why? Forty-eight hours away from that conversation was January 6th when the election were to be certified in Congress.
If they were trying to get supposed evidence of election fraud, some kind of confession to election fraud to stop that certification, well, 48 hours would be the relevant time frame. In terms of answering this question about who sent these folks to intimidate Ruby Freeman or did they potentially just do it freelance, let`s not forget this happened in the state of Georgia. There right now is an ongoing serious criminal investigation by the Fulton County prosecutor`s office into attempts by Donald Trump and his allies to interfere with the election in Georgia, an investigation that includes an experienced RICO prosecutor brought on specifically for this case. To find out if this was an organized conspiracy to commit multiple crimes in pursuit of a single objective.
If elections officials in Georgia were intimidated and pressured to mal- administer the election or to throw the count or do anything else, that would be a crime under state law in Georgia. We reached out to the Fulton County DA`s office tonight and they told us, quote, threats against election workers and election administrators are part of the investigation, and any -- excuse me -- and any evidence of those threats is relevant to the investigation.
Ruby Freeman and her daughter are election workers. That is why they are under threat. Threatening election workers, threatening election administrators is a crime. It is a crime that is under investigation already in the state of Georgia.
If those people who were threatening and intimidating trying to extort some sort of false confession out of Ruby Freeman under pain of some sort of unspecified violence that was going to come to her, if they were there acting on their own behalf that`s a crime, if they were there acting under the Trump administration or the Trump campaign, that`s already under investigation by the Fulton County DA`s office.
And, by the way, I should tell you that as far as this threat that Kanye West`s crisis manager lady said she was there to protect Ruby Freeman from, the threat that in 48 hours people were going to come to Ruby Freeman`s home and disrupt her freedom -- well, according to a lawsuit that Ms. Freeman and her daughter have filed against the right-wing website that originally publicly identified them and that put them in a danger, a crowd of people, a crowd of Trump supporters did descend on Ms. Freeman`s house on foot and in cars yelling at her through bull horns just 48 hours after she got that stark warning it was going to happen.
That is what happened at her home on January 6th at the same time pro-Trump rioters were ransacking the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Freeman was not actually at home on January 6th when the crowd descended on her house. She had fled her house on the advice of the FBI. She wouldn`t return home for two months.
But you know what? Other than the warning to leave her home, it doesn`t appear that law enforcement, federal, state or local law enforcement has done much to help or protect Ruby Freeman and her family against all of these threats and all of these efforts to intimidate and harass her.
"Reuters" reports that one year on, the threats against her and her daughter have not been investigated by local police or by state authorities. Federal agents have apparently monitored some of the threats, but they have made no arrests. Quote, Freeman showed hundreds of threatening e-mails and text messages to police in Cobb County where she lives.
She visited the Fulton County police station in December 4, 2020. She told officers about the threats while she was there. Her phone buzzed nonstop with menacing calls. Freeman says an officer answered more than 20 of the threatening calls.
In response to Freeman`s at times panicked emergency calls to 911, Cobb County officers meant to her home multiple times, but police officials never opened investigations into the threats that she faced.
And yet for all that the reason, we have that video of ruby freeman talking with the crisis manager lady who showed up on her doorstep to threaten her in an even more insidious way, the reason we have that tape is when the cop suggested they go to the police station and have that conversation, Ruby Freeman said yes. Maybe she would be safe at the police station. She did need protection from this kind of stuff. And that -- to me that`s the sort of gut wrenching, heartbreaking part of all of this.
I mean, the citizenship of Ruby Freeman and her daughter is so clear through all of this. Her daughter loving to be the face of the elections office in Fulton County, helping her fellow citizens vote, happy to explain any questions or concerns with any voters receiving their absentee ballot applications or needing any other assistance from the voting office. She loved doing that.
Asked her mom to fill in as election worker. We need more folks to come in and work. And her mom decided she would come in and work on Election Day. All that up through and including Ms. Freeman turning to the police repeatedly because she needed someone to protect her. She trusted that they would protect her.
But not a single person has been charged or as far as we can tell even investigated for what has been done to her life. It`s been over a year now since this torrent of abuse started raining down on Ruby Freeman and her daughter because of President Trump naming her, Rudy Giuliani naming her, this right-wing website, conservative media outlets running these lies about her.
She didn`t do anything wrong. But lest you think this is all in the past, it`s all resolved now, take a look at what`s happening in Georgia, right now, today. Former Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue -- you might remember he lost his U.S. Senate seat to the Democrat Jon Ossoff.
David Perdue is now running for governor of that state. He`s running for governor because president Trump asked him to. He`s his preferred candidate and it`s easy to see why given the things he`s saying. Mr. Perdue is essentially building this campaign for governor on the debunked claims of voter fraud in that state.
Shortly after launching his gubernatorial bid this week, David Perdue said he wouldn`t have allowed Biden`s victory in Georgia to be certified if he had been serving as governor at the time. He`s also calling for a special legislative session to delve into all of Trump`s conspiracy theories of what happened in 2020.
And now, today, today, David Perdue filed a lawsuit pushing those baseless conspiracy theories. Georgia Public Radio summed it up with this rather blunt headline. Quote, David Perdue files election lawsuit with recycled, already disproven claims of fraud. The lawsuit he filed today claimed fraudulent ballots were counted in Fulton County, Georgia, even though that is bull and has been thoroughly refuted by investigators, thoroughly investigated, thoroughly refuted.
Mr. Perdue`s suit also renews the conspiracy that centered around Ruby Freeman and her daughter. It argues Fulton County election workers pulled out suitcases of illegal ballots and counted those ballots multiple times. And you can bet that the threats and harassment will kick back up again for Ruby Freeman and her daughter and her grandson and her mom, now that that conspiracy theory is back in the news.
And maybe this is all a stunt in terms of David Perdue trying to get elected as the next Trumpy Republican governor of Georgia, but it`s also a part of a really big multi-variant systematic attack by Republicans on the voting system in Georgia. I mean, one of the things Georgia Republicans just gave themselves the power to do is replace local election boards in that state.
"Reuters" reports in numerous counties, quote, the Republican controlled Georgia state legislature shifted the power to appoint some or all election board members to local county commissions, all of come are currently controlled by Republicans.
So, rather than allowing local communities, local counties, local municipalities to pick their elections officials instead, Republican state legislatures have given Republicans the power to pick all those local officials. And the effect is stark. The effect is that Republicans are now across the state of Georgia purging Democrats, particularly Black Democrats from county elections boards all across the state.
These are the boards that control voter access, you know, polling locations and early voting procedures. These are the entities that have the control over vote tallies and audits and recounts. They`re taking all the Democrats especially the black Democrats off those boards and replacing them with Republicans systematically, because they`ve given themselves the power to do this under their new legislation.
Under their new legislation, the Republican-controlled state election board now has for itself the power to assume control of any county election board that it deems underperforming. And surprise, one of the counties they`ve already deemed underperforming is Fulton County, predominantly Black Metro Atlanta Fulton County, where most Democratic votes in the state come from. The county where Ruby Freeman and her daughter counted votes on Election Day, just the way they were supposed to do it, where her daughter still works at the elections office.
The Republican state election board has declared Fulton County is an underperforming county in terms of its election. They`re already moving to take it over for themselves, to get rid of local control to install their own.
It certainly would appear that what they`re trying to do there is have the biggest black Democratic county in the state of Georgia taken over by presumably white Republicans. It is bad enough -- it`s heart breaking enough to see the way that efforts to overturn the 2020 election upended the lives of election workers like Ruby Freeman and her daughter, but it really does look like just the beginning. I mean, yeah, threatening and harassing individual election workers has really been working for them. Imagine how well it`s going to work for them when they just take over the entire elections machinery top to tail to do with it what they will.
MADDOW: A hundred days ago, the great state of Texas banned abortion. The Republican-dominated legislature passed a new abortion ban, the Republican governor signed it. States aren`t supposed to be allowed to ban abortion. Roe versus Wade is binding Supreme Court precedent. It says states can`t do that.
In America, women have the right to end the pregnancy if they want to.
The government can`t force them to carry a pregnancy to term. It`s supposed to be settled law.
But this summer in a weird, after midnight unexplained order, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court let Texas` new abortion ban go into effect despite Roe versus Wade. It went into effect 100 days ago today, on September 1st. And a bunch of different entities brought legal challenges against Texas` abortion ban. The Biden administration`s Justice Department brought a legal challenge to it as well.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled on those challenges. And it in a 5-4 ruling, they decided they would leave Texas` abortion ban in place. Abortion providers will be allowed to go ahead with some lawsuits trying to legally challenge it in lower courts, but those lawsuits don`t stand a great chance given the ruling today from the Supreme Court.
And over all, the law still in place, the law still in effect. Abortions still banned in Texas. The five Republican appointed justices who were in the majority today let it stand.
And remember the weird way this ban works. Texas didn`t just up and declare abortions a crime and then send out the cops to arrest people for it. They made this weird new law that`s designed to evade Roe versus Wade. It`s designed to get around the fact that abortion is a constitutionally protected right.
And the way they do it instead of sending out cops to arrest people for having an abortion or providing an abortion, they setup this weird scheme by which random private citizens are invited to bring lawsuits against someone who`s involved in an abortion. And if that lawsuit prevails, if they can prove a person provided an abortion or worked as a receptionist or checked someone in at an abortion clinic or they can prove you loaned your sister money to get an abortion or let her stay at your house the night before the appointment, if they can prove you were the Uber driver or bus driver who dropped her off at the clinic, then you the implicated person who assisted in the abortion, you have to personally pay $10,000 to the person who sued you plus their legal fees.
This is the scheme by which Texas` new abortion ban is enforced. It is admittedly bizarre. It has the effect of putting amateur stalkers on the trail of every woman in Texas who seems she might have been pregnant at some point in the past and now she seems like she`s not.
But Justice Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett all okayed that today. So, that -- it stays in place.
Justice John Roberts, the chief justice is a lot of things, but one of the things he is is a very clear and direct writer. He doesn`t exaggerate. He does not use hyperbole. That`s what I think for a lot of people made it all the more alarming when he wrote today in dissent.
Again, he was on the losing side of this ruling. He was in the minority, but he described what the court did today as such. He said, quote, Texas has passed a law banning abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. This law is contrary to this court`s decision in Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey.
It`s had the effect of denying the exercise of what we have held as a right protected under the federal constitution. Texas has deployed an array of stratagems designed to shield its unconstitutional law from judicial review. The clear purpose and actual effect of the Texas abortion ban has been to nullify this court`s rulings.
It is, however, a basic principle that the U.S. Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is. Indeed, if the legislatures of the several states may at will annul the judgments of the courts of the United States and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the Constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery.
The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter. It is the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system that is at stake.
That was Chief Justice John Roberts today, Mr. Understatement, nevertheless saying letting Texas ban abortions this way means states can just overrule the Constitution now. States can overrule the federal court. The Supreme Court doesn`t have to be obeyed anymore, not if this is how it`s going to go from here on out.
Justice Sotomayor was on the same side of the argument as Chief Justice John Roberts. She was more blunt in her assessment. She said, quote, the court should have put an end to this madness months ago before the ban first went into effect. It failed to do so then. It fails again today.
The court just betrays not only the citizens of Texas but also our constitutional system of governmenT. The court effectively invites other states to refine Texas` model for nullifying federal rights.
This is a brazen challenge to our federal structure. It echoes the philosophy of John C. Calhoun, a virulent defender of the slave holding south who insisted the states had the right to veto or nullify any federal law which they disagreed.
The nation, she says, fought a civil war over that proposition.
This choice to shrink from Texas` challenge to federal supremacy will have far reaching repercussions. I doubt the court let alone the country is prepared for them.
At surface level, this was a sort of complicated abortion related ruling today from the Supreme Court, but the bottom line here is that Texas has successfully found a way to ban abortion.
A few questions. Does this open the door for every other Republican- controlled state to ban abortion in it same way, just using the copycat law? When Justice Sotomayor today and John Roberts warned this means states can`t just end abortion rights this way, they can end any federal right they don`t like. Does that really mean what they`re saying this means?
I mean, under this new Supreme Court precedent, could a blue state that`s tired of gun violence put a $10,000 bounty for somebody for selling an AR- 15? Sure there`s a federal constitutional right to bear arms, there was a right to get abortions in Texas, too. But Texas took care of that with this $10,000 bounty scheme. Couldn`t you just do that with guns, too?
Could a state like Texas next say not only do they not like there being a federal right to abortion, they don`t like contraception? It`s sinful. So, now, they`ll put a $10,000 bounty on anybody who sells condoms or birth control pills.
What about freedom of speech? Sure, there`s the First Amendment. There`s a federally protected right to freedom of speech, says so in the Constitution. The courts have upheld that.
But in "X" state, how about a $10,000 bounty on someone who says something against Jesus Christ? $10,000 bounty if you can catch somebody saying something blasphemous. Yeah, there`s a federal right to free speech, but states can get around that federal right problem now.
That`s what Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice John Roberts screamed about from the losing side of this case today. Are they right?
Hold that thought.
MADDOW: Last week, the Supreme Court watcher at slate.com, Dahlia Lithwick, told us to expect the Supreme Court`s ruling quite soon on the Texas abortion ban. Dahlia said effectively when that ruling came, it would be dressed up to maybe look like good news for abortion rights but the ruling would actually be nothing of the kind.
Well, today, we got that ruling and as usual, Dahlia was right.
Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at slate.com, appreciate you being here tonight, my friend. Thanks for making time.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AT SLATE.COM: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Am I right in thinking this might have been even worse than what you expected?
LITHWICK: I think so. I think when we talked a week ago, I said that the court would just flat out strike down SB8 under the theory as you said in your lead up, you know, this is really bad if you`re a gun owner in Texas. In California, you sure don`t want this kind of scheme to be taking your gun rights away.
The court didn`t strike down SB8. The court just said, here`s a really narrow pathway for the plaintiffs to keep on trying to sue. So I was right insofar as I think there`s a lot of people who construed this as a win for the abortion clinics. Not a win, tiny little tunnel to try to vindicate their rights.
But, oh, boy, this is really, I think, as you said, a signal of how far the court has moved from trying to mollify us with gaslighting. They`re just -- they`re done with us.
MADDOW: Well, the tiny little tunnel that remains, as you describe it, in terms of there`s some way the abortion providers can keep their legal challenges alive, the way you wrote about it tonight at slate.com, the way that Justice Gorsuch has effectively tilted the courts even against those future challenges as they go forward, is that enough? That sense in which the still on going matters, is that enough to hold off every Republican- controlled state in the country passing copycat legislation and then all of them getting bans like Texas because this will be an ongoing concern?
LITHWICK: Yeah, emphatically, no. Not only is it not clear what the abortion providers can, in fact, do in Texas, and we`re going to see in the next couple days as they roll the dice and take a risk about whether they can in fact start to perform the procedures that they haven`t been able to perform for 101 days, but the court was really clear, I think, in giving a map for, you know, four states have already talked about putting copy cat bans into effect and I think we`re going to see more of that.
I think the court pretty much said if you`re a red state and you want to ban abortion, do what Texas did, but tweak it a little around the edges and you`ll keep winning. So I don`t think anyone who wants to copy what Texas did is anything but emboldened after today.
MADDOW: Wow. Dolly Lithwick, senior editor at Slate.com, thank you for being here. Your clarity is always comforting, because it`s clear. It`s deeply unsettling at times like this because what you`re being clear about is pretty unsettling itself. Thank you, my friend.
LITHWICK: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Ready for some good news-ish? Or some maybe it could potentially someday be good news? Someday? I know you are ready for it.
All right, I`m not saying you have to hear what Texas Senator Ted Cruz has to say about this, but Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas said something to NBC this week that Democrats in the Senate really, really should pay attention as should we all.
This past week, Congress passed a bill to lift the debt ceiling. In recent years, lifting the debt ceiling has become this recurring stupid disaster where Republicans in the Senate hold Democrats in the Senate hostage with the filibuster, and we get a week of political coverage of the nation in crisis heading toward this stupid self-inflicted wound. We`re going to rip a huge hole in our economy for no good reason.
Well, this time this week, Senate Democrats decided they were not going to allow the country to be brought to that brink again. They created a special process to, in fact, lift the debt ceiling this week. And they suspended the filibuster to do it.
Yes. Here`s the part where I want you to pay attention to the wit and wisdom of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. He tells NBC News this week that suspending the filibuster in this manner creates a, quote, disturbing precedent, as it, quote, opens the door for Democrats to try to do that in the future on progressive priorities.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Correct, sir. There are all sorts of exceptions to the filibuster rule. It`s already carved out and can`t be used for budget bills, for judicial nominees, for executive branch nominees, for the War Powers Resolution, for the Congressional Review Act, for certain parts of trade agreements.
Now newly as of this week, you also can`t use the filibuster to block raising the debt ceiling. Why, again, are we not bypassing the filibuster for voting rights? Two bills that would guarantee protections for voting rights are stalled in the Senate right now for want of 60 votes because the Republicans are filibustering it. Why don`t the Democrats bypass the filibuster for those, too?
This is not a rhetorical question. This is very tactical question. You just did it on the debt ceiling. Why wouldn`t you do it to protect democracy?
Watch this space.
MADDOW: I`m going to ask you to reset your brain a little bit. Prepare it to take in something quite new, something 180 degrees different from what we normally show you this time of night. Because coming up next right here MSNBC is about to bring you the world premier of an award winning movie, a documentary called "Paper & Glue."
This is definitely not your normal Friday night news coverage here on MSNBC, but trust me, it`s amazing. You`re going to be glad you checked it out, and it starts right now.