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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 9/7/21

Guests: Laurence Tribe, Marc Elias


Laurence Tribe successfully argued 1982 SCOTUS case that may be used to fight Texas abortion law. New restrictive Texas voting law faces at least five legal challenges. Afghan women flooding the streets to protest the Taliban.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here today.

President Biden was in New York and New Jersey where the death toll is 45 now from the remnants of hurricane Ida hitting just those two states. That extreme flash flooding that tore through the most populated part of the country last Wednesday night. President Biden today meeting with local officials and local residents about the ongoing cleanup efforts there.

President Biden was in Louisiana on Friday where 400,000 Americans are now in their second week without power amid extreme heat in Louisiana and extremely challenging conditions, conditions that get more and more challenging with each day passing, with the power still not returned. Reviewing the damage today, President Biden said, quote, the evidence is clear. Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy. The threat is here. It`s not going to get any better. The storms are going to get worse and worse and worse, he said.

He said, quote: We`ve got to listen to the scientists, and economists and the national security experts. They all tell us this is code red. The nation and the world are in peril. That is not hyperbole, that is a fact. President Biden speaking today, again, on this trip to New York and New Jersey.

What, of course, he`s proposing to do on climate is what`s in his Build Back Better plan, the big infrastructure bill that Democrats are trying to pass. One thing to sort of have in mind over the next few days is that by the end of this week, we may not know definitively, but we should have a pretty good idea by the end of this week as to whether or not they`ll be able to pass this infrastructure bill, as to whether or not President Biden is going to be able to effectuate most of his policy agenda for his first term in office.

It`s an important horizon, I think, to set this week in particular. In politics I learned early on that it`s a sort of common wisdom in politics and in news about politics that the day after Labor Day, whether or not you are in school, whether or not you have kids in school, the day after labor day is the first day of school for everyone, or the first day of the year even when it`s not Rosh Hashanah. The theory is that in an election year, today is the day, the day after Labor Day, that the country actually starts paying attention to who they`re eventually going to vote for, even when it`s not a national election year.

Still, today is the day. The day after labor day are when members of Congress start to head back to Washington having gotten an earful from their constituents back home about whatever the outrage of the day is that motivated politics through the summer season.

Case in point, 2009: the first august recess of the Obama presidency. You might remember that was distinguished by rip-roaring, raucous, sometimes crazed, occasional even violent town halls and protests all around the country by anti-Obama Republicans, by the new Tea Party Republican movement all screaming bloody murder about how Obamacare was going to destroy the country and they were willing to start a civil war over it. In the end, Obamacare, of course, passed into law and it`s now just -- now, it`s the Affordable Care Act quietly providing health insurance to tens of millions of Americans without much fuss, right, and without hell mouths opening anywhere that I can see, at least.

So, looking back at 2009 and the freak-out on the right about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, it does seem all hyper and over the top. But it was real at the time. It was a remarkable thing to cover in the moment, and the fact remains that huge pushback in 2009, that first time lawmakers had a long break at home in August 2009, the first time they had a long break at home after Obama was elected president, that huge pushback, that roiling opposition in their home districts, that set the tone for the rapid opposition, the intransigent opposition that Obamacare engendered in Washington for years thereafter.

Well, that was 2009. That was the first August recess when President Obama was president. Fast-forward to now, we`ve just had the first August recess of President Biden being president.

And this time, it`s not Obamacare. This time, it`s not the Affordable Care Act that`s the proposal on the table. This time, it`s way bigger. This time the new Democratic president is proposing a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which is way, way bigger than Obamacare was.

But it`s funny, you know? Not really a peep at home. No angry town halls about this in the home districts. Actually, not even really a peep from elected Republicans about it or from right wing activists who are supporting them.

It turns out, President Biden`s infrastructure bill is really popular. I mean, if you want to look at signs of life around this gigantic infrastructure bill when members of Congress and senators went home for the August recess. I mean, look no further than Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont doing supportive rallies for the infrastructure bill in places like Indiana and Iowa during Augusts. Thousands of people coming out to see him talk about it in Indiana and Iowa, and his home state of Vermont. Not to protest him and how much they object it but how much they support it.

What we`re seeing around the infrastructure bill, including all the climate stuff, it`s the opposite of the bloody-minded, screaming opposition to Obamacare that we saw at this exact point in the Obama presidency. Opposition, substantive or otherwise, just isn`t materializing on the right against President Biden`s major proposals the way it did for President Obama. That, of course, is a problem that Democrats have a fix for. Democrats might just decide in the absence of significant pushback on the right, they might just decide they oppose their own agenda themselves.

What the Tea Party did to hamstring the agenda of president Obama for years, West Virginia Democratic Joe Manchin is trying to do to President Biden`s agenda now saying he just doesn`t want to vote for the infrastructure bill, doesn`t plan to vote for the infrastructure bill. Climate be damned and all the rest of it, too. Despite how popular it is, even among his own voters.

It`s just worth keeping that in mind over the course of the next few days. We shall see. I think by the end of this week, we should know a lot more as to whether or not it`s going to happen.

And, of course, it`s happening at the same time that a lot of other things are on the boil. On COVID, the administration is making some new moves as well. The president today directing that $600 payments should be made to individual farm workers and people who work in meat-packing plants to compensate them for the extraordinary risk and thank them for the extraordinary service they provided the country during the COVID pandemic.

Earlier, agricultural aid and food supply chain aid had basically gone to the owners of those businesses, not to the low-level workers. President Biden is now saying that $600 checks should go to low-level workers in those fields. As of this week, we`re back up to a steady stream of more than 1,500 deaths every day from COVID, which is impossible to swallow.

And some states, states with lower vaccination rates, are having it even harder than others, harder than the rest of the country. In the great state of Idaho today, state officials announced a decision they made quietly yesterday, which is that hospitals in the northern part of that state, hospitals in the northern part of Idaho will now move to what`s called crisis standards of care, crisis standards of care means they effectively agree that the state`s hospitals are going to have to start rationing care now. They`re not going to be able to give everyone optimum treatment because the numbers are so overwhelming for COVID hospitalizations.

This is something that Idaho feared they might have to do last year during what everybody thought was the worst of the COVID search. They never had to do it before now, but now that policy is in effect in northern and north central Idaho.

The day after tomorrow, President Biden is due to make another address to the country on the issue of COVID, specifically on the issue of vaccination boosters and more. We`re starting to see signals that the plan for booster shots being made available later this month, that may be in flux. The details of that should be more clear as well over the course of this week as we head toward that presidential address which we believe will be on Thursday.

So, I mean, just as it was before the holiday weekend, there is just a ton going on. Lots of major news developing still every day, sort of relentlessly.

But I want to start tonight, this proverbial first day of school with the story of a charming bar in the great state of Massachusetts. There is a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called Grendel`s Den. I have never been, but it looks great. It looks like my kind of place.

This year marks the 50th year in business for Grendel`s Den in Cambridge. That`s an amazing achievement for any local. It`s particularly amazing to hit that achievement in what has just been this tremendously difficult year for restaurants and bars everywhere. But to celebrate their 50 anniversary, Grendel`s Den has had to get creative about how to celebrate. They apparently put together an LP, a vinyl record, with local bands, all recording songs from the year Grendel`s Den was founded, all recording songs from 1971. That`s very cool.

They also hold a new bunch of new merch. You can buy a Grendel`s Den onesie for your baby. You can buy a celebratory jar of their candy jalapinos, OK.


You can buy a collapsible Grendel`s Den doggie bowl for your dog. Very handy. It comes with a little carabineer. For $4, you can also buy their commemorative Grendel`s Den shot glass which says, take the shot, promotes COVID vaccination.

But this year, for their 50th year in business, Grendel`s Den may also have a present for the whole country, a present for the Constitution, if you will. Because Grendel`s Den started out in Cambridge as a restaurant. Then they soon added a salad bar in the `70s.

It was not until they`ve been open for a few years that they decided they wanted to open their current basement location as a proper bar. And in order to open as a bar, they had to apply to the city for a state-regulated liquor license. And that`s where today`s gift to you comes from, because back then if you walked out the back door of Grendel`s Den, the next building you would encounter across the alley, little courtyard thing there, was a church, the Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church. That church has since moved out to the suburbs. I think where the church was is now a Pete`s coffee. I don`t know, it`s all changed over the decades.

But back when Grendel`s Den was applying for a liquor license, so they could their bar in the `70s, their back door was across the alley from the backdoor of a church. And that was really, really important. Because a Massachusetts state law at the time gave churches the right and the opportunity to veto any liquor license application for any business that was near to them.

And even today, 50 years after they were founded, as they`re celebrating their 50th anniversary of being in business with the collapsible doggie bowl and all the rest of it, even today, Grendel`s Den has a footnote property citing the resulting Supreme Court case on their website. It`s the same place where you can buy the shot glasses and the onesies and all the rest.

They`ve got a link to the proper citation for that Supreme Court case on their website even to this day because they`re very proud of that case because they won that case. Massachusetts law said the state, the government, of course, had the power to give or withhold a license to serve liquor, which you need in order to operate a bar. But Massachusetts then delegated effectively that power to a private entity, to churches.

The Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church used that power to say that Grendel`s Den could not have a liquor license. Grendel`s den sued. They got a really good, somewhat famous lawyer to argue their side all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

And in 1982, in fact, in an 8-1 decision authored by the chief justice, the United States Supreme Court sided with the bar, they sided with Grendel`s Den. Nothing against the church, of course, but the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts had crossed into unconstitutional territory when it, quote, delegated to private nongovernmental entities a power normally invested in agencies of government. The court said by doing that, the law substituted the church`s own views, whatever they may be and regardless of what they`re based on, the church substituted the church`s own motivations to act, quote, for the reason decision making of a public legislative body acting on evidence and guided bystanders on issues with significant economic and political implications.

In other words, nobody has got a right to have a liquor license. That was not what was at issue here. What was at issue here was that the government, the state, can`t let some random entity, a church, a school, some other private entity make that decision. It`s a governmental decision. You cannot delegate it to a private entity to make that determination for its own purposes. That is standing Supreme Court precedent from 1982, again, 8-1 decision.

Today, the very published, very famous Harvard Law professor who took that Grendel`s Den case back in the day, who took it all the way into the United States and won today, that professor, his name is Laurence Tribe, has sort of set off a flare warning that the Texas abortion ban that the U.S. Supreme Court let pass into law last week, he said that`s basically the Grendel`s Den case all over again.

Quote: As with the Massachusetts liquor law, the Texas abortion law delegates quintessentially governmental power to private parties. But this time, it`s a state delegating authority to a church, who decides who gets a liquor license, this time the state delegating authority to -- as he puts it, quote -- literally anyone on earth with an objection to abortion, giving that individual or organization the unilateral and unfettered power to inflict punishment on whoever assists a woman in terminating a pregnancy.

Laurence Tribe says that Supreme Court precedent that he pursued and won in 1982, the way he won that case for that bar in Cambridge can be the undoing of the Texas abortion ban as well. Now, how exactly it has to go for that strategy to work, who has to bring the lawsuit and when and against whom? That itself is obviously very important to this as a strategy.

Logically, it`s also really interesting even to those of us who aren`t lawyers. We`re going to speak to Laurence Tribe about that in just a moment.

Since the Texas abortion ban was allowed to go into law last week, we`ve been keeping an eye on neighboring states around Texas, even neighboring very red states like Oklahoma, for example, where clinics that still offer abortion services already say they are filling up with a flood of patients from Texas. We`ve been watching activist groups and women`s networks put plans into action to help women and fund women beyond state lines out of Texas so they can access abortion legally before those neighboring states start to ban it, too. More than half a dozen states are moving to copy Texas`s law and ban abortion in those states as well, but for right now, at least, Texas is the only state that has effectively banned abortion, so women in Texas who need an abortion have to leave the state somehow in order to get one.

We`ve been watching that sort of delicate and somewhat panicked maneuvering by Texas women and people who support them to try to get around the structures of this new law, this reality where it`s illegal to get an abortion now.

In the midst of that today, though, watching all those developments was a bit of a bull from the blue to get today`s news from across Texas` other state line, from across Texas` border to the south. Because today the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban abortion any longer in that country. Some states in Mexico allow for legal abortion, some do not, but the Supreme Court ruling today in Mexico struck down one state`s abortion ban, and the ruling is expected to be binding on all states in the country.

In other words, Mexico just got its Roe v. Wade today, just a few days after the Republican-appointed majority on our Supreme Court got rid of the protections of Roe in the United States of America. It`s like our two countries passed each other at the threshold, right? One country leaving the century going backwards, the other one on its way in.

Nobody is quite sure what the Biden administration is going to do, or what they can do, especially as red states, Republican-controlled states, gear up to Xerox the Texas bill and put their own bans in place. President Biden did pledge a whole of government approach to try to protect women`s constitutional rights. Attorney General Merrick Garland said yesterday the DOJ is reviewing its options, but nobody knows quite sure what they`ll do.

Professor Laurence Tribe has some pointed advice there as well.

Joining us now is Professor Laurence Tribe who co-wrote an op-ed in "The Boston Globe" today about the Supreme Court`s 1982 decision in the Grendel`s Den case. He argued that and won. He argues today it could upend Texas` new abortion law.

Mr. Tribe, I should tell you, is professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard Law School.

Professor Tribe, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks making time to be here tonight.


MADDOW: I am not a lawyer, and I have never been a law student. I`m sure I got some of that wrong. I feel humbled even asking you, but could you tell me if I screwed up any of that meaningfully?

TRIBE: You got it just right. You brought back wonderful memories and you`ve got all of it right. The whole case arose because of this arbitrary power that was given to a private entity. It happened to be a church.

But the issue is the same whether it`s a church or not. There are cases in which the Supreme Court said you cannot give governmental power over peoples` lives or liberty to private bodies, that have no public accountability.

And the Supreme Court has said, in 1925, in a unanimous decision, that the attorney general of the United States, even without a statute, has authority to go to court, to represent the United States against any state, which interferes with interstate commerce, or in this case, international commerce, to Mexico, or to New Mexico within the country, or that violates human rights pursuant to a treaty, in order to get injunctive relief.

And I know, the attorney general is looking closely at all of those options.


He also has options under the Ku Klux Kan Act, to bring criminal proceedings, against bounty hunters who are basically engaged in the kind of vigilante justice that led to the enactments of the Ku Klux Klan Act in 1871. So there are all kinds of options available. It is curious that this little restaurant in the square could become a landmark in the path to women`s rights human rights and the rule of law, which is being turned upside down by the state of Texas.

MADDOW: I think a lot of people looking at this from the outside, again from the outside the legal system is lamenting this abrupt change from 50 years established presidents in the court and what we follow on our constitutional rights. I think there`s some appeal or some easiness to the idea that the Justice Department could swoop in here and sort of save this constitutional right. That the government the administration can move into act.

But one of the ways you`re describing this lot is including bringing lawsuits by people who effectively were targeted by this Texas law. And that would be handled as a civil matter?

TRIBE: Well, the individuals who are targeted, the clinics who were taken out of business. Could bring lawsuits under the civil equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan Act, which is 42 U.S. code sections 1983 and 1985, to legalistic about this, but those are the sections.

They can bring suits to basically get a multitude, of whatever bounty is are being claimed against them, so that what we need since this Texas law operates by chilling abortion helpers and abortion providers, frightening them out of business when they can do is say. You sue us for $10,000, or $10 million, because there is no limit put on the statue. And we will see you for double that. You want to try?

And I think a lot of the people, would waltz into court in exercise this impermissibly delegated veto power over abortion, are going to think twice or maybe several times. And interestingly, the point about the Grendel`s Den case in all of these precedents about private power, is that even a justice who does not believe in Roe v. Wade, who doesn`t think there is a basic right to abortion, would have to confront all of these precedents that say that even if what you`re doing is not something that specially protected by the constitution like serving liquor with the meal that you`re serving people.

Even then your livelihood cannot be put at the mercy, of a private party, who is delegated unbridled authority. Now we have many fronts, on which this law can be challenged. And I think the attorney general has been doing serious job investigating, the best way to proceed.

MADDOW: Do you have confidence in the Attorney General Garland`s judgment, and to his commitments, to finding a way to meeting the challenge this lawsuit?

TRIBE: Very much. I`ve known him for years. He was my student. I know a lot of people would like him to move more quickly. I get impatient myself sometimes, and I haven`t been easy on him.

But I do have confidence that he is working very hard with the boss possible way for the United States government to proceed and protect both women and the rule of law. And I`m looking forward to whatever he is going to do.

MADDOW: Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, and the savior of Grendel`s Den`s ability to serve booze -- sir, thank you very much for your time tonight and helping us understand. Thank you.

TRIBE: Thank you, Rachel

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to get to here tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: There`s new reporting out of the state of Georgia, that the criminal investigation there into former President Donald, Trump appears to be steaming ahead. As you know, a state prosecutor in Georgia, in Fulton County, Georgia, the district attorney there, has been investigating whether former President Trump, broke state laws by trying to interfere in the November election in Georgia. It`s an investigation that revolves around Trump`s phone call in January in which he pressured Georgia secretary of state to find extra votes, for Trump, and thereby overturn Biden`s electoral victory in the state.

"The Daily Beast" is now reporting that that prosecutor has interviewed at least four officials in Georgia`s secretary of state office. Investigators have reportedly shown a particular interest not just in the phone call from Trump but also in a similar earlier call from Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.

Georgia`s Republican secretary of state has said that Senator Graham called and told him he should use his power as secretary of state, to throw out a whole bunch of absentee ballots in Georgia, in order to hand the state`s electoral votes to Trump.

Beyond that, "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" is also now reporting that the investigators are coordinating with the congressional committee, that`s investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The idea being that the state prosecutors are interested in any documents turned up by the congressional investigation that could be useful in their state prosecution back home in Georgia.

Even as that election interference investigation, the potentially criminal investigation moves forward in Georgia, there`s also new developments now in the New York state investigation, into the former presidents business. It was two months, ago when the business run by former President Trump and his family got criminally indicted.


New York prosecutors indicted the Trump Organization itself and its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, and charge them with years-long multimillion dollar tax fraud scheme. Mr. Weisselberg himself and lawyers for the Trump inquiry news agent pled not guilty in that. Case the case is ongoing.

But since those initial indictments, lots of breath has been expended, lots of ink has been spilled, as to whether that was the extent of the case. Whether they would be superseding indictments, with more charges for those defendants, whether there would be other and friends indicted on other charges, either related to the initial tax scheme, or to related to something else.

Well, now we know, or at least we know that it`s still going. The prosecutors who brought those charges against the Trump organization and the CFO, they have been continuing to work that case and they apparently have more to give. "The Wall Street Journal" was first to report that the special grand jury, that`s been hearing evidence in the Trump case, the grand jury handed down the previous criminal indictments, last week they decided they needed to hear from yet more witnesses.

Even before the first indictments, "Wall Street Journal" and also CNN reported that somebody else, from the Trump Organization a guy with a name you won`t forget, they had reported that he was under scrutiny by prosecutors, that he`d been advised to get his own attorney, that prosecutors were potentially seeking his press cooperation. I said you will not forget his, name you will not forget his name.

His name is, Matthew Calamari, which is actually a beautiful name. And you won`t forget it. It gets a hold of you, won`t let go. You might succeed and pulling one of its little arms off, but then there`s seven other little arms that just grab. You won`t like go, little tentacles just great to you.

But Matthew Calamari, Sr. started as Donald Trump bodyguard. He eventually was named Trump Organization COO, chief operating officer. He`s the one who`s been reported to be under additional scrutiny by prosecutors, just like Allen Weisselberg was as an individual. Mr. Calamari`s son, Matthew Calamari Jr., started at the Trump Organization right out of high school. He is now listed as the corporate security director at the Trump Org.

It is Mr. Squid`s the younger who was subpoenaed to give testimony to the special grand jury last week. Grand jury testimony is secret. We can never know exactly what happened. It happens behind closed doors.

But as a general matter in New York, getting a subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, means you don`t have a choice, you must appear you are compelled to testify. But you can also get a form of limited immunity for anything criminal that you cop to during the testimony. Which means, again as a general matter, if you are being subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury, yes, you have to testify. But you yourself are probably not getting indicted. They probably want your testimony to contribute to a potential indictment to someone else.

Now, Mr. Calamari Jr. has provided that testimony. "The New York Times" reported that Mr. Calamari appeared in front of the grand jury late last week, on Thursday of last week, his lawyers say that he was immunized and testified truthfully.

Again, it`s probably not a bad sign for Mr. Calamari Jr., who gave the testimony. But it`s potentially a bad sign for someone else who he was asked to testify about.

In addition to that Calamari appetizer, CNN reports that the top financial officer of the Trump Organization under Allen Weisselberg, a man named Jeffrey McConney, also was called to testify again before the grand jury late last week. Now, make of that what you will. Mr. McConney reportedly testified to the grand jury, at least once already. Just before the first round of indictments were handed down against the Trump Organization and the CFO. Now he has been brought back in to testify again.

He and his lawyer both declined to comment on that second round of testimony. But he did report that he gave that testimony to the grand jury of the end of last week.

You know, subpoenas are neither indictments, nor are they sure signs that more indictments are coming. But they are a sure sign that the prosecutors are still at, work and they are not done.

Here, they really seem to have their tentacles attached to this. Thing the little grab the arms just clinging and clinging and not letting go. All those arm, so many arms. You know they have hard little beaks too?

Watch this space.



MADDOW: Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott officially signed into law the Texas Republicans long sought bill to dramatically restrict voting rates in that state. He signed it only today but -- welcome to the world little draconian voting rights restriction. That law already faces five legal challenges. Two of them were filed last week before the law went into effect. Another three were filed today immediately upon Governor Abbott signing the bill into law.

One of those lawsuits was from veteran Democratic voting rights lawyer Marc Elias, who is a busy man right. Now he is currently suing at least six other Republican controlled states, during this current wave of Republican restrictions on voting laws. Marc Elias` lawsuits typically cut straight to the point, this latest suit filed in the western district of Texas on behalf of multiple nonprofits, is no one section.

It says in part, quote: The legislature enacted SB1 not to preserve election integrity or combat election fraud. After all, the state`s election official they have knowledge that elections in Texas are already secure. Rather, they enacted this law to, quote, stem the growing tide of minority voting participation, by weaponizing the false repeatedly defunct accusations of widespread voter fraud, advanced by supporters of former President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election.


It is no coincidence that SB1 passed just months after Texas Republican Party leaders including the state`s governor, attorney general and member of its congressional organization tried and failed to overturn the election results, and disenfranchise millions of voters in other states.

Joining us now is Marc Elias, Democratic voting rights attorney. He`s the founder of Democracy Docket.

Mr. Elias, thanks for being here. I know you are busy as always.


MADDOW: So, each time one of these laws has passed and each time you have ever recently filed a lawsuit to try to stop it, I have asked you if you think there is a remedy for these laws in the courts. And you have been pretty clear here repeatedly in the past, that the best remedy would before Congress to pass a new law, something like the For the People Act to bolster voting rights in federal statute, in a way that states can deviate from.

Does Texas passing this law change that calculation at all? Are we still in the same place we were?

ELIAS: If anything, it just illustrates the problem, which is that as you point, out this is now the seventh state since the big lie, in the violent attempted coup on January 6th. This is the seventh state that is passed a law to make voting difficult. Yes we can keep going to court in state after state after state and we are because we believe these laws violate the Constitution, in the Voting Rights Act. But, boy, it would sure be better if Congress would pass For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and put in place a structure that would simply shut down, these terrible suppression efforts.

MADDOW: In terms of Texas in the news right now, obviously, the Texas abortion ban being allowed to go into effect last week by the Supreme Court continues to be a huge news story in the country. Texas governor making news on that today with bizarre comments, about how his plan for rape victims being forced to bear their rapist child under the new law, is something he`ll take care of because he`s going to eliminate rape in Texas.

I mean, Texas is sort of position the vanguard, on social issues and divisive issues. It`s something that feels both sort of, perfectly illustrated by this voting law and also this voting law is just one thing among many. I have to ask you if there`s anything specific about this Texas law that makes it either easier or harder to challenge in court.

We`ve all been following the abortion laws, journey through the Supreme Court and back in the way that Republicans were able to scheme that one in such a way that it could avoid federal scrutiny in the courts.

ELIAS: So, I think there are a couple of things about this law that make it particularly vulnerable. The first is, Texas cannot claim like some other states do, that it has expansive voting rights. It`s one of the hardest states already to register to vote. So we`re starting off with a baseline that is pretty restrictive to begin with.

Number two: you have the state officials in Texas saying there`s no evidence of fraud in their state. So, there`s no reason for the law. And the third, which is really one of the pieces of this law that makes it so dangerous. And so different is the allowance in incitement almost for a partisan poll watchers to go to the polls, and have free range in the watching of how voters vote, and anytime election officials try to rein them, and they face the risk themselves of criminal prosecution.

So, those are some of the reasons why this Texas law is uniquely bad. Not to mention that it targets Paris County. And I think those things will play prominently in the court.

MADDOW: In terms of the poll watchers issue that you just mentioned. I feel like observing fights over voting rights, and an even election disputes over the years. I feel like this issue of having partisan poll watchers, at polling sites has led in the past to charge incredible charges that voters are intimidated by partisan poll watchers, as they`re constituted now. That Texas law signed today would empower them to have access to more parts of the voting process that they already have access to.

ELIAS: It would, and it would also restrict the ability of the election officials to sort of control the space, right? We count on the fact that on election, day we won a bubble around the voting locations themselves. Which is why states have bans for example on electioneering near the polls, and we want to make sure that election officials working in the polls have the ability to keep checkers in bay and keep voting lines moving.


And what Texas has done here is put a place a regime that removes the ability of election officials to do that. And it really invites bad behavior, on the part of partisan poll watching officials, and we know from history when that is done. It is inevitably Republicans who are targeting black and brown voters. So, I expect we will see that in Texas, and we`re going to be prepared to challenge that in court.

MADDOW: Marc, last question for. You if this case or some combination of this, case or other cases, ends up getting to the United States Supreme Court, as we have seen these waves of voter restriction laws passed, in Republican-controlled states all over the country. Do you expect that the Supreme Court would be as hostile to voting rates as they have shown themselves to be toward abortion rights and as a lot of people fear they must be even the way they`ve got the voting rights act success over the last few years?

ELIAS: Look, I`m not -- I don`t have rose colored glasses. I know what the Supreme Court is, but we have no choice. When the political branches failed to protect peoples constitutional rights, which the legislature is in Texas and in Georgia and in Florida and in Iowa, in Arkansas and in Kansas and in Montana have done, when they failed to do that job, then we turn to the courts.

We hope Congress will step in and pass For the People and the VRAA, but fundamentally, it`s the job of the federal courts and state courts in this country to ensure constitutional rights are protected. So, we`re going to litigate these cases, assuming the courts will do the right things, and we will hope for the best.

MADDOW: Marc Elias, voting rights attorney and the founder of Democracy Docket, sir, thank you for your time today. I know it`s a really busy time.

ELIAS: Thank you. Rachel

MADDOW: Again, that Texas voting rights restriction law passed into law signed into law today by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. It`s already facing five legal challenges both in state and in federal court.

Watch this space. More news tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: This was a headline for the ages, a headline remember over the New York Times: American stretch across political divides, to welcome Afghan refugees.

I remember seeing headlines like this about refugees and evacuees from Vietnam back in the 1970s. Now Americans are opening their hearts in the same way to evacuees from Afghanistan.

Quote: In rural Minnesota, an agriculture specialist has been working on visa applications and providing temporary housing for the newcomers. She set up an area for halal meat processing on her farm. In California, a group of veterans has sent a welcoming committee to the Sacramento airport to greet every arriving family. In Arkansas, volunteers are signing up to buy groceries, do volunteer pickups and host families in their homes.

After the pain and chaos and sheer danger so many of these Afghan evacuees endured to get out of their country as the Taliban closed in, it is honestly a heartening thing to see people all over the country, coast to coast, left wing and right wing and volunteering their time and money and even their farm`s meat processing capabilities, to welcome Afghans who have fled to us for safety.

According to a recent poll in the "Washington Post," the number of Americans both Democrats and Republicans who support the United States taking in Afghan refugees as permanent residents, that number is an overwhelming 68 percent. That means by a margin of more than two to one, we welcome them, even with some folks in the right wing media trying to demagogue this issue, trying to turn Americans` hearts cold to these folks, it is not working, even a majority of Republicans support welcoming them here.

With the Taliban now in charge, the news out of Afghanistan continues to be impossible to turn away from, as the Afghans who stayed behind, among other things, they keep finding new ways to push back against the Taliban.

Look at this. This was Kabul this morning, hundreds of Afghans flooding the streets to protest the Taliban. They chanted for freedom. They declared their support for anti-Taliban opposition fighters. They demanded equal rights for women.

And this is not just happening in Kabul. Yesterday, on Monday, this group of women marched through the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Mazar-i-Sharif is the fourth largest city in Afghanistan. You can see the woman`s sign on the front there, says, violation of women`s rights equals violation of human rights. We are not going back.

The protests in Mazar-i-Sharif broke up after they were stalked the whole way by the Taliban. One of the protesters spoke to "The Washington Post." She said, quote: We were afraid, but at least we defended our rights.

Earlier this week, the Taliban did violently break up a protest of all women in Kabul. They were demanding that women be included in the Taliban`s new government. The women who were there say the Taliban used tear gas. Several say they were beaten when the Taliban used the butts of their rifles on the crowd, the entire crowd of protesters were women.

Back in Kabul today, they started confiscating cell phones, deleting pictures and videos they had taken of the march, trying to erase evidence it happened. Taliban fighters walked alongside the protesters and when the protests arrived at the presidential palace, the Taliban started firing gunshots in the air to disperse the crowd.

They arrested several journalists. Some protesters were reportedly detained. These women are not deterred. One young woman who attended the march today in Kabul told the BBC, quote, we command freedom of speech and democracy. She said, quote, I am not afraid of death.

More ahead tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: All right. Before we go tonight, I want to explain that little box -- can I point to that little box? That little box -- there it is -- that you`ve been seeing in the lower corner of your screen during the show tonight. This one`s important.

In the months after the September 11th attacks in 2001, an artist named Ruth Sergel decided to capture stories about regular people about what happened that day. She did something very simple that ended up being very powerful.

She set up a booth with a camera in it for anybody who wanted to, to come and share what they saw and heard and felt that day, just what happened to them. And hundreds of people came, some who were eyewitness attacks, some people who lost loved ones, some people who just experienced it the way that other Americans did.

Documentary filmmakers David Belton and Bjorn Johnson tracked down some of the people who shared their stories in that booth 20 years later, got them to sit down in front of a camera again this year to tell how their story has continued from then over these past 20 years. It`s amazing.

All of those powerful stories are now in this new documentary coproduced with NBC News Studio. It`s called "Memory Box." It`s really, really good. You`ve never seen anything like it. We`re going to premier it tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right after the show. We`re going to show it commercial free. So, I just want to give you a heads up that you should plan ahead after my show finishes tomorrow night, commercial free, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, that documentary is going to air uninterrupted and you will want to see it. Plan ahead.

That does it for us for now. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.