tv Inside Politics With John King CNN January 27, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PST
♪ hello and welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king in washington. thank you for your time on this very big breaking news day. a nation-changing event takes place this hour. justice stephen breyer is due at the white house to formally announce his retirement after nearly three decades on the high court.
the vacancy is a cherished legacy moment for any president. the timing of this one makes it all the more consequential for this president. president biden promises history, a black woman, he says, will be his nominee. and just that is giant. plus the confirmation process adds interest to the midterm election year. a chance for the president and his fellow democrats to reset a political landscape that, up until now, is tilted decidedly in the republicans' favor. that opportunity officially begins in just a few moments when the president and justice breyer appear together at the white house. chief white house correspondent kaitlan collins is there. a giant moment for the president. >> a huge moment. but we're expecting this to be a small ceremony actually, john, here at the white house where president biden will formally announce that justice breyer is retiring from the supreme court. of course, therefore, giving him that coveted vacancy where he can then select someone to put on the supreme court. but when you see the two of them here at the white house in a few moments we do expect more of the focus to be not on who it is
biden is going to pick to replace justice breyer but on justice breyer himself who president biden was the chairman of the senate judiciary committee presiding over his confirmation hear,s back in 1994 when breyer was confirmed to the court, of course, where he's remained since then. so that will be part of the focus today. it is unusual. you don't always see a justice when they're retiring come to the white house and appear next to the president. that's actually pretty rare. so you'll see the two of them today make this formal. president biden will be making his first real comments on this. yesterday he said he wanted to wait for justice breyer himself to make it clear that, yes, he is stepping down. of course, then the speculation will turn to who it is that president biden is going to pick. we know the white house has said he's standing by that promise to pick a black woman to make history by putting a black woman on the supreme court. and so that will be what we will turn to next. what it's going to look like on capitol hill. today you'll see biden and breyer side by side. breyer told the white house last week that he believed he was
going to step down. he did not tell that to biden directly but you'll see the two of them appearing here together shortly. >> remarkable moment at the white house. we'll go back there live when it happens. kaitlan collins, appreciate it. now we sometimes get surprised in a process like this but there's a short list of black women who president biden is now considering. cnn's joan beskupic is here. let's talk first about the women we know are the leading contenders. >> that's right, john. in a few minutes after this ceremony we'll be into this supreme court sweepstakes. and let me mention three right off the top here who have a very good chance. especially judge ketanji brown jackson on the d.c. circuit, the highest appellate court here in washington, d.c. a trial judge before president biden appointed her to that court. she was approved last year with the support of three of the republican senators for her confirmation. so that already gives her a little bit of an edge, including that she was already vetted and met with president biden then.
she has a background that connects her to justice breyer. she was a law clerk to him and also served on the federal sentencing commission which is part of his background, too. she is 51 years old. another very strong contender is judge leondra kruger who is out on the california supreme court. she's a justice there. she was appointed, i think in 2014, so she served for about eight years out there. but she has strong washington connections that might help her in this selection here. she used to work in the solicitor general's office. she was in the obama administration. she has plenty of supporters out here. also a former supreme court law clerk like judge jackson. she work forward john paul stevens. and someone important to mention because of the politics of the moment, judge michelle childs who is, right now, in a south carolina trial court and has been nominated to the prominent d.c. circuit.
most important there, john, james claiborne, the house whip and big supporter of joe biden is really backing her. >> we'll watch the fascinating process play out. let's talk about the departing justice, justice breyer. you had an interview with him last year. all the justices say this but justice breyer says it here, a very succinctly. he says he's troubled about the recent conversations that the court is essentially just a bunch of politicians. whether you are a d or an r affects how the decision will be. let's listen. >> if the public sees judges as politicians in robes, it's confidence in the courts and in the rule of law itself and only diminished. diminishing the court's power, including the four act as a check on other branches. >> so the justice there publicly very sensitive and yet, the timing of this announcement, he knows, puts his seat, his seat on the court right in the middle of politics. capital "p." >> that's right.
no way he wasn't going to go when a democrat wasn't president if he could help it. the senate still has a democratic majority right now. politics has been part of the process since 1789 when the first appointment was made. and it's inevitable. what we have now, john, though, is something different because of frankly, in part, because of the rulings by the supreme court. the supreme court has become much more of an engine of social change, social dilemmas, social conflict with some of the rulings. you can't say that the supreme court can't be part of politics when right now they're considering whether to overrule roe v. wade which has been around for 50 years. so i understand exactly where justice breyer is coming from. he's always had that ideal, but at this point, this is when the supreme court becomes most entangled with politics and chief justice john roberts has warned that when nomination battles occur, how can the
public not think that you get a politicized justice. >> we'll watch this one play out. joan will stay with us as we wait for the big event at the white house. withny share their reporting, jackie kucinich, paul cain and francesca chambers. jackie, let's just put up the ideological balance of the court right now. this pick by president biden will not shift the ideological balance of the court. he's going to replace a left of center judge with a left of center judge. but it's a chance any president cherishes these moments. donald trump had three. justice gorsuch, kavanaugh and coney barrett. it's a midterm election year and the next term of the court will consider giant issues including abortion rights. >> this gives joe biden, he's had a heck of a last year and this gives him a chance to rack a win potentially, assuming everything goes as we think it is going to go through the
senate. though everything, you can always hit a speed bump here or there. that said, this is -- and his opportunity to make history by putting the first black woman, nominating the first black woman, putting the first black woman on the supreme court. now whether or not this does become a motivating issue remains to be seen given your point about replacing a left of center justice with a left of center justice. i would actually be -- i think it's probably more the rulings on abortion and things like that, that will motivate democratic voters. but this certainly cannot hurt. >> cannot hurt. it changes the dynamic, paul, if you think about where, if we're having this conversation two days ago. republicans think about every political trend is in their favor. it's the president's first midterm election year. economic wins. the coronavirus pandemic winds in his face. history of midterm elections. democrats are struggling to pass key elements of their agenda. if you were -- on monday, mitch mcconnell was feeling great.
today he has to be thinking this is something different. i didn't want anything different that might change the dynamic. chuck schumer says i will get this process done quickly. i will keep all 50 of my members on board. can he? >> most definitely. i think it would take something new and revealing about one of these choices that joan outlined. something new that we know nothing about to end up getting one of these -- one or two of these democrats to back away from the nominee. you know, judge jackson already received 53 votes. three republicans supported her elevation to the d.c. circuit. so there's already a sort of locked in base there of the number of votes that they will get. now some of those republicans may drop off because they say a vote for one appellate court doesn't mean you go to the supreme court because that's a bigger deal. it happens a lot in these cases. but this is, you know, they were
talking about trying to do it in five or six weeks, which is really fast by historical standards. that is what the republicans did with justice barrett back in 2020. now the more likely track is about ten weeks or so where they have a full fbi vetting, where the president will meet with a few people, pick -- make a choice, do the fbi vetting, send the nominee to the hill for her and it is going to be her to meet with all the key senators. and then you have hearings and after that, it's another about two weeks or so and i mean, may 1 is probably a slow process for this but depending on the various recesses, definitely by mid-april they should have this wrapped up. >> if democrats can keep this together. we don't know. we're talking in january of a midterm election year. the president has not made his pick yet but we know the president could very much use something that changes the
dynamic among the democratic base. disappointed the so-called build back better is stalled and the collapse of voting rights. you wrote a smart piece looking at some of the numbers. back in the 2020 election, joe biden got 87% of the black vote across the united states. pew research survey in recent days shows the president's approval rating among black voters is just 60%. so we don't know if this will cause a motivation intensity increase among black voters in the democratic base but for president biden it's an opportunity he very much could use. >> and civil rights leaders and democratic activists that we spoke to for that story said as jackie pointed out that it certainly can't hurt him and it can help him to be seen as keeping a key promise that he made on the campaign trail, which is that he would appoint a black woman to the court. and whether or not, as you said, it will be a motivating factor for them when you look at all the reasons why the president
could be losing black support, including the state of the economy, covid-19. that's another case entirely. however, they have said that they do think this could be helpful. now the one thing that they don't agree on, john, is who should be the nominee. among the black women that there could be, the president has nominated eight for the appellate courts already. there's a wide list of women he could choose from, in addition to the three your colleague named earlier. >> we have the three front-runners out of the gate. but sometimes what you have on day one is not what you end up with on day 10, 20 or 30 down the road. that's why we have a fascinating process. today is the beginning of it. up next for us, a democratic senator who knows a thing twor o about making history. democrats want a quick and smooth process but can they stay united?
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senate democrats face the opportunity to put pron's first justice on the supreme court. the senator that will lead the process, dick durbin, saying moments ago the white house chief of staff ron klain told him president biden has not yet made a final decision on who to nominate. democrats hope this is a fast process and smooth confirmation and it will play out ahead of midterm elections this fall. let's get perspective from jeanne shaheen. grateful for your time today. there will be democrats in the country who still might have a little trauma left over from recent experience on build back better and say, hey, are we at risk of losing senator manchin again? are we at risk of losing senator sinema again? senator manchin just said today he's open to supporting a biden pick more liberal than him.
do you have any fear that the democrats can keep all 50 of your votes locked in here? >> i don't. i think this -- i'm looking forward to seeing who the president decides to nominate. and i'm not on the judiciary committee so i won't be part of those hearings. i'll certainly do my due diligence, but i'm confident that whoever the president decides to nominate will have support in the senate and hopefully we'll get that nominee confirmed as soon as possible. >> what would the shaheen standard be for a fair process? i know you were unhappy, closer to the election in 2020. the president made his pick of justice coney barrett in september and republicans said we are going to rush this through. we're having a conversation late february. so there's plenty of time here. but what's a fair process? chuck schumer, your leader, said he would like to maybe copy that process. that was six weeks. what in your view would be fair to everybody? >> well, i think the committee will want to hold hearings. i am sure if it's one of the
candidates who is being talk ed about, there's a lot of vetting that's already gone on of those candidates. but that clearly will need to be done. and people will want to find out as much about the candidate as possible. so -- but i don't expect it to -- i am sure the white house is looking carefully at who they might nominate and choose someone that will have the high standards we expect from supreme court justices. >> the president has been plainly clear that he'll nominate a black woman with his first vacancy. you were the first woman elected governor of your great state. the first woman in the new hampshire sent to the senate. you know what it's like to be the first. you know what it's like to be in a room where not too many people look like you. what will it mean for not just the court but the country if the united states senate can confirm a black woman to the united states supreme court?
>> i think it's a tremendous step forward. one of the things that president biden committed to when he was running was to have his appointees look like the country. and he has really made good on that promise. and this is another opportunity to open the door to expand the opportunities that we want available to all americans to an african american woman on the court. that would just be terrific. >> i want to turn to another big subject. the supreme court is topic number one. you're a member of the foreign relations committee and involved in negotiations in the senate about a potential package of sanctions against russia because of the standoff with ukraine. the united states and nato allies submitted some written responses to russian questions about where we might have some negotiations. the kremlin spokesman said it cannot be said our considerations were taken into account. whether any willingness to take into account our concerns was
demonstrated. you see a pessimistic view from the russian perspective. that because the united states would not concede what russia wants to say that ukraine would never be allowed into nato. what is your sense of this moment? do you agree with the white house take that an invasion could be imminent, and how quickly will the senate have a package of sanctions? >> i believe the threat is very real and can happen at any time based on the information that i've seen. i co-led a delegation last week with senator rob portman from ohio to ukraine. we met with president zelensky. we met with other officials in ukraine and they, obviously, are very concerned about the threat on their borders, on three sides of the country. and i think we came back with a commitment to do everything we could to show ukraine that we support their efforts and to show vladimir putin that we are united in a bipartisan way to
oppose what he is talking about. and the fact is we know what he submitted to the united states, to tony blinken was not something we were ever going to go along with. we are not going to give russia a veto over who gets to join nato. and we are not going to stand by while vladimir putin decides the future of a sovereign country. ukraine is a country that has been looking to the west, and that's what vladimir putin is upset about. and we're not going to let him make that determination for ukraine. that's something that sovereign countries ought to be able to decide on their own. what their future is. and putin knew that when he submitted those demands, that we were never going to agree with them. >> is the next move his or do you agree with the united states that they've moved some military muscle into the region. obviously some direct aid to ukraine. but there are some in the united states senate who say let's put
more economic and other sanctions on russia now. let's not wait to see in if there's an invasion. let's show putin's united states is serious. are you in that camp or do you think we should wait it out? >> well, i think we are working on bipartisan legislation that's going to look at a range of things. how do we provide additional aid to ukraine, both weapons, lethal and nonlethal. how do we continue to engage with our allies to ensure that we're presenting a united front to russia? and third, what sanctions does it make sense to address now? one of the things we know is that putin has already taken actions that i think are sanctionable and so i think there are ways that we can look at sanctions that might be appropriate now and what we might do on top of that should putin actually invade ukraine. >> senator jeanne shaheen, democrat of new hampshire, thanks for your time. >> nice to be with you. up next, new numbers show the u.s. economy grew last year at the fastest rate in over
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justice confirms he'll stay until the end of this term, assuming his successor has been, quoted nominated and confirmed. and if his relationships with his court colleagues, breyer calls it warm and friendly. you see the roosevelt room there at the white house. we wait for the president of the united states and justice breyer to come in. you see the staff right there. let's bring in joan beskupic. we'll be saying farewell to justice breyer. 28 years on the high court. 14 years as a federal judge before that. and then that starts. this is a tribute to breyer day but opens the door to the next step. >> that's right, john. the letter you just read strikes some really interesting notes. they are almost always short and sweet, as this one is. each justice tends to hit something a little different. and this one, he conditions -- he suggests a condition for his leaving, and that's the fact that he wants somebody who will be confirmed in place.
that hasn't happened since 2005 when justice o'connor left. and the other thing i have to note is the fact he referred to his colleagues in the warm and friendly relations he has with them. and that's actually true. not all of his colleagues can say the same thing, but justice breyer is loved by his fellow colleagues and he is very generous in spirit. >> let's bring in chief white house correspondent kaitlan collins. again, this is a tribute to breyer day. we don't expect to hear a lot from the president of the united states about what comes next but we know his history. chairman of the judiciary committee. the chairman wen justice breyer was the last of the justices confirmed to the supreme court when biden was chairman of that committee. what do we know about how he approaches this process? >> well, john, this is going to be fascinating because it is the lawmaker who was then senate judiciary chairman presiding over breyer's hearing in 1994 that is now the president standing next to him as he
announces his retirement. just to look at the past retirements we've had from supreme court justices, you don't always see them appear at the white house. it's not always an event like this. sometimes it's the president remarking at a separate event entirely and the justice is not always present for that. this is a small ceremony. they're in the roosevelt room. only a few reporters are in the room right now as the president and justice breyer are going to come out. and they've got such a history here just from not only president biden presiding over that but also from justice breyer himself who we noted in a story we wrote this morning just detailing the history here and who is working in this white house now. it was biden's chief of staff ron klain who actually interviewed justice breyer at one point before he was a justice when he was a contender to replace byron white who retired from the supreme court in the year prior. that is, of course, when president clinton ultimately picked ruth bader ginsburg to join the court. he interviewed justice breyer at the time from his hospital bed where he was recovering from a
bicycle accident. he had sustained some injuries there. he came to a meeting. had lunch with president clinton at the white house. to see now that president biden is back in the white house, ron klain now his chief of staff. they're going to come out and talk about this retirement. and then all eyes are going to turn to who it s it that president biden is going to pick. we heard from the senate judiciary chair earlier. ron klain told him yesterday they had not picked a replacement yet. that's something they are in the process of right now. and then it will turn to the actual confirmation hearing. those are the long hearings that stretch out on capitol hill after meetings with lawmakers. and, of course, this is a big moment for president biden because he has a coveted vacancy now on the supreme court and his chance to shape history. >> kaitlan is going to stand by. a live picture of the roosevelt room. let's continue the conversation with our cnn power panel. abby philip, manu raju, joan
biskupic, laura coates and steve black. we can show up on the screen the court breakdown right now. six conservatives, three liberals. the president of the united states with the new pick is not going to change. it's not going to change the picture -- the court thing there, but even if you replace a liberal judge with a liberal judge, each justice has a niche on the court. justice breyer worked with chief justice roberts to save obamacare, the affordable care act. big on first amendment cases. what does the court lose, if you will, of the expertise of stephen breyer? >> john, it's obviously that this is a big gap and justice breyer wasn't just his expertise. he was comfortable crossing the perceived aisle. he was willing to work with justice roberts and chief justice kennedy before he retired. i think one of the questions of a biden nominee is will this person be someone who can forge new alliances with judge justic the right. can he perhaps team up with neil
gorsuch when it comes to criminal defendants. is this someone that has the administrative experience that might appeal to someone like a brett kavanaugh or are we going to see a more focused, concentrated liberal bloc that is not going to have the votes, not going to move the court. i think that's what hangs in the balance based on who president biden picks. >> right. and manu, up on capitol hill, i talked a bit earlier with paul kane about the calculations. do democrats see a big fight here or if biden makes a pick that they think is confirmable, do they want it to go as quickly as possible. >> they've still not settled on their strategy yet. minority leader mitch mcconnell, who wants to be majority leader come the fall, has held his cards close when talking about the vacancy yesterday. said he wanted eed to wait to w in. they wanted to see who this person is. undoubtedly what we can expect is whoever is nominated will have a most republicans are
almost certainly expected to vote against. even the person in the top tier candidate here from joe biden's list, ketanji brown jackson only had three republicans vote in her favor for a lower court position. but that's still enough to get confirmed. do expect a very loud republican opposition to this. republicans pushing back. but how far they can go is really limited given the fact they simply do not have the votes if the democrats stayed together. if they do pick off a handful of their members and also a key sign joe manchin today said he's open to supporting a more liberal candidate than perhaps his own ideological philosophy. a positive sign for the biden white house. >> abby phillip, you see the first lady and justice breyer's wife there waiting in the resvolr roosevelt room. they could walk in any second. this is a day you look back and pay tribute. this is also an opportunity for the president who begins the midterm year in a slump.
this could be a reset moment. >> i think it's an important one for the president. an opportunity to keep a promise. this was a very clear and specific promise that he made in the campaign to nominate a black woman to this court after 115 justices -- >> abby, sorry to interrupt. you see the president of the united states and justice stephen breyer walking into the roosevelt room. let's listen. >> good afternoon. let me begin by recognizing both dr. breyer, dr. biden and for being here and i can't tell you, this is sort of a bittersweet day for me. justice breyer and i go back a long way. all the way back to mid-'70s when he first came on the judiciary committee. but that's another story. i'm here today to express the nation's gratitude to justice
stephen breyer for his remarkable career in public service and his clear-eyed commitment to making our country's laws work for its people. and our gratitude extends to justice breyer's family, for being partners in his decades of public service. particularly i want to thank his wife dr. joanne breyer who is here today and who has stood by him for nearly six decades with her fierce intellect, good humor and enormous heart. i want to thank you. the country owes you as well. and stephen breyer's public service started early. he served in the united states army as a teenager. and all three branches of the federal government before he turned 40. during the good old days. and as he was a law clerk, supreme court justice goldberg. a prosecutor, a member of the watergate prosecution team. i first met stephen breyer when i was a senator on the judiciary
committee, and he started off as taking care of one of the subcommittees for teddy. and then became chief counsel during his tenure as ted's chairmanship of the judiciary committee. beyond his intellect and hard work and legal insight, he was famous for biking across washington virtually every day for face-to-face meeting with a republican chief counsel, the ranking republican counsel and over breakfast they discussed what would they do for the country together. it was in those days we tried do things together. that spirit stuck with me when i took over the judiciary committee. as chair after senator kennedy's tenure. and it was my honor to vote to confirm justice breyer to serve in the united states supreme court -- the court of appeals first in 1980. and then 14 years later, in 1994, i got to preside as chairman of the senate judiciary committee over a supreme court
confirmation hearings. we were joking with one another when he walked in. did we ever think he'd have served decades on the court and i'd be president of the united states the day he came in to retire? and he looked at it -- anyway. i won't say what he said, jokingly, but i woas proud and grateful to be there at the start of his distinguished career on the supreme court and proud to be here on the announcement of his retirement. during his confirmation hearings way back in 1994, nominee stephen breyer said, quote, the law must work for the people. he explained to us his faith that our complex legal system has a single purpose. tell people who make up our country. it was a different time, of course. but his brilliance, value and scholarship are why judge breyer became justice breyer by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the time. today, justice breyer announces his intention to step down from
active service after four decades. four decades on the federal bench and 28 years on the united states supreme court. his legacy includes his work as a leading scholar and jurist in administrative law, bringing his brilliance to bear to make government run more efficiently and effectively. it includes his stature as a beacon of wisdom on our constitution and what it means. and through it all, justice breyer's worked tirelessly to give faith to the notion that the law exists to help the people. everyone knows that stephen breyer has been an exemplary justice. fair to the parties before him, courteous to his colleagues, careful in his reasoning. he's written landmark opinions on topics from reproductive rights to health care, voting rights, patent law, laws protecting our environment and the laws that protect our religious practices. his opinions are practical, sensible and nuanced. reflects his belief that a job of a judge is not to lay down a
rule but to get it right. to get it right. justice breyer's law clerks and colleagues, as many in the press know, describe him and his work ethic, his desire to learn more. his kindness to those around him and his optimism for the promise of our country. and he has patiently sought common ground and built consensus, seeking to bring the court together. i think he's a model public servant at a time of great division in this country. justice breyer has been everything his country could have asked of him. and he's appeared before -- when he appeared before the judiciary committee almost three decades ago, we all had high hopes for the mark he'd leave on history, the law and constitution. he's exceeded those hopes in every possible way. today is his day. our day to commend his life of service and his life on the court. but let me say a few words about critically important work of selecting his successor.
choosing someone to sit on the supreme court, i believe, is one of the most serious constitutional responsibilities a president has. our process is going to be rigorous. i will select the nominee worthy of justice breyer's legacy of excellence and decency. while i've been studying candidates' backgrounds and writings, i've made no decision except one. the person i will nominate will be someone of extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. and that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the united states supreme court. it's long overdue in my opinion. i made that commitment during the campaign for president, and i will keep that commitment. i will fully do what i said i'd do. i will fulfill my duty to select a justice not only with the senate's consent but with its advice. you heard me say another nomination processes that the
constitution says seek the advice and consent. but the advice as well of the senate. i'm going to invite senators from both parties to offer their ideas and points of view. i'll also consult with leading scholars and lawyers. and i am fortunate to have advising me, vice president kamala harris. she's an exceptional lawyer, former attorney general of the state of california, former member of the senate judiciary committee. i will listen carefully to all the advice i'm given, and i'll study the records and former cases carefully. i'll meet with the potential nominees and it's my intention, my intention to announce my decision before the end of february. i have made no choice at this point. once i select a nominee, i'll ask the senate to move promptly on my choice. in the end, i will nominate an historic candidate, someone who is worthy of justice breyer's legacy, and someone who, like justice breyer, will provide incredible service on the united states supreme court.
justice breyer, on behalf of all the american people, i want to thank you and your family and your family for your tremendous service to our nation. i'm going to yield the floor to you, mr. justice. >> thank you. thank you, mr. president. terribly nice, and believe me, i hold it right here. it's wonderful. and i thought about what i might say to you, and i'd like to say -- something i enjoy is talking to high school students. grammar school students. college students. even law school students. and they'll come around and ask me, what is the -- what is it you find particularly meaningful about your job? what gives you a thrill? and that's not such a tough question for me to answer. it's the same thing. day one, almost, up to day, i don't know how many, but the --
what i say to them is, look, i sit there on the bench and after we hear lots of cases, and after awhile, the impression, it takes awhile, i have to admit, but the impression you get is you know, as you well know, this is a complicated country. more than 330 million people. they used to say it's every race, every religion and she'd emphasize this and it's every point of view possible. and it's a kind of miracle when you sit there and see all those people in front of you. people that are so different in what they think. and yet they decided to help solve their major differences under law. and when the students get too cynical i say go look at what happens in countries that don't do that. and that's -- people have come to accept this constitution and
they've come to accept the importance of a rule of law. and i want to make another point to them. i want to say, look, of course people don't agree. but we have a country that is based on human rights, democracy and so forth. but i'll tell you what lincoln thought, what washington thought and what people today still think. it's an experiment. it's an experiment. that's what they said. and joanna paid each of our grandchildren a certain amount of money to memory rise the gettysburg address and the reason -- the reason that what we want them to pick up there and what i want those students to pick up, if i can remember the first two lines is that four score and seven years ago our fathers brought -- created upon this here a new country. a country that was dedicated to liberty and the proposition that all men are created equal. conceived in liberty. those are his words.
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. he meant it. and now we're engaged in a great civil war. to determine whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. see, those are the words i want to see. an experiment. and that's what he thought. it's an experiment. and i found some letters that george washington wrote where he said the same thing. it's an experiment. that experiment existed then because even the liberals in europe, they are looking over here and saying, it's a great idea in principle, but it will never work. but we'll show them it does. that's what washington thought. and that's what lincoln thought. and that's what people still think today. and i say, all i want you, and i'm talking to the students now, i say i want you to pick justice
up. it's an experiment that's going on and i'll tell you something. you know who will see whether that experiment works? it's you, my friend. it's you, mr. high school student. it's you, mr. college student. it's you, mr. law school students. it's us, but it's you. it's that next generation. and the one after that. my grandchildren and their children. they'll determine whether the experiment still works and, of course, i'm an optimist and i am pretty sure it will. does it surprise you that that's the thought that comes into my mind today? i don't know, but thank you. >> doctor, i don't know that you've ever been to the white house in the lincoln bedroom, but i invite both of you to come and stay. the lincoln bedroom has, against the wall between the windows looking out a handwritten copy
of the gettysburg address written by lincoln. in that bedroom. the sitting room. and so you got to come and see it. even if you can't come and stay, bring your grandchildren so they can see it as well. thank you all so very, very much for being here. and i am not going to take any questions because i think it's inappropriate to take questions with the justice here. he's still sitting on the bench. and -- but you'll have plenty of opportunities to get me later today and for the rest of the week. next week, too. so thank you very much. thank you. >> just listening for a second there. i'm john king in washington, listening to the president. said he's not going to take questions. reporters tried. remarkable event. the president of the united states leaving the roosevelt
room with justice stephen breyer. mrs. bitcden, mrs. breyer as we. the retirement will be after his successor is nominate d and confirmed. let's get to two of the big headlines. laura coates, i want to start with you. i'm sorry, kaitlan collins. the president said he didn't want to talk much about the process but he'd consult republicans, do the vetting, interview the candidates and he'd be done in 30 days, by the end of february. >> he confirmed he's not made a selection yet for successor for justice breyer. noeting he's retiring but not until the end of the term. he did not want to take questions there at the end but the president said he is standing by that pledge that he made on the campaign trail to nominate the first black woman to the supreme court. to put the first black woman on the supreme court and mark a milestone, therefore, with that decision. but he said he has not selected the candidate yet and instead it's going to conduct a rigorous
process and he said the qualifications he is looking for is experience and integrity and character and he said he is going to consult republican senators, democratic senators, legal scholars. the vice president of the united states on who his decision is going to be. and he did make some news there, john, setting himself a deadline. saying he expects to announce his pick by the end of february. >> laura coates with us today, we talked about this yesterday when we first learned word of this. to hear candidate biden say if i'm going to get an opening, i'm going to name a black woman. to see him say he wants a kantd date who will be of high caliber, high quality, high character and a black woman is something else. that's history from the president of the united states. >> it is. and it's profound. all of those terms should be synonymous with black women in and of itself and to hear it from the president of the united states to say it really rings true and brings it personal and home. also to have the supreme court justice say and salktalk about
value of different perspectives, the value of diversity. himself knowing that i'm sure on the short list of s one of his clerks who is a black woman, judge ketanji brown. he's also looking for the advice from the vice president of the united states, kamala harris. who as you know is a well-respected former attorney general. a lawyer of course, prosecutor and to have her weighing in on some facet on the people who will be chosen is really also exemplary. it's a very wonderful day in terms of the qualifications being sought are the ones you want of a supreme court justice. i'm just very glad that it's finally happening. although it has taken far too long. >> and abby phillip, interesting to listen to justice breyer. a man who has been in washington for a long time. some people get cynical. just to hear his optimism, almost child-like optimism. he was talking to a group of reporters but said he was really talking to high school students and college students and the
next generation of law students. he talked about the united states as a miracle and an experiment but held up the constitution. he talked about how this is a country based on the rule of law. he knows full well because of trump's big lie, because of some forces of the republican party that still want to dispute the last election, that actually is a live question in american political discourse right now. the rule of law respect for law, respect for democracy, respect for voting rights and respect for math. >> absolutely. i was so struck by his approach to his remarks. it was almost like a sermon, a meditation on american democracy and the idea that we are in a moment in which there are some questions about whether this democracy can survive. and he repeatedly said, it's an experiment. it is an experiment, but he's hopeful that it will persist because of perhaps the people who come behind him. but again, it's something that it just reminds me of -- he has been someone who especially in
the last year as he's been under so much pressure to step aside, he has been saying publicly that he wants a return to norms. not just around the court itself, but also around how this country understands how the rule of law works. he seems like someone who is very concerned about that and very worried about it and that's what he was trying to convey today. >> joan biskupic, you know the departing justice quite well and his optimistic spirit. he talked about it's a complicated country. 330 million people. his mother told him respect every point of view out there. you also know from your many conversations with him, he understands the court. the court itself, the place he has dedicated 28 years of his life is incredibly complicated, too. >> that's right, john. these are themes that have been enduring for justice breyer. when he was in the rose garden back in 1994, when president bill clinton first saluted him
as his choice for the supreme court, he talked about the workings of washington. he talked about government working. he talked about the rule of law. and he has held fast to that. it's just that now it's all the more important. and i have to say that, you know, what everyone saw there was just so quintessential breyer. he kind of leans forward on the lectern. as you said, john, it could have been a group of high school students. he is, i'm sure this is a very bittersweet moment for him to take a word that president biden used because he has really loved his job. he's committed to the constitution and democracy and the rule of law. and i know that he will have a lot of confidence in whoever president biden chooses. as laura said, one of his former clerks is there. he has deep affection and respect for judge ketanji brown jackson, but i think he also is the kind of man who would respect the process and not want to meddle too much with what
president biden would do and would respect, in the end. because that is one thing i have to say about him. despite, you know, so many of us in washington, you know, are so aware of the cynicism that has gripped the capitol today and somehow stephen breyer has been able to escape that as we saw playing out. >> he shares with the president a stubborn irish optimism. i'll say that. manu raju, you talked about that process. justice breyer will respect it. the president gave us pretty good clues of how he expects to to play out. he's going to do a lot of work, listen to republicans and democrats, but that he'll have a nominee, he certainly hopes, 30 days. maybe 3233 days, but by the end of february. what would that do to the time table if the president moves that quickly? >> they still want to move quickly in the senate to get to the actual confirmation vote, even though breyer has said in his letter he's not going to step aside until the end of the term, june or july. democrats believe they can do
all the confirmation process beforehand so if this -- let's say if joe biden nominates someone by end of february, that potentially means, according to chuck schumer's timetable, potentially a confirmation vote by the end of march, early april. they want to go on that same clip as they did, as the republicans did to get amy coney barrett confirmed back in 2020. at that time, democrats were howling in protest. said it was rushed and also criticized it for happening so close to the election. that came after mitch mcconnell held up a supreme court nominee in the obama era in 2016, in the election year because he said it was too close to the election. this processundoubtedly become very partisan. joe biden has suggested this could be a bipartisan process in some way. undoubtedly it will devolve into partisan sniping. nonetheless, the process will unfold like this. eventually there will be a nominee made. that nominee will make visits to capitol hill, meet with members of the committee judiciary
committee. a questionnaire the nominee will also undergo and a background check. democrats have to set hear,s and dick durbin did not indicate. he's the chairman of the judiciary committee. did not say when he plans to have them. but push it hard, push it fast and try to get their entire 50-member caucus in line and potentially pick off a few republicans as well. >> working with a president who has a lot of experience at that hearing process. let's see how they move through the process there. steve, as we wait for the who, the president promised an historic pick. let's talk about the what. the conservatives have six votes. the liberals have three votes, even with breyer now and with the replacement. so the ideological balance does not change but it's easy to say that. that does not mean that the -- what happens on the court, big issues on the court, the hiner w inner workings of the personalities on the court. when you replace a long-serving
justice with a new justice. >> a lot will change, john. keep in mind that we're talking about a nominee who will be perhaps in her 40s or 50s. so things may not change overnight but the court as an institution is so conservative in the historical sense. things evolve so slowly. so this is a real opportunity for a long-term shift, maybe not in the center of gravity on the court, but at least in some of the perspectives and in that respect, justice breyer could have chosen any speech, any remarks to focus on in his remarks from the white house. and he picked the gettysburg address right after president biden said he's sticking to his pledge to nominate a black woman. justice breyer, no dummy, is picking the speech that most closely ties our constitutional idea as a country to racial equality. and i think that's not an accident. that's breyer signaling his support as much as he can for president biden's commitment. and as laura put it, this is an
historic opportunity for the first black woman justice. we've had 115 justices so far. only seven have been not white men. whatever the substantive views of the nominee, having that additional diversity on the court certainly moves the court forward as an institution, even if it takes awhile for us to see it. >> that history will be a fabric throughout the confirmation process. just moments ago, president biden appearing at the white house with justice stephen breyer. justice breyer delivering his resignation a bit earlier today. it will come once his successor is chosen and confirmed by the united states senate. at this event in the roosevelt room, president biden for the most part wanted to pay tribute to justice breyer and his remarkable service in the army, before serving in the executive branch and then on the federal bench and 28 years on the supreme court. that, joe biden, president biden said should be the focus today. but before leaving the room, he did lay out this piece of what comes next.