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tv   QA with Gabe Roth  CSPAN  March 20, 2016 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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q&a followed by david cameron taking russians from the house of commons. bill clinton campaigns in arizona ahead of the presidential primary. announcer: this week on "q&a," fix the court executive director gabe roth. he talks about changes you would like to see in the supreme court, including opening up oral arguments to cameras, and requiring justices to follow the same code of ethics other federal judges do. brian: gabe roth, when you first get the idea to start an organization called fix the court? gabe roth: thanks for having me on. about two years ago i was working with the reporters committee for the freedom of the
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press. we put together the coalition for court transparency. it was a single issue group with five or six clients. i was a part of a consulting firm in d.c., and the issue was ending the broadcast media in the federal judiciary. from the federal level to the supreme court, we had 20 different groups together, and pressed various different forms as lobbying, media, it going on tv, programs like this, trying to get cameras in the supreme court. after doing a number of events like c-span, i realized it wasn't just the issue of a lack of broadcast media inside the courtroom that made the supreme court very opaque. it wasn't just the cameras issue. it was the fact that they don't follow the same ethics rules as
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every other federal judge, the fact that they serve for life where as most other democracies there is a term limit. they don't put information online. they don't say when justice cane is speaking in massachusetts or in georgia. he wasn't as this one issue, but a whole host of issues that made the supreme court made it the most powerful but least accountable institution in washington. i want to start my own thing. brian: where you come from? gabe roth: i come from nashville, tennessee. my parents are back in new jersey, but from age two to 18, i was in nashville. brian: where did you get your education? gabe roth: washington university in st. louis. it was one of the best ideas i ever had, and that i would to northwestern and got a degree in broadcast and was a tv news producer for a little while before turning to the political
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world. brian: where is your headquarters for fix the court? gabe roth: right now it is in my bedroom in downtown chicago. for the time being. it is at my kitchen table in chicago. brian: watch anyone care what you think about this? gabe roth: the supreme court affects all americans. all americans are aware of the third branch of government, and it has become so powerful. the idea that issues on voting and marriage and health care and immigration and women's rights, pregnancy discrimination -- i can go on and on written these issues that 30 years ago, congress and the executive branch would get together and figure out a compromise, put together a bill. that really does not happen anymore. the buck stops with the supreme court that is unprecedented in
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history. it makes every impactful decisions in our lives. the least we the public can do is press them to comport with modern transparency and accountability. brian: how much of your money comes from the new venture fund? gabe roth: all of it. i am very happy to have a grant from them and spend it to go to washington to talk to you and meet with folks on the hill, talk at law schools across the country. i was able to talk to voters about how the supreme court is a campaign issue or should be. i had the opportunity to use that money in a bunch of different ways to figure out how to reach the most people in the most effective way. brian: how much time do you commit to this? gabe roth: this is a full-time job.
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when i first started out i wasn't sure how much time it would eat up, but you know -- doing this mostly myself, i have a few consultants. i know i look young, but i need help with social media. i have consultants to put together a website, which i just learned to do, or figure out how to send e-mails to 30,000 people. it is just me. sometimes news breaks at 10:00 at night, sometimes at 6:00 in the morning. you are always on and try to find ways to get the issues in front of the american people and the decision-makers that could potentially change the way the court operates as an institution. brian: i will go on to the court stuff in a moment. new venture fund, i have seen 990's were the a given away lots of money. gabe roth: it is a big funds. i feel very lucky to receive the grant from them. they are based here. they are sort of, all over the map in terms of what they give
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money. i try to find creative projects, creative public affairs projects that bring in -- maybe we don't think about on a day-to-day basis, but we need to be thought about and talked about in a more creative way. brian: where does their money come from, who is behind it? gabe roth: all over the place. the way they work, a lot of the times it is a fundraiser. it is individual, realizes you want to secure malaria in africa, and you will have $10,000, and it will be a $100,000 program. he will go to venture fund and they will hook him up with nine other people each throwing $10,000, and then have a programmatic hold for figuring out how to solve this problem. it is just all over the map. brian: let's show it add you produced back in 2014 about fix the courts. [video clip] >> they told us where we could pray, allowed billionaires to buy the elections, and supplied
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debt. nine judges appointed for life to a court that makes its own rules and has disdain for openness and transparency. the supreme court, the most powerful and least accountable branch of government. learn more, demand change. go to brian: is there a partisan label on your organization? gabe roth: not partisan. no advantage that either party gains by having the supreme court on tv or the financial disclosures online or limiting the terms of service of the justices. we are a nonpartisan organization. on a regular basis i am talking to senators or senate staff or members of the congress and
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their staff on both sides of the aisle. i feel like we've been lucky in the sense that both in terms of who cares about these issues on the hill and individuals from both parties, and when you -- we hold all of our issues. it was amazing how 74% republicans and 74% democrats want cameras in the court. i feel fortunate and also, given that there is a party advantage in either of these reforms, there is no way to skew one way or the other. brian: chief justice john roberts in february of this year had this to say about the whole nominating process. [video clip] >> i do think the process is not functioning very well. you look at two of my colleagues, justice scalia and justice ginsburg, for example. i think they were confirmed -- maybe there were two or three dissenting votes between the two of them. now you look at my more recent colleagues, all extreme the
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well-qualified it for the court, and the votes were, i think, stately on party lines, for the last three of them, or close to it. that doesn't make any sense. that suggests to me the process is being used for something other than answering the qualifications of the nominees. brian: let me put on the screen the actual vote totals for all the justices, including justice scalia. we can look at what he just said. it shows on there, you can see at the top, justice scalia got 98-0. justice kennedy 97-0. clarence thomas was 52-48. justice ginsburg 96-3.
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breyer 87-9. chief justice roberts 78-22. justice alito 58-42. justice sotomayor or 68-31. and justice kagan 63-37. what is your reaction to what the chief said and what you saw on the screen? gabe roth: well first of all, i am happy these vote totals add up to 100. senators are exit voting on these important issues. more critically, that is a very good point. over time, potentially starting with the board of nomination, thinking back to fortis, nominations have become more partisan. now that, the genesis of that is hard to say, where that came from, who decided it. but thinking about the court as a whole, it is looked as as a more partisan institution than ever before. you read an article in the paper about the supreme court, and almost any article you will see the epithet used, conservative justices did this, liberal justices did this.
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republican-appointed justices did this, and oftentimes there is a switchover. eisenhower appointed justices that became liberal, kennedy had conservative jurisprudence. and the first bush did the same. but that really hasn't happened, and essentially given the closely divided court, we project that divided this on to the whole nomination process, which i think is a shame. brian: you talked about justice fortis and the important nomination of judge board. i will ask this and then you can react, how big an impact you think this moment had on attitude that people have in the senate today? this moment was july 1, 1987. it was 45 minutes after judge
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bork was nominated to be on the supreme court. [video clip] >> the man who fired archibald cox does not deserve to sit on the supreme court of the united states. mr. bork should also be rejected by the senate because he stands for an extremist view of the constitution and the role of the supreme court that would have placed him outside the mainstream of american constitutional jurisprudence in the 1960's, let alone the 1980's. he opposed the public accommodations civil rights act of 1964. he opposed the one man, one vote decision of the supreme court the same year. he has said that the first amendment applied only to political speech, not elective chairs or scientific expression. under the twin pressures of academic rejection and the prosser of senate rejection, he suddenly retracted the most neanderthal of these views on civil rights and the first amendment.
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but his mindset is no less ominous today. brian: he lost 58-42. the conservatives call that slanderous. how old were you in 1987? gabe roth: i was five. brian: do you have any impact on that? gabe roth: i remember that. it was a formative event. it was clarence thomas. there were accusations that were pretty serious on a personal level, which is different from what you saw with bork in terms of the way he views the world, the way he views the constitution. it is tough because there are a lot of different ways to react to the potential nominee. and at the time, with president reagan in the white house and
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the senate democrats leading the senate, having a divided government, reagan chose to appoint somebody or try to appoint someone who had fairly -- whose views were fairly right-wing at the time. he ended up with justice kennedy under the bork nomination, after it failed. he ended up with justice kennedy who served, i think potentially a model for supreme court nominees. i don't love seeing senator kennedy going on and on about this on the one hand. on the other hand, the idea that you are going to appoint someone that is dyed in the wool party politics, kagan came from the obama white house, chief justice roberts came from the bush recount in 2000.
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when you have these individuals who have clear political backgrounds and polluted -- political stances, it is inevitable individuals will take to senate floor and get up on c-span and harp on their history. brian: here is an ad that ran at the time from the people of the american way. [video clip] >> this is gregory peck. robert thorpe was to be a supreme court justice, but the record shows that he has a strange idea of what justice is. he defended whole taxes and literacy tests that kept many americans from voting. he would hold white only signs of lunch counters. he does not believe in the right to privacy, and thanks freedom of speech is not white to literature, art, and music. the senate has the last word on him. please urge your senator to vote against the nomination, because if robert thorpe wins a seat on the supreme court, it will be for life, his life and yours.
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brian: plenty think of the idea of organizations in home that are 501(c)(3), and have the 501(c)(4) possibility? gabe roth: supreme court will not be running ads against obama's nominee, but it is in their right to do that. the laws that exist, and the supreme court decisions that have upheld those laws allow this sort of back and forth in the public spear it comes to bat. it is not something i would want to do. i understand the desire to have a say in the public sphere and buying ads on tv is a way to do it. if it were up to me, because i'm here, i might as well bring this up.
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there are ways to come up with more consensus picks for the supreme court. visit -- at the state level and even lower, this is something -- you have governor palin on this when she was governor of alaska for 18 months. judicial nominating commissions. you generally have three on the left, three on the right, three in the middle, come together, find a consensus, find someone that can unite the country and is supported by individuals in both parties. i know these individuals exist. we are going to get anti-bork as an perhaps whoever obama picks or whoever after him picks. you have to find somebody who grew up in a certain political stream and maintained that path throughout his whole life. it is helpful to the institution, which is already polarized and politicized enough. brian: let's go back before gabe roth was born, 1968. this was a man named abe fortis. he was a personal friend of
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lyndon johnson, put on the court, and then lyndon johnson wanted him to be chief justice. here is strom thurmond talking about him in 1968. he did not make it. [video clip] >> i did not support him when he became an associate justice. i have seen nothing since then to cause me to change my views. i believe i am strongly opposed to these legalities. i am opposed to congress writing in the defense branch. i'm strongly opposed to this teaching in schools and colleges. i'm strongly opposed to the supreme court, the federal government invading the rights of the state, and justice fortis has done these decisions.
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brian: similar to senator kennedy's speech. slicing and burning. really attacking him personally. in all your conversations about the court, do you ever here anything about those? gabe roth: absolutely, the fortis nomination and the bork nomination are definitely two flashpoints when you think about how the nomination process has become politicized and what chief justice roberts was talking about at the new england school of law just a few minutes ago. the folks i feel like on the right, bork is a rallying cry. fortis was different given his close political alliances with lyndon johnson, and he was getting paid from this nonprofit group, $10,000 a year to do something on the side. it was a little bit different, the fortis nomination got derailed for reasons that were more the character as opposed to political or constitutional beliefs.
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those are definitely points that still reverberate today. you have, over the years, a number of individuals you can think of, clarence thomas, harriet miers, who either went poorly or got derailed because of partisan attacks. brian: that was in 1968, which was an election year. richard nixon got to appoint warren berger, who became chief justice. heavy politics in all of this. what are you hearing on capitol hill and from the white house? gabe roth: i am hearing that it is going to be a long, slow year in the senate judiciary committee. it is going to be, the nominee will be held up, and whoever wins the white house in november better get ready to appoint, appoint potentially a few new justices given the current age. not only scalia, but also three other justices who are 75 or older.
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breyer, ginsburg, and kennedy. the next president has the potential to appoint a handful of justices. it is my hope that while this -- it is an election year, but it is always an election year, right? after time, the voters will reject zero sum game, and they will come together to find out how to put through a nominee. maybe not confirm, but at least have a hearing. that is the basic building blocks of democracy. they should not go away just because there is a federal election coming up, and the be a number of vacancies in the coming years with the senate judiciary committee. they have a whole number of issues. the people who did this committee on the right and left, they have been in the senate 1000 years, worked on 100,000
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issues. this should be no different. i know it is an awful lot of space given the current makeup of the court, but americans deserve a full supreme court. just like you wouldn't want to fill a team without second baseman, you would not want the supreme court with only eight justices. brian: here is harry reid in 2008, talking about that particular time when george w. bush was president. [video clip] >> nowhere in that document does it say the senate has a duty to give presidential nominees a vote. it says appointment shall be made with the advice and consent of the senate. that is very different than saying every nominee receives a hearing. brian: that is different today. gabe roth: completely differently. but as points made by, i want to say, senator biden -- then senator biden from 1982, republicans throwing out there, that is the same thing.
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it is funny to see harry reid, even the way the sentence comes out, the president shall, or president obama is saying, the president shall. the emphasis on the sentence, talking about how you figure out these vacancies, the emphasis is on a different level and the word depending on who the speaker is. brian: matching up very quickly with his counterpart in the republican party, mitch mcconnell. [video clip] >> democratic colleagues talk about the so-called government role, in which people stop electing justices in a presidential election year. i think this obsession with this rule does not exist -- we researched that thoroughly. there is no such rule. anyway, this seeming obsession with this rule does not exist is just an excuse for colleagues to
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run up the clock on qualified nominees waiting to fill badly needed positions. brian: one side one year, one side on the other year. how much do this impact the political campaign and the public? gabe roth: yeah, it is terrible. the idea that the gridlock and dysfunction in one branch would sink into another branch is something that i would not have expected. thinking about this even a few months ago. hopefully though, one potential silver lining is the idea that the supreme court becomes a larger issue within the presidential race, right? more and more candidates -- well, there are fewer and fewer, but candidates spend more time talking about what they see in
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the nominee, and those who are going to the polls think about the supreme court now. i wouldn't necessarily want them to think about this on partisan lines, but at least they are thinking about the supreme court in day-to-day political life. voters are. that is a lot. the fact that, mcconnell saying one thing and reid saying one thing -- [speaking simultaneously] brian: this happened to chief justice roberts the first time he was nominated for the d.c. circuit. the clock ran out on him. he was nominated the first time early in the bush years, and it was before a recess. there are individuals on supreme court right now that happened to them to when they were lower court judges.
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nothing new, just that gridlock is sinking over from one branch to another. brian: let me ask you this, and this is speculation. if hillary clinton is elected president, which he rather have a nominee confirmed this year, or was she like the chance to name one? gabe roth: i would say, she would probably confirm, she would probably prefer, her own nominee. brian: she is saying on the campaign trail that this nomination be confirmed. gabe roth: that is what all the democrats are saying. in reality though, should hillary win, you know, the coattails will be long, and there is the potential for a flip in the senate. brian: if president obama nominates somebody for the job, and as you know, the senate body, does that not many stay there even though he is no longer president if not confirmed? gabe roth: yeah, technically he
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could still be -- this individual could still be the nominee. sitting out there waiting. this is probably going to be an individual that has a very busy job, so they will go back to sitting on the d.c. circuit or being attorney general of the state or a member of the u.s. senate, whatever it is. but it is my sense that that individual would have to have a conversation with hillary or marco or donald. they will figure it out come january. but this is a very real potential for obama and hillary not seeing eye to eye in who they would want the next nominee to be. it is not necessarily that obama's nominee will also be hillary clinton's nominees should she win in november. brian: here is an issue to fix the court is dealing with, and it has to deal with a lifetime -- i am going to show a clip of justice breyer, who appeared on the stephen colbert show in 2015, and get your reaction to
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what he is saying here. [video clip] >> what is it like to be a supreme court justice? you have got a good job. >> it is it the job, especially if you get older, you take every minute of it very seriously. and it calls for you to put forth your best every single minute. [applause] >> lifetime appointments. would you recommend that for everyone? [laughter] because that is job security. [laughter] >> it is absolutely true. i think of my father, because my father's favorite advice to me was, stay on the payroll. [laughter] brian: after the reach a certain age and have spent 15 years on the court, they get lifetime,
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same salary they are getting sitting on the court. what is your opinion on how long they should serve? gabe roth: i think 18 years is long enough for the justices to have a number of influential decisions to make their mark on the court, make their mark on history, but not so long as it becomes irrefutable. the justices that left the court and were on the bench for 30 years, antonin scalia, justice john paul stevens was there for 45, william rehnquist was there for 33, sandra day o'connor, 44. especially when the branches are so paralyzed that nothing is
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getting done in congress and congress and the executive clearly are not seeing eye to eye on those things, the supreme court is best with this outsized amount of power. and this court sitting on the 30 years, it is not good. we want 18 years. every two years a new nominee. not an election year. to harken back to mitch mcconnell and harry reid, i want in an odd-numbered year, in the summer, not when the court is in session, and it would be staggered. every two years there is a new nominee. over time, these regular nominees would mean that comedy trailer appointments, god for bid another justice pass away unexpectedly, you would have a protocol and you know when and how vacancies would be filled. brian: would this require an ameamentment to the onstitution? gabe roth: i don't think it would. there is argument about this, but federal judges hold their office during the behavior, and
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office to be defined as office as federal judge, they would be federal judges for life especially where eight of the nine are federal judges. t makes sense giving the job requirements of the day. i don't judges would stay on for life, and congress would pass a law that says only 18 years of which would be on the supreme court. one it would make it to where all these baby justices and roberts and kagan were nominated when they were 49 or 50. you would have individuals with more life experience and more on the bench. you also have the ability to have former justices serving out in the world, riding circuit pieces and going back to the districts, like o'connor is doing in arizona. hearing cases at lower court level, teaching, imparting knowledge about how the federal bench works. there is huge value, dislike having former presidents coming out and supporting philanthropic
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initiatives. there is a huge benefit having presidents out there. brian: anyone on capitol hill ok with this kind of legislation? abe roth: not right now. i think there are individuals that was supported, but as far as i know, there is no bill -- a bill has not been drafted. brian: justice sotomayor back in 2013 appeared on "the view," and i wanted to run an excerpt of it and see what you thought of it. >> i can't wear those. >> when lawyers come to the upreme court, there is nine of us sitting at a bowed desk, you call it a bench, and using the lawyers and they come in. and there's fright on their faces.
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do you know that the tables have been turned on me today? there are five of you and my stomach has been churning. >> we are so happy to have you on. and we have read your book. i study before you came back, she said just call you sonia, but i cannot. do people call you justice? >> it has become my new first ame. justice. my friends call me sonia. brian: first you think that the members of "the view" -- gabe roth: definitely not, that is a parlor trick. it happens on talk shows all the ime. a research assistant gives them the highlights. brian: what do you think of the irst name thing? gabe roth: i mean, every justice has their own story about where they come from, who they are. sonia sotomayor has tried to be he people's justice. she's going on "sesame street."
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she's on "the view." dancing salsa on spanish-language television. she is try to be one of the people. people -- friends still call her sonia does not surprise me. brian: and what do you think about her going on these kind of shows? gabe roth: i think we are very lucky in the time we live in. all eight of the justices are very intelligent, very thoughtful. you may not grow with some of their decision but they are complete rock stars when it comes to their knowledge of the law and their willingness to interact with people. they are funny and engaging. the supreme court press office doesn't release their public schedule. when i worked for a state official, every night we sent out a press release. so-and-so, governor so-and-so is appearing at this place in this time. you are more than welcome to come. justices don't do that. there was an article in "usa today" that said justices rock on the road if you can find them. how much i have learned from
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kagan's speech at harvard or clarence thomas' speech the other day, you learn so much from them, you want to know when they are going to be appearing in public. i am fine with them going on the view and colbert. it is good for the american people to know them as public figures, making huge decisions. but there is irony given that they don't allow cameras in the courtroom. the second that they have a book, there relating to it. the second any justice has a book to sell, they are on "the view" or colbert, because i saw in the supreme court gift shop yesterday, something about how the justices relate to loans, -- the law, about international law. so the fact that they're running o the cameras when they can make some money off of it versus the day that they work, being closed off from the public via the broadcast media van, is a little bit ironic.
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brian: i will put on the screen a list of public officials and how much money they are paid every year and ask you about this. you can see it up on the screen. vice president $237,000. speaker of the house $223,000. speaker majority, minority leaders make $193,000. regular members make up $174,000. it used to be on a parity basis. chief justice makes $260,000, a regular justice is $249,300. hat you think of that? gabe roth: given how much money highly skilled attorneys are paid, they will take pay uts. chief justice john roberts was working, he did work for hogan and heart, it is hogan and lovells now.
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he is making upwards of $1 million to $2 million a year. he was a top appellant aattorney when he was there. that is money well spent. i think it is a bargain, given that they could be making a whole heck of a lot more in today's economy, given each one of their skill and intelligence. that doesn't necessarily bother me. one thing we talk about budget and funding that bothers me is each year, and we are going into a budget season now, c-span will broadcast the budget hearings for the supreme court, which i appreciate. the supreme court asked for another million dollars or so each year. and to me what i don't understand are two things. one that money is never tied to anything specific in terms of transparency measures. the never say, we need $1 million to study the effect of incorporating ethics for the rest of the federal judges to follow. we have got something called federal judicial center. why not spend $1 million on that? studying one of these
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transparency reforms that most americans support. when congress is appropriating however it does for the supreme court, they're not tying that money to anything either. they just write a blank check. all budgets have continuing resolutions, they are not thinking about it anyway. but that money is fine. the money i am concerned is the $75 million of taxpayer money that the american public does not get anything out of that in terms of accountability and transparency. congress has the right to change that. brian: you have said that television in the court. it's an important issue for you all. i want to go back to the kagan confirmation hearings june 9, -- june 29, 2010 and see what she had to say. >> i have said i think it would be a terrific thing to have a camera in the courtroom. the reason i think is when you
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see what happens there, it's an inspiring site. the justices are so prepared, they are so smart, they are so thorough, they are so engaged. they are questioning like rapidfire. you are really seeing institution of government that works, i think, in a really admirable way. and of course, the issues are important ones. some of them will put you to sleep, you know. [laughter] but a lot of them, the american people should be really concerned about an interested in. so i think it would be a great thing for the institution and more important i think you would be a great thing the american people. brian: what is she saying now? gabe roth: of all nine justices, well, the eight current justices were in favor of cameras before they were against it. they were all for before they were against it. in the confirmation hearing this happens with ce
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sonja sotomayor, even justice roberts. when roberts answered that question, he talked about enator fred tompson from my home state of tennessee who is in the and it now, and roberts said something like, senator thompson says that tv is nothing to worry about, though i guess it is ok. so nowadays, roberts and sotomayor and kagan all are against having broadcast media in the courtroom. honestly, i think it is generational. once you get a number of justices who grew up having cameras in front of them their whole lives, alito had cameras when he was a federal judge and had no problem, kagan was in the obama white house, there are cameras everywhere, sotomayor has allowed c-span cameras to enter the court to film different hearings was recently on data collection two months ago. i think that, yes, i feel like
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until they are unanimous, until the justices are unanimous, there may not be a change. but there are some cracks, and it is not necessarily that they all are sold on being against it nowadays. brian: justice kennedy will soon be in his 80th year. here's what he said in 2013 when i asked about this. >> my position is, and i think a number of the other justices, that we are a teaching institution. and we teach by not having a television in there, because we teach that we are judged by what we write. the reason that we give. we feel, number one, that our institution works. nd i, in my own view, it would be considered reluctance to introduce a dynamic where i would have the instinct that one of my colleagues asked a question because we are on elevision.
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i don't want that insidious dynamic intervened between me and my colleagues when we only have half an hour. brian: does he have a good point? gabe roth: no, he is essentially making the opposite point. the supreme court is a teaching institution. attorney an appellate in california, and maybe arguing a case at any appellate court, whether it be california, or the ninth circuit court of appeals, you want to us the best people in the country doing their jobs, and those are the advocates of before the supreme court and the nine justices on the bench. unless you can pay and get a plane ticket to d.c., get a hotel, it is cost and time prohibitive. i was able to go to supreme court because this is my job and i set my alarm for 4:00 a.m., i was able to set that, stand in line for five hours, and go in. the vast majority of the country cannot see their government in action, and that is
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ridiculous. as for the teaching point, not only appellate attorneys, but thousands of law students across the country would learn a great deal from the way the justices interact with one another in the ay the attorneys interact. when i was at the supreme court the other day, had there been cameras, you would've seen justice kagan sharing notes with justice alito. in our heads we think total opposite polls of the ideological spectrum. same thing, justice thomas and justice buyer. they were talking about -- you will see these, and they sit based on seniority, with roberts in front, most senior -- scalia was the most senior. actually, they are moving the chairs in a few days. kennedy, thomas. they sit seniority. so it is not like the right-wing sits on one side and left on the other. you see justices from ideological totally different
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backgrounds talking to one another, grappling with one another, asking questions. justice kagan said -- oh, justice scalia said this. i agree, what about this? it teaches the country not only how appellate argument works but also how a trial that goes on for days and weeks, and our tops - it's an hour tops. -- they would see the facts that the justices interact and break down preconceived notions about the ideological makeup of the institution. brian: keep in mind with kennedy aid about education. here is just what justice scalia had to say back in 2012. > television in the court. television in the court. the reason i bring it up is because congress has talked about ordering the court to go on television. why are you so against it? >> brian, i was for it when i
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first joined the court and switched and remained on that side of it. i am against it because i don't believe, as the proponents of television in the court assert, that the purpose wouldevising our hearings be to educate the american people. that is not what it would end up doing. if i really thought it would educate the american people, i would be all for it. >> what most of the american people would see is 32nd, 50 second takeouts, and it would not be characteristic of what we do. > yes. gabe roth: i have seen that clip played a number of times, and probably have it bookmarked on my web browser. the reactions. this idea of takeouts, it's already happening. it's called quotes, print stories or when the audio is
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available -- audio snippets have already been taken out. i feel like if you had the entire record on video, that would happen -- that might still happen, but you also have the ability as an american citizen to sit there. it is not like we are talking bout 12, 15 week trials. these are half an hour, an hourlong argument, the best arguments. it was just like the last time c-span filmed up in new york, this is what the judge said, it is an appellate argument. that is what goes on. the judge already has the argument ahead of time. the teaching element, what kennedy said, the cameras, is not that the american people are not smart enough to understand what is going on. the snippets would be taken out, i feel is kind of insulting.
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brian: have you had any conversations with the justices in the court about this? gabe roth: not directly. i saw justice stevens in chicago and asked him about life audio, streaming the audio. right now, the audio of the cases is reported as it unfolds it is put online at the end of the week. you can see the turnout at the end of the week. we have written a number of letters to the court trying to get same-day audio for some of the higher profile cases, abortion, immigration reform, hat sort of thing. so, yeah. i'm sorry, i lost my train of thought. brian: it is normal. the question was, about whether or not -- i am going to do the same thing. it was about whether or not you had any meetings with
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ustices. gabe roth: i think about justice justice and then at a breyer event, recently, i sent a buddy who got a question in to justice breyer, and he similarly said he would support streaming audio of the arguments, which i think is a step in the right direction. he said the supreme court on the radio, yeah, i would be in favor of that. not really understanding what live streaming online would e. he sort of got the concept if not the way it actually, the way it would actually happen. we are trying to get to them. we know they know about fix the court, and we will keep trying to ask them. it didn't happen this year, but when justice breyer and kennedy testified before congress last year, we three questions their way via members of congress. it is not my style to ambush
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them, but we are finding other ways to get in front of them. brian: how long will the venture fund support you? gabe roth: that is a good question. brian: how much do you have now? gabe roth: through the end of he term. this summer and then got to reapply for additional funding. brian: was it their idea or your idea that you set up this organization? gabe roth: a sort of combination. they did not have a whole lot of money, but they funded the coalition for court ransparency. that was just trying to get cameras in the court. and the me have conversations about fixing the court. that has been going on for about 15, 16 months. i will apply for more money in the fall and hope to get it, and with the very least, i have done an ok job of raising these ssues in the public spear, and
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in months and years we will make a dent in getting these past. brian: how long do you want to do it? gabe roth: it's not a question -- it is funny, we get these questions, where do you see yourself in five years? what do you think about? i don't really think about that. i enjoy this work. anything that is intellectually challenging and involves a lot of writing, i enjoyed, so i am really enjoying try to wrap my head around these issues. a lot of people have been trying this for a while. c-span has been trying to get broadcast media in the ourts. a lot of institution are trying to get financial disclosures online. none of these groups of the court just focus on the supreme court. fix the courts unique
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perspective, just focusing on the court. as far as time, i will do it as long as it takes. brian: what does the death of scalia had done for this discussion? you referenced travel and all of that. gabe roth: it is still a lot. a lot of people are talking about the supreme court than they were a few weeks ago. primarily, really, on this whole issue of lifetime tenure, the intelligence of lifetime enure. a "boston globe" columnist partially said, the founders missed this one up. there shouldn't be lifetime tenure for the supreme court. the founders weren't anticipating living into their 90's. and staying on the bench when lifetime tenure was written into the constitution. so i think that when it comes to how his death has been most impactful in my work, it is this lifetime tenure. and you've seen people all across spectrum, coalescing on this idea that lifetime
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tenure no longer works and in 18 term is more rational. brian: how much about their travel can you see, can we the public see? gabe roth: not a whole lot. every may, the justices, just like president, vice president, members of congress, are required to release their annual financial disclosure report. they usually file it on may 15, and it comes out weeks later. on that report, they report to their travel of the year. for example, justice kennedy does to austria and is paid by the university to speak in austria. it will say, justice kennedy went to austria on these days, and they reimburse for food, lodging travel that's it. so very vague. we don't know if they got a big
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donation from somebody with political powers that sent him there. we don't know and potentially will never know that we would like to know. it is very little. it is also unclear. unlike the president and the executive office and congress, there is no ethics office. there was no travel office that says you, president obama, are going to this country. you congressman so and so are going this part of the world. you know whargs are the ethical implications of that? who's funding your trips. who's paying for the junkets? we can get is a problem in the supreme court, and we hope that will change, given there are some questions about the trip that justice scalia went on that will be called in congress to open up their travel records or at least insured the travel listed on their annual financial disclosure reports reflects reality. >> what were the issues around the justice scalia trip? gabe roth: the ones that have been raised are the fact that he, we don't know who paid for his private plane to get there.
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we know that he flew with u.s. marshals either to new orleans and houston and switched planes and up to el paso via private plane. not sure who paid for that. the person who owns the ranch on which he stayed actually had that case before the supreme court. it was denied in october. it wasn't a huge case, but the fact that an individual who did go before the court is paying for a trip for the justice for months after that case came up for consideration raises red flags. the fact that we know so little really speaks to the fact that there should be more transparency around their travels. brian: right after his death february 19, "the washington post" wrote an article about his death.
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gabe roth: yes. that is a lot. and sometimes, these trips, often these trips are completely valid. if you are supreme court justice and you are asked to speak at, you know, the university of oklahoma, the university of oklahoma allows and agrees to reimburse you for your airfare and for your meals and your lodging. why not? as we spoke about a minute ago, they are making $1 million, $2 million in the private sector. hey do make a nice salary. and they are limited and how much money they are allowed to make from outside activity. they will limit to around 30,000 bucks. they can make as much as they want from book sales. but a separate. when sonia sotomayor wrote that book, she got separate
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$1 million advance. because the justices' salaries and income is limited, you want to reimburse the university of oklahoma? great. the bottom line is, what we know about ends and where things tart to get murky. we know he went to the university of oklahoma, but did he stop by some thing else when he was in the area? there is a fine line between maintaining a certain level of privacy. don't know when he visits his grandkids. that's ridiculous. but they are paid for by taxpayer money, and we should know more about who is funding it when they travel across the country. brian: if somebody was to follow how you are doing, how do they get there? gabe roth: our website is updated almost aily with our work, reforms,
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and ways individuals, who are interested, can get involved. there's a big action center on the top right. there are seven or eight different actions they can take right there. congressman, judicial body, trying to get them to change internal policies that were hopefully trickle up to the supreme court. they can tell their local ap writer and say the justice is coming to their town and try to cover the justice, because right now they don't release their public schedule. a different bunch of activities there. we are big on social media. we love to get more likes and follows on facebook and twitter. brian: one last quick question, is there a donate button? gabe roth: there is. there is a donate button. but for the moment, save your money. you know, give it to early childhood education or a hunger or poverty initiative.
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we need to start donating funds in a more aggressive way, but right now, i think we are doing ok in that regard. it is not a very expensive venture. that is a part of the fun of this job is that social media and other ways, it is pretty easy to be active without spending a lot of money. brian: the name of the rganization is fix the court. our guest has been its everything, gabe roth. gabe roth: thank you for having e. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> for free transcripts or to give us your comment about this
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rogram, visit us on q& they are available on c-span podcasts. >> if you like this q&a program here are some others you might enjoy. attorney tom goldsteen talks about his blog which he co-founded with his wife providing news and able sys of the supreme court and its decisions. author melvin urofsqy. alks about louie brandeis. he was instrumental in the federal reserve and the federal commission. you can find all those interviews and more


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