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tv   Washington Journal Judge Harvie Wilkinson III Discusses All Falling Faiths  CSPAN  February 11, 2017 9:33am-10:01am EST

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increasing the numbers of head of household. increasing the number of the sole provider in the household. so therefore, the talk is now transfigured from a man to a woman and it's not just from a man to the son but it's also a woman to the son and daughter. anouncer: go to for the complete weekend schedule. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]. anouncer: c span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, cspan was created and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. washington journal continues host: his personal story of coming of age in the 1960s, welcome to the show j. harvie
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wilkinson. guest: it's a great pleasure to be with you today. host: we'd like to get to the 9th circuit, a sister circuit, that upheld the lower court's order blocking president trump's travel ban. what do you make of that politically and what do you make of that ruling substantively? guest: it's very difficult for me to comment on it, because i didn't hear the arguments about it and i know that the great thing about the judicial process is that you have to hear the arguments on both sides and the judges of the ninth circuit heard that, and i didn't hear it. it's all very easy if you just hear one side of something but i think the great thing about the judicial process is that you're sitting on that bench, and you have to listen to both sides, and that's a good thing.
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so it would be a little -- really presumptuous of me to say that, though the ninth circuit got it right or the ninth circuit got it wrong when they heard the case and i didn't. and there's another point, and that is oose this litigation is of a very preliminary stage. it's at a very preliminary injunction stage and it's got a good ways to go, and there's going to be other litigation probably at different places around the country and some of that litigation may come before me and before the fourth circuit and i think your good listeners out there would think, well i don't want this guy to pre-judge that case because he may be hearing something like that it in the not-too-distant future.
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so it's just not something that i'm going to weigh into. and the only thing i would say about that decision is that it's the law and people are certainly free to criticize it and free to appeal it. and until that point, it's the law and essential that people abide by it, because that's what the judicial process means to us today. it safe guards. it protects our order, and it safe guards our liberty, and so sure, say i disagree or i agree, and that's part of free speech, and that's part of democracy but it seems to me that the essential thing is that we abide by decisions even when there
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are things that we may not personally agree with or don't happen to like. host: let's get to your book. you make the point that the country hasn't healed from the partisan wounds exposed during the 1960s. i wonder if you could unpack that for me. what do you mean by that? guest: well, i mean, i think we are reliving much of the 1960s today and my book is a personal memoire, because too many people are shouting about the 1960s. i really want to lead the reader by the hand and walk them through what it was like for many different people to live through the 1960s, and also the impact that the 1960s are having upon our society today. and there's so many values and institutions that were harmed in
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the 1960s. i think that of education. i think our family structure was harmed. i think the rule of law was harmed. i think our attachment to america as home was harmed. i think our desire for service and our capacity for national unity was harmed. the 1960s did many good things, but they also inflicted enormous damage on this country and we need to recognize that, and if i could take just one example, the rule of law today is in a very fragile state. and it was in the 1960s when you had those horrible assassinations, and you had urban riots in detroit rochester and newark, and you
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had police getting out of control as they did in chicago and birmingham, and stonewall and kent state, and we're seeing a replay of too much of that today. and so this isn't good, because a country can only sustain so much damage to its values and its institutions, and some of the same things that i witnessed in the 1960s pose a threat to our rule of law today. as i say law is in a fragile state, and we have to respect it and when you see these tragic events in places like orlando and san bernardino and dallas, and you see riots that vandalize and damage shopkeepers
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and injure innocents and you see police engage in unjustified shootings, i can't point the blame all one direction or another. but i do know what we lost during the 1960s. i do know we've got to find it and i never expected to be at this point in my life reliving so much about that decade a half century ago. >> federal judge harvie wilkins is taking our calls this morning. we want to hear from you for 50 and older 202-748-8000. and any of you who have a more romanticized view of the 1960s, it's 8001. grace is on the 50 and older line from massachusetts. good morning. caller: good morning. two thoughts.
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first, i'll address the 1960s very easily. to me, even though we saw the violence and everything else, but with the time when my politics started to grow and to understand, we had the pentagon papers. we had so many different things, and we saw where government was pushing those aside, and we saw what the young people did, so i saw positive things as well as violence. but the thing that really disturbs me is the politics in the supreme court. how is it that a conservative can interpret the law one way and a liberal can interpret it the other way? isn't the law the law? and how can a person like myself understand it? thank you, judge. guest: well, i thank you for your question. and some of these questions are for one thing many, many
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decisions are unanimous. there's no -- at the court level that i sit the decisions aren't often divided 2-1 or whatever. sometimes they are, but there is such a thing as law and judges are very -- i watched judges on very different political views put those views aside and come together because they thought the law required it. now, the difficulty is that you're going to see in the media and elsewhere an emphasis upon those cases where the supreme court divides 5-4 and the most controversial, but they're just a tiny tip of the iceberg. there is a neutral law that
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applies on case after case after case on which judges agree but i think the question raises a very good point in a larger sense and that is that we need to realize when we take the bench we don't give an oath of office. we don't swear loyalty to the president. we swear loyalty to the constitution, and to the law, and to stachtstutes and i think judges, the good ones, they recognize whatever authority we have, it doesn't derive from our political views or our personal views, it derives from loyalty and fidelity and service to the rule of law. and we need to resist what is a very human temptation of saying, well, my view of things is right, and what we need to ask
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is yeah, but what does the constitution say and what does the statute say? so we try to perform -- it's very human to just do what you want to do. we try to perform by setting that aside and saying what really does the law require us? host: on the line next we have alex from san bernardino, california. good morning. caller: good morning, your honor. how are you today, sir? i just wanted to call and make a comment concerning about the lack of respect for law. i just want to bring up the fact that as long as you have a lot of immorality in the administration and in police organizations, a lot of corruption politically speaking, then the people are going to be uneasy. i mean particularly in the case of african-americans being extra
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judicially killed and unarmed innocent civilians killed by police officers which is relatively ram pant under the past year under obama, i think that as long as you have police not even being held accountable, never even prosecuted for particularly at the federal level, you'll have a lot of unease and a lot of distrust for the institutions and administrations. moreover there's a lot of local corruption, a lot of political entities. as you know, i'm calling from san bernardino. we had the san bernardino shootings, and a lot of people believe it was a terrorist attack but the fbi came out and contradicted that, so that's my knowledge per some of the reports i've read because a particular person who is a terrorist, being harassed at work based on his background, which makes it a -- it's still a violent and untolerable act. but it makes it more of a
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workplace violence incident as opposed to terrorist. so, i mean, these issues still culminate from issues within our administration, our political structure, and our local governments lacking accountability for those who run the city. thank you for your time. guest: thank you. while you were talking, i just -- it seemed to me that it raises a very important point, and that is out of respect for law, it's got to be a two-way street. it's not just respect on -- of course we expect respect for those who must obey the law, but it's also important to respect the law for those who enforce the law.
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and the problem during the 1960s is we suffered a breakdown in law in two different ways. people felt that they didn't have any obligation to obey the law, that they could take it into their own hands, whether it was an assassination of a robert kennedy or john kennedy or a martin luther king or whatever. they thought that they somehow got this twisted notion that they could take law into their own hands, but there was a problem from the other side, which is that the police felt they could take the law into their own hands and the whole department sometimes is in chicago and birmingham and kent state and stonewall. they were going on a rampage. and what you had and what was so damaging is that law was hit
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from both sides, both from those whose obligation it was to enforce it and those whose obligation it was to obey it. and my problem is i see it the same convergence of forces happening today being that there's disrespect from both sides, and in my book, i talk about a figure that i revered who was a dean of the law school where i went, and he worshipped the law and he tried to have us worship the law and he had it -- to borrow an image he put it in an acropolis on the hill, and it was something we were taught in law school to revere. and during the course of the 1960s, his whole view of law
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crashed around his shoulders as a result of that decade. and so the question we were left with at the end of that decade was how do we restore our faith in law that this wonderful man taught us and that he had himself, and that was just unfortunately from both sides disrespected and left in tatters, and i don't want that to happen again, because there's only so much that a great society and great country can sustain. that's what my concern is. host: and judge, you've outlined the concern, but do you have a sense of who that might be? guest: excuse me. i'm not sure i picked that up. host: i said you outlined your concerns and what the problems are, but do you have a sense of what the solution might be? guest: what the what might be?
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host: the solution to restoring our faith in the law. guest: yeah, that's an excellent question. do i have all the answers? no. not by a long shot. and anybody who pretends they do have all the answers they'd just be kidding you, but i do think i know the right questions to ask. i do think i know how to get the education back on the larger picture, especially in this world where there's technological, terrorist and other environmental threats, how do we improve humanity's long-term chances for survival and i think that's one of the questions that we have to ask, and how do we restore respect for our family structure which was so battered by the sexual
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revolution of the 1960s? how do we restore respectful law? how do we restore respect for america as our home and our country and as see good in our country as well as its admitted faults? how do we restore a sense of unity so that we could come together, at least when we absolutely have to? how do we kindle a sense of service and a sense of faith? so those -- do i have the answers? no. but i sure do know at least some of the questions that people of good faith -- even if they may disagree i know what they need to ask. now, how do we go about getting the answers to the questions? the only thing i can say is that over 30 years, i've worked in the federal courts, and we have
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people -- you wouldn't believe how different some of the judges have -- we have different views about things, but we listen to both sides of an argument, then we get in and talk about a case and we listen to one another and do we always end up agreeing at the end of the day? no. but sometimes we do. and compromise is possible if you listen, and compromise can remain a living art. and so i say i've seen the judicial process work among people with very dramatically different views, and i don't understand why the same kind of process that i've watched in action can't be undertaken on a larger scale to answer these very difficult questions. not any expectations, and everything is just going to be
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wonderful, and hunky dory and everything else, but that at least we can agree on a process. i wish i had all the answers, but i sure don't. but i do know the questions and what the process is that has the greatest likelihood of restoring mutual respect, as we try to go about finding answers. host: let's go back to the lines because there are a lot of people who want to speak from you. rick from the 50 and older line from maryland, go ahead. caller: okay. judge? guest: yes. host: go ahead, rick. caller: judge, listen to me, because here's the situation. i'm a product of the 1960s, judge. i've spent 33 years working for the department of housing and urban development. and here's what happened, judge. in 1968, we had the riots after
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king was assassinated. and then the poor blacks in our cities burnt their own housing. so a small group of individuals that i know -- and very few people know who they were -- set up hud. and this small group went around the country, chicago, baltimore north new jersey. they bought the worst sections of land and they financed and developed these multifamily high-rise projects and housed these poor blacks and made millions and today billions of dollars. fast forward 50 years, they have been living in those projects in
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certain sections of l.a. for the last 50 years. there were no school systems, no jobs. when i was in d.c., they interviewed the top principal of one of the high schools, and they said, how come you have this drop-out rate of 50-60%? she said, what do you want me to do, call these young black boys into the auditorium and tell them look, you've got to stay in school and get a high school diploma so you can go out and be manager of mcdonald's and make $30,000 a year. you know what they say? what, are you crazy? we can go out and sell drugs and make $300-$400 a day. so the situation no one today -- i went through democrat, republican, democrat at hud for 33 years. they did nothing for these central cities except concentrated 60% of our black people. there's about 42 million black people, judge, in this country. 40% are doing fabulous. the barack obamas, the oprah
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winfreys, the jay-zs, the singers, the few that got their harvard graduates and whatever. the other 60% for the last 50 years have been concentrated in these projects. i'm going to give you one name, judge, and pull it up -- paul winn w-i-n-n. steve winn owns all the casinos. this is phil winn. in the 1970s, he got indicted and convicted of 59 billion in fraud and, of course you know who pardoned him? slick willy pardoned him because he helped pay for his legal fees. phil winn at one time controlled 500,000 units of section 8 housing. not 50. i said 500,000. so this small group today are still in control of these projects where we concentrated these poor blacks.
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host: rick from maryland. i'm sorry, judge, we have a few more people to get to. let's go to errol in portland, oregon on the younger than 50 line. go ahead, aaron. aaron, are you there? caller: i'm here. host: good morning. go ahead. caller: good morning, judge. guest: excuse me can i make one comment about our last caller? because i thought it was a good -- he raised a point that's well worth noting, and that is that the -- that the law will only flourish if we have justice, and i think our last caller made a good point and that is that we need to provide opportunity in the disadvantaged, most
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disadvantaged citizens, and as someone who's attached to the rule of law, without that opportunity, law is going to be frustrated and obedience and respectful law is going to be frustrated. now, the question is how do we provide it? and there are a million different answers. everybody agrees on the problem. there are a million different answers as to what the solutions are. but it's going to take a national effort and pilot programs. we won't even begin to get these solutions until we can listen to one another and hear what everybody brings on the table, but i understand the frustration that our previous caller expressed. and i believe that we won't be strong abroad until we are
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strong at home, and i agree that the single-most important problem facing our country and the single thing we can do to enhance respectful law is to try to provide opportunity for a large group of citizens who haven't had that opportunity and whom the society in some very fundamental ways, has hailedfailed. and i think we all need to take some responsibility for that and try to come up with something by which everybody has a shot at a decent life. host: on that note, we'll have to end it there. federal judge j. harvie wilkins. his book "all falling faiths" a focus on the 1960s. thank you for being with us. and that's our program for today. "washington journal"returns tomorrow at 7:00. until then have a great day.
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national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] anouncer: next congressman peter raskan outlining his bill to change the tax code and the future of the u.s. postal service and at 3:30 p.m., live coverage from the chair of the democratic national committee. illinois congressman peter roskam talked about his proposal to overhaul the u.s. tax code. he made the remarks monday during an event hosted by the heritage foundation. this is 40 minutes.


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