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updated 6/30/2013 12:26:48 PM ET 2013-06-30T16:26:48

DAVID GREGORY:

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Good Sunday morning as Nelson Mandela remains in critical but stable condition, another emotional day ahead for President Obama during his visit to South Africa. He arrived in Cape Town a short time ago and is spending the morning at Robben Island, that is the jail of course when Mandela was held for 18 of the 27 years of his confinement. Saturday, the president met privately with some of Mandela's children and grandchildren, and spoke to students in Soweto about the former leader's legacy.

BARACK OBAMA: [TAPE]

But as you go forward, I want you to think of the man who's in our prayers today. Think about 27 years in prison. Think about the hardships and the struggles and being away from family and friends. Reflecting on his years in prison, Nelson Mandela wrote that there were dark moments that tested his faith in humanity, but he refused to give up.

DAVID GREGORY:

All of this and its significant political challenges and debates back home in Washington, we're gonna get right into it. Joining me now, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow; founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed; professor at Georgetown University, Michael Eric Dyson; former Republican senator from South Carolina, now president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint; and our own justice correspondent, Pete Williams. Welcome to all of you.

And, Pete, you are such a significant newsman, as we like to discuss around here, that even when you get news of something significant like the ruling in the gay marriage debate, it has become a viral sensation on Vine, the loop seen 'round the world of the SCOTUS blog intern hustling the decision to Pete Williams so he can inform the world. Good to have all of you here.

PETE WILLIAMS:

I was sweating too.

DAVID GREGORY:

Exactly. You had been running just prior to that. So much to get into; let's begin with where this debate over gay marriage goes now, Rachel Maddow, because the reaction has been so big, so fast. And yet, what now becomes a really big question.

RACHEL MADDOW:

The Supreme Court had the choice not only which way to rule, pro- or anti-gay marriage rights, but also how they were going to rule. They could have ruled just federalism, saying, "This isn't a matter for federal; this isn't a federal issue at all. States should decide it." Or they could decide it on equal protection grounds and say that, "Gay discrimination is wrong." Those are the grounds on which they decided it.

So I tend to side with Justice Scalia on this, who ten years ago in the Lawrence case said, "If the Court finds that there is not a state interest in discriminating and showing moral disapproval of homosexuality then we can't stop equal marriage rights." That's what Scalia warned ten years ago. I think he's right and I think that's what the Court--

DAVID GREGORY:

And Pete Williams, if you look at part of the majority opinion by Anthony Kennedy, Justice Kennedy, he writes the following, which seems to be a big shot in the arm for gay marriage supporters when he writes this. "DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects."

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, that's the part of the opinion that will be used by supporters of same-sex marriage as they now try to come up with a legal strategy to go state by state. But there is something in this opinion for everybody. And by the way, Justice Kennedy uses the word "dignity" ten times in the opinion to refer to same-sex relationships.

But, at the same time, he says, "This is so important because it demeans the choice the states have made." So the other side can say, "No, no, no. This opinion is all about leaving it up to the states." Not that there's a fundamental right, but that you have to defer to what the states want, and that's something for the other side.

DAVID GREGORY:

And here is how it looks in the states, Ralph Reed, as we put up the map of where gay marriage is now legal. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia where it is legal or will be soon; wide swaths of this country (37 states, in fact) where it is not legal. What happens now?

RALPH REED:

Well, I hate to throw cold water on the celebration on the other side, but this Court specifically and explicitly rejected what the plaintiffs argued in this case, which was there is a 14th amendment equal protection right to be married as gays and lesbians. The Court rejected that argument. And even in the DOMA case--

DAVID GREGORY:

Did they reject it or did they sidestep it?

RALPH REED:

Well, clearly the votes were not there. You know, Kennedy's wanted to go there ever since, you know, the Lawrence decision last decade, but the votes are not there, and I don't expect the votes to be there anytime soon. And I also don't buy into this sort of Whigs of history that this is sort of an inevitable train and this is where we're going to go.

Even after this decision, David, 70% of the American people live in states that define marriage as between a man and a women. Thirty-two of those states passed referendums with an average margin of 57%. And in a CBS/New York Times poll on June 9th, 60% of the American people and a majority of Democrats said they want this resolved at the state level--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, well, fair enough.

RALPH REED:

--not at the federal level.

DAVID GREGORY:

Michael Eric Dyson, how does that dynamic change? Because there is a huge part of the country, and many states, where they're simply not on board with the notion that gays and lesbians have the right to marry. But we've also looked at the social change that's occurred, and political change, so rapidly. So what changes?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Well it is pretty extraordinary--

DAVID GREGORY:

What changes the views?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Let me represent the Tories against the Whigs. It's not necessarily inevitable progress, but that accentuates, highlights, and underscores the necessity for sustained political intervention on behalf of those people who have been underrepresented.

Here's the point: I come from a people where it was illegal to be married for a long period of our history in this country. So that now that that right has been extended to us, that becomes a metaphor for others who are struggling similarly against states' rights, number one. And against the use of a constitution to prevent their ability to participate in a right that others share freely.

So at the fundamental level, and then if we bring in our own religious beliefs as well to say, "Look, we're all--" dignity is a critical point there. We're dignified because we're human beings. We're dignified because we're American citizens. And we're dignified because we have the right that everyone else should have expectations that they will enjoy.

So my point is that, look, if you had polled people in 1963, '64, and '65, there was huge resistance to a notion of civil rights, of a civil rights bill, and a Civil Rights Act, and a Voting Rights Act. But President Johnson used his bully pulpit to encourage Congress to get on board so that those three, the judicial, the legislative, and of course the congressional) have to be brought into the picture--

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me bring Jim DeMint into this, because I want to come back to Pete's point. Justice Kennedy is using the word "dignity" over and over again. He's saying you can't demean gay and lesbian couples; you can't discriminate against them.

Now, let's be honest. In both of your backgrounds, Ralph Reed and Jim DeMint, you will be viewed in many quarters as being intolerant of gay rights, intolerant of gays, going back to the Christian coalition, your time as senator, some of your past comments. How do you answer Justice Kennedy saying, "To oppose gay marriage is to deny dignity to people who deserve equal protection"?

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

What I'd say, David, is he is denying dignity to the millions of Americans who, for moral or religious reasons, believe that gay marriage is wrong. As you just said, you've got 37 states where the people have decided that they want to protect the marriage between a man and a woman because they know that that's the environment where children can thrive and succeed. I mean, that's been proven.

So it's not about the desires of adults, it's really about the best environment for children. We're talking all about politics, but the reason governments at the state level and the federal level have recognized marriage between a man and a woman is because it's better for our country and it's better for children.

RACHEL MADDOW:

You know, Justice--

RALPH REED:

But, David--

RACHEL MADDOW:

--Kennedy addressed that issue specifically in his ruling.

DAVID GREGORY:

He talked about children as well.

RACHEL MADDOW:

He says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you're humiliating and demeaning those kids by denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family.

So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And I think the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There's nothing we can do in public policy that makes more or us exist or less of us exist.

And these guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don't make any less of us exist, you just are arguing in favor of discrimination. And more discrimination doesn't make straight people's--

RALPH REED:

I can't--

RACHEL MADDOW:

lives any better.

RALPH REED:

David, I really can't let that go. I mean, this suggestion that because somebody wants to affirm the institution of marriage that they're ipso facto intolerant? By that argument, Barack Obama was intolerant 14 months ago. By that argument, 342 members of the House, 85 members of the Senate (including, by the way, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Pat Leahy) who all voted for this law, and Bill Clinton who signed it into law, were intolerant and motivated by an animus and a hatred for gays.

RACHEL MADDOW:

They've all changed their mind on it.

RALPH REED:

Now wait a minute-- this is--

RACHEL MADDOW:

All of them.

RALPH REED:

But we're talking about when they-- Obama was 14 months ago. Was he a bigot 14 months ago?

RACHEL MADDOW:

Nobody's calling anybody a bigot.

RALPH REED:

Was Hillary Clinton a bigot when she suggested that--

DAVID GREGORY:

But wait a minute, just because--

RACHEL MADDOW:

You’re the only one--

RALPH REED:

--but to suggest that you are--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

--ideological divide here.

RALPH REED:

--motivated by hatred for somebody else because you believe that the foundation enculturating and socializing institution of western civilization is something to be protected--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Can I tell you this-- I gotta tell you this-- the same argument was made--

RALPH REED:

--is intolerant itself.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

--in defense of white supremacy against African American people, the very same argument. "It will destroy civilization. It will undermine the American family. It will challenge our civic institutions. It will unravel our civil policies." The reality is, the same arguments were made on behalf of those. And I will go all the way--

RALPH REED:

So the pope is George Wallace?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

No, no. I'm saying-- not George Wallace. I'm saying George Washington. My point is this, is that in the American culture, yes, people can change their mind. They can evolve, they can grow, they can think that one thing was true then, another thing is true now.

Most Americans believed 50 years ago one thing about issues of race; now they believe something different as we make a move toward progressive realization of what is enlightened viewpoints. Your affirmation of marriage for those who are heterosexual goes against people who are affirming their rights--

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

--as same-sex people--

DAVID GREGORY:

--get in here to Pete Williams. With all of these points in mind, the Supreme Court deliberately did not answer this core question.

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, that's right. With all respect to Mr. Reed here, it did not reject the argument of equality here, it just sidestepped it with great relief. It was only too happy to find an off-ramp and say, "You know what? The parties that came here, the Prop 8 proponents, don't have the proper legal standing."

It was obviously clear from the oral argument that the Court is nowhere near wanting to take on this question. They would not like to see this come back. There were two cases pending in the Supreme Court after it decided these cases, from two other states, that raised the core question. The Court said, "You know, we're just not going to hear those now." So having done all this, it does not want to see these cases back on its doorstep for quite a while. It wants the states to have this very argument that you're having this morning.

DAVID GREGORY:

And to battle this out. I want to bring in another voice to this. Joining me now is Republican Congressman from Kansas Tim Huelskamp. Congressman, welcome. I asked you to come on this morning because you are on the leading edge of those conservative opponents of gay marriage within Congress who don't want to just have the fight in the states but who want to have it in Congress.

You have proposed a constitutional ban for gay marriage. You have some co-sponsors. But you'd have to admit that it seems that the flow of history now, the Supreme Court and others, are sort of working against you, working against the politics of what you're trying to advocate. Do you not think that's true?

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Well, our founders made it extraordinarily difficult to amend the Constitution, and that's what we're going to try to do. And, yes, you look at this decision, it's outrageous what the Court did. They've taken upon themselves to rewrite the Constitution, and this would make it very clear to them.

But to suggest it can't be done, if you look at the issue of life and abortion, actually we're moving in that direction where most Americans oppose most abortions. And so by that same argument, we should be looking very closely at any abortion in this country, or something close to that.

DAVID GREGORY:

What is it that you have against gays and lesbians marrying?

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Well, this issue here some the definition of marriage for centuries in this country and elsewhere around the world. And every major world religion has identified marriage as between a man and a woman, and that's the simple issue here. And as Senator DeMint did note, the research is very clear that the ideal for raising our children should be the issue here, and that's what we need to focus on in this debate.

DAVID GREGORY:

Right, but Justice Kennedy speaks to this, there's also research that indicates-- everybody talks about the interests of children. Children tend to prosper in homes where there is a loving marriage, right? I mean, there is really not evidence to suggest that, if you are a same-sex couple or a heterosexual couple, that it makes one difference one way or the other.

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Well, actually the research does not show that. Actually, the research is very clear, as we have indicated here. But what the Court did--

DAVID GREGORY:

Everybody throws that out.

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

The majority--

DAVID GREGORY:

No, no. The research actually shows that, in broken homes, it hurts the children, which I think most people would say that would be true with same-sex couples or--

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Absolutely.

DAVID GREGORY:

--heterosexual couples. We don't really know, do we? But we do have a sense that loving marriages provide a good family life for children, right?

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Well, we have an epidemic of fatherlessness here, and that's what I agree with the president on, and we should be doing more to promote and protect marriage as between a man and a women for the needs of our children. In this decision, the Court decided the desires of adults should trump the needs of children. And that's what's gotten lost in all the politics, all the debates, all the hand-wringing in Washington, D.C.

DAVID GREGORY:

But Justice Kennedy has weighed in heavily on that point. I do want to ask you a political question, and give you kind of the two ends within the Republican debate about how to treat this issue. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, tweeted this out of Wednesday.

"My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same-sex marriage is okay, quote, 'Jesus wept,'" seeming to reflect that part of the conservative party, the faith-based part. And David Kochel, who's an Iowa-based Republican operative, worked for Mitt Romney's campaign, supports gay marriage, wrote the following, or this is how Politico reported on him.

"Iowa-based Republican strategist Kochel, a former Mitt Romney advisor who supports gay marriage, shrugged the conservative vows to dig in against the Court. However intensely conservatives may oppose same-sex marriage, Kochel said, 'The country is witnessing an inexorable march of progress on the freedom to marry. There will be people who want to roll back the clock, who want to continue this fight over and over again,'" Kochel said. "'There will be a lot of sound and fury but I don't think it's going to amount to a whole lot over time.'" Why don't you believe this debate is over, that Republicans are having?

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Well, because for the American people, it's not over. This Court attempted to short-circuit the democratic process. But what you're hearing from these professional consultants who have lost election after election, by the way, these folks have always wanted us to go light and to abandon or positions on social issues.

As I mentioned earlier, there are more folks today that are opposed to abortion than support homosexual marriage. But the real issue here is who gets to decide? Do five justices get to decide or do the American people get to decide? Or do some consultants in Washington, D.C., get to decide? At the end of the day, I'm going to go with the 7 million Californians who had their votes discarded by this court.

DAVID GREGORY:

Tim Huelskamp, congressman from Kansas, thank you very much for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

CONGRESSMAN TIM HUELSKAMP:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Ralph Reed, quick reaction on a political point. You have said this week this is going to energize Republicans not only to fight gay marriage at the state level, but this has implications for the midterm race as well.

RALPH REED:

No question about it. I mean, I think that, first of all, it's far better for this to be resolved at the state level than by a federal decision. Second of all, it's better resolved in the political and legislative process at the ballot box than it is by an act of judicial fiat. And I think if we find a silver lining at all, and it's hard to do in these decisions, that's it. So what you're going to see in states like Iowa, where the Supreme Court imposed same-sex marriage on the state, we're going to be seeing--

DAVID GREGORY:

State supreme court.

RALPH REED:

The state supreme court. We're going to be attempting to elect legislators who will pass a constitutional amendment to ratify that marriage should be--

RACHEL MADDOW:

Your group worked--

RALPH REED:

--between a man and a woman.

RACHEL MADDOW:

--on three main election efforts this year though: electing Mitt Romney, getting that Iowa state supreme court justice thrown out and recall for having voted in favor of same-sex marriage, and the Minnesota anti-gay constitutional amendment. You lost all three of those fights in November 2012--

RALPH REED:

Well, actually--

RACHEL MADDOW:

--between oral arguments--

RALPH REED:

--our objective was to turn out the evangelical vote and we did--

RACHEL MADDOW:

Well, you--

RALPH REED:

--it at a record number.

RACHEL MADDOW:

And it was great, and they lost. But when oral arguments were made in this case, there were nine states that recognized marriage equality. By the time of the ruling, there were 12 states, and then five minutes later there were 13 states.

DAVID GREGORY:

Alright, let me get in here. We'll continue this, but I want to get to another voice in this debate. On Friday, I went to Capitol Hill, sat down with the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, to talk about this issue; some of the other big issues as well that Congress is dealing with. My conversation with her.

[BEGIN TAPE]

DAVID GREGORY:

Leader, welcome back to Meet the Press.

NANCY PELOSI:

Welcome to the Capitol.

DAVID GREGORY:

Thank you, always good to be here.

NANCY PELOSI:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me start on this historic week on gay marriage and where the fight goes from here. Some supporters of same sex marriage have said they'd like to see it be the law of the land within five years. But you've got 37 states in America where it remains illegal. Do you think that's an achievable goal?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, first of all, let's savor the victory. None of us were surprised-- that the Supreme Court ruled the way they did, nonetheless it was a relief-- to have it over, both in terms of the repeal of sections of DOMA as well as the-- sending-- Proposition 8 back to where it belongs.

The-- and-- and you know, we still have work to do. The president as you know has directed his administration to go through-- the federal laws that affect-- marriage equality, couples in our country. And yes, we would like to see it be the law of the land upheld as a constitutional right and no discrimination. No discrimination, that's what we're about as a country.

DAVID GREGORY:

But you look at the states, Arkansas, only 18% approval, how do you change that tide?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, the-- you know-- you know what? It-- it's-- it's-- it's-- look how fast things have changed. Even when we went over to listen to the-- oral arguments at the time of DOMA-- in March-- the-- the chief justice said, "People seem to be falling all over them-- tripping all over themselves-- to come out in support-- of gay marriage." The-- generationally-- another generation of-- of people think in a different way about this kind of discrimination. I'm optimistic that the momentum is with-- with ending discrimination.

DAVID GREGORY:

Five years is achievable you think?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, I would certainly hope so. Course I've been in this-- shall we say-- crusade for a long time. And to see the pace-- with which it has accelerated in the past few years is very encouraging. L-- let's hope it's even sooner than that.

DAVID GREGORY:

What would you say to conservatives who are energized by this to say, "No, this is still a faith based issue. We're going to-- to lobby the federal government to-- to be very narrow in its implementation of it and we're gonna make this a big fight in the states based on-- a faith view-- a faith based view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman"?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well-- for their faith-- they can apply that to their religion. And we're not talking about saying that-- religions have to perform wedding ceremonies. We're talking about the state-- what the state does and what the state recognizes. People have a right to believe what they believe. But we are a country that professes not to discriminate and this is a discrimination.

And again-- I think the more people see in their own families-- people coming out, seeing people they love-- profess to whom they l-- they love-- they're much more receptive. I think that-- culturally-- it's still a challenge, but it's changing in favor of not-- being a non issue before too long.

DAVID GREGORY:

I wanna ask you about voting rights. The president this week says that you-- you wouldn't have to target particular states the way they were quote/unquote p-- pre-cleared in the past, but basically that every state should be subject to rules with regard to voting so that everybody can vote and that there's no suppression. Is that how you view it? Is that the way to get started do you think, to get legislation?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, what we want to do is to correct what the Supreme Court did. And to do so we must do it in a bipartisan way, which it always has been, and to do so in a way that-- addresses the challenge. It may be that we add place-- parts of some other states. But whatever it is you-- you're-- you're not adding states, you're adding criteria.

DAVID GREGORY:

So many hot button issues to get to and I'd like to cover as many as I can. Immigration-- you've apparently spoken to the president about the game plan, the way forward. Do you know-- look how daunting this is. 70% of districts held by Republicans in the House have a population of Hispanic voters of 10% or less. You're an advocate but you're also a realist. How tough will this be to get meaningful legislation in the house?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, I'm hopeful-- I'm very optimistic that we will-- before too long and certainly this year have comprehensive immigration reform. Congratulations to the Senate in a bipartisan way and to the courage of those on the Republican side especially who made the tough vote. On the House side-- the speaker will have his way to bring legislation to the floor and hopefully it will be in a form that takes it to conference—

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, what's gonna happen? I mean, we know that those are the outlines of it, but you've been very tough on the speaker saying he's weak. And how-- how optimistic can you be given the fact that I just qu-- you know, cited for you and the views that you're hearing that you're gonna get something akin to what the senate did?

NANCY PELOSI:

We wouldn't even be where we are right now had it not been that 70% of Hispanics voted for President Obama, voted Democratic in the last election. That caused an epiphany in the Senate, that's for sure. So all of a sudden now we have already passed comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate. That's a big victory.

The-- I believe that the members of Congress, many more than h-- than are directly affected themselves-- by the number of Hispanics in their district will do what is right for our country. And it's certainly right-- for the Republicans if they ever wanna win a presidential race.

The senators know it's important to win statewide-- to have Hispanics and other immigrant populations-- supporting them. Hopefully they can persuade their colleagues in the House. But I think there are enough, there are enough. The question is do we have to have these pi r squared mathematical f-- formulas about what it takes to bring something forth. 218, that's a majority of the House.

DAVID GREGORY:

That would be including Democrats not adhering to only a majority of-- of-- of the majority of Republicans?

NANCY PELOSI:

Right.

DAVID GREGORY:

On abortion rights-- look what's happened, this back and forth in Texas to-- an attempt to-- to-- narrow abortion rights there. As you look at it, here's the Supreme Court bringing back to the states power over big issues-- like gay marriage. Do you see what's happening in the states as-- a p-- the potential-- laying the groundwork for the potential to undermine abortion rights? And might the Supreme Court even take that up again? Do you feel that pressure?

NANCY PELOSI:

Yes, I do. But I think it's really important to enlarge the issue behind-- abortion. Because-- I have been serving here for over two decades and I have seen year in and year out-- largely the Republicans voting-- against women's-- contraception, family planning.

So-- they wanna argue the sensational-- which is about abort-- not-- certain cases of abortion, but the fact is it's a fundamental disrespect for women-- women's judgment about the sizing and time of their families. This is a women's health issue. And again if you want to-- win the day, take the issue to the extreme. But the fact is every single day in the ordinary-- the American people, America's families have to make decisions about their families and-- th-- that should be made by them, not by the--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, that's the argument--

NANCY PELOSI:

--a Texas or U-- United States--

DAVID GREGORY:

But do you-- do you fear that we're--

NANCY PELOSI:

--Congress.

DAVID GREGORY:

--at a new age of the erosion of abortion rights if you look at what's happening in the states, the number of states that have banned abortions for instance after 20 weeks?

NANCY PELOSI:

I think we're at a place where-- a woman's-- health is danger-- because of whether this family planning or contraception or any issues that relate to women's health, there's an assault on that in the Congress on the ongoing and in other parts of the country. So we have to be ever vigilant and-- and fight for this. This is-- again this is about respect for women, the judgments that women make and their doctors about their reproductive health. It's an important part of who women are, their reproductive health.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you about-- the controversy surrounding this NSA surveillance programs and the issue of spying. You were-- you were booed by some progressive at a recent conference-- because you talked about Edward Snowden who leaked all of this-- classified material as having broken the law. As there is widening concern about a quote/unquote surveillance state do you think we need more Edward Snowdens in this country who leak this material and force this--

NANCY PELOSI:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

--of debate or less?

NANCY PELOSI:

No, I think what we have to do is obey the constitution of the United States. And by the way, it was a smattering when I objected to him being called a hero. And-- yes, he did break the law.

DAVID GREGORY:

And he's no hero in your mind?

NANCY PELOSI:

No, and-- here's the thing. I've been involved in the intelligence side of-- of-- of-- the federal government for a long time. We h-- all know that we have to have a balance between security to protect the American people and liberty. We take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and the American people.

And there-- so I have-- in all of the legislation that I've been involved in put serious obstacles-- to having-- surveillance that comes anywhere near to violating the rights of the American people including-- the-- c-- Privacy and Civil Liberties Board which I think will now be further strengthened.

It was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission-- when we won the House-- H.R.1, the first bill we passed was to enact the recommendations of the-- 9/11 Commission, one of which was to protect their civil liberties, our Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. The-- when the left or the right wants to say that President Bush is-- excuse me, President Obama's the fourth term of President Bush they couldn't be farther from the truth.

President Bush exercised unfettered, unlimited presidential discretion for surveillance in-- for surveillance. Under President Obama in '08 before he even became president we passed the FISA amendments which put up obstacles to the federal government doing surveillance which put oversight whether it's-- inspectors general, whether it's the Congress of the United States, whether it's a privacy or-- Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. So the-- I would love to show you the chart to show you what was happening under President Bush and what is the law now. Whether it's a Democrat or a Republican president we want the-- do not want any president to have President Bush—

DAVID GREGORY:

But—

NANCY PELOSI:

--had, unlimited presidential discretion.

DAVID GREGORY:

There's obviously a debate about whether-- whether this president has expanded-- some of those programs. Beyond that you heard the president this week say, "Look, I'm not gonna scramble jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." How important do you think it is that America track Edward Snowden down and make him face justice?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, I think it's-- I think it's pretty good that he's stuck in the-- Moscow Airport. That's okay with me. (LAUGH) He can stay there, that's fine.

DAVID GREGORY:

But he's still in a position to leak more documents.

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, that-- I think the bigger question here is who are these consultants who-- now-- we've gotten into-- the president-- this president has reduced the number of consultants as I understand. But the--

DAVID GREGORY:

Who get into the NSA, who are the contractors--

NANCY PELOSI:

Right the contractors to the NSA and this revolving door between the NSA and the-- and-- Booz Allen Hamilton and that-- take that to Admiral--

DAVID GREGORY:

But should we--

NANCY PELOSI:

--McConnell as well--

DAVID GREGORY:

But how aggressive should we be in tracking him down?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, the fact is-- is we have to really know, you know, evidence. We have to know what is it that he has. And-- and I don't know that he has that much substance, I don't know. He may know-- something about the machinery. I don't know that he knows that much about the content. But I think that anybody thought he was a hero to begin with, now that he's threa-- threatening in any event to share information with Russia and China, if he fact he has any information, I think that should disabuse anybody of the notion-- that he is a hero.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let-- let me end on a political note. You talk-- talked about Hillary Clinton this week, talked about how-- how-- credentialed she'd be-- how prepared she'd be to be president and that if she ran that she would win in 2016. Is that an endorsement, number one? And number two, do you see any challenges to her either getting the nomination or to winning the White House?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, let me just say I think it's a little early to be talking about 2016. We have the election of 2014 which we fully intend to win--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right, I know you're pretty invested in--

NANCY PELOSI:

Pretty invested in that because it's so urgent that-- so that we can really have a jobs agenda, that we can have a budget that grows the economy and-- and--

DAVID GREGORY:

But obviously there's a lot of focus and a lot of planning going into this and the-- among these potential campaigns, so you speaking out was significant. Are you endorsing or would you like to see her be president?

NANCY PELOSI:

But I'm really excited about the prospect of a woman president of the United States. I think it would be-- well, especially-- a woman as well qualified-- as Hillary Clinton. I make a habit of not endorsing people until they make a decision to run. But I think there are many people who are waiting to see-- if Secretary Clinton runs.

But first, we have to win in 2014. We need a budget, we need a jobs agenda. And all we have here is obstructionism. I wish in 2014 one word could be on the ballot, vote it up or down: bipartisanship, cooperation, working together to get the job done for the American people instead of the obstruction that the Republicans have-- put up-- for-- against any initiative that President Obama puts forth to create jobs, to reduce the deficit, to grow the economy, to strengthen the middle class. We've got get through 2014 first.

DAVID GREGORY:

Leader Pelosi, we'll check back. Thank you very much as always.

NANCY PELOSI:

Thank you, my pleasure. Thank you.

[END TAPE]

DAVID GREGORY:

Coming up here, more with the roundtable, reaction to the Pelosi interview. Plus, more on the road ahead for some of this week’s other big issues: immigration reform and voting rights. Later, the abortion rights debate, my live interview with the woman who took a stand in Texas -- Wendy Davis -- she’ll join me live, coming up here.

DAVID GREGORY:

President Johnson speaking about the Voting Rights Act in 1965 referred to it as the crown jewel of civil rights legislation, and the Supreme Court struck down key elements of it, effectively killing most of it. We are back with our roundtable.

Michael Eric Dyson, Time magazine wrote this. I mean, we have liberals rejoicing about the gay marriage ruling; a lot of conservatives rejoicing about the voting rights ruling, and here is what David Von Drehle wrote. "The thread running through all these cases is the possibility of change in American society.

"Justice Anthony Kennedy was only stating the obvious when he wrote, 'The changes in thinking about same-sex marriage have come slowly at first and then in rapid course. If such change is possible in this area, is it also possible in the vexed and sordid realm of race relations? The Court thinks so, writing that the ghosts of the 1960s can no longer be held against those states, particularly in the South." Where does this go now?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Well, it's not the ghosts, you know, it's the real, living problems that are presented. Think about Attorney General Holder's response to this, talking about the corrosion of the foundations of American democracy. He pointed out that Texas' redistricting plan and South Carolina's ID plan were both rejected by lower courts, federal courts, in Texas and South Carolina today. Not 50 years ago, not 40 years ago.

You know, what's interesting here is that in 2006 Congress and George Bush signing the legislation reviewed this and, in a bipartisan way, found that it was compelling evidence to suggest that we needed these protections.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator DeMint, you voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. Is there not a bipartisan basis then to find some remedy along the lines that the president wants, which was striking? He said, "Let's not go back and pre-clear states." He said, "But there ought to be rules, and everybody ought to be subject to them, across the land."

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

Well, the courts didn't throw out the Voting Rights Act. There's just one section that used 50-year-old voting participation records. And the fact is, today in those nine states, the participation of African Americans in voting is as high or higher than whites. So all the Court said is, if there's a compelling case based on data today, then they need to look at it. But I think it was a good judgment and it's not going to hinder voting rights--

RACHEL MADDOW:

But when you voted for it in 2006, that formula wasn't on 50-year-old data. What voted for in 2006 included the formula.

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

Right.

RACHEL MADDOW:

So if you thought it was 50-year-old data and a bad idea, why did you--

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

Well, I didn't want--

RACHEL MADDOW:

--vote for it?

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

--to throw out the whole bill. That was my choice in voting, is either I throw the whole thing out or accept it. And at the time, we just decided to continue it because a lot of it is good.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

But, look. But the point is it's not-- to get back to the point, it's not 50-year-old data. We're talking about what goes on now. The voting ID laws, which are manifestly unjust, and the ways in which this racial gerrymandering has occurred in Texas and Florida and South Carolina alike.

We're not talking about, you know, having the ghosts of Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia assert themselves now. We're not talking about nullification. We're talking about practices that are being used now to deploy it against vulnerable populations: Latinos, African Americans, in particular.

And what's interesting to me, I can't even get a credit card without three credit bureaus saying I'm good enough. Now you're telling me the Supreme Court basically says this: "Let's give you the card now, and if you mess up, let's take your credit back." Where, you know, we got the executive, judicial, and legislative--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

--weighing in, and the judicial has now said that it's all good. And I'm telling you, a bipartisan Congress and president said in 2006--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

--that it wasn't.

RALPH REED:

I live in Georgia, which is a section five state, okay? Every single redistricting plan drawn by my state, from the time the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 until 2011, was overturned by either D.O.J. or a federal court for being discriminatory against minorities. So I take this very seriously.

My view is that discrimination against anyone at the ballot box is wrong and should have the full enforcement of the federal government. But the issue here was not-- as Jim said, they didn't throw out the law. They just simply said, "You're using an old formula that doesn't apply."

If the Department of Justice today believes that any state has passed a redistricting plan that violates the minority voting rights of anybody in that state, they can go into federal court today and sue.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me just get--I want to go Pete quickly here before I run out of time, before we go to a break. Is there a bipartisan basis to do something that ensures that's voters are enfranchised around the country?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Yes, but it may be such a small number of bipartisan people. Here's the problem: Every time Congress has, in modern times, reauthorized the Voting Rights Act, it's log rolling. "Well, I'll keep your state and your county out if you'll keep my county out." And that's problem they're going to face the next time.

That's why they're trying to come up with something they don't fully have their arms around yet, which is, is there some way of saying, "Okay, we're not going to cover entire states. We're just going to say there's this whole nationwide rule."

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me get to a break.

DAVID GREGORY:

Abortion rights, a big issue around the country as states debate this, as they will debate gay marriage. State Senator Wendy Davis joins me now from Texas. She made a big splash this week taking on a bill that would restrict abortion rights in the Texas legislature, taking on Governor Perry as well. Senator Davis, welcome to Meet the Press.

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

Thank you. Good morning, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

For all that you have achieved in terms of your profile and your views, are you not just delaying the inevitable? Governor Perry has another special session that is scheduled. This bill, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, is likely to become law.

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

Well, I don't think it's ever acceptable to concede the argument on incredibly important issues like this. And what we saw in the capitol last week really was people who have grown weary of our politicians trying to boost their own political careers on the backs of women by bullying them, and others, honestly, in order to promote agendas that help them personally. These are matters of personal liberty. In Texas, we hold very dear to intrusions against our personal liberty. We fight very hard against that. And we will fight as we begin the session again on Monday.

DAVID GREGORY:

But--

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

I don't--

DAVID GREGORY:

Go ahead, finish your thought. I'm sorry.

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

I was just going to say I don't think that we'll concede that the battle is over. And even if this bill passes, obviously there will be challenges to it going forward.

DAVID GREGORY:

The issue at hand, banning abortions after 20 weeks, is actually not as divisive, frankly, as other parts of the abortion debate. You look at some recent polling, which I can put up on the screen indicating even among women there's 50% support for a 20-week abortion ban. Does that concern you, that you're fighting on a particular battleground that, you know, is pretty evenly viewed?

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

This is an omnibus bill, David, that includes four different provisions, one of which would leave Texas with only five clinics in a state as large as we are; one of which would dramatically decrease the number of doctors who are able to function in this arena. And with that, the turning back of the clock, and putting Texas in a place where women's health care, their ability to seek good health care for their reproductive decision-making, would be seriously foreclosed. And the experts in this arena, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is warning us, "If you do this in Texas, you are putting women's health care in a very dangerous place."

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator, do you think a 20-week ban on abortion is acceptable? Do you think it's reasonable?

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

Right now, that ban of course is being talked about because of the idea of fetal pain. And at the constitutional level, what we of course have assured is that women have the ability to make these reproductive decisions up to the point of viability. That has to remain the key question here.

And of course, when we're talking about that particular issue, there are very, very few. It's used more as an emotional trigger point as part of the argument. But remember, it's a huge omnibus bill that involves many, many other aspects to it that are setting Texas back.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me get reaction to you from Governor Perry's comments about you personally, which a lot of people reacted to. We'll put it on the screen.

GOV. RICK PERRY: [VIDEO]

She was the daughter of a teenage woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example - that every life must be given the chance to realize its full potential - that every life matters.

DAVID GREGORY:

You don't accept the notion that, while he was certainly disagreeing with you, he was holding up your life story in a way to compliment you?

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS:

David, my life story is something obviously that belongs to me very personally. And the fact of the matter is that I had choices and chances and opportunities that were provided to me, based on the way I was able to direct my own decision-making. And what I'm working to fight for is to make sure that all women have the ability to do that. I think some of the comments that he made really demeaned the high office that he holds, and I think that's why we saw such a strong reaction to it.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Davis, thank you very much for your time this morning. I appreciate it. Back to our roundtable, and just a couple minutes left. Pete Williams, one of the things that we've talked about this week is whether this momentum to ban abortions after 20 weeks, to narrow abortion rights, is ultimately going to become a federal issue, and even something the Supreme Court takes up?

PETE WILLIAMS:

I would bet on it. I would think there's a very strong chance the Court will hear an abortion case next term. There's one from Oklahoma that's pending; they've shown some interest in it. I would not be at all surprised, if after spending years trying to keep this issue away, it's coming back.

DAVID GREGORY:

Jim DeMint, your reaction to what's played out in Texas, and State Senator Davis' comments?

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

David, cases like the Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell--

DAVID GREGORY:

Gosnell, yeah.

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

--that shows the horrendous conditions in these clinics that have actually killed women. I mean, if we're talking about women's health, we need to consider that. But now two-thirds of Americans believe that, after a baby's heart is beating and they can feel pain, that they need some protection.

So I'm glad to see a lot of states, like Texas and Arkansas, begin to consider this. And the more the ultrasounds have become part of the law, where a woman gets the opportunity to see that there's a real child, it's beginning to change minds. And I think that's a good thing. It's time that the 3,000 babies we lose every day have some people speaking up for them.

RACHEL MADDOW:

Women don't get the opportunity with ultrasound. The ultrasound bills are mandated by the state. So if a woman does not want an ultrasound, or if her doctor does not want her to have an ultrasound, if that ultrasound is not medically indicated the state government is stepping in and saying, "You must have this ultrasound by order of the state government."

And because of the timing on a lot of these, in a lot of these what is being mandated is a vaginal ultrasound. So it's an invasive vaginal forced procedure that a woman cannot say no to, by order of the state government. And that is all right with you. I understand that you feel that you've got an interest strong enough to override a woman's desire to not have the happen to her that you can insist that it does, as a legislator.

But most American women, I think, are gonna balk at that. And if you want to make it a federal issue, I say that the Democrats are going to be delighted to have that fight. But as Republicans push this further and further and further, it's the Wendy Davises of the world that are going to force you to make your argument--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, ok--

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

She's forgetting about the thousands of women who want an informed choice, who want the opportunity--

RACHEL MADDOW:

But a choice.

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

--to get a free ultrasound, which they can get, not from Planned Parenthood--

RACHEL MADDOW:

It’s not free--

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

--but from a lot of these pregnancy centers--

RACHEL MADDOW:

It’s not a choice. It's a mandated procedure--

FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:

It is free in many cases; all the ones I'm familiar with--

RACHEL MADDOW:

The one instance-- it would not be, women would be forced to pay for it.

RALPH REED:

--women's right-to-know laws are supported by the overwhelming majority, not just of men, but of women, and 70% of the American people favor bans on abortion after the 20th week--

RACHEL MADDOW:

So you think women--

RALPH REED:

--late term abortions.

RACHEL MADDOW:

--should be forced to have an ultrasound if they don't want one?

RALPH REED:

I think that should be litigated at the state level. In some states, they've done it. In Virginia, they decided not to.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right--

RALPH REED:

I think that's a matter of prudential judgment by the state legislators--

RACHEL MADDOW:

Wow--

DAVID GREGORY:

I-- I gotta get a break in here, even as the debate continues. Back in a moment.

DAVID GREGORY:

Before we go, the second volume of our Meet the Press 65th anniversary e-book is now available for a free download at the iTunes bookstore. Ralph's already thinking about Christmas. It covers some of the more recent history of the program as well as an exclusive behind-the-scenes content. We've put a link on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com.

Also, while you're there, you can watch this week's Press Pass conversation with our own Pete Williams and Supreme Court expert Tom Goldstein. They go deep into the Supreme Court decision and the Court. That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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