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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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SCHULTZ: Joining me now is the Democrat who wrote that letter to Justice Thomas, Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York. Congressman, thank you for your time tonight.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: My pleasure.

SCHULTZ: Why can"t Ginny Thomas just speak her mind and go make a living the way she wants to? What"s the problem here?

WEINER: Well, she certainly can. And none of the 75 members of Congress or the hundreds and hundreds of people that have signed a petition at ConflictedClarenceThomas.com, think that she shouldn"t have a right to earn a living.

But the law is clear when a judge must recuse himself from consideration of a case. And it"s when you have a financial interest in the outcome of the case. And it specifically refers to your spouse.

I think that this is really a fairly bright line test here. When you have someone who"s already made close to 700,000 dollars trying to defeat health care, is advertising to this day that she has influence over things in Washington, and has advocated so fiercely for this being deemed unconstitutional, I think it"s a pretty clear case that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from consideration of the appeal of the Health Care Reform Act.

SCHULTZ: But couldn"t this be a situation where Justice Thomas could have integrity and distance himself from the way his wife thinks, and make an unbiased ruling on this and one that is within the law? I mean, this is really an attack on him as much, isn"t it?

WEINER: Well, here"s the situation, is that the recusal laws are all about the appearance that the court is on the level. You know, I can disagree with Clarence Thomas. And I think that, frankly, he"s probably gotten just about every case wrong since he"s been on the bench. But this is the case of what the appearance is.

And particularly in this health care case, where everyone agrees this is going to wind up in the Supreme Court, where there are widely divergent views, and there are legitimate points on either side. Frankly, if the American people are going to have confidence in the Supreme Court, to see that he failed to disclose on his filings that his spouse had earned this income, to see that she still, to this day, is advertising she has influence over these decisions, the appearance is obvious.

And so all we"re saying is he should recuse himself.

SCHULTZ: Orrin Hatch has asked Justin Kagan to recuse herself. In your opinion, which is more likely?

WEINER: Justice Kagan, frankly, was asked on a questionnaire had she had any dealings with the Health Care Reform Act. She said it was only mentioned at one meeting. She was a part of none of the judicial proceedings.

Frankly, Justin Kagan, to her credit, has already recused herself from several cases that were in front of her when she was solicitor general. Look, what people are saying at ConflictedClarenceThomas.com, are we the American people want the Supreme Court to be on the level. And it is clear, at the very least, the appearance is that it"s not. That"s what"s important here.

SCHULTZ: Another story breaking out of Congress today, was in "Politico," is that there are 16 freshmen in the Congress who refuse to take the government health care program, which is offered to the members of Congress. And they"re finding it not so easy-going. They"re out in the open market, 1,200 dollars a month as far as a premium is concerned.

And some of the members of Congress who went in well intended are finding out that there is such a thing as preexisting conditions. What"s your thinking on this? Is this a real opportunity to get the attention of Republicans, and to maybe change the thinking of some?

WEINER: Perhaps it is. The fact is, you said 16 members. That"s over 250 of them. They apparently--or many of them are on Social Security and Medicare, something I"ve talked about on your show before. I don"t see them turning back that.

One of my colleagues from New York even said--when asked whether he"s taking the insurance, he said, of course, what"s going to happen to me if I have an accident and I need health care.

Look, the fact is that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy among my Republican friends. They want health insurance. They want the benefit that comes with being employed on the job. All we"re saying is we want to extend all Americans essentially the same plan that we members of Congress have. That"s what this is all about.

And I think that when people understand that, they support this health care act. The irony is, essentially what the Republicans wanted to do in the first week they came in office is take away from the American people the benefits that members of Congress get every day.

SCHULTZ: Congressman Anthony Weiner, great to have on. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.

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