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CNN NEWSROOM

Nurse Kills Self after Prank; Supreme Court Mulls Marriage Equality; Bill in Michigan Sparks Riot.

Aired December 7, 2012 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If we look at what we've been told by the hospital, we know the person that was involved, and we know the facts as they have been presented to us. She was found unconscious in rooms near the hospital. She was the receptionist who was involved in passing on the call. And the hospital has made no effort to at least distance the two stories. So -- it is an acceptance here certainly that there is a connection between the two events.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, what of the DJs and the radio station in Australia? Has there been any comment from them?

QUEST: No. And we wouldn't necessarily expect that. It is the middle of the night in Sydney. I'm guessing it is 12:40 now, difference. You are looking well into the early morning hours, half past 4:00, 5:00 on a Saturday morning, and no doubt that is where the reaction. They have already said they apologized and -- if you -- listen to what the DJs said after the story initially, they said they never expected they would be believed with their upper crust accents of the Queen and Prince Charles. We almost definitely not repeating the tape at the moment of what was broadcast or what the prank was. That would be in bad taste at the moment. But if you do listen to it, it does sound somewhat incredulous. But that's the way it is.

I don't think I gave you a proper and full answer to your previous question. The metropolitan police say that they are not looking for anybody and there are no suspicious circumstances. So the fact that this woman committed suicide is pretty much beyond doubt. Just to sort of give you the reason why. It's not likely she was -- killed herself in some other way.

BANFIELD: Richard, it is such a sad story any way you look at it. You are right. We are not airing that portion of the audiotape just in respect for everybody involved in this story.

Richard Quest, live from London. I wish we could talk under different circumstances. Thank you.

QUEST: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: As we mention medical the talk with Alberto Gonzalez, earlier on in the program, the Supreme Court of the United States is more than likely, as many people say, to take up same-sex marriage early in the New Year. We may get the announcement about that today. There are no fewer than 10 cases arising from the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And there's California's Proposition 8. They've made their way to the high court's doorstep. At least one -- at least one, is kind of likely to get on the docket, sooner rather than later.

While we wait, the best person to talk about that is CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who literally wrote the book, or a couple of them, on the Supreme Court.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's it.

BANFIELD: So today -- I was talking to you last Friday. I was talking to you Monday. You are back for another Friday. Are they going to make me wait again for another day? Are or are we going to get something today?

TOOBIN: Those that know don't tell, and those that tell don't know. That's the rule with the Supreme Court.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It seems likely we will hear if not today then very soon. Also, we should hear that they are going to take the case. Remember, two federal appeals courts have now declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: When you say the case, you're talking now about --

TOOBIN: I'm talking about the Defense of Marriage Act.

BANFIELD: -- the Defense of Marriage Act, not Proposition 8.

TOOBIN: Proposition 8 is a very separate legal matter.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But when a federal appeals court declares an act of Congress unconstitutional, the Supreme Court almost always takes the case.

BANFIELD: Two federal courts have said this.

TOOBIN: Two federal courts, yes.

BANFIELD: So you feel as though this would be a slap in the face of jurisprudence down the line if the Supreme Court didn't decide to do something.

TOOBIN: I think it would be a big surprise and it would be uncharacteristic.

BANFIELD: When you say they may take it up, you've also characterized it before when we talked about dabbing your toe into the water, dipping your toe into the water, of gay marriage across country.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: The Defense of Marriage Act is a fairly limited law. What it says is that the federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages even in the states where it is legal. So the Internal Revenue Code, all of that, they will not treat people married in Massachusetts or here in New York as if they are married under federal law. Two courts have said that is unconstitutional and discrimination against gay people. The Obama administration says it agrees that the law is unconstitutional, so the House of Representatives has hired outside lawyers to represent the law to say the law is constitutional.

BANFIELD: Because the Justice Department has said you know what, this is ugly and we don't like it. It is here. But we are not going to enforce it.

TOOBIN: Correct.

BANFIELD: If this goes to the Supreme Court, who argues on behalf of the government? If the government does want to discuss it, who discusses it for the government?

TOOBIN: It will be Paul Clement, the very distinguished lawyer hired by the House of Representatives, former solicitor general under George W. Bush. He argued the health care case and he argued the Arizona immigration case. She's a very experienced advocate. That position will be very well represented.

BANFIELD: Strangely, we wouldn't have the current solicitor general.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: No, it happens, you know, about once every 10 years. When the Department of Justice says we cannot represent the government. We just think that this is beyond the pale. That's what he is there done here.

BANFIELD: Let me flip to Prop 8. Just so everyone is clear what Jeffrey was talking about with the Defense of Marriage Act, is narrow and affects a lot of benefits, technicalities.

TOOBIN: And only in states where it is already legal.

BANFIELD: Right. It ain't the law of the land. Doesn't mean everybody can get married if they are gay anywhere else. The law of the land could very much be affected by what the Supremes decide to do with Prop 8 in California.

TOOBIN: Different case. Absolutely. Proposition 8, the fundamental issue in that case is under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: There you go, getting technical there. It is not that technical.

TOOBIN: It's not that technical. Come on. You know --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: The Fourteenth Amendment says equal protection of the law shall not be abridged. Everybody has to be treated equally. What the plaintiffs have said in the Proposition 8 case is that denying gay people the right to get married in California --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Prop 8. Denies you the right --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: -- is a violation of the federal Constitution. If the court were to take up that issue, that case would have the potential to apply in all 50 states. That is the case that could tell Arkansas and Mississippi and Alabama, you have to have same-sex marriage.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Places which are very hostile to the idea.

BANFIELD: If the Supremes take up Prop 8 and rule on it in the affirmative, it means gay marriage across the country. If they --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: If they take up Prop 8, rule in the negative, it means marriage bans can stay and you can get married in California and it means every state gets to do what it wants to do.

TOOBIN: Correct.

BANFIELD: If it chooses not to look at Prop 8 at all, you can get married in California.

TOOBIN: You can get married here in New York. It is a big -- big tourist attraction now.

BANFIELD: But there would be no precedent if they decided not to adjudicate.

TOOBIN: Basically. Right. Well, what would happen is that same-sex marriage would become legal in California, potentially, today. If they deny certiorari -- which means refuse to hear it --

BANFIELD: I hear they need 24 hours --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Right. This could take effect immediately in California.

BANFIELD: So still around, because --

TOOBIN: I will be here all afternoon. I'm guessing between 2:00 and 3:00 eastern, I think we will hear.

BANFIELD: 2:00 and 3:00 eastern time?

OK, thank you.

Jeffrey Toobin, greatest voice on these issues. You make it so simple except --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Fourth Amendment. I'm sorry. I apologize. I take it back.

BANFIELD: I have one of those books on my desk.

TOOBIN: Famous one. It's like the biggest one after the first --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Used pretty much in so many of the challenges.

Again, has Jeff has said, we are expecting that later this afternoon. The latest batch of court cases that the high court will accept or turn away. And we are on it for you here at CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This year, for the first time, Dave Rose got to take his BYU basketball team to the Coaches Versus Cancer Classic Tournament. What made it all the more poignant to him is the battle he fought with pancreatic cancer that started three years ago.

DAVE ROSE, BYU COACH: If we can do something to try to help raise awareness, help find a cure, it is personal to me. I understand how these people feel.

GUPTA: His symptoms came on suddenly on an airplane, in fact, returning from a family vacation.

ROSE: I got really sick to where I was lightheaded and I couldn't even actually sit up, so they laid me down and moved some of the passengers and brought oxygen and cleared the plane and then brought the medics on and carted me off the plane and took me to the hospital. I had 10 units of blood transfused and they found the mass and later removed it and told me I had cancer.

GUPTA: Doctors removed the tumor from Rose's pancreas along with his spleen. They also removed the blood clot that developed after surgery.

He was back on the court just two months after surgery. He continued to take his team to the NCAA tournament. He led the Cougars to their first appearance in the Sweet 16 in 30 years. ROSE: I feel like I have been given a second chance. There was a real possibility that my time here was going to be numbered. And now I feel like everything I get to do is really just a blessing for me.

Go! Go!

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: If you want to read an excellent book about factors that determine a person's success, you should check out "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. Among a whole bunch of other things, he talks about how, until just a few decades ago, race was a pretty big factor. And, in Jamaica, people were actually classified by shades of their skin. How light, how dark. It is a country of people who 90 percent of whom would be considered black. But officially, Jamaicans broke down in color into the shades white, olive, then light brown, then dark brown, then black. This was law. It was official. And if you guessed that it was better to be on the lighter end of that scale, you would be right. It made a huge difference in their potential for success even today, decades later.

If you think that color test in Jamaica didn't exist here in the United States, you would be dead wrong. There was something called the Brown Paper Bag test. Yes. In the U.S. it was started in the early 1900s in the African-American community. It was considered that if you were darker than a brown paper bag you weren't allowed to join certain social groups, fraternities, churches.

22-year-old teacher, Kiara Lee, does not want the lessons from the past to escape the youth of today. And she's teaching young children the importance of something called colorism, no matter how harsh that lesson is.

Soledad O'Brien reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KIARA LEE, TEACHER: We are even in the same grade.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kiara Lee recently graduated from the University of Richmond. Her passion is educating children about colorism.

LEE: LaShonte, tell me about that. Why didn't the teacher call on her?

LASHONTE BROWN, STUDENT: Because she's ugly, and black.

O'BRIEN: Lashonte Brown is 7 years old, and her mother is worried her little girl is already getting the message dark skin is bad.

BROWN: I think my skin is ugly.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF LASHONTE: Why do you think it's ugly? BROWN: Because I don't want to be dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF LASHONTE: You don't want to be dark?

BROWN: No. I want to be light-skinned.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF LASHONTE: Why?

BROWN: Because light skin is pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF LASHONTE: You think so?

BROWN: Yes.

LEE: Can somebody tell me what that means?

My stance is teach the children what it is, show them the history, make them aware of this issue so that when they go to school, when they go out in the world they're armed with this information.

Because he wants to buy her because her skin is lighter.

You guys sit in the back.

O'BRIEN: Even among 6-year-olds, Kiara is not afraid to shock. Today, the Brown Paper Bag test. Kiara stops each child entering the classroom and compares their skin tone to a paper bag.

LEE: Let me see your arms. Can you put your arm out? OK. You can go in. You got to sit in the back, OK?

O'BRIEN: Lighter than the bag, you can sit in the front. It's a real test from the early 1900s, used by social organizations, churches and fraternities and neighborhood groups to decide who was light-skinned enough to join.

(on camera): Was it too extreme to do the little kids?

LEE: No, I don't think so at all. I think the more interactive, the more shocking the activity is, the better because it's going to stick with them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: CNN's Soledad O'Brien examining these incredibly provocative questions about skin color, discrimination and race. Her documentary is called "Who is Black in America?" It premiers Sunday at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Sometimes you just need a little wonderful moment in your day, and I got it for you. Some incredible musicians making a Christmas spectacular, attracting millions of hits on YouTube using just toy instruments. Ladies and gentlemen, the Roots, Mariah care and Jimmy Fallon doing something for all of us. And please, as you watch this, pay special attention to Quest Love (ph) in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Thousands of protesters very angry in Michigan. This was the scene yesterday at the state capitol. Union activists were surrounding the building with the lawmakers inside, and they were demanding an end to a bill there that would weaken the unions and limit the workers' rights. But the Right to Work measure that they were so concerned about moved through the legislature at break-neck speed. And all this chaos did not stop Republican lawmakers in both the House and the Senate from passing that Right to Work bill, the set of them. The governor has made it clear that he is ready to make it law. If signed into law, in fact, that would cause quite a problem for those folks. Michigan would join 23 other states. Michigan is considered the birthplace of organized labor. It's now on the verge of becoming the 24th Right to Work state.

Thanks, everyone, for watching.

Suzanne Malveaux is up next with NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. Have a great day.