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Interview with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; J. Crew at the Inauguration; The Presidential Inauguration

Aired January 22, 2013 - 08:30   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. In just a few moments, we'll have the second part of my interview with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She administered the oath of office to president and Joe Biden for a second time yesterday.

First, though, John's got a look at the day's top stories.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Thanks so much, Soledad. It was an all-American bash. After the swearing-in ceremonies, President Obama and the First Lady took to the dance floors at two inaugural balls, bringing out big, big names from Alicia Keys to Stevie Wonder.

Our own Brianna Keilar was in the middle of it all. She's live in D.C. for more this morning. Hey, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. This was a scaled back affair, just two inaugural balls this year compared to the nine four years ago. But it was still a really big night. There were tens of thousands of partygoers that took over the huge convention center here in Washington. And when it came to the live performances, the people were not disappointed by them.


OBAMA: Ladies and gentlemen, my better half and my dance partner, Michelle Obama.


KEILAR: At the commander in chief's ball, Jennifer Hudson sang "Let's Stay Together" as the first couple danced the first dance of the new term. Mrs. Obama revealing she had chosen Jason Wu yet again to design the inaugural gown. Next, the Obama's appeared at the inaugural ball, where 30,000 people expected to attend.

This inaugural ball follows on a tradition started in 2009 to open up these events to every-day Americans. A ticket cost as little as $60 and got people an amazing lineup to entertainers Obama.


KEILAR: Alicia Keys tweaked a rendition of her famous song. Brad Paisley brought the country.


KEILAR: And Stevie Wonder rocked down the house, while Jamie Fox serenaded the Bidens. There was also a special performance by Mexico's hottest rock band.

I'm here with Mena, winners of multiple Grammys and Latin Grammys. You have supported president Obama. So many Hispanic Americans came out for him. Why do you think that happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very easy. Obama and the Democrats had the best option for the Latinos, immigration reform on the table, the Dream act. Latino -- the Latinos here in the United States are so powerful, and their voice needs to be heard. They need to be treated as first class citizens.

KEILAR: In addition to celebrities, campaign volunteers came from around the country. Kelley Jacobs traveled from Mississippi, literally wearing her support. How many sequins on your address?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's 4,000 total, 2,000 each side.

KEILAR: These are all done by hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are antique shield sequins, I sewed them on.

KEILAR: A lot of work behind them and still ahead of them if they hope to help President Obama deliver on his second term. But last night, just time for a good party.


KEILAR: Now it was a pretty late night, things wrapped up there at the convention center around 1:00 a.m., but for me at least, John, hearing Steve ye wonder perform "Superstition" live was on my bucket list, so I'm not complaining about really get nothing sleep.

BERMAN: That is so fantastic. We're so happy for you from the dance floor to the White House, Brianna Keilar this morning, great to see you.

More news today, the Senate is expected to approve a bill passed by the house last week that would send more than $50 billion in aid to states devastated by super storm Sandy. The Senate passed a similar package last month but had to start over after House Speaker John Boehner refused to put it up for a vote before the 112 Congress finished its term. It passed the House last week with only 49 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

How is this for a wake-up call, a woman from St. George, Utah, is lucky to be alive after a large boulder came crashing through her bedroom. This happened Saturday morning. Wanda Denthalter suffered a broken jaw, a broken sternum and leg injuries. She and her husband, who was not home at the time, are staying in the hotel. A geologist had warned them the cliff above their rented home appears to be unstable. Nice work by that geologist.

O'BRIEN: Lucky for her, barely escaping death on that one.

So she rose to the Supreme Court after a tough life growing up in the projects in the Bronx. In her new book, Sonia Sotomayor talks about the path and the people who helped her become the woman she is today. She shares her thoughts from motherhood to parenting in her book called, "My Beloved World," and I had a chance to sit down with Justice Sotomayor.


O'BRIEN: On page 233 you wrote this, and it made me stop when I read it. You're talking about working mothers. "But as for the possibility of having it all, career and family, with no sacrifice to either, that is the myth we would do well to abandon, together with the pernicious notion that a woman who chooses one or the other is somehow deficient."

The having-it-all debate is often a loud, vicious, hostile debate and you've just weighed it and said the possibility of having it all, that's a myth we do well to abandon.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The thought that at every moment of your day you could feel equally fulfilled, I think, is what the word I used there, pernicious. It's ridiculous. What you can do is find balance in your life, and satisfy that balance in light of what your personal desires are, what your personal needs are, and what the needs of those that you love are. I made different choices than some women. I chose not to have children.

O'BRIEN: You love children. I've seen so many photos of you mentoring children.

SOTOMAYOR: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Why do you have no children?

SOTOMAYOR: Well, I explained it fully in my book, there was a fear at the time when I was of an age-bearing age where I could have kids where I thought that it could compromise my juvenile diabetes. That's less true today because there have been so many advances in the care of juvenile diabetes. Many women have children without ill effects. But the point is that I made a different choice in part because of diabetes, and in part not because of my career but because of the joy it gave me.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you about your mother. You're tough on her in this book. She's read it I assume.

SOTOMAYOR: Oh, she has.

O'BRIEN: Was she hurt?

SOTOMAYOR: Was she hurt? I don't think so. O'BRIEN: You use the words "abandoned, neglect". Those are almost legal terms in parenting that you're a judge, you know, are terrible, for a mother.

SOTOMAYOR: But Mom and I have talked about this, and I've told her how I felt. Now, I mention in the book that for me to use those words were uses about the feelings I had, but they certainly were never the reality. My mother was always present, meaning she worked, she worked to support us, to give us a home, to educate us, and obviously that's not neglect or abandonment in the legal way that you're talking about. But she and I worked through my feelings.

O'BRIEN: You write about everything. That's interesting, there are details on virtually everything, and when you reference the peace you made with your mother but really don't walk us through.

SOTOMAYOR: Because everybody thinks it happened in a moment, that one day, some sort of light bulb went off and we had this one conversation that summarized the repair. It wasn't like that. Most people would like a magic pill that will fix every problem there is. It doesn't work that way.

O'BRIEN: You say you wrote this book so you could remember who you are.

SOTOMAYOR: I wanted to hold onto what I thought was the best in me, and if you ask me the next question, logical question, which is what is that?

O'BRIEN: What is that?

SOTOMAYOR: I would tell you it is Sonia who cares about family and friends, the Sonia who loves the law, who believes in its nobility, and the passionate Sonia who believes that the best thing you can do with your life is to give to other people. If that comes across in this book, it's because that's the Sonia I was trying to hold onto, so that if I ever have a doubt about it a year, five, 10, or 20, I'll go back and read my own book.

O'BRIEN: Part of Justice Sotomayor's book is a brutally honest dissection of her family life, including her father, a bright and loving man, but also an alcoholic who drank himself to death at age 42 when Sonia was nine-years-old.

SOTOMAYOR: I'm encouraging people now, every time I speak to groups about my book, if you have living parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, go back and really listen to their stories. Think about what assumptions you're making about those stories, and ask them why. Don't assume the why. It's a rich, rich process. I wish I had done that earlier.

Now I wish when I was growing up that I had learned to say "I love you" more freely. Today, I wish my dad were alive so I could say to him, "Yes, I knew that you were flawed, and, yes, nevertheless, I really do love you." I never got a chance to do that.


O'BRIEN: When she said that it really made me think, everyone needs to run out and call their parents and tell them I love you and get their life story.

But it was interesting, she said she was very nervous about giving the oath of office to the vice president. She did it twice obviously on Sunday and then on Monday, and you see obviously it's a long thing that she has to read. But she said she prepared a lot and then she also was going to read it, to make sure four years ago that little stumble wasn't going to happen on her watch. It was interesting to see.

We're going to talk a little bit more about the inauguration ahead this morning, we're going to talk a little bit more about fashion. Jason Wu's red dress for the First Lady isn't the only design making a buzz. The First Lady has been a public fan of J. Crew for years, and Malia's coat yesterday was J. Crew. We'll talk to Jenna Lyons, the president and creative director of J. Crew, she's with us live straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: It is no surprise that J. Crew is a favorite among the Obama family members. The First Lady Michelle Obama has worn the clothes in interviews and appearances like here in 2009. Yesterday at the inauguration she wore a J. Crew belt and her daughter, Malia was wearing a J. Crew coat during the ceremonies.

Jenna Lyons is the president and executive creative director from J. Crew and Alina Cho is back with us. Nice to have you back both of you, nice to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: How does it work? I mean are you watching the inauguration like everybody else and you see oh, that's my belt. There's my coat.

LYONS: I mean, very much so, the flurry of exclamation points and texting e-mails follows you. That's how we see, just like the rest of the world does, so it was an exciting morning yesterday.

O'BRIEN: For sure.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I actually printed out the e-mail that you sent me that says "Over the moon!!!!" There's four exclamation points and in caps and so you're absolutely right.


CHO: I mean, it's just incredible.

BERMAN: Shouting for joy, I'd say.

O'BRIEN: What does it mean for your business? I mean does -- can you translate it into literally? X number of dollars every time the First Lady shows up in a cardigan or a dress or a skirt, and she's done all those things over the last several years?

LYONS: I mean, it's difficult to actually equate it into dollars for a number of reasons. One is she shops like every other American, so oftentimes she's wearing --


O'BRIEN: The Secret Service runs out and buys it?

LYONS: Yes, but oftentimes we don't know that she's going to wear it, so the item may no longer be available, may be on sale. And so for us, it's not about actually getting sales from the actual thing. What we do see is just an increased awareness and when I go to London, when we were looking at real estate for a new store, the first question the landlords are asking me is, Michelle Obama, Michelle Obama, is she wearing, that connection and it's not just beautiful girls.

CHO: The interesting conversations we've had as well, I think what's interesting is you said to me that the feedback that you get from customers is that when they buy a cardigan that the First Lady has worn or a skirt that the First Lady has worn or a coat that the kids have worn that -- that they actually feel a deeper connection to the First Family. That's remarkable.

LYONS: There is no question. I mean, I think that's one of the reasons that I think they probably continue to do so, people feel connected, they can have maybe, what, the actual coat that Malia has worn. There are women out there who own that coat already. It's been on sale for a while and that connection is often what people bring up.

"Are you Jenna Lyons, oh my gosh have you met the First Family?" And I'm like, "Oh, no. Just like you, I haven't."

O'BRIEN: But she's wearing my clothes.

LYONS: It's like I have the same connection you do and it is just that, a connection.

O'BRIEN: Do you feel like your company as a part of America's history? I mean, if you think about the number of designers across the globe, right and then the actual number the First Lady will wear over her time in the White House, it's a really tiny number. Excuse me, I'm losing my voice, too. Thanks, Jenna.

Still do you feel like wow, we have now become this, you know we're part of American history?

LYONS: You know I think we talk about it and we think about it. I don't think it's really hit me. I think it will probably hit myself and probably everyone else in the office when we get to go and see the clothes in the museum sometime, maybe with my grandchild or my son.

CHO: I also think it's extraordinary and this has been widely reported, but you know just the way that the First Lady wears J. Crew as well, mixing it with that beautiful coat by Thom Browne which could -- could be considered very well high and J. Crew which is considered at least price-wise --

O'BRIEN: Price wise, affordable.

CHO: A little bit more on the lower end of the market and -- and she looked great, in fact I thought the coat looked better with your belt.

LYONS: Thank you, I hope Thom felt the same way. I mean, I do think that's part of the way Americans dress. I mean, not everyone can look head-to-toe like a runway show. And I think I as well like to mix up clothes and I think it's amazing that she does that. Malia also changed the buttons on her coat, which I thought was a nice way to personalize her touch.

O'BRIEN: What did you make of the President's speech? He made history, as you know, right? He talked about gay rights for the first time in an inaugural address. What did you -- what did you think he was saying? Was it the next four years, this is something I'm going to be pushing for and fighting for?

LYONS: You know, I think I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a time where that's part of an inaugural speech. I mean, the fact that it's even a conversation is pretty remarkable. And I, obviously, I am not a pundit at all, but I certainly hope that people's minds are more open going forward and I hope that's the result of actually just being mentioned in the inaugural speech.

O'BRIEN: And not only in the inaugural speech right, I mean, it's something that we're all talking about today, so I think you're right, it certainly at the very least it becomes part of a conversation.


O'BRIEN: So what happens now? Will J. Crew create a, like, Presidential First Lady collection? Come on, I'm trying to help you out, Jenna, maybe you need a junior designer helper girl, which would be me. Come on.

LYONS: OK, but don't quit your day job.


LYONS: Well, no, listen --

BERMAN: Hostile interview all of a sudden.

LYONS: I do think that -- I do think that, you know, for us, we don't necessarily want to do exactly what she's doing. We won't recreate the belt that she created. She took a sash and she actually put over her belts and made it on that Thom Browne coat. We don't necessarily look -- want to capitalize on exactly what she's doing. We're getting obviously quite a bit of press and attention out of it and we're thrilled and honored to be even part of it. So we're not looking to go out and recreate all of the things that we've created and we're not looking --

O'BRIEN: You know how many women want that belt? Come on, Jenna. CHO: I know.

LYONS: I know but, again, they can have the belt the way it was originally made which was a sash.

O'BRIEN: Alina and I will create our own version.

LYONS: OK, we'll work on that.

O'BRIEN: And sell it at One fashion item. It's so great, congratulations.

LYONS: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: On all of the success you've had with the company of course and then you are being part of American history.

LYONS: Thank you so much. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: It's so nice to have you with us I appreciate it. Alina, we appreciate it.

All right, ahead the good, the bad, the funny, John Berman has some of the best moments from the presidential inauguration, that's coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone.

You know so many people watched the inauguration, it is such an important moment, such an historic moment but there are also lots of little things that happen over the course of the day that are so very revealing. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen the President of the United States, Barack H. Obama.

BERMAN (voice-over): Yes it was a party for a million people, big, huge, historic, but some of the most indelible moments so small, so personal, so real. Sasha and Malia swaying, a presidential dance feet away from the presidential podium. It's hard, though, to maintain that energy for a whole inauguration. That is one heck of a yawn from Sasha. Hey, you think it's easy to take an oath of office? The President is kind of zero for two on the big stage and this time, it was his fault.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of President of the United States.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The office of President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And will to the best of my ability.

OBAMA: And will --

BERMAN: That's states, states. Still it was a glorious morning and what do you do after re-enlisting for another four years as leader of the free world? You pause to take it all in. 23 seconds of reflection.

OBAMA: I want to take a look one more time. I'm not going to see this again.

BERMAN: You think Joe Biden was having fun? That smile almost never left his face and you get the sense that if a Vice President could actually crowd surf, Joe Biden would. And more dancing, the President this time, trying at least, dancing and chewing, chewing and dancing, chewing and chewing and chewing. Is that the nicorette we hear so much about?

And a presidential inauguration is something a family should never forget. Sasha and Malia their own paparazzi and their parents stealing a kiss or two. What family wouldn't snap photos, even a First Family, truly a day to remember.


O'BRIEN: That's cute, that's cute.

BERMAN: There were four kisses there. It was such an incredible moment because like I said you get the sense this is how any family might behave on a big day and it just doesn't get any bigger than this for the family.

JOE NOSEF, CHAIRMAN, MISSISSIPPI REPUBLICAN PARTY: And I don't blame Sasha for yawning. My little daughter at that age would be asleep, she'd be very past the yawn stage.

O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Final thoughts in "End Point," Governor, can you start for us?

FMR. GOV. PHIL BREDESEN (D), TENNESSEE: Sure. When the President spoke yesterday about how Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security are not problems for the country, they're a huge asset, they're important to so many people. I thought he was exactly right and one of the things we're trying to do with fix the debt is to say look these things are important, they're valuable, we need to establish them on a solid basis in which they're going to be here for a long time to come and not put them so much at the whim and the will of what's going on financially in the nation.

O'BRIEN: What does the GOP do next from this speech?

NOSEF: One thing that I believe is in politics, nothing is ever as good or as bad as you think it is. And watching President Obama yesterday it reminded me the 2010 setback he had, he overcame and got re-elected. Republicans shouldn't be too down about the loss in November. We've got to quit chasing shiny objects, we have to focus on the issues. I think if we do that we'll be OK.

O'BRIEN: Thank you for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it.

BREDESEN: Thank, you.

O'BRIEN: Coming up tomorrow on STARTING POINT, the president and creative director of Just Fab, Kimora Lee Simmons is going to join us to talk about what she's doing now.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello happening now. We'll see you tomorrow morning everybody.

Hey Carol.