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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Supreme Court and gay marriage

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN ROBERTS, ANCHOR: Every week, viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday Lightning Round poll. This week, Charles Krauthammer's pick won with 74 percent of the votes. We'll get to that in just a second. But first of all, the latest on the Supreme Court and gay marriage. Nina Easton, the Supreme Court will be taking up a couple of cases in its spring session. One about Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act. How do you think the Supreme Court will rule here? Give me a bet.  And if they uphold the lower court rulings, does that open the flood gates?

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Here is the thing. The reason that gay marriage hasn't provoked a civil war the way abortion did, is that it hasn't been imposed by the Supreme Court or a major court. What it's done is we have been going state by state. And mostly by voters. In a couple of cases by court -- state court, but mostly by voters. And it hasn't provoked it. I think if this court does impose gay marriage throughout the country, that it will be a very explosive political issue.

ROBERTS: Charles?

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I think the Supreme Court signaled in its grant of certiorari today that it's aware of that danger.

ROBERT: You cover the court.

LANE: Yes. It added two questions that the parties themselves had not added to the case, asking whether they even, the federal courts even should have jurisdiction over this. Whether the parties were appropriately before the court, et cetera. And that shows to me that they are looking for a way to finesse this issue. So that they don't come down one way or the other, unless they absolutely can't avoid it. And precisely because these are people who have spent their whole lives dealing with the fallout of Roe v. Wade. They have seen what it's done to the court and they have seen what it's done to the country. And furthermore, they can see the political movement is accelerating among the people, and there may not be a need for the court.

ROBERTS: Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And ironically, Justice Ginsburg, one of the stalwart liberals on the court, in a speech she gave before she went on the court, talked about Roe v. Wade as stopping the natural evolution and sort of political acceptance of what was the mores changing on abortion, and that it all caused all this strife.

I think the one lesson is, allow the process to develop through referenda, through popular vote. If there is a change in the culture, it will happen. Do not impose a rule on the country from above, because if they impose on the country same-sex marriage, it will cause exactly the kind of reaction on abortion. People will feel that they don't have a voice, and they should in a democracy.

ROBERTS: All right. You won this week's viewers' choice, 74 percent of the vote goes to you. What is the question?

KRAUTHAMMER: A landslide, I'll point out.

ROBERTS: A landslide.

KRAUTHAMMER: All right. The question is, in three months, will Bashar Assad be president of Syria? In exile in Iran or Russia? Or dead?

ROBERTS: And?

KRAUTHAMMER: Correct answer is dead. The reason is the Russians are trying I think now to work out a way to get him out. Or asylum, and he might be seeking asylum. He is losing a lot of territory, military assets. And there is a sort of almost -- the rebels are near Damascus. But I think what is going to happen is his own people, the Alawites, the militias he now is in command of, will likely kill him or the family if they tried to escape. So I think the odds are he will be dead.

ROBERTS: OK. Is it, A, dead? Is it, B, living in Russia or Iran?  Or C, still president of Syria?

EASTON: I have to agree with Charles and say dead. This is a man who declared war on his own country and has made it clear that he is going to go down with his country. He has killed 41,000 civilians. 20 percent of the population is basically refugees. There is talk of use of chemical weapons against his own population. And I think the key for the United States is do we get in fast enough that we help shape the outcome of whatever comes after Assad, because Al Qaeda is in there and you don't want them to get a foothold even more than they already have.

ROBERTS: How do you think it will turn out?

LANE: Well, there should have been a D, because he is looking for a home in Ecuador. And Venezuela and Cuba and these places in Latin America.

ROBERTS: He could take to B to be exiled anywhere --

(CROSSTALK)

LANE: So that pedantic point aside --

KRAUTHAMMER: Club Med perhaps?

LANE: Right, he is too hot to handle. I don't think any of them will harbor him, but I am going to go with still president of Syria in 90 days. I think there may be a little exaggeration about just how far along these rebels have gotten. They are very divided among themselves. And I don't think, you know, they're not going to move on him, even if they are in a position to do it, until they are organized politically on their side to see who gets to pick up the pieces. So he may still have a little more time than we think.

ROBERTS: We have one minute left, so we really have to make this one a lightning round. What is going on in Michigan with the right to work legislation. It looks like the legislature will -- full legislature will vote for it on Tuesday. The governor says he will sign it. Charles, how do you think it will change things in the state of Michigan? Which is the fifth heaviest union state in the country.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it's showing you what is happening in the Rust Belt. You have already had this happen in Wisconsin, you've already had it happened in Indiana. The weakening of the grip of the unions. We saw when the autos went into collapse that the auto companies in the South, the transplants, did well because they weren't saddled with union wages, but also union work rules, which are insane. So I think there will be a loosening of the grip of unions in the Rust Belt as a way to stay competitive.

EASTON: And it is astonishing that this is all happening in the heart of union land, historically. I will just add to Charles, because this is the Lightning Round, that Ohio is a next possibility. It is a harder go there.  It would have to be done by ballot initiative, weakening the unions, but there is an effort under way there.

ROBERTS: Five seconds or less.

LANE: Well, I agree with everything they said, and the key here really is eliminating the dues check-off on the public sector unions in Michigan, because that is where the Democratic Party gets its money.

ROBERTS: Which the Senate voted for in Michigan. Let's see where that goes. Thank you all. That is it for the panel. Stay tuned to see how dogs are getting around these days.

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