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Source: Starting from the 20-second mark of the 2nd audio clip entitled 'Justice [John Paul] Stevens Talks about Gay Marriage', 2014 April 24 (I transcribed this myself so please correct any errors.)

…and that illustrates to me a broader point that’s sort of in the background in some of your questioning, is the extent to which is a possibility of dramatic change in public opinion on issues as profound as the ones I discuss in this case, and the fact that the general public’s reaction same-sex marriage has changed so drastically within the last decade, makes me confident that in due course, when people actually think through the issues, they will be willing to accept some of the merits of my arguments.

What's the subject of the bolded independent clause? Something just sounds missing?
I am guessing that the predicate of a broader point is: is the extent to which.

Obiter dictum: I'd relish the entire interview. That website claims 'We'll add the as-aired interview to the top of this post on Saturday' but I don't see it on that very webpage.

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    By the way, it's much more common to say "by the way" than "obiter dictum". – Dan Bron Feb 1 '15 at 5:47
  • @DanBron Yeah, but this is law, and LA51P is having some fun with it. – Ben Kovitz Mar 3 '15 at 7:17
  • I thought I'd better give you an answer before this question gets closed! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 3 '15 at 16:04
  • @DanBron Thank you. Yes; I realise that it's esoteric, but as Ben Kovitz astutely notices, I was indeed befogged by law when writing this. I'll just cling to 'footnote' in the future. – NNOX Apps Mar 3 '15 at 16:20
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    @Araucaria Thank you deeply again! I just reread your answer which settled my questions, as usual. – NNOX Apps Mar 3 '15 at 21:44
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Ok, so here goes:

There's a word missing in the Original Poster's transcription. The reason it's difficult to hear is that often in natural speech the /ð/ phoneme recieves no frication, and is realised by an approximant. At around 28/29 seconds Justic Stevens says "... is the extent to which there's a possibility of ...". It's very difficult to hear because of the complete lack of voiceless friction for the /ð/, but I'm certain that that's what he's saying. Because this is a spoken text, Justice Stevens is joining many of his sentences together with and. This is a feature of spoken discourse, in which we expect to see a lot of parataxis. I have separated out the sentences to make the text easier to understand below. I have also inserted the word that in brackets to make the sentence easier to parse. The word that here is, of course, entirely optional in the grammar.

And that illustrates to me [that] a broader point ( - that’s sort of in the background in some of your questioning) is the extent to which there's a possibility of dramatic change in public opinion on issues as profound as the ones I discuss in this case.

And the fact that the general public’s reaction to same-sex marriage has changed so drastically within the last decade makes me confident that in due course, when people actually think through the issues, they will be willing to accept some of the merits of my arguments.

Sentence 1

To make the first sentence easier to parse let's remove the relative clause in brackets there. It doesn't play an important part in the grammar of the sentence. It is just a little side comment to flatter the interviewer!

And that illustrates to me [that a broader point is the extent to which there's a possibility of dramatic change in public opinion on issues as profound as the ones I discuss in this case ].

Here the subject of the verb illustrates is the pronoun that. There is a prepositional phrase to me indicating the beneficiary of the illustration. The verb illustrates also takes a declarative content clause as complement. The clause is:

  • a broader point is the extent to which there's a possibility of dramatic change in public opinion on issues as profound as the ones I discuss in this case.

The subject of this clause is a broader point. The verb is BE. The predicative complement of BE is the noun phrase:

  • the extent to which there's a possibility of dramatic change in public opinion on issues as profound as the ones I discuss in this case.

Sentence 2

The second sentence has the same structure as make someone happy. In other words the verb make is taking a direct object and a predicative complement which describes the direct object. Here are the constituents of the sentence:

  • Subject: the fact that the general public’s reaction to same-sex marriage has changed so drastically within the last decade
  • Predicator(verb): makes
  • Direct Object: me
  • Predicative Complement: confident [that, in due course, when people actually think through the issues, they will be willing to accept some of the merits of my arguments].

In the predicative complement, the adjective confident is taking a content clause as complement. The clause is:

  • in due course, when people actually think through the issues, they will be willing to accept some of the merits of my arguments.

There are two adjuncts appearing in the middle of this clause, in due course and when people actually think through the issues. It might be easier to understand the sentence if we move them to the end of the sentence. We'll need to adjust the pronouns, of course:

  • people will be willing to accept some of the merits of my arguments, in due course, when they actually think through the issues.

A gloss of the text

If we get rid of some of the extra bits here, the text means something like:

This shows me there is a broader point. The point is that there is scope for dramatic change on profound issues - the types of issues that I discuss in this case.

The public's reaction to same sex marriage has changed dramatically over the last decade. This makes me confident that people will be willing to accept the merits of my arguments - after they actually think through the points.

Hope this is helpful!

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I fear I can't go check the original, so I'll trust your transcription.

and that illustrates to me a broader point that’s sort of in the background in some of your questioning, is the extent to which is a possibility of dramatic change in public opinion on issues as profound as the ones I discuss in this case,

I would translate this, roughly, to mean, "And that makes me think there is a broader point, which has been underlying your questioning. The broader point is the likelihood of a dramatic change in public opinion on these issues. People have deep emotional investment in these issues, and similar ones."

That's losing nuance, but when lawyers talk, they get pretty long-winded and complex...

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