The biggest news this week came on Wednesday, when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his plans to retire from the Supreme Court, effective July 31. It is not entirely clear why Kennedy chose to announce his retirement just 19 weeks before the midterm elections, nor why he did so right before his son’s long financial history ($1 billion in loans) with President Trump was exposed in The New York Times.
Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, has served as the swing vote on many recent SCOTUS decisions, including those involving campaign finance reform, voting rights, contraception, Obamacare and same-sex marriage—with Kennedy ruling in favor of the latter two. With Kennedy gone, those on the left are worried that a Trump appointee will grant the Supreme Court a conservative majority for years to come, and could potentially lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade (abortion) and Obergefell v. Hodges (gay marriage).
“For anybody who believes that the Constitution protects things like reproduction and LGBT rights this is bad—and we know it’s bad because Donald Trump Jr. is happy,” said John Oliver.
The Last Week Tonight host then read the embarrassing tweet from the president’s eldest son over the Kennedy retirement news:
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with Mister Junior on this, because I don’t think this is ‘lit’ at all. I mean, it’s obvs crayAF, no one is denying that fam, but I would argue that this week’s news was neither lit nor on fleek nor was it three fire emojis,” joked Oliver. “Now, granted, I’m still a little shook jsyk, but I personally believe Kennedy’s retirement is super werpt. And I’m happy to announce that in saying that, all of the slang words I just used are now officially dead forever—and that includes ‘werpt,’ a term that doesn’t even exist for which I preemptively ruined just in case.”
“Remember, teens: Don’t let white men in their forties hear the cool words you use. We will bury them.”
Trump’s since drafted a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, which he’s assembled with aid of the conservative Federalist Society. All of the nominees are approved by the Federalist Society, and thus oppose abortion.
The frantically scrambling Democrats, explained Oliver, have “appealed to Mitch McConnell’s sense of fairness and consistency, by pointing out that he refused to confirm Merrick Garland before a major election. The problem there is that McConnell couldn’t give a flying fuck about fairness or consistency.”
So instead of relying on the ethically-bereft Senate Majority Leader, the Dems have pivoted to plan B: arguing that, since President Trump is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation whose results may one day reach the Supreme Court, he should not be allowed to have one of his nominated justices be confirmed until that investigation is completed.
“There is a fundamental problem there, and that is that Republicans have 51 seats in the Senate and they need 51 votes to confirm the new justice, so unless Democrats can convince their entire party to oppose the nomination—and persuade a number of Republicans over to their side—they are shit out of luck,” said Oliver. “Which means it’s time for the Democrats’ favorite game: ‘Hope Susan Collins Flips and Be Disappointed When She Doesn’t!’ It’s America’s most depressing game show.”
Oliver is right to be skeptical of Sen. Collins’ vote. On Sunday, she said that she wouldn’t vote in a nominee who’d shown “hostility” to Roe v. Wade, but then asserted that Justice Gorsuch and Chief Justice Roberts likely wouldn’t vote to overturn Roe v. Wade—which, in the case of Gorsuch in particular, seems rather divorced from reality.
“The consequences here will almost certainly be extremely grim,” added Oliver of the SCOTUS news, before cutting to a montage of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin predicting that Roe v. Wade is dead.
“I am happy to say here that there is at least some good news, because it turns out that there is a constitutional loophole that allows Democrats to—I’m obviously lying here, there is no good news. Everything is terrible now,” said Oliver. “The only thing everyone can do now is vote.”