“If things seem hopeless right now, it’s because, to be completely honest, they basically are,” Oliver said in the wake of Trump’s new SCOTUS pick.
John Oliver is back on Last Week Tonight after a break. Actually, it was more like John Oliver, fueled by a righteous flame of anger and incredulity, rocketed back to his HBO talk show desk. On the docket? Donald Trump‘s Supreme Court Justice pick Amy Coney Barrett, “how the f— we got here” in America, and “what the f— we can possibly due next.”
Oliver, who’s typically more hopeful with his conclusions, faced a hard truth himself with his return episode on Sunday night. “Look, this has been a very dark week for lots of people,” he said, noting the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the nomination of Barrett, and the debilitating concerns around the forthcoming election. “The Supreme Court is about to lurch to the right for the foreseeable future, and if things seem hopeless right now, it’s because, to be completely honest, they basically are.”
Barrett, “an extremely conservative” figure, as Oliver noted, has been called “the female Antonin Scalia.” “Amy Coney Barrett is only 48, and I know that I make 43 look like 76, but trust me, that is young for a Supreme Court justice,” Oliver said. Meaning, she can serve for a long time.
“If and almost certainly when Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, the impact could be dire,” he continued. “In recent years, key cases have been decided by just one vote, from upholding the Affordable Care Act, to preserving DACA, to striking down an incredibly restrictive abortion law. Should those issues come before the court again, they could now easily go the other way. And there is clearly no point holding on to hope that conservatives might choose to respect the precedent they set by refusing to even consider Merrick Garland in an election year, because that was always in bad faith, as was obvious at the time.”
Oliver then addressed a soundbite from Republican Senator Mitt Romney in which Romney called the American people “center-right” in defending Republicans’ decision to fill Ginsburg’s seat and take a majority conservative control of SCOTUS. “For the record,” Oliver replied, “more Americans say they align with the Democratic Party [47 percent, per Gallup poling] than the Republicans [42 percent]. Plus, poll after poll has shown Americans favor abortion rights, with support of Roe v. Wade reaching record highs, while a strong majority of the public also supports Medicare-for-All. Oh, and incidentally, a solid majority [59 percent] say the winner of this presidential election should be the one to choose Ginsburg’s successor.”
So, to answer Oliver’s earlier question of “how the f— we got here,” he said there were two main factors: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stacking the lower and higher courts with as many conservative judges as possible, and the already “un-democratic nature of America’s institutions.” Oliver pointed to statistics that showed how the Senate “only gives the standard Black American only 75 percent as much representation as the average white American.” For the average Hispanic American, that number drops to 55 percent.
To his other question, “what the f— we can possibly do next,” there are multiple scenarios, as Oliver lays out. None of them are really great. On the darker side, he suggests Trump could lose the election but, as the president has stated multiple times now, not peacefully concede and instead let the courts—which are now stacked with his Republican picks—decide the election. On the lighter side, Joe Biden and his Veep pick Kamala Harris win the presidency, but even that won’t have “fixed everything or in deed anything.”
“There is no point getting power unless you are then willing to be bold enough to use it to make significant structural change,” Oliver says.
Check out the full piece in the video above.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver