Late Night Tackles the Supreme Court
September 22, 2020

"I like to think I can take a lot of punishment," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "But damn — damn! — 2020 is a relentless opponent." It was already "a dark, dirty road" to Election Day, "but on Friday it got so much worse, because our country said goodbye to a hero, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," he said. "Ginsburg was known for her tenacity," wisdom, and fierce commitment to equality for women and all Americans.

"But Americans didn't get any time to mourn this great justice, because less than two hours after we learned of Ginsburg's death," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed to quickly confirm President Trump's pick to succeed her, Colbert said. "Apparently, since 2016, McConnell's had a change of heart — or whatever squirming bag of scorpions occupies that dark cavity" — and he "isn't the only fragrant hypocrite" in the GOP. He showed a highlight reel.

"Sure, the Olympics were canceled this year, but at least we have the Republicans to show off some truly spectacular backflips" on replacing Ginsburg, Jimmy Fallon said at The Tonight Show. "Republicans are just constantly changing the rules as they go — it's like playing a board game with a toddler." And Trump is already "leading chants" and "selling 'Fill That Seat' T-shirts," he added. "Seriously, this election already felt like a tense Thanksgiving dinner, now it's like your uncle just rolled in straight from rehab."

"Trump is right" he has the votes to replace the Notorious RBG, Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "It's basically the 'When you're a star, they let you do it' but of judicial appointments." It's still crazy Trump "gets to name three justices who serve for life!" he marveled "This is the same guy who's had to fire everyone he's hired because of how bad he is at hiring people — for life! Trump can't even pick his own partner for life, but he gets to do it for America?"

Jimmy Kimmel noted on Kimmel Live that when Trump announced he's going to pick a woman, he made an hourglass shape with his hands. "Who does that? His mouth is always lying but his little hands tell the truth." He also highlighted the "absolute typhoon of hypocrisy" of McConnell and Co.

"Now, look, I get that highlighting their hypocrisy is mostly pointless," Late Night's Seth Meyers said, but the stakes couldn't be higher, and the dice are loaded: "Senate Republicans who represent 15 million fewer Americans than Senate Democrats are pulling out all the stops to help a sundowning fascist who lost the popular vote by 3 million" cram through "a conservative supermajority to help them cement minority rule for a generation." Watch below. Peter Weber

September 21, 2020

A lot of Republicans agreed on a somewhat arbitrary rule in 2016 that the Senate should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the current Judiciary Committee chairman, was so convinced by the righteousness of his argument that he said he would hold off on considering a nominee put forward by President Trump if it occurred during an election year — and he urged people to keep the tape and use his words against him if he changed his mind. Well, now he's changed his mind, and The Lincoln Project rolled the tape.

The Late Show used an earlier iteration of Graham's "use my words against me" offer and took him up on it Monday night. And Stephen Colbert's writers used a liberal interpretation of his pledge. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 13, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may be over, but senators can still submit questions in writing, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) used that opportunity to ask Kavanaugh if he has a gambling problem. "Remember, when his nomination was announced, we learned that Kavanaugh had incurred between $60,000 and $200,000 of credit card debt," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. The White House said Kavanaugh was just buying baseball tickets, but "who spends that much money on baseball tickets?" Colbert asked, suggesting that Kavanaugh might have an alternative definition for "baseball."

That's not the only clue that points to gambling, Colbert said. In an email from 2001, Kavanaugh apologized for "growing aggressive after blowing still another game of dice." "Dice?" he asked. "Who plays dice? He's gonna be our first Supreme Court justice from the cast of Guys and Dolls." Colbert sang a bit of a modified version of "Luck Be A Lady" that creatively rhymed "roll back your rights" with "stare decisis." Whitehouse's gambling questions got pretty specific, Colbert noted, wondering what exactly happened in New Jersey.

On Wednesday, Kavanaugh responded to Whitehouse's questions, saying he has "occasionally played poker or other games with friends and colleague," recalls "occasionally visiting casinos in New Jersey when I was in school or in my 20s" and having "played low-stakes blackjack," but said he has not accrued any gambling debt. The Late Show still had some fun splicing some of his noncommittal confirmation hearing answers into a poker game, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

July 11, 2018

"I don't know about you, but I am still recovering from watching America's Next Top Justice last night," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, and he indirectly explained why: "I had a little drinking game: I would pour myself a drink every time my glass was empty." But thanks to President Trump picking federal appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for Supreme Court, at least "I have Trump nomination BINGO," he added. "See? It's all squares that say 'White Guy.'"

Colbert said he was skeptical of any Supreme Court justice named "Brett," but noted that the nominee's "full name is Brett Michael Kavanaugh, so it is possible Trump thought he was nominating Poison lead singer and winner of Celebrity Apprentice Brett Michaels. At least we'll know his stand on the landmark case of Nothing v. Good Time." Everyone is wondering about the future of Roe v. Wade, he added. "Some fear Kavanaugh would overturn Roe, while others hope Kavanaugh would overturn Roe. Either way, Kavanaugh took great pains last night to reassure us that he knows some women."

Of course Trump probably picked Kavanaugh for a completely different reason, Colbert said, pointing to the judge's 2009 argument that Congress should pass a law exempting a sitting president from criminal prosecution, investigation, or questioning from prosecutors or defense counsel. Kavanaugh didn't always feel that way — he helped prosecute President Bill Clinton — but he had a change of heart working in the George W. Bush White House. "So he thinks the president should be above the law because his job is hard?" Colbert asked. "Well in that case, I say moms of three or more kids ought to be able to murder at will." He went on to touch on Kavanaugh's gun-rights opinions and why he's sometimes called "the Forrest Gump of Republican politics," complete with clip. Watch below. Peter Weber

July 10, 2018

Since Stephen Colbert taped Monday's Late Show a few hours before President Trump named his pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, he had to rely on a bit of deliberately clumsy editorial magic to announce that federal appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh got Trump's rose. After expressing surprise that Trump picked "that guy, girl, or fast food mascot," Colbert needed something to talk about, so he talked about Sean Hannity's role in picking Trump's nominee.

"You know Trump considers it a crucial decision because yesterday, while he was at his country club in Bedminster — the Jersey White House, as no one calls it — he was, and this is true, being advised by Sean Hannity," Colbert said. This is "very common," he deadpanned. "Presidents have always relied on the advice of TV personalities. Reagan only supported the Contras after the weekend summit he had with ALF. And apparently, Hannity got some bang for his blather, because reports are that some White House aides are annoyed that Trump is announcing his SCOTUS pick at 9 p.m. in order to help Sean Hannity's ratings." He imagined Trump watching himself on Hannity, not quite making his announcement, conjuring up a sort of political-comedy Droste effect. It's something to behold. Watch below. Peter Weber

July 9, 2018

"Tonight was a bigly night for our celebrity president," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live, pointing to the "prime-time Supreme Court Nominee Special hosted by you-know-who." Kimmel was a little annoyed that President Trump's Supreme Court nominee unveiling pre-empted The Bachelorette, and at the reality-TV aspect of the announcement in general. "I don't know why he has to be so dramatic about this kind of thing," he said. "No one needs more suspense. Just give us the name of your nominee so we can move on with our terrifying lives, okay? There was a lot of speculation about who President Trump would pick, but very few — in fact, none — of the experts predicted this."

In our Muggle world, Trump picked Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., as his nominee. Kavanaugh is not, so far as we know, magic. Peter Weber

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