John Oliver’s first Last Week Tonight episode after wearing his award-worthy hoodie did not, unfortunately, dig into his dream goal for the year. There’s no time for that right now because Oliver’s feeling somber. He returned for all-new episodes following the death of Supreme Court Justice (and women’s rights advocate) Ruth Bader Ginsberg. As Oliver pointed out, this news is serious enough without Trump’s nominated replacement, Amy Coney Barrett, essentially being Ginsberg’s polar opposite.
The New York Times has published a primer on Barrett’s work on the bench thus far, but it’s important to note that she’s an arch conservative on most hot-button issues, including abortion. She would shift the balance of the court to far right that if anything Roe v. Wade-related landed in the Supreme Court’s hands, we could very well see the end of legal abortion in the U.S. As Oliver points out, Barrett is 48 years old, so she’s got several decades (Ginsberg died at 87 and kept working until the end) to hack away at that goal, so he’s feeling pretty “hopeless” about abortion rights and similar issues:
“So, our country isn’t so much center-right as Mitt Romney is center-wrong. Look, this has been a very dark week for lots of people. 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.”
Oliver’s being realistic here. Barrett is a follower of Antonin Scalia and, on some issues, even more extreme right than her role model. On the subject of abortion, specifically, the issue goes even deeper than the medical act. Rather, it also has everything to do with the highest court of the land running counter to the views of a majority of Americans (the Pew Institute’s latest update puts 62% of Americans in favor of it remaining legal in the U.S.). Further, the overturning of Roe and, likely with it, the privacy implications involved with overturning Griswold v. Connecticut, could adversely impact generations to come.
In other words, Democrats could very well win the White House and flip the Senate this fall while the Supreme Court could still lean to the far right for decades. It’s a sobering thought and, well, a reason to not feel sorry for Lindsey Graham complaining on Fox News that people simply don’t like him.