Even though he’s back in the studio, Friday’s episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher” wasn’t live, it was taped earlier in the afternoon. And as a result, the show was in the middle of recording when the news was announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.
Like a lot of people in the country right now, Maher and his two panel guests — Tim Miller and Trae Crowder — were simultaneously shocked and a bit scared by the news of Ginsburg’s death Friday at age 87 from complications of cancer. After all, Republicans who currently control the senate are likely to try to rush a Trump nominee through before the next presidential term. Which, if successful would secure a 6-3 court majority, and make it highly likely that constitutional protections on a number of issues, including the right to an abortion, or marriage equality, could be threatened.
Of course, a great many people have argued that doing so would also be an act of shameless hypocrisy on the part of Republicans. That’s because in 2016, the GOP unanimously refused to even hold hearings for Barack Obama’s nominee to replace justice Scalia, citing a never-before-held rule that the Senate should not do so during an election year. All of those issues were very much on Maher and his guests’ minds as they processed the news.
As Maher announced the news, Crowder just uttered “no way,” and explained when Maher joked about not being believed that he was just stunned.
Miller suggested that he felt the same way, as he directly addressed several of the elephants in the room all at once. “Remember when I was Mr. Optimism at the beginning of the panel? This is gonna get really, really ugly. Really, really ugly,” Miller said. “McConnell is just gonna jam that through. This is the one thing he’s got no compunction about. So this whole like, oh last time it was an election year, wait it out. There is is no way.”
“And it’s just so much closer to the election. I think Scalia died in February,” Maher added. “This is right before an election.”
“This is like literally the worst case scenario,” Miller replied. The panel then talked about who RGB’s replacement might be, with Miller joking that it would be conservative actor Scott Baio, before mentioning conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett, who he likened to “a Laura Ingraham, if you were a judge.”
Maher then briefly paused to note that he thinks RBG “was just awesome” before pivoting back to more granular issues of politics and power. “I’ve said it before on this show: power begets power. This is why you cannot let a guy like Trump become president. Because it’s not just about the presidency.”
Crowder used that as a jumping off point to push back against progressive voters who might not want to support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “Super liberals that don’t wanna vote for Biden because he’s not liberal enough, I just can’t,” he said. “I can’t do it. I can’t handle that s— anymore. This is why you have to just swallow that pill.”
“70,000 votes,” Miller said, referring to the number of votes that put Trump ahead in three key swing states in 2016, which allowed him to win the electoral college and become president despite losing the actual popular vote by nearly 3 million.
“We’re gonna move on. We’re gonna get over it,” Maher interjected. “And hopefully we’re gonna be OK.”
In addition, one of Maher’s interview guests on Friday’s show was activist and actress Jane Fonda, and her segment began almost immediately after Ginsburg’s death was announced.
“I’m still reeling, Bill. I just heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and we have to be as tough as Mitch McConnell and not allow them to do one friggin thing before the election is over,” she said at the beginning of their chat. “We have to rise up and not allow them to do it. If Mitch McConnell can do it, let’s grow some balls and ovaries and force it. Oh my god.”
The full clip isn’t available yet, but you can watch the moment when Maher found out about Ginsburg’s death below:
“First of all, before we go on to the political part of it, she was just awesome.”
— Real Time with Bill Maher (@RealTimers) September 19, 2020