John Oliver returned from the “Last Week Tonight” hiatus fully prepared to dissect the last three months, but the host said Sunday that he threw that plan out the window on the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died.
“There are a lot of strong feelings surrounding Antonin Scalia,” Oliver said. “But whatever you think of him, his death is the end of an era on the Supreme Court.”
But rather than tear into Scalia’s opinions over the years, Oliver turned his biting wit to Senate Republicans, who are attempting to use an unwritten Senate rule to prevent President Obama from appointing a new Justice, known as the Strom Thurmond rule.
“Now I’m not surprised that there is [a Thurmond rule],” he said. “I just a thought it would always be about the amount of hush money required to keep your secret family a secret or how racist an old person is allowed to be before their age is no longer an excuse.”
Oliver played video of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) railing against the very rule he is now invoking back when George W. Bush was in office. Oliver then reminded viewers that Scalia was famously a Constitutional originalist, meaning he believed in interpreting the law by the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
“There is nothing in the Constitution about you getting to delay for a year because of some bullshit tradition,” he said. “So to Senate Republicans I say this: If you really loved Antonin Scalia you wouldn’t honor his memory by desecrating the thing he loved the most.”
Scalia was found dead at a luxury resort in Texas on Feb. 13. Scalia went to bed Friday night after telling friends he wasn’t feeling well, according to CNN. After failing to appear at breakfast on Saturday morning, his hunting party left the property without him. His body was later discovered in his room.