The unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was the longest-serving judge on the current bench, pretty much took everyone in the country by surprise on Saturday, and it looks like it also threw the Last Week Tonight writing staff for a loop as well. Calling Scalia's death the "end of an era" and devoting the first minutes of his Season 3 premiere to the justice, Oliver gave a tribute to the passing of Scalia by doing what he does best: criticizing the circus that's spawned out of it.
But first, some kind words:
Let's be honest, there are a lot of strong feelings surrounding Antonin Scalia, but whatever you think of him, his death is the end of an era of the Supreme Court. He was a hugely significant justice.
Oliver ran the full gamut of important news that has broken in the 84 days since Last Week Tonight last aired with new episodes on Sunday evenings. "We had prepared to start this show with a fun recap of everything that we've missed in the past three months, from the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary," he began, before biting into pharma king Martin Shkreli who's currently under federal investigation for securities fraud in accurate, albeit NSFW language, and also a relatively renown rapper's attitude towards certain sexual practices.
"But then, last night, that all pretty much went out the window," Oliver said, as the political tug-of-war over who will fill Scalia's seat took center stage. The late-night host wasted no time calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his irresponsible comments after news of Scalia's death broke.
Scalia's career as a Supreme Court justice was marked by a strict sense of originalism regarding matters of Constitutional law, taking the document literally word for word. Oliver quickly points out that McConnell's press release on Scalia's death, as well as statements made by Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump during Saturday night's GOP debate, stand in direct contradiction to Scalia's entire legal legacy. By incorrectly citing the informal "Thurmond Rule" — a practice where no judges with lifetime appointments are made within the final six months of a president's term — Oliver correctly points out that the Republican establishment is disrespecting the memory of the man whose death they claim to be mourning.
While he may not have always agreed with the justice's opinions, Oliver's tribute to Scalia was a nice way to open what will surely be a scathing season. Check it out below.