“If anyone needed a reminder about what’s at stake in an election, well last night, you got it,” said Trevor Noah on the Daily Show. “Republicans took full advantage of their hold on the White House and the Senate” on Monday night to confirm conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court seat vacated by the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer at 87 in September.
The GOP pushes Barrett’s SCOTUS confirmation through in a basic cable version of Eyes Wide Shut, and the Democrats threaten “revenge.” pic.twitter.com/bRIyTpjBU6
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 28, 2020
Despite Republicans’ precedent to hold on nominating a new justice until after an election – one set in 2016 to block Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland – Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, turbocharged the nomination process; Barrett went from potential candidate to supreme court justice in a month. “Say what you want about the GOP, man, but this shit? This was gangster,” said Noah of the accelerated timeline.
Catching up on a normally months-long process railroaded as early voting in the election was already under way was like “watching a chop shop strip down your car for parts”, Noah joked. “Like, yo, I’ll miss my Audi, but you gotta admire their technique.”
Still, “I was shocked to see the Senate move this quick,” Noah added. “I mean, normally they take months to do anything, but here they moved so fast it was disorienting. It was like when you call Customer Service and immediately speak to a human being.”
To celebrate Barrett’s confirmation, Trump held a night-time swearing-in ceremony at the Rose Garden – site of the nomination party for Barrett that doubled as a White House coronavirus super-spreader event – in which he praised the new justice as the “perfect replacement” for Ginsburg.
That comment demonstrated “grade-A trolling”, said Noah. “[Trump] knows what he’s doing. Because yes, RBG and Barrett are both women, but Barrett is going to dismantle all of RBG’s good work. So this would be like if the Lakers replaced LeBron with Ben Carson. Technically, yes, they’re swapping one black man for another, but good luck on making the playoffs next season.”
Though Barrett’s confirmation to the supreme court was, given the Republican Senate majority, inevitable news, “not everything about Barrett’s confirmation had to happen the way it happened”, said Stephen Colbert on the Late Show. For instance, Barrett’s “hastily thrown together swearing-in ceremony” at the White House and “baldly political photo op with President Trump” broke the court’s norms of political impartiality. The partisan pomp was “not normal”, Colbert explained, especially as Barrett’s confirmation could allow Republicans to limit mail-in voting in the election.
“But on the bright side, they’re already doing that,” Colbert deadpanned. On Monday, the supreme court rejected, along ideological lines, a request by Wisconsin to extend its deadline for counting mail-in ballots – a decision which could disenfranchise up to 100,000 voters. “Or, as the conservative justices called it, a good start,” Colbert said.
Colbert called the decision to limit mail-in voting during a pandemic a “dumb ruling”, but “the dumbest part” was written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The conservative justice, appointed by Trump in 2018, cited the 2000 supreme court decision in Bush v Gore as reason to dismiss mail-in ballots accepted or delivered after election day in 2020, despite the 2000 decision explicitly stating it “could not function as a precedent”.
“Well, I guess it’s too much to expect Brett Kavanaugh to listen to someone saying ‘stop, don’t do this’,” Colbert joked. Kavanaugh argued late-arriving ballots could “flip” an election and thus would arouse “suspicions of impropriety”; in a blunt dissent, Justice Elena Kagan reminded that “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.”
“Exactly! If we don’t count all the votes, we’re not declaring a winner, we’re just saying who’s ahead at midnight,” Colbert said. “There’s a reason you never hear a baseball announcer say: ‘It’s the bottom of the eighth, bases loaded, all tied up, Tampa Bay 3, Los Angeles 3, it’s a hit and a long fly ball and let’s call it there, folks. We’re willing to project the Dodgers gave me my job so they win.’”
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel checked in on the Trump campaign’s jam-packed schedule of in-person events, despite soaring coronavirus case numbers. “Even though the pandemic appears to be getting worse, even though the virus is on the rise in almost every state and all over the world, fear not! Because the president says we’re rounding the corner,” Kimmel remarked.
Trump has trailed Biden in national polls, and with just a week to go, the president’s “strategy now, even more than ever, is to just make things up”, Kimmel said. Kimmel played a Trump campaign ad in which the president rambled through fragments about the “radical left”, “socialist state”, how Democrats will “take away your fracking and energy”, and his latest slogan: “No oil, no guns, no God.”
“Finally,” joked Kimmel, “the long-awaited sequel to Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV.”