"They say 81 is the new 79," Stephen Colbert says, joining Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah in urging Justice Kennedy to reconsider retirement.
Donald Trump already has one Supreme Court nomination under his belt, and now he's looking at another as Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his July 31 retirement and a wave of trepidation swept across late-night on Wednesday.
While Supreme Court Justices come and go, this one is of particular importance because Justice Kennedy had emerged as the important swing vote on the mostly-Conservative bench. As Trevor Noah pointed out, "He voted in favor of gay rights, a woman's right to choose and affirmative action."
Trump will inevitably try and replace him with a staunch conservative, changing the face of the Court in a way that could last decades, depending on when other Justices might choose to retire. As much as we'd like to believe the Supreme Court is above the political fray, there's no denying the ideologies of the various Justices ultimately determines the law of the land.
If it swings further to the right, which seems inevitable, many are concerned that the Court could start rolling back some of the rights it has granted minority groups, including a reversal of the abortion-rights case, Roe v Wade. Does that sound alarmist? Considering some of the conservative wins we've seen already in the past few weeks with a fairly balanced Court, it may not be alarmist enough for the left.
A decisively conservative bench would embolden the GOP to encourage more of those kinds of cases to the highest court with a certainty of victory. It's enough to make all of late-night pause, with Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and even Jimmy Fallon joining Noah in urging Kennedy to reconsider and tough it out until a new president takes office.
"The Daily Show with Trevor Noah"
"Kennedy was without question the most powerful Justice on the court," Noah said. "And not just because he can deadlift 650 pounds." While Kennedy was conservative, it was his willingness to cross the aisle on key issues like gay and women's rights that made him such an important swing vote.
"Now Trump will likely replace him with a Justice who would discriminate and dismantle abortion rights and LGBTQ rights," Noah explained to his audience. "That sound you're hearing right now. That's Mike Pence having his first orgasm."
"Late Night with Seth Meyers"
Seth Meyers broke the news to his audience as well, telling them, "Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring today. 'Do you know what that means?' said Trump, who was really asking."
He then got to work trying to fix this by talking directly to Justice Kennedy. "What are you doing retiring, man? You have a great job where you barely work, you get to wear a robe all day and give your opinions on stuff," he said. "That basically is retirement. Stick around, at least until we get a new president.
"Six months, tops," he added.
"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"
Jimmy Fallon couldn't understand Kenedy's urgency to retire, either. "He's 81 years old, so he's going to go from sitting around in a robe all day to sitting around in a robe all day," he joked. "It's going to be very difficult, but he'll figure it out."
At least Fallon has more faith than most in Trump's ability to make the best selection for our nation. "When asked which judge he'll choose, Trump said, 'Either Adam Levine or Blake Shelton. They're both a little edgy for different reasons,'" he said.
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert"
Stephen Colbert took the same approach as Meyers above, appealing to Kennedy directly. "You're only 81. They say 81 is the new 79," he said.
He wasn't nearly as optimistic about the future, though, telling his audience, "We are supremely screwed. I look forward to Wolf Blitzer in 2021, 'In the end this Supreme Court case will be decided by the swing vote, Justice Meat Loaf.'"
But the reason it's so alarming is because "the court that just this week crippled unions, upheld Trump's Muslim ban and race-based gerrymandering might turn conservative." The current and slightly balanced Supreme Court is already making a series of more conservative rulings. Trump will be looking to make that a guarantee every time.
"Enjoy your gay marriages now, because as of August 1, you're back to being roommates," Colbert warned.