John Oliver has solved that age-old problem faced by TV News operations: how to turn Supreme Court arguments into visually arresting television. They can’t actually show the justices debating — the court does not allow cameras during oral arguments because, as Justice Scalia recently told C-Span, the networks would just reduce their arguments to soundbites which would “not be characteristic of what we do.” To date, TV news operations have fulfilled their obligation with soundbites of the full argument — the court does release full audio — illustrated with court drawings. Oliver’s team, after deconstructing the popularity of the YouTube hit Keyboard Cat — 37 million views and counting:
….came up with Real Animals and Fake Paws Supreme Court TV. “If it works for shitty piano music, it can work for the Supreme Court,” Oliver reasoned last night on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, admitting his team used an “incredible amount of time and almost immoral amount of resources” to produce the footage.
“Tonight, as a public service, we are releasing raw video of Real Animals and Fake Paws Supreme Court. And we are inviting all news networks to use this footage to make Supreme Court arguments more compelling to watch. We haves all nine justices for you…The entire tool kit is [on the Last Week Tonight YouTube channel] for anyone to do with as they please — and if there are not full reenactments of every major court case of the past four years online by next Sunday you will never see us here again!” he warned.
If you’re feeling especially creative, here is the footage:
And here is the Supreme Court audio: