The Colbert Report

Season 6 Episode 15

Arthur Benjamin

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Aired Weekdays 11:30 PM Jan 27, 2010 on Comedy Central
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Arthur Benjamin
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Tonight Stephen welcomes mathematician Arthur Benjamin.
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      • Stephen: Tonight: Do corporation have the right to free speech? Yes. If it's Apple and they're saying: Here Stephen, have a free iPad. And my guest is Arthur Benjamin, author of The Secrets of Mental Math. I hope he tells me what comes after fourteen, the suspense is killing me. Seriously, give me an iPad! This is the Colbert Report.

      • Stephen: This ruling has bigger implications than the fact that every campaign ad for every Congressman can now be paid for by the guy from the Dos Equis ads, and it brings us to tonight's Word: Prece-Don't. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in America's legal system, except when it makes rulings I don't like. (i.e. Restraining orders) And folks, far too often we are stuck with those bad decisions thanks to legal maxim known as stare decisis, which means maintain what has been decided, in Latin. Now I wonder which wise Latina came up with that one. (Dora the Adjudicator?) Now stare decisis is the principle that overturning previous decisions should be avoided because it will lead to chaos. (See: Leno v. O'Brien) You see every time a new Justice is appointed the Constitution's meaning would change according to that Justice's whims, or in the case of Clarence Thomas, the whims of the guy next to him. But that means letting judges who've been dead for a hundred years tell us how to live. Who the Hell is Oliver Wendell Holmes to tell me what's Constitutional? Also, who the Hell is Oliver Wendell Holmes? (That English guy on The Daily Show?)

        Now thankfully Chief Justice John Roberts has a brilliant legal strategy to get around following precedents: Not following precedents. (Roberts' Rules of Order Shmorder) Folks, this legal decision to allow corporations unlimited campaign funding revered a hundred years of precedents, but Roberts pointed out that that was okay because one of those Supreme Court precedents, from 1990, had "Two 'spirited dissents'…"and that "…undermine the precedent's ability to contribute to the stable and orderly development of the law." Especially when the two spirited dissents from that case are sitting right next to you. {Thomas & Scalia} Are they still there? Oh no. And folks, there is ample precedent for ignoring precedents, like Bush v Gore, which stated that their decision in that case was "…limited to present circumstances…" only. Or to put that in layman's terms: We're only going to try heroin once. (Then be strung out for eight years)

        So, to recap, according to Chief Justice Roberts, any Supreme Court decision that was not unanimous is now in question. (That question: What the F**k?!) I believe this is great news because there were spirited dissenters in the decision on Miranda rights, so hopefully soon cops will have to say so much less when they arrest someone. (Taser! Taser! Taser!) Also, remember, Roe v Wade wasn't unanimous, so ladies, prepare for your rights to be reexamined by these five feminists. And there was also dissent in the ruling that prohibited the death penalty for minors which means kids, you better behave. The quiet corner soon may have lethal injection. (The ultimate cootie shot) But remember, there is one court case with spirited dissent that we must uphold: this one, because future Courts must respect Justice Roberts decision that he doesn't have to respect previous decisions. Otherwise, if Roberts dies, say by drowning in his own deep blue eyes, and Barack Obama then appoints a liberal, the new Court would simply overturn the precedent that we can overturn precedents, and that would be a terrible precedent. (Prece-don't)

        And that's the Word.

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