John Oliver is now a credible source for court trials.
Judge Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals used the comedian, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, in the citations in the case of Paeste v. Guam.
According to Above The Law, the case was a class action suit brought on by the people of Guam over a tax refund program. It appeared the Guam government refused to refund taxes to a number of people who overpaid.
The “Insular Cases” came up during the trial, which were also featured on John Oliver’s show. The Insular Cases were a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1901 that said people in U.S. territories do not always have constitutional rights.
Oliver is not a fan of the turn of the last century court’s decision.
“More than 4 million people live in the US territories; more than 98% of them are racial or ethnic minorities. The more you look into the history of why their voting rights are restricted, the harder it is to justify.”
It appears Judge Marsha Berzon was watching that night, and she acknowledged his thorough criticism in her final decision.
“We do note, however, that the so-called ‘Insular Cases,’ which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, YouTube (Mar. 8, 2015).”
According to the court documents, the judge ruled that Guam’s refusal to pay back the taxes was “illegal,” and John Oliver received another sign of his growing importance in culture and politics.
So far, the show has prompted an IRS investigation into the dealings of shady televangelists and landed an incredibly rare interview with Edward Snowden, currently living in exile in Russia. John Oliver may have even had a hand in the downfall of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Although the comedian insists he’s not a journalist, his show has regularly highlighted underreported stories with thorough, in-depth comedy segments. He has successfully made highly technical or esoteric legal issues palatable for a broad audience.
The comedian hit nationwide fame on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His HBO show Last Week Tonight has been on the air since April, 2014, and has already received critical acclaim. The John Oliver segment cited in the court case is featured in the video below.
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