The ACLU comes to John Oliver’s defense in a lawsuit…and it’s super funny

Image: Astrid Stawiar/Getty Images

In June, John Oliver decided he had had enough of Donald Trump’s pro-coal agenda and coal companies themselves, so he did what he does best—he ranted. 

The Last Week Tonight host went on a rampage against Bob Murray the CEO of Murray Energy, a coal king who has stripped health benefits from miners and allegedly “attempting to silence miners who filed confidential safety complaints to regulators.” 

Oliver’s segment (which featured a giant talking squirrel, so you know it’s good) lead to a lawsuit filed by Murray, who claimed in a statement that “the false and defamatory statements in this broadcast severely and destructively impact Mr. Murray, and all of Murray Energy … as well as coal mining itself.”

The lawsuit has some hilarious moments, but it’s the West Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and their amicus brief in support of Oliver filed on Aug. 1 that really is a work of art in itself and worth reading in its entirety. 

Brilliant gems are scattered within the brief. A few pop up in headings that read “Anyone Can Legally Say ‘Eat Shit, Bob!'” or “You Can’t Sue People for Being Mean to You, Bob” or better yet, “You Can’t Get a Court Order Telling the Press How to Cover Stories, Bob.”

“Although this brief pokes fun at the absurdity of this case, the legal issues raised by it are anything but comical,” the brief reads, only later to feature a pair of photographs, side-by-side, of Dr. Evil and Murray, a comparison Oliver made on the show. 



Image: Eriq Gardner/scribd/aclu

“It is apt that one of one of Plaintiffs’ objections to the show is about a human-sized squirrel named Mr. Nutterbutter, because this case is nuts. Which also begs the question: is Mr. Nutterbutter one of the 50 Doe Defendants included in this action?,” the brief continues, referencing the human-sized squirrel Oliver brought onto the show (the squirrel wrote a fake check to ‘Eat My Shit, Bob’ during the segment). 

You can check out the full amicus brief below to see poetic bits of writing—like, “John Oliver was mean to you, Bob. So What?”—and more. 

If only all legal documents were this fun to read. a2b2 2ac6%2fthumb%2f00001

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