Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles


JUDICIAL CONSERVATISM AND LEGAL INDETERMINACY. I'm a little puzzled by this Sasha Volokh post, in which he cites an article by Mike Seidman pointing out that the indeterminate nature of legal materials has produced conservative results as the federal courts have become dominated by Republican appointments and then uses it as a "gotcha" against CLS scholars, warning them that "progressives who, in the name of indeterminacy, try to undermine rule-of-law norms, will find this biting them back in the end." If Volokh thinks that this would be remotely surprising to the crits, however, he doesn't understand their work. First, the indeterminacy thesis is an empirical one, and as both Volokh and Seidman seem to concede, the federal judiciary under the Bush administration has provided powerful evidence for it. I'm not inclined to agree with the strongest versions of the crit/realist argument, but as Mark Tushnet (the most important CLS scholar) has pointed out, Bush v. Gore "seems to have let...


THE CENTRAL PROBLEM OF PURGEGATE . As the story expands, it's worth returning to this post by Josh Marshall , which in addressing the inevitable tu quoque rejoinders lays out the central problem with this particular series of firings. Presidents are, of course, entitled to set law enforcement priorities, and Bush may fire U.S. Attorneys for reasons that I would consider substantively wrong but not illegitimate, such as failing to enforce immigration laws effectively enough or refusing to seek the death penalty in all circumstances. (If you disagree, would you also believe that it's illegitimate for a Democratic President to fire a U.S. Attorney who insisted on taking resources away from investigating corporate fraud or violent crimes in order to prosecute marijuana possession cases?) In this case, however, the attorneys were fired for reasons of strict partisanship, for "not sufficiently politicizing their offices, for not indicting enough Democrats on bogus charges or for too...


JONAH GOLDBERG IS MAKING SENSE. No, really! OK, there are some details that are problematic -- I'm not sure what campaign finance reform has to do with this, and George Bush was hardly less prone to claiming to transcend partisan conflict than Hillary Clinton -- but the more that the argument that "democracy is about disagreement, and you can't have the former without the latter" appears in our op-ed pages, the better. There's no stupider genre of op-eds than the Broderesque "all political problems and our horrible partisanship could be solved if we could just agree that I'm right about everything" routine. -- Scott Lemieux


THE TROJAN HOLOCAUST . Like Matt , I wholeheartedly agree that pro-lifers should be more explicit about the extent to which pro-life arguments tend to be embedded within (and derived from) reactionary conceptions of sexuality. Someone taking this advice has been Zell Miller , who recently opined that America has too few children because of "the brutal truth that no one dares to mention: We�re too few because too many of our babies have been killed. Over 45 million since Roe v. Wade in 1973." My question: if the problem is too few babies, why is he discussing abortion rather than the real enemy, birth control? If abortion is evil on this basis, then contraception is extra-super-duper-evil. The logic of this (rather common) pro-life position -- along with its even more idiotic twin , the "how would you have liked to have been aborted" argument (and what if your mother had been wearing a diaphragm the night you were conceived? Ban them!) -- does link anti-abortion policy ineluctably with...


THE MCCAIN PARADOX. To take another quote from Matt 's article , he's right that Maverick McStraightTalk John McCain " has the misfortune of being both the most conservative candidate in the race and the one most hated by conservatives." It's quite strange, and is one of the ways in which the Bush personality cult will hurt the GOP going forward. It seems to me that Ramesh Ponnuru is being completely rational in his positive "second look" at McCain in National Review . For someone who cares about policy rather than sticking it to liberals, has strong cultural conservative commitments (especially on abortion, where, whatever his bizarre liberal glee club would prefer to think, McCain's pro-criminalization record is as staunch as can be ), and for whom fiscal conservatism is about something other than upper-class tax cuts (that will be temporary because of huge deficits), McCain is a perfectly respectable conservative, and certainly infinitely preferable to Giuliani or Romney . But he...