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

THE COUNTERMOBILIZATION MYTH -- CANADIAN EDITION.

THE COUNTERMOBILIZATION MYTH -- CANADIAN EDITION. Gay rights litigation has been very successful in our neighbor to the north, with major victories at both the federal and provincial levels (including with respect to marriage benefits. According to oft-cited conventional wisdom , this success should have been a disaster for the gay rights movement, mobilizing a huge backlash and setting the cause back for generations as citizens were incensed by decision by "activist" courts. The problem is that this is not, in fact, true. Not only did Parliament end up formally recognizing gay marriage, but gay marriage has continued to become more popular, now commanding the support of almost 60% of the Canadian public. I do not mean so suggest that we can therefore expect a majority of Americans to support gay marriage right away too. My only point is that there is no evidence whatsoever that using litigation has anything to do with it . Courts are likely to provide the initiative with respect to...

NO CREDIBILITY.

NO CREDIBILITY. As the Iraq War continues to get more and more hopeless, we're sure to start hearing more of the tautological trump card inevitably played by the dead-enders of ill-conceived wars: we need to maintain a ruinous war in order to preserve American "credibility." As Daniel Davies pointed out in comments about Michael Novak 's particularly insane version of this argument, this would seem to be the �if something is not worth doing, it has to be done at ruinous cost� theory of deterrence. Or, as he put it in his more extensive discussion of why this doesn't work even as abstract game theory, "It is certainly true that one of the benefits of doing something stupid is that it saves you from having to spend money on maintaining your reputation as an idiot. However, is the reputation of an idiot really worth having?" As our colleague Rob has pointed out in detail , the idea that one should keep fighting a ruinous war to preserve "credibility" or "reputation" is one of the dumbest...

APPALLING ON EVERY LEVEL.

APPALLING ON EVERY LEVEL. As a follow-up to Garance 's post below , Lizardbreath of Unfogged lays out why the treatment of Jose Padilla is indefensible on every level: We seem to be systematically ill-treating our prisoners in a way that doesn't make any legitimate sense. If it's punishment, it's simply wrong because they haven't been tried. If it's for interrogation, it seems insanely excessive. If the argument is that "We are certain enough that Padilla had vital information that we are justified in confining him for years and treating him in any manner, no matter how psychically damaging not likely to cause organ failure in the hopes of extracting that information," I really want that argument to be made explicitly. What do they hope to find out from these people? And if we're claiming that the ill-treatment is necessary for security, that is patent nonsense. What was done to Padilla (and is being done to prisoners at Guantanamo) is obviously not necessary to keep them from...

SELECTIVE ORIGINALISM.

SELECTIVE ORIGINALISM. Amy Stuart Wells discusses the school integration cases that will be argued before the Supreme Court today. In addition to their intrinsic interest, cases involving racial classifications that are used to facilitate integration rather than segregation are intriguing because they provide evidence (beyond the obvious ) of the incoherence of modern conservative judicial theories. It's not uncommon to hear the Court upholding affirmative action programs as "judicial activism," although of course in such decisions the courts are deferring to electorally accountable branches. So perhaps this means that the court is departing from the "original meaning" of the Constitution? The problem is that it's almost impossible to justify striking down affirmative action programs in "originalist" terms, and the Supreme Court's purportedly "originalist" judges have never bothered to try. If you look at the relevant jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas , you'll see...

NONE OF THE ABOVE.

NONE OF THE ABOVE. Nancy Pelosi has, thankfully, chosen to reject both Hastings and Harman , the obviously correct option. The evidence against Hastings is pretty compelling , and taking a bribe as a federal judge isn't the typically vacuous "character" issue; it suggests a lack of ethics and judgment in ways that can affect policy. Moreover, the political hit would have been immense, and it's not as if Hastings was so great on the merits it would be worth paying the price. Meanwhile, Matt is right that Hastings's only virtue was not being Harman: "Hastings shook some dudes down for $150,000 and ruined three FBI investigations. Jane Harman, by contrast, supported an invasion of Iraq based on bogus intelligence that's costs hundreds of billions of dollars and killed hundreds of thousands of people. Who do I have more doubts about?" Avoiding both of them was clearly the right call, and kudos to Pelosi for bucking the various caucus pressures and doing it. Alas, it seems as if the oft-...

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