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

"TORT REFORM" ARGUMENTS -- ARE THEY EVER RIGHT?

"TORT REFORM" ARGUMENTS -- ARE THEY EVER RIGHT? Brother Ezra had a Slate piece this summer about the many empirical problems with the argument that capping medical malpractice suits would be a major source of cost reduction for the American medical system. (As Ezra points out, the overwhleming evidence against the idea that runaway malpractice awards drives up health care costs is amassed clearly and devastatingly in Tom Baker 's terrific book , The Medical Malpractice Myth .) Another "fact" often used by proponents of tort reform was that doctors were allegedly fleeing states like Texas because of its "out-of-control" tort system. So after Texas passed a bill in 2003 dramatically limiting the rights of Texans injured by doctors to sue, doctors must have started flooding back into the state, right? Er, not so much . In fact, "growth rates for the post-reform years were below the Texas norm ... From 1990-2002, the number of physicians practicing in the state grew at an average rate of...

MISS AMERICA COMPASSION.

MISS AMERICA COMPASSION. Jennifer Roback Morse 's claim that voting for Rick Santorum -- conceivably the least libertarian major national elected official in the country -- is the only responsible choice for libertarians to make is, above all else, pure comedy gold. But her attempt to claim the libertarian mantle for Santorum based on his support for tax cuts and ... er, tax cuts actually provides a useful illustration of why his efforts to build a genuine "compassionate conservatism" are a non-starter. I don't say this because I think that Santorum's desire to help the poor is insincere -- and, certainly, better some concern for the poor than a Catholic conservatism that begins and ends with a desire to criminalize abortion and deny equal rights to gay people. The real problem is that it's fundamentally incoherent to vote to increase funding for the poor -- especially the non-American poor -- while simultaneously voting to gut government revenues, since during periods of fiscal...

FEMINISM: STILL NECESSARY.

FEMINISM: STILL NECESSARY. The Happy Feminist and Jessica Valenti draw our attention to a remarkable-in-a-bad-way ruling by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The court threw out a rape conviction because the judge failed to instruct the jury that a woman could not legally withdraw consent after penetration . The Court's ruling was based on dicta in a 1980 decision, which it itself was based on common law definitions of rape. The court describes the principles animating the 1980 decision as follows: But, to be sure, it was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male's interest in a woman's sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential. The damage was done. It was this view that the moment of penetration was the point in time, after which a woman could never be "re-flowered," that gave rise to the principle that, if a woman consents prior to penetration...

BENEFITS WITHOUT COSTS....

BENEFITS WITHOUT COSTS. As a follow-up to Tom 's point , I think it's critical, when discussing potential outreach to religious voters, to consider the potential negative consequences of such strategies. One thing the journalist Peter Boyer has been guilty of is asserting benefits that would come from running more anti-choice candidates that completely ignore the costs of such potential shifts. It is true, for example, that the sudden politicization of the abortion issue in the 1960s has caused a significant number of Catholic voters to align with the Republicans rather than the Democrats. But supporting abortion criminalization has hurt Republican candidates as well. What keeps presidential elections close in a political context that generally favors Republican is that Democrats have the large, expensive to campaign in, and traditionally Republican states of California and New York in their pockets before spending a dime (and if these states were even competitive, the Democrats would...

PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND...

PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND LESSONS ABOUT THE COURT . The Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments in Philip Morris USA v. Mayola Williams . The case concerns a $79.5 million punitive damage claim against Phillip Morris that was upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. (See here and here for more background.) There's a good chance that the Oregon Court's decision will be reversed based on a Kennedy's opinion in State Farm v. Campbell , which discovered a limit against virtually all punitive damages that "awards exceeding a single-digit ratio." Pragmatism is one thing; inventing a right against punitive damage awards that are inconsistent with the Base 10 numbering system (or, in other words, finding a constitutional significance in the number of fingers on the human hand) is quite another. This case should remind us that, despite all of the attention given to hot-button social issues, the courts are also likely to be a major player in the Republican battle to ease restraints against...

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