Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Organizing the Unemployed.

Yesterday, Annie Lowrey had a great piece about the political activism of the unemployed. Many unemployed Americans have turned to political activism, particularly online, as their job searches have come up empty and benefits run dry: Among the biggest sites in the unemployment netroots is LayoffList, managed by Michael Thornton , a native of Rochester, N.Y. Thornton started LayoffList in 2008; five months ago, he began writing articles and posting legislators’ information on the Rochester Unemployment Examiner. He now receives hundreds of emails and has logged more than a million hits at the Examiner. Thornton is finding that, rather than losing interest in politics since the end of the fight for extended benefits, the unemployed are “energized and motivated” and have started looking forward to the fall. They key here is to turn frustration over the economy into turnout on Election Day and to portray Republicans as interfering with the economic recovery -- namely, by obstructing...

This is Not a Cheerocracy.

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Quinnipiac College in New Haven, Connecticut, could not count varsity cheerleading as a sport for the purposes of complying with Title IX, the 1972 federal law that expanded women's access to sports by mandating gender equity in education: Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX. ...Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students. In 2009, Quinnipiac College in Connecticut decided to cut women's varsity volley ball but argued that elevating cheer to a varsity sport would take care of it's Title IX requirement. The judge disagreed, ruling that cheer as an organized sport was, in fact, too new and disorganized to qualify. As The New York Times reported , The university created the new team by hiring the woman who formerly coached the traditional sideline cheerleading squad. She elevated 16...

A One-Off Win for Gun Control.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to incorporate the Second Amendment in McDonald v. Chicago last month, there has been a legitimate fear that the decision will endanger sensible gun regulations – in particular laws forbidding those convicted of domestic violence from owning guns . But yesterday the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in United States v. Skoien that incorporation of the Second Amendment does not mean that regulations that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers are unconstitutional. As the first test of sensible gun regulations after McDonald, Skoien is a significant victory for gun-control activists and women. As I said before, women suffer disproportionately from the prevalence of guns -- particularly hand guns, which are the main weapon used by intimate partners to terrorize and murder women. Writing for the court, conservative Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook tore apart the defense, which argued that a complete ban on abusers owning guns was too broad...

Empowering Domestic Abusers.

As Scott Lemieux noted yesterday, the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago “incorporated” the Second Amendment so that the individual right to bear arms now applies to all levels of government, including the states. This will lead to a slew of new cases trying to roll back gun-control laws. Alarmingly, some believe that one of the targets will be laws banning gun ownership for individuals “convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.” It's especially troubling because loosening these guns laws will have a disproportionate effect on women given that guns are the primary weapon used in intimate-partner homicides. When the Supreme Court decided Heller , establishing an individual's right to own a handgun for self-defense (and striking down a D.C. ban), TAPPED asked whether gun control was a feminist issue . While some would argue guns allow women to defend themselves, the numbers show that hand guns are mostly used against women -- not by them. This is because women are far...

Prop. 8 Trial: Just the Beginning.

Yesterday, star lawyer team Ted Olson and David Boies made their closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger , the federal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that barred gay people from getting married in the state (you can read the transcript here ). Excitement was high: The conservative National Organization for Marriage live-blogged this “civil rights battle … to protect marriage” and courtroom coverage from Firedog Lake called it “the landmark civil rights trial of the century.” After the closing arguments were done, NOM and Queerty both proclaimed "it's over." But it's not. Eventually the case could answer a slew of thorny legal questions about the fundamental right to marry and equal protection under the Constitution -- it even has the potential to make other forms of anti-gay discrimination in government employment and housing indefensible. But we’re not getting those answers anytime soon. Both sides are ready to appeal if Judge Vaughn Walker rules...

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