Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

How Kansas Banned Abortion

And which states will follow.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Update: Late Friday afternoon, a federal judge blocked enforcement of Kansas's new regulations of abortion clinics, allowing all clinics to remain open until the case is resolved. In April, the Idaho Legislature passed a bill with a strange provision attached: It provided money to defend the law in court. The fetal-pain law, which prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest, was blatantly illegal, and the legislature knew it would be challenged. The point of the bill was to pick a fight. Since January, newly elected Republican majorities across the country have enacted 49 laws meant to chip away at abortion rights. But the strategy that's worked best is not Idaho's, where the ban affects a small number of abortions and is likely to be struck down in court. Instead, access to abortion is at greater risk in states that use regulations to squeeze clinics out of business. Known as "TRAP" (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, such...

Rick Perry Doesn't Need Your Conventions

In his Times column last week, Ta-Nehisi Coates wondered about Rick Perry 's record: "Should Gov. Rick Perry of Texas enter the 2012 presidential race, he would enjoy a strange and remarkable escort — the irrepressible ghost of Cameron Todd Willingham." As much as I'd like to see Rick Perry pay politically for sentencing an innocent man to death and then attempting to hide evidence of his innocence, it's unclear if this episode would be detrimental to a Perry campaign. This week, another death-row inmate is raising further evidence of Perry's impractical, if not unelectable, character. The governor is under pressure to halt the execution of Humberto Leal Garcia Jr . Found guilty of rape and murder, the issue is that he is a Mexican citizen whose trial in Texas violated the Vienna Convention by denying him access to Mexican consular officials. Even the Bush administration held the position that American courts comply with the Vienna rules. The New York Times has Texas's response: "Mr...

Scalia Looks the Other Way

Scott 's column today on how Monday's decision in Walmart v. Dukes does a nice job of putting Scalia's opinion into historical perspective. An important exercise because, as he writes , "The idea that discrimination will rarely coexist with policies that are neutral on their face only makes sense if you ignore much of American history…" Not only does Scalia's opinion ignore American history, also flies in the face of accepted employment practices since the 1970s. Jooey Fishkin at Balkinization explains : Title VII helped spur both public and private employers to replace subjective, non-meritocratic systems of hiring and promotion with systems that were fairer, more uniform, and more merit-based. Today it is hard to imagine, for example, a big-city police department deciding simply to hire only the sons and nephews of incumbent officers. But at one time such practices were common. What changed was that corporate leaders, HR professionals, public sector managers, and the many, many...

Coming Out as an Illegal Immigrant

Today, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas revealed that he is in the country illegally in a New York Times piece. What makes the piece so incredible is that it's largely one-of-a-kind, and not because there aren't an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, many of whom surely have experiences similar to that of Vargas, but because these stories rarely reach a broad audience. From Vargas's piece: I’ve also talked to family and friends about my situation and am working with legal counsel to review my options. I don’t know what the consequences will be of telling my story. Fighting for immigration reform – including the DREAM Act which Vargas is now advocating for – can be a catch-22 situation: personal narratives are a really powerful tool in swaying public opinion, but few people share their stories for fear of reprisal. It's entirely unfair to ask immigrants to reveal their status and risk destroying their lives to prove a political point. Pro-...

Court to Walmart: Go Forth and Discriminate

Yesterday's decision in Walmart v. Dukes , in which the five conservative justices ruled that Walmart was too big and diverse to be subject to a company-wide class-action suit, reminds me of this bit from British comedian Eddie Izzard on mass murderers getting away with, well, being mass murderers (the relevant part starts about 45 seconds in): Izzard hints at one problem with Justice Scalia 's majority opinion in the case, which you could summarized as : Wal-Mart's managed to discriminate against so many people that we simply can't hold it accountable. In fact, we can't even classify this as a crime. Discrimination against one person we get; against 1.5 million, well, frankly we're impressed. In all seriousness, this is one of the reasons yesterday's ruling is so important. In brief, the Court found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits gender-based pay discrimination, does not apply because there was no official discriminatory policy in place. Title VII was passed...

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