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

Public Option Would Fix Health Insurance Marketplace

Aetna is one of more than a dozen insurers abandoning the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, a move that adds urgency to progressive calls for a public option.

(Photo: AP/CQ Roll Call)
(Photo: AP/CQ Roll Call) Protesters march in support of health-care reform on March 9, 2010, in Washington, D.C. L ast week's announcement by Aetna that it would stop selling health insurance in 11 of the 15 states where it offers coverage through public exchanges is not a death blow to the Affordable Care Act, but it’s certainly not good news for President Obama’s signature health-care law. Aetna maintained it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars on the health law’s marketplaces, and the company is one of more than a dozen major insurers that have announced plans to bail out of the exchanges. The failure of the marketplaces to generate robust competition, as Obama had predicted, should focus liberal attention on what many on the left now regard as a major policy objective: establishing a public option for the health insurance exchanges. The Affordable Care Act has been a substantial success on balance, but it also has serious flaws. On the plus side, roughly 20 million people...

The Five Worst Roberts Court Rulings

Most progressives would rank Citizens United v. FEC as the worst ruling ever handed down by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts. But five other rulings are turning out to be even more disastrous.

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci) Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in the foreground arrives before President Barack Obama's 2016 State of the Union Address on Capitol Hill on January 12. I n a by-now familiar applause line, Bernie Sanders told Democrats gathered at the Democratic National Convention last week that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling is “one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of our country.” And this is not an instance where Sanders conflicts with the conventional wisdom of the party establishment either. Not only Senator Elizabeth Warren but Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have consistently railed against the case as a symbol of the corporate takeover of democracy, and so have countless grassroots activists. All this makes sense given the extent to which wealthy interests have been permitted to dominate American politics and policy. After all, big money has the potential to disrupt virtually every aspect of the...

Next for Clinton: A Running Mate

As speculation swirls over who would make the best running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a key question is how her pick might tilt the balance of power in the Senate.

AP Photo/Steve Helber
AP Photo/Steve Helber Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question during a panel discussion on national security, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, at the Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton, Virginia. P olitical scientist Justin Vaughn recently invited 40 presidential scholars to name which running mate to Hillary Clinton would make the best vice president. Their choices, in order of preference, were HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, and Vermont Senator (and of course strong runner-up for the Democratic nomination) Bernie Sanders. It’s not a bad list. But it overlooks the all-important question of how Clinton’s pick will impact Democrats in the Senate, and overlooks a strong candidate now serving in Obama’s cabinet. At least one proposed nominee on the experts’ list, moreover, should be an utter nonstarter. If Brown were added to the ticket, Ohio’s Republican governor,...

Clinton Shifts Emphasis, but Not Position

Hillary Clinton’s supposed shift to the left has been overstated, as her support for a single-payer Medicare plan illustrates.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a get out the vote event at La Gala in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Monday, May 16, 2016. L ast week, Hillary Clinton unveiled a single-payer health insurance plan that would allow people to buy into Medicare starting at age 50 or 55. To some political reporters, this embrace of a public option represents an ideological shift. “Mrs. Clinton is moving to the left on health care,” asserted The New York Times , attributing it to her unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders. Clinton was “floating a new idea,” declared The Wall Street Journal . But this is not precisely correct. There’s nothing remotely new about Clinton’s support for a Medicare buy-in or a public option for health insurance. From the beginnings of her husband’s administration, health care has been a major priority for her, and she deserves major credit for the Affordable Care Act, which closely resembles the plan that was a centerpiece...

The Limits of Originalism

Two recent rulings by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spotlight the limitations of originalist readings of the Constitution, which would dominate a Court controlled by conservatives.

S upreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently issued two rather remarkable opinions that challenge landmark rulings of the liberal Warren Court, one directly and the other implicitly. The solo opinions—one on voting rights, the other on the right to criminal representation—may not portend major changes in the law for the immediate future. But together, the two opinions display the unworkability of Thomas’s influential brand of originalism, and they also show how radical an agenda a Supreme Court controlled by contemporary Republicans could pursue. Having blocked any consideration of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans on Capitol Hill have signaled their determination to ensure continued conservative dominance on the Court. On the Supreme Court, “conservative” is often associated with “originalism”— the idea that the constitutional provisions should be interpreted based on their meaning when they were ratified. Thomas is the...

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