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 Good News for Gay Rights

Victories won by "undemocratic" courts -- like the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which legalized gay marriage in 2003 -- haven't produced the backlash that many pundits expected.

As I noted in this virtual space last year, many pundits -- some of them at least nominal supporters of gay marriage -- had argued that the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003 (in the Goodridge v. Public Health Services case) actually spelled disaster for supporters of equality for gay and lesbian Americans, given the backlash it would inevitably spark as a clear-cut example of judicial overreach. These arguments became particularly pronounced after George Bush won a narrow re-election victory in 2004 while upwards of a dozen initiatives denying same-sex marriage benefits passed in the states. There was always less to this sequence of events than met the eye. None of these initiatives actually rolled back existing gay marriage benefits, and most of them did not roll back civil union benefits. Nor were most of the states where these initiatives passed likely to change the status quo in a progressive direction anytime soon. And...

DEPRESSING.

DEPRESSING. It's definitely unpleasant to consider that of the courses available in Iraq -- the status quo, a reduced but still substantial force, a massive infusion of troops to try to engage in serious state-building, or actually withdrawing -- the one all major Democratic candidates are advocating is the second most irresponsible. All that can be said for it is that if you're going to keep a force that clearly can't accomplish anything in terms of building a stable state, it's better to do it more cheaply. A much larger force is also a bad idea (and beside the point, given that the necessary troops don't exist), but at least one could argue that a much different strategy might produce a different outcome. Doing slightly less of a strategy that has failed and crossing your fingers, however, is just indefensible . --Scott Lemieux

THOMPSON: GRISWOLD WAS...

THOMPSON: GRISWOLD WAS WRONG. I suppose there's nothing terribly surprising about Fred Thompson asserting that Roe v. Wade is the worst Supreme Court decision since 1967. And nor is it surprising that he would repeat the abject nonsense that overturning Roe would "send the issue back to the states" (a claim that the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the arbitrary federal ban on "partial-birth" abortions in Carhart II makes straightforwardly false.) Since many anti-choicers are smart enough to be vague about this, however, it is worth noting the significance of Thompson's claim that Roe was "was fabricated out of whole cloth." If one argues that Roe has no basis on constitutional jurisprudence, however, then it's not only Roe but Griswold that is wrong. If Democrats are smart, this should be a major weapon against Thompson and any Republican who makes similar arguments. As Amanda notes, Roe is a popular decision, generally favored by 2-to-1 majorities. It should be pointed out often...

MASS. ROMANTICS.

MASS. ROMANTICS. The Massachusetts legislature has rejected the proposed constitutional amendment calling for the revocation of gay and lesbian marriage rights and the restoration of bigotry by a 151-45 vote. It should be noted that this is precisely the opposite of what was predicted by proponents of the countermobilization myth , people for whom it's never the right time for social change , etc. Goodridge , we were often informed, was going to be a crushing setback for gay equality, but less than 5 years later it's supported by an overwhelming vote in the legislature. The backlash, conversely, had been confined to states... that already overwhelmingly opposed gay marriage. Litigation is not, of course, appropriate in every situation, but sometimes it's effective. Gay rights is the kind of case where courts are likely to go first, and once they act 1) people realize that the predicted social apocalypse isn't occurring, and 2) legislators who may be reluctant to extend rights on a...

CLINTON'S INTRAGENDER GAP.

CLINTON'S INTRAGENDER GAP. Riffing off this poll and this piece by Dana , Matt asks why Clinton has such a huge majority among progressive women -- enough to make her a solid primary favorite -- which doesn't carry over among more conservative women. This is an important question, because if Clinton can't change this it could make her a suboptimal general election candidate leaving aside normative issues -- the progressive women that support Clinton are unlikely to vote Republican. My guess is that women with the strongest feminist commitments have the strongest stake in seeing a long-overdue woman as president, and will be particularly aware of (and place an especially high priority on) Clinton's record on gender issues, which are Clinton's strongest progressive credentials. But her (largely unmerited) reputation as a staunch liberal in general will make this less appealing to more moderate women. I'm not sure if the data will bear this out, but that's how I would try to make sense...

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