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


TOURISTS WHO STOP TO READ MAPS ON SUBWAY STAIRS: LOCK 'EM UP! Rich Lowry argues in re: Giuliani 's professed "hatred" of abortion that "Giuliani's 'hate' line rings so false because, temperamentally, he is not one to hate something without outlawing or attempting to discourage it." Roy has the correct response : That last bit is lovely and accurate. Mayor Giuliani, fellow citizens will recall, actually cracked down on dancing in bars, availing a disused Prohibition-era law. There is some dispute as to whether he did this as part of a crusade against underage drinking, or just because he's a miserable son of a bitch. But yeah, Giuliani does indeed seem to believe that what he doesn't like should be banned. That's why he would be a disastrous President. Lowry's description of the authoritarian Giuliani, given such charming views as his belief in arbitrary executive power (which he wouldn't abuse, trust him!), seems accurate. That this is supposed to make him more appealing to NRO...


CONSENT AND CENSORSHIP. There has been a lot of interesting discussion of Garance 's WSJ op-ed about raising the age of consent in the porn industry. I should say that I share Avedon and Roy 's general libertarian perspective on the issue and probably end up in the same place as they do, but I think they're being a touch unfair to Garance's argument. Certainly, I agree (even leaving aside the question of whether obscenity should be excluded from First Amendment protection, which has never been very persuasive to me) that if the censorship of porn is necessary it won't work, and if it would work, it's not necessary. Canada's experience with R. v. Butler -- in which a Supreme Court decision permitting censorship of sexually explicit materials only on explicitly feminist grounds was used primarily to harass gay and lesbian and feminist bookstores -- is instructive. Roy also makes a good point about how "[p]opular R-rated giggle-fests from Porky's to the American Pie movies are, to me,...


THE PROBLEM WITH ANTI-CHOICE ULTRASOUND POLICY. To follow-up on my recent post about William Saletan running interference for anti-choice ultrasound policies, Neil explains in further detail why the moral inferences Saletan draws from ultrasounds don't actually follow, a persistent problem with his arguments on the subject. One is reminded of another recent definitive episode in wingnuttery, in which the fact that Terri Schiavo 's involuntary movements and facial expressions were erroneously treated as evidence of consciousness: Of course, nothing is morally significant about squirming -- ours or the fetus'. What is significant is whether the fetus has a mind like ours. If it has no mind, or a mind of such a primitive level that it can't even feel pain, there's no reason to have attitudes of moral concern for it. The neural hardware for pain perception only starts to show up around week 23, and isn't in place until week 30 of the pregnancy. So having moral concern for a first-...

They Know Best

Safe, Legal, and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the United States by Melody Rose (CQ Press, 235 pages) The Supreme Court's recent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is, make no mistake, a blow to the reproductive rights of American women. Particularly instructive is the way in which Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion -- attempting to answer the inherently unanswerable question of what legitimate purpose an abortion regulation that protects neither fetal life nor a woman's health could possibly have -- used nakedly sexist premises to justify the ban. (It is a grim irony that Kennedy's celebration of the state's paternalistic regulation of hysterical, flighty women who don't understand their own most fundamental interests comes in the context of an opinion defending a patently irrational law containing consistently illogical reasoning and vacuous emotional rhetoric.) As political scientist Melody Rose's study of abortion politics in...


ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, HE'LL NEVER BE PRESIDENT. Vanity presidential candidate Joe Biden (D-Bank of America) says that he agrees with the outcome in Cahart II but that the Court's "paternalism" constituted an "intellectually dishonest rationale for an honest justification for upholding the ban." What he doesn't share with us is what an "intellectually honest" justification for upholding the ban would look like. It certainly can't be that the ban protects fetal life, because it doesn't, or because it protects a woman's health, because it actually has a negative impact on women's health. Kennedy defended the ban through an anachronistic, sexist conception of women because that's all he had to work with. Biden also comes out for the Hyde Amendment, but doesn't share with us the justification for his apparent conviction that life starts at conception... unless the fetus happens to be inside a rich woman. He definitely has the contrarian anti- Roe pundit vote locked up! -- Scott Lemieux