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 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


THE 2000 ELECTION AND THE SMEARING OF THE FLORIDA COURTS. Like Kevin Drum , I'm going to skip the meta-issues in Jon Chait 's article about the netroots and instead highlight this important point about the 2000 election: The 2000 recount is an apt birthing ground for the netroots. It perfectly fits their view of U.S. politics as an atavistic clash of partisan willpower. And their analysis of that episode, while somewhat crude, has a certain truth. The liberal intelligentsia, and much of the Democratic establishment, tried to hold itself above the fray. During the recount, liberal pundits were concerned above all with maintaining civility and consensus, and they flayed Democrats for any hint of partisanship or anger...Elite liberal opinion-makers insisted that their side play fair. Gore, they declared, must allow for the possibility that his opponent could win a fair recount, must renounce street demonstrations, must be intellectually consistent--permitting, say, military ballots that...


IT'S ANNOYING ABORTION CONTRARIAN DAY! Will Saletan has many of the annoying tics of the blue-state male abortion "centrists" who dominate editorial discourse on the topic, such as viewing national elections as referenda on abortion , and originating policies that prominent pro-choicers have been advocating for decades. His latest entry into the field (via A Bird and A Bottle , which has excellent commentary) returns to one of his favorite tactics, trying to infer unassailable moral premises from scientific facts (or, in some cases, "facts") that don't in fact lead to any particular moral conclusion. Today, he defends state-coerced ultrasounds for irrational, capricious women who otherwise just don't know that abortion is a serious decision: Pro-lifers are often caricatured as stupid creationists who just want to put women back in their place. Science and free inquiry are supposed to help them get over their "love affair with the fetus." But science hasn't cooperated. Ultrasound has...