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


YOU KEEP USING THIS PHRASE "NATIONAL SECURITY." I DO NOT THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS. Jonah Goldberg stays true to the Twelfth Commandment of the Republican Party ("Thou shalt smear Democrats as undermining the national interest"): The 11th Commandment for liberals seems to be, "Thou shalt not intervene out of self-interest." Intervening in civil wars for humanitarian reasons is OK, but meddling for national security reasons is not. This would explain why liberals supported interventions in civil wars in Yugoslavia and Somalia but think being in one in Iraq is the height of folly. If only someone had thought of labeling the Korean conflict a humanitarian intervention back then, we might not face the horror and the danger from North Korea today. You may remember similar arguments being used against -- among countless others -- Wesley Clark . The most obvious idiocy here is the contention that sacrificing many lives and immense resources to replace an (admittedly awful)...


THE PROJECTION OF THE LEGAL SCHOLAR. Benjamin Wittes asks : Imagine, if you can, all nine justices issuing a single opinion of more than 120 pages -- with no concurrences or dissents -- in a matter as factually dense, politically charged, and legally difficult as the Microsoft antitrust case. Imagine dissents, when necessary, written respectfully and without nasty personal barbs or insinuations of bad faith. Imagine nakedly ideological splits becoming vanishingly rare -- with at least one liberal almost always joining the conservatives or vice versa. How quickly would the public acquire a different image of the high Court? And how much more respect would it then command? The answer, of course, is that it would make virtually no difference to the public perception of the Court, since virtually nobody without a professional obligation reads judicial opinions. Only a vanishingly small part of the population could tell you whether there was more unanimity under John Marshall than under...

For Richer or Poorer

In his dissenting opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut -- the landmark 1965 case that struck down a law banning the distribution or use of contraceptives -- Justice Potter Stewart asserted that "[a]s a practical matter, the law is obviously unenforceable." This argument was odd, since it was made in favor of the statute's constitutionality. After all, if a bill can't be fairly enforced without rendering large parts of the Bill of Rights a dead letter, this would seem to concede the due process and equal protection arguments against the law (which were essentially the grounds on which the law was challenged, and struck down). In addition, however, his claim was somewhat misleading. As Lucas Powe noted in his magisterial history of the Warren Court, if "the law was a dead letter, it was an effective one. There were no birth control clinics operating within the state." Which is to say that, while the state could not prevent people from using the contraception they had nor prevent rich...


THE INEVITABLE EXCEPTION: As a quick follow-up to Ann 's post , I note one case where fashion trivia about a male candidate was an issue: the endless clown show surrounding Al Gore and "earth tones." (There were some additional rings in the circus, such as Chris Matthews babbling about Gore's deeply significant choice to wear three-button suits: "Is there some hidden Freudian deal here or what? I don�t know, I mean, Navy guys used to have buttons on their pants. I don�t know what it means.") Since this idiocy allowed for plenty of misogynist attacks on Naomi Wolf , however, it's truly the exception that proves Ann's rule. -- Scott Lemieux


THE DEAN OF (GREATER) PRESCIENCE. I concede Matt 's point that alleged crazy moonbat Howard Dean foresaw the consequences of the Iraq War and -- more importantly -- the exceptionally weak case for the war with considerable (and consistent ) accuracy and detail, more so than Gore. (And, like Gore, was relentlessly smeared and vilified for being on the right side.) For those who missed the update to my last post, see also Jim Webb and Brent Scowcroft . -- Scott Lemieux