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

PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE.

PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE. Tom Maguire objects to my suggestion that objections to the Supreme Court of New Jersey 's recent decision from (nominal) supporters of civil unions are, at bottom, substantive rather than procedural: My personal opinion is that gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat. How would pollsters, or Mr. Lemieux, score that? Surely I am not alone in believing that process counts. Maguire is, of course, correct that the fact that a majority of New Jersey's citizens support civil unions goes only to the questions of whether the decision is "countermajoritarian," and neither here not there in terms of the merits of the opinion. But he doesn't quote the passage where I actually address his point: I would be interested in a more robust explanation of why nominal supporters of gay marriage such as Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds oppose these judicial decisions, which are based on a perfectly...

THE MAJORITARIAN DIFFICULTY.

THE MAJORITARIAN DIFFICULTY. Glenn Greenwald makes a very important point about yesterday's judicial decision in New Jersey: The decision today is entirely consistent with the democratic will of New Jersey residents. The New Jersey legislature already enacted a domestic partnership bill two years ago which recognizes, and grants a whole array of marital rights to, same-sex couples. But the way the laws were written, some rights were still assigned only to "married" couples. The court decision today simply requires that those same-sex partnerships have all of the rights which are given to married couples. But New Jersey voters, through their representatives, already approved of recognition of same-sex relationships two years ago. Those who see a major backlash from the judicial ruling seem to assume that such decisions are counter-majoritarian. But civil unions have majority support in the country, and in New Jersey civil unions are supported by an almost two-to-one margin . Whether...

THE COMING COUNTERMOBILIZATION ARGUMENT.

THE COMING COUNTERMOBILIZATION ARGUMENT. In the wake of the decision of the Supreme Court of New Jersey that same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual married couples (although not necessarily under the rubric of "marriage"), we're bound to hear a lot of speculation about how this will affect the upcoming election (which I'm sure will be forgotten should the Democrats take the House and pick up seats in the Senate.) As I have previously explained here on TAP , I think the effect of these decisions is often overstated, and there's no evidence that it matters whether it's legislation of litigation that leads to the policy change. I also don't think that it matters a lot whether the courts call the equal civil rights required for same-sex couples "marriage." One thing Jack Balkin leaves out of his otherwise fine account is that while the Goodridge decision was an important issue in the 2004 elections in Massachusetts, the pro-gay marriage side won . There's no...

GENDER SEGREGATION AND...

GENDER SEGREGATION AND SEXISM. Becks of Unfogged is appalled that the ACLU and a feminist group are threatening to sue over a federal decision to permit more single-sex public education. I think the issue is a little more complex, however. I do agree with Becks that the equation of gender and racial segregation by Nancy Zirkin is excessively simplistic, and probably the former is somewhat more defensible than the latter when education is concerned. Current Supreme Court jurisprudence would seem to agree. In her landmark opinion ruling Virginia's exclusion of women from the Virginia Military Institute, Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that "[s]ingle sex education affords pedagogical benefits to at least some students, Virginia emphasizes, and that reality is uncontested in this litigation," and implied that if Virginia offered a school for women comparable to VMI, its exclusion of women from VMI itself would be defensible. However, the VMI case also suggests that there is serious cause for...

A MOST CYNICAL...

A MOST CYNICAL APPRAISAL. Nothing if not shameless, rather than letting his appalling behavior in 2000 lie in dignified silence, Antonin Scalia has decided to speak on the issue again : Georgetown students attending the lecture had questions not only about Scalia�s views on education, but on hot topics such as the sale of medicinal marijuana, campaign finance reform and censorship of high school newspapers. One student asked whether Scalia believed the 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore was an example of judicial activism. In its 7-2 ruling , the court effectively halted the recount of presidential ballots in Florida, resulting in the nomination of George W. Bush as president. "My first response to that question always is, it's six years ago. Get over it!" Scalia said. He then explained that "It surely is not activist to apply the text of the Constitution, which is what the court did." [bold added] First of all, Bush v. Gore was a 5-4 decision. No dissenter joined any part of the per...

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