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

FEMINISM: STILL NECESSARY.

FEMINISM: STILL NECESSARY. The Happy Feminist and Jessica Valenti draw our attention to a remarkable-in-a-bad-way ruling by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The court threw out a rape conviction because the judge failed to instruct the jury that a woman could not legally withdraw consent after penetration . The Court's ruling was based on dicta in a 1980 decision, which it itself was based on common law definitions of rape. The court describes the principles animating the 1980 decision as follows: But, to be sure, it was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male's interest in a woman's sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential. The damage was done. It was this view that the moment of penetration was the point in time, after which a woman could never be "re-flowered," that gave rise to the principle that, if a woman consents prior to penetration...

BENEFITS WITHOUT COSTS....

BENEFITS WITHOUT COSTS. As a follow-up to Tom 's point , I think it's critical, when discussing potential outreach to religious voters, to consider the potential negative consequences of such strategies. One thing the journalist Peter Boyer has been guilty of is asserting benefits that would come from running more anti-choice candidates that completely ignore the costs of such potential shifts. It is true, for example, that the sudden politicization of the abortion issue in the 1960s has caused a significant number of Catholic voters to align with the Republicans rather than the Democrats. But supporting abortion criminalization has hurt Republican candidates as well. What keeps presidential elections close in a political context that generally favors Republican is that Democrats have the large, expensive to campaign in, and traditionally Republican states of California and New York in their pockets before spending a dime (and if these states were even competitive, the Democrats would...

PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND...

PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND LESSONS ABOUT THE COURT . The Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments in Philip Morris USA v. Mayola Williams . The case concerns a $79.5 million punitive damage claim against Phillip Morris that was upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. (See here and here for more background.) There's a good chance that the Oregon Court's decision will be reversed based on a Kennedy's opinion in State Farm v. Campbell , which discovered a limit against virtually all punitive damages that "awards exceeding a single-digit ratio." Pragmatism is one thing; inventing a right against punitive damage awards that are inconsistent with the Base 10 numbering system (or, in other words, finding a constitutional significance in the number of fingers on the human hand) is quite another. This case should remind us that, despite all of the attention given to hot-button social issues, the courts are also likely to be a major player in the Republican battle to ease restraints against...

AND THEN WHAT?

AND THEN WHAT? I have a lot of problems with Amy Sullivan 's recent piece about the opportunities allegedly presented by David Kuo 's new book. First of all, I reject her entire premise that Democratic politicians don't reach out to religious believers, and since she never mentions the names of prominent Democrats who treat believers with contempt it's impossible to evaluate her claims. Second, Sullivan's claim that liberal bloggers have "spent so much time fear-mongering about American theocracy that a book illustrating the opposite simply makes no sense to them" is belied by the fact that what is surely the most-discussed liberal book of the second Bush era makes the well-known case that evangelicals are being played for suckers by the business elite that really holds the power in the GOP. Kuo's revelations aren't so shocking as to be incomprehensible to knowledgeable liberals, but are rather banal. But my biggest problem with Sullivan's argument continues to be that she's...

THE MAJORITARIAN DIFFICULTY II.

THE MAJORITARIAN DIFFICULTY II. Looks like it's Jonah Goldberg Monday here on Tapped . Kevin Drum finds him claiming that the last "100 years" of liberalism has been about "shoving things down people's throats." Drum identifies the most obvious problem: the core elements of the liberal accomplishments of the last century -- most importantly the New Deal/Great Society safety net and civil rights protections -- are very popular, which is why conservatives get power only when they don't oppose them. But what's particularly remarkable is Goldberg's list of examples: "bussing, racial quotas, gay marriage, Title IX." He can't even cherry pick four without destroying his underlying argument. Busing, I'll give him, was unpopular and in some cases ordered by courts (although I'd love to hear what he would have done as a federal judge facing school boards with long histories of transparent constitutional violations trying to nullify judicial opinions striking down school segregation). But the...

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