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 WAR OF STRATEGIC DEFERRALS.

THE WAR OF STRATEGIC DEFERRALS. An interesting article by Warren Richey about whether the Supremes will "trim" the appalling Military Commissions Act. My guess, as Richey suggests, is that the Court will do pretty much nothing -- Justice Kennedy invited Congress to act, and it did. These kinds of interactions between courts and legislatures have long been a hobbyhorse of mine , and I was happy to see the always-excellent Dahlia Lithwick tackle the subject recently in the WaPo : Congress gives in to the temptation of passing bills that are of questionable constitutionality because it's easy and convenient. Political expediency seems to trump constitutional principle. The elected branches need never defy the popular will if the courts are available to do so instead. And those members of Congress who insist that the courts should stay out of Congress's business should recognize Congress for the enabler it has become. It's a two-way street: The courts work with what Congress sends them...

VERDICT: STILL HOPELESSLY...

VERDICT: STILL HOPELESSLY ARBITRARY . The Canadian lawblogger Pithlord attempts to answer the (to me, completely unanswerable ) question of how advocates of criminalizing abortion can justify excluding women who obtain abortions entirely from criminal sanctions: *Criminalizing something much of a society thinks is permissible is often a mistake, even if that part of society is mistaken about the moral issue. That's basically my view of spanking. I might support criminalizing it if there was a social consensus against it, but I hardly want to drag ordinary parents away to jail when such a consensus doesn't exist. *Many women seeking abortions do so under conditions of economic or social duress. This would be even more true if abortion was legally unavailable. A person opposed to the legality of abortion could regard this as mitigative, even if not justificatory. The first point is a good one, but it's an argument against criminalizing abortion , period, not against excluding women but...

WHO CARES WHAT ANTHONY WOULD DO?

WHO CARES WHAT ANTHONY WOULD DO? Amanda Marcotte calls our attention to this excellent piece by Stacy Schiff , who debunks claims that Susan B. Anthony was a supporter of abortion bans. I find it particularly interesting because Anthony was able to ask questions about whether abortion bans actually accomplish anything even if you agree with the end of inhibiting abortions, a distinction which eludes most contemporary opponents of abortion rights. Still, there's another question here: what difference would it make if Anthony had supported abortion laws? With respect to Lincoln , Mark Graber recently pointed out: Many American political and constitutional arguments have something close to the following structure. 1) The following political action/constitutional understanding is wise, benevolent, and prudent. 2) Abraham Lincoln must have favored that political action/constitutional understanding because Abraham Lincoln was a wise, benevolent, and prudent leader. 3) We ought to adopt that...

PARTISAN ARMCHAIR STATISTICIANS:...

PARTISAN ARMCHAIR STATISTICIANS: STILL HACKS. The indefatigable Daniel Davies states in lucid terms what the recent Lancet study means: First, don't concentrate on the number 600,000 (or 655,000, depending on where you read). This is a point estimate of the number of excess Iraqi deaths - it's basically equal to the change in the death rate since the invasion, multiplied by the population of Iraq, multiplied by three-and-a-quarter years. Point estimates are almost never the important results of statistical studies and I wish the statistics profession would stop printing them as headlines. The question that this study was set up to answer was: as a result of the invasion, have things got better or worse in Iraq? And if they have got worse, have they got a little bit worse or a lot worse. Point estimates are only interesting in so far as they demonstrate or dramatise the answer to this question... And the results were shocking. In the 18 months before the invasion, the sample reported...

CAN THIS ARGUMENT...

CAN THIS ARGUMENT BE SAVED? In response to my claim that the exemption of women from punishment under laws banning abortion is fatally incoherent, a commenter here (as a TAPPED commenter did earlier) invokes Ronald Dworkin's argument that abortion is a "cosmic shame" that nonetheless doesn't rise to the level of murder. The commenter says: I have some sympathy for that argument even though I don't accept the premise (that abortion is at least morally problematic because it shows "disrespect for life".) Dworkin argues that this is really the position of most abortion opponents- that they do not in fact think that abortion is murder, and that they don't think this is shown through their actions. That part seems exactly right...If you have a position like this it doesn't seem implausible that one might think that abortion should be illegal, but might still think that those having abortions should not punished. I don't find that an attractive option myself, and hope I'd not find it to be...

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