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

In Defense of Roe

From the archives: It is difficult to know when a contrarian idea has been repeated so much as to become the new conventional wisdom. However, it's not just "contrarian" for center-left pundits to claim Roe v. Wade doesn't matter. It's stupid.

This article originally appeared in our July 2006 issue. The confirmation of two conservative Supreme Court justices and the passage of a draconian abortion ban in South Dakota have again thrown the precarious state of reproductive rights in the United States into sharp relief. It's a serious moment -- which makes the continued preference for clever counter-intuition and abstract debates shared by many of the nation's prominent, avowedly pro-choice pundits all the more troubling. It is difficult to know when a contrarian idea has been repeated so much as to become the new conventional wisdom. At least in prominent liberal media outlets, however, the argument that pro-choicers would be better off abandoning Roe v. Wade has probably crossed the line. In The Atlantic Monthly , Bejamin Wittes' 2005 article asserting that Roe v. Wade has been deeply unhealthy for abortion rightswas followed up by a similar (although more detailed and nuanced) article in the June Atlantic by Jeffrey Rosen,...

It's Not That They're Lazy About Defending Fetal Life And Poor Women. It's Just That They Don't Care.

Scott here again... Well, how about that . It may seem counterintuitive to think that increased access to and education about contraception will prevent unwanted pregnancies and hence lead to fewer abortions--what a crazy idea, tried only by those crazy liberal democracies that don't see the American health care system as the world's best!--but apparently the GOP-led move to irrational sex ed and de-funding the provision of contraception to poor women has had this result: Poor women in America are increasingly likely to have unwanted pregnancies, whereas relatively affluent women are succeeding more and more in getting pregnant only when they want to, according to a study analyzing federal statistics. As a result of the growing disparity, women living in poverty are now almost four times more likely to become pregnant unintentionally than women of greater means, the study found. [..]. The abortion rate also rose among poor women while declining among the more affluent. What a surprise...

The Barbour of the Confederacy

Scott here... It's not exactly surprising that Haley Barbour would refuse to issue a posthumous pardon to unjustly convicted civil rights pioneer Clyde Kennard. (And I should say that I happen to share a general principled opposition to pardons in many cases ; whatever the question being raised about a given aspect of the legal system, "making it more arbitrary and capricious" is the wrong answer. When someone is both absolutely innocent of the crime and his conviction was an important symbol of racist authoritarianism, however, these objections obviously don't apply.) Consider his base. It's obviously not reasonable to expect Haley, a man willing to seek the support of the Council of Fascist Conservative Citizens, to repudiate that part of Mississippi's heritage, now is it? (Current headline at the CoCC website : "Multiracial youth more prone to violence say orthopsychiatrists.") But, of course, if people like Trent "We wouldn't have had all these problems if Strom Thurmond had been...

Endangering Roe

On November 30, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood , the most important abortion case it has heard since it struck down a law banning so-called partial-birth abortion in its 2000 decision Stenberg v. Carhart . While nominally about the constitutionality of a parental notification law, the current case has potentially far-reaching consequences because it presents the opportunity for the court to adopt the reasoning about notifying husbands about abortion that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito used in his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey . Some analysts claim Alito's abortion jurisprudence would dramatically change the Supreme Court's approach to the issue. But Ayotte shows how much of an effect Alito could have on restrictions on reproductive freedom even if Roe v. Wade is formally upheld. Ayotte could make it almost impossible for many poor women in this country to obtain safe abortions. Ayotte contains two potential land mines that would...

Chipping Away

Even if abortion hadn't been a key issue in nearly every Supreme Court nomination since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Samuel Alito would have to expect it to be the centerpiece of his nomination fight. Since Robert Bork's defeat, the trend among Republican nominees has been toward people with no recorded involvement with abortion issues. Alito, on the other hand, wrote a solo dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey , the 1992 case that reaffirmed Roe and remains the controlling case when the courts asses the constitutionality of abortion regulations. His views on at least one piece of the abortion debate are thus quite clear -- and provide some troubling information for supporters of abortion rights about how he is likely to vote in subsequent abortion cases if confirmed by the Senate. At the time of Casey , abortion law was in considerable flux, and the justices of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals thought that the controlling opinions were two concurrences by Justice Sandra...

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