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

Judicial Review And Democracy I: Beyond the "Counter-majoritarian Difficulty"

I was interested to see Rosenfeld and Yglesias discuss Jeffrey Rosen’s article in last week’s Times Magazine, in which Rosen discovered that courts often tend to represent national majorities. Oddly, my co-blogger Dave and I presented a paper at the Law & Society conference on this very topic. The late Alexander Bickel wrote a book, The Least Dangerous Branch , that was enormously influential in the development of legal theory in the Warren Court era. Bickel articulated the way the democratic legitimacy of the courts had generally been evaluated in famous language: “The root difficulty is that judicial review is a counter-majoritarian force in our system…when the Supreme Court declares unconstitutional a legislative act or the action of an elected executive, it thwarts the will of representatives of the actual people of the here and now; it exercises control, not in behalf of the prevailing majority, but against it. That, without mystic overtones, is what actually happens.” (1962...

Parting At The Crossroads

My apologies for stepping in Matt Holt's territory, but I was preparing this quick post before Ezra's intervention (which makes it even more relevant), so I'd thought I'd go ahead anyway. I wanted to strongly recommend Antonia Maioni's superb book Parting at the Crossroads , which is a comparative study of the emergence of different health care policies in the United States and Canada. To put it in Brad Plumer's terms, Maioni (like Brad) emphasizes the importance of structural factors, with some additional explanations based on Canadian federalism and party politics. The Canadian case is particularly illuminating because it allows us to control for factors that are not controlled for in comparisons to Europe. Maioni's study makes it clear that three of the factors adduced by Plumer have been overrated in their importance. The strength of organized labor cannot explain the difference because at the time Canada developed its single-payer system organized labor was significantly weaker...

Notwithstanding

Hi everybody--I'm Scott from Lawyers, Guns & Money . Many thanks to Ezra for allowing me to post at his terrific blog, and to have included me in such a distinguished group of writers. I thought I would make a few extremely wonky posts about democracy and judicial power, while relying on the other fine guest bloggers to provide posts that you will want to read. In my recent post about the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a Quebec law banning the sale of private health insurance, a couple commenters asked about Canada’s “Notwithstanding” clause, which Matthew Yglesias has also endorsed recently. So I thought I’d explain it, as an introduction to thinking about judicial review and its democratic legitimacy...

Men Overboard

It's not just "contrarian" for center-left pundits to claim Roe doesn't matter. It's stupid.

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, also a prominent Roe critic in The New York Times and The...

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