Wendy Kaminer

Wendy Kaminer is a former senior correspondent for The American Prospect and a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly. She also serves on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A lawyer, social critic, and former Guggenheim Fellow, she writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture. Her latest book is Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. Other books she has written include Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety; True Love Waits: Essays and Criticism; It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions; and A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality. Kaminer's articles and reviews have appeared in many other publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and Newsweek, and her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio.

Before embarking on her writing career, Kaminer practiced law as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and the New York City Mayor's Office.

Wendy Kaminer retains copyrights to all her articles.

Recent Articles

Criminally Unjust

It's no coincidence that declining support
for capital punishment has been accompanied by increased mistrust of law
enforcement and discomfort with the war on drugs. A relative lull in violent
crime during the 1990s contributed to a reconsideration of harsh police practices
and prosecutorial tactics. But many people are willing to tolerate bad policing
so long as it's directed at bad guys. Few complain when guilty suspects are
deprived of their rights and coerced confessions prove true. It's the abuse of
innocent people or those guilty only of minor, nonviolent offenses that has
prompted some tentative public review of the current regime.

Reproductive Emergency

Life is one long emergency for most advocacy groups--whose members are apt to
be united by the belief that they're besieged. To an outsider who lacks their
political passions, however, they seem less besieged than overwrought. So casual
supporters of abortion rights may be unimpressed when the National Organization
for Women (NOW)
declares an official state of emergency in the battle over
reproductive choice. The "Emergency Action for Women's Lives," targeting the
U.S. Senate, is being launched with an April 22 rally in Washington, D.C. So
far, this campaign doesn't seem to have generated much excitement or publicity.

Abortion and Autonomy

Two important abortion cases will be decided by the Supreme Court this term. In Hill v. Colorado, the Court will rule on the constitutionality of statutory buffer or bubble zones--no-speech zones around abortion clinics and individuals entering clinics, in which even peaceful anti-abortion protests are prohibited. In Stenberg v. Carhart, it will determine the constitutionality of a Nebraska bill prohibiting "partial birth" abortions.

Up from Reparations

Self-invention has always been an American ideal. We're supposed to enjoy opportunities to make our own fortunes and control our own fates, in this world and the next. The Calvinism of seventeenthcentury colonials proved less quintessentially American than did the notion that you can choose to be born again in Christ. This is not a culture inclined to embrace ideas of predestination, spiritual or financial. In the mythic, utterly egalitarian America--the democratic America Tocqueville described--we create our own futures, unburdened by our familial pasts.