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

Divided We Stand

O bedient as always, in quest of good grades, Al Gore delivered the excessively gracious concession speech that pundits told him to deliver: Pledging his absolute support for George Bush, he urged us to set aside partisanship and embrace patriotism; echoing Bush, he urged us to stand united, not divided, and most of all encouraged us to "heal." Who's wounded? Listening to Gore's speech, replete with a reference to Lincoln and Douglas, you'd think that we had just been through an actual civil war, not a metaphoric one limited to activists, journalists, and political elites. Remember the vanishing voter? People who are too alienated or apathetic to vote are not likely to engage in a civil war over who wins. Of course, many people cared and argued about the election and were deeply troubled by the systematic flaws that the contest in Florida revealed. But most Americans did not find their lives disrupted by it; most were involved in it vicariously or passively, if...

Sex and Money:

"Why Move On? This is too much fun," the headline on the February 26th issue of The Weekly Standard proclaims. Above it runs a color photo of a bizarre quartet: Bill and Hillary Clinton arm in arm with Michael Jackson and Denise Rich, big jewelry and big smiles all around. (It's almost as amusing as the photo over my desk of a tuxedo clad Bob Dylan happily ensconced between Charlton Heston and Lauren Bacall at a Kennedy Center award ceremony.) If only other journalists and pundits were as honest as The Standard 's headline writers about their tenacious interest in Clinton's misdeeds. Of course his critics, right and center, parade their outrage -- some of which is genuine, I'm sure -- but they can barely cloak their delight that he has screwed up once again. They say that his abuse of the pardon power is bad for the country, but -- what the hell -- it's good for them. I don't think enthusiasm for the latest Clinton scandal simply reflects political animus. Obviously, partisan...

State Of The Union:

Last night, President Clinton gave his final State of the Union address. Clinton was expected to use the speech to burnish his record for the history books while pumping the campaigns of both his vice president, Al Gore, and his wife, Hillary Clinton. The American Prospect asked the experts to give us their take on the proceedings. Wendy Kaminer: Rarely does the Supreme Court act unanimously, so I knew there was a strong case against attending the State of the Union when I heard that all the Justices were staying away. I found myself experiencing an entirely unfamiliar emotion -- pity for the members of Congress. But I have become a disaffected voter, and events like the State of the Union only serve to remind me of the falsities of our political enterprise. It's not that I mind a little theater. Let the wives adorn the gallery and enjoy their moments of applause. Let the average citizens take their bows for everyday acts of heroism. (Carlos Rosas actually supports his children;...

Gay Rites

While civil libertarians celebrated the recent decision by the Vermont Supreme Court recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples to wed or enter domestic partnerships, Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer suggested that gay marriages were more immoral than murder. "I think what the Vermont Supreme Court did last week was in some ways worse than terrorism," Bauer declared. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I regard his statement as political hyperbole. I assume that, like most relatively sane people, even Gary Bauer would rather encounter two gay males holding hands than one terrorist. I assume that he doesn't really prefer the slaugh-ter of innocents to the legalization of gay relationships, but perhaps this is wishful thinking. Gay people have gained unprecedented rights and respect in recent decades, but homophobia continues to fuel moral reform movements on the right and exerts influence center court. Sometimes our...

Bigots' Rights

Should evangelical Christian groups at colleges and universities be permitted to discriminate against gay and lesbian students? Do the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to exclude openly gay males? The first question is at the center of efforts by liberal colleges and universities to punish evangelical student groups for their illiberal views. The second question will soon be decided by the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale . Both controversies dramatize the challenge exclusionary private groups pose to laws and social norms that celebrate inclusion. How do we balance the free speech and associational rights of bigots with the drive for full equality? I begin with the basic premise that individuals and their private associations have a fundamental moral and legal right to champion any prejudice or ideal that I don't share. ("Big of you," I imagine them saying.) Effective advocacy of ideas, or control of the message, requires some control of the messengers. So the...

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