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 Five Worst Roberts Court Rulings

Most progressives would rank Citizens United v. FEC as the worst ruling ever handed down by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts. But five other rulings are turning out to be even more disastrous.

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
In a by-now familiar applause line, Bernie Sanders told Democrats gathered at the Democratic National Convention last week that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling is “one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of our country.” And this is not an instance where Sanders conflicts with the conventional wisdom of the party establishment either. Not only Senator Elizabeth Warren but Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have consistently railed against the case as a symbol of the corporate takeover of democracy, and so have countless grassroots activists. All this makes sense given the extent to which wealthy interests have been permitted to dominate American politics and policy. After all, big money has the potential to disrupt virtually every aspect of the progressive agenda, from environmental regulations to the minimum wage and health care. But the left’s fixation on Citizens United overlooks many Roberts Court...

Next for Clinton: A Running Mate

As speculation swirls over who would make the best running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a key question is how her pick might tilt the balance of power in the Senate.

AP Photo/Steve Helber
Political scientist Justin Vaughn recently invited 40 presidential scholars to name which running mate to Hillary Clinton would make the best vice president. Their choices, in order of preference, were HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, and Vermont Senator (and of course strong runner-up for the Democratic nomination) Bernie Sanders. It’s not a bad list. But it overlooks the all-important question of how Clinton’s pick will impact Democrats in the Senate, and overlooks a strong candidate now serving in Obama’s cabinet. At least one proposed nominee on the experts’ list, moreover, should be an utter nonstarter. If Brown were added to the ticket, Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, would appoint his replacement. Even leaving aside the fact that Brown is one of the strongest progressive voices in the Senate, tapping him as Clinton’s running mate would cost...

Clinton Shifts Emphasis, but Not Position

Hillary Clinton’s supposed shift to the left has been overstated, as her support for a single-payer Medicare plan illustrates.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Last week, Hillary Clinton unveiled a single-payer health insurance plan that would allow people to buy into Medicare starting at age 50 or 55. To some political reporters, this embrace of a public option represents an ideological shift. “Mrs. Clinton is moving to the left on health care,” asserted The New York Times , attributing it to her unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders. Clinton was “floating a new idea,” declared The Wall Street Journal . But this is not precisely correct. There’s nothing remotely new about Clinton’s support for a Medicare buy-in or a public option for health insurance. From the beginnings of her husband’s administration, health care has been a major priority for her, and she deserves major credit for the Affordable Care Act, which closely resembles the plan that was a centerpiece of her 2008 campaign. Sanders is having an effect on Clinton, but he is not causing her to change her stance, so much as he is...

The Limits of Originalism

Two recent rulings by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spotlight the limitations of originalist readings of the Constitution, which would dominate a Court controlled by conservatives.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently issued two rather remarkable opinions that challenge landmark rulings of the liberal Warren Court, one directly and the other implicitly. The solo opinions—one on voting rights, the other on the right to criminal representation—may not portend major changes in the law for the immediate future. But together, the two opinions display the unworkability of Thomas’s influential brand of originalism, and they also show how radical an agenda a Supreme Court controlled by contemporary Republicans could pursue. Having blocked any consideration of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans on Capitol Hill have signaled their determination to ensure continued conservative dominance on the Court. On the Supreme Court, “conservative” is often associated with “originalism”— the idea that the constitutional provisions should be interpreted based on...

"One Person, One Vote" Battle Just Starting

Three scholars scrutinize Evenwel v. Abbott, a Supreme Court ruling with broad implications for both the future of voting rights and the direction of the Court.

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File
In its Evenwel v. Abbott ruling this month, the Supreme Court rejected a conservative voting-rights challenge that could have triggered partisan redistricting fights nationwide. Advocates of “one person, one vote” cheered, but the ruling may invite further challenges, and spotlights problematic originalist impulses on the Court. Carl Klarner and Daniel Smith examine Evenwel ’s legal impact, and Scott Lemieux tackles what Justice Clarence Thomas’s originalism means for the ruling and for the Court. DANIEL A. SMITH & CARL KLARNER The Battle Over "One Person, One Vote," Has Just Begun After the Supreme Court’s politically consequential decision in Evenwel v. Abbott this month, supporters of the principle of “one-person, one vote” breathed a sigh of relief. The Court unanimously ruled that states may continue to draw legislative districts based on total population, instead of on a new standard—the number of registered or eligible voters...

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