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

A Split Decision at the Supreme Court—Which Might Not Be Split for Long

The justices deny relief from gerrymandering, and hold up the citizenship question on the census … for now.

Dana Verkouteren via AP
On its last day of the term, the Roberts Court issued rulings in two cases critical to American democracy. In one case, the Court disgracefully abdicated its responsibilities by allowing even the most extreme partisan gerrymanders to stand, no matter how strongly they entrench legislators against electoral majorities. In another, the Court prevented the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the census—but the reprieve might be temporary, and it remains to be seen whether Chief Justice Roberts will hold the Trump administration to real standards. In an unsurprising but nonetheless appalling opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause , a bare majority of the Court held that even the most extreme partisan gerrymanders present a “political question” that the federal courts cannot resolve. The case involved a particularly extreme Republican gerrymander in North Carolina and a less egregious but still substantial Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. In...

The Indefensible Electoral College

Despite its deep-seated problems, ditching the Electoral College is easier said than done. For now, Democrats should emphasize that Trump was not the people’s choice.

Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa via AP Images
When someone as manifestly unfit for office as Donald Trump can be elected president of the United States, it represents a collective institutional failure. But it is important to keep one crucial fact front and center: The American electorate did not choose him. By the time the vote counting is finished in California, Hillary Clinton will have received roughly 2.5 million more votes than Trump. This is a larger margin than Richard Nixon in 1968 or JFK in 1960 had achieved. The people’s choice did not become president because an indefensible anachronism malfunctioned for the second time in less than two decades. The lessons of this should be clear. In the long term, the Electoral College must be eliminated or circumvented; in the short term, the fact that Donald Trump was not the choice of the American people needs to be front and center to the progressive opposition to his administration. Because of the strong tendency to valorize the founding fathers and the Constitution, many...

On Election Day, a Stark Choice When It Comes to Policy

Policy issues have drawn remarkably little notice in this sensation-driven election, but the two candidates’ platforms are as starkly divergent as they have been in a generation.

(Photo: AP/Mark Ralston)
The appallingly substance-free media coverage of the 2016 elections, which has revolved around titillating tapes and email snipe hunts, has largely ignored the historically stark policy choices now facing the American public. The nation’s growing polarization has given us a Democrat running on the most progressive platform since 1972, if not ever , and a Republican whose policies would take the country back to the Gilded Age. Admittedly, since Republicans will almost certainly maintain control of the House, the Democratic legislative agenda may be somewhat beside the point. But does this mean, as Kathleen Parker recently argued in The Washington Post , that the election’s outcome is no big deal either way? Not on your life. For progressives, the differences between the best- and worst-case plausible scenarios in the 2016 elections are, as Donald Trump would say, “yuge.” Let’s take the different possible scenarios one at a time. If Hillary Clinton wins,...

North Carolina’s Fragile Voting Rights Victory

The Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that rejected voting restrictions in North Carolina only because the Court’s current 4-4 split left the justices evenly divided. The stalemate underscores how the future of voting rights hangs on the high court’s composition.

Andrew Krech/News & Record via AP
Of all the states that rushed to restrict voting after the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2013 ruling to strike down key Voting Rights Act protections, North Carolina moved the most aggressively. It enacted multiple voter-suppression measures, including voter-ID requirements, restrictions on early voting, and an end to same-day registration, Sunday voting, and pre-registration for teenagers. The day the law was signed, the ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed suit on the grounds that the statute discriminated against minority voters in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. After a bumpy ride through the lower courts, the law landed in August before the Supreme Court, which upheld a three-judge federal appeals court panel’s finding that its voter ID-provisions were unconstitutional. As Judge Diana Motz wrote in the three-judge panel’s unanimous decision, the requirements “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”...

Public Option Would Fix Health Insurance Marketplace

Aetna is one of more than a dozen insurers abandoning the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, a move that adds urgency to progressive calls for a public option.

(Photo: AP/CQ Roll Call)
L ast week's announcement by Aetna that it would stop selling health insurance in 11 of the 15 states where it offers coverage through public exchanges is not a death blow to the Affordable Care Act, but it’s certainly not good news for President Obama’s signature health-care law. Aetna maintained it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars on the health law’s marketplaces, and the company is one of more than a dozen major insurers that have announced plans to bail out of the exchanges. The failure of the marketplaces to generate robust competition, as Obama had predicted, should focus liberal attention on what many on the left now regard as a major policy objective: establishing a public option for the health insurance exchanges. The Affordable Care Act has been a substantial success on balance, but it also has serious flaws. On the plus side, roughly 20 million people have health insurance because of the new law. Even after being kneecapped by the Supreme Court,...