Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent the last year hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

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Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

Maybe Clarence Thomas Can Help With The Appeal

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 11:00 AM EDT

UCLA law prof Richard Sander has a resume that screams bleeding heart liberal. A former Vista volunteer, he has spent his whole life studying social and economic inequality. Lately, though, Sander has won a following from the Clarence Thomas fan club and other affirmative action foes. Sander has published research showing that only one in three African-Americans who goes to an American law school passes the bar on the first try, and that the majority never go on to be lawyers. For this, Sander blames affirmative action.

Sander has argued that black students, admitted with weaker academic records, are unprepared for the law schools that admitted them, and as a result, many dropped out or failed to pass the bar when they did graduate. Sander wants to investigate the phenomenon further, and recently asked the the State Bar of California for permission to mine its 30-years worth of data on student test scores, bar passage rates and law school admissions to learn more about how black law students are faring.

Civil rights groups support the study, but the bar apparently sees it as waaay too controversial, and voted recently to keep Sander out, even though it has given access to other researchers. Naturally, Fox News sees a conspiracy here....

(H/T Above the Law)

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Pat Robertson: Flippin' Out

| Mon Oct. 15, 2007 10:30 AM EDT

Remember Regent Law, the school founded by Pat Robertson to bring the will of the Almighty to the legal profession? While half of the school's early graduates flunked the bar on the first go-around, Regent has sent a number of its alumni to the Bush administration, including, most famously, former DOJ staffer Monica Goodling. One Regent student who's not likely to get a White House placement any time soon is Adam Key, who's been threatened with expulsion for posting on his Facebook page a YouTube video of the school's founder, well, flippin' the bird during a TV interview. Apparently the will of the Almighty is that the First Amendment doesn't protect those making fun of Pat Robertson.

Here's the offending video.

Another Reason to Suck It Up and Buy a Minivan

| Thu Oct. 11, 2007 11:10 AM EDT

One of the great enduring myths created by the American auto industry is that SUVs are safer than regular cars. The Ford Explorer rollover scandals in 2000 helped pierce this image a little, but Americans still seem to believe that an SUV is a safe place to store a family on the road. (The Frost children, in fact, who've been attacked by right wingers during the SCHIP debate were nearly killed when the family SUV slid off the road and hit a tree.)

The data, however, continue to show that most people would be safer in a Mini Cooper (or a minivan) than a Chevy Trailblazer. The latest news comes from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, whose new crash tests show that most SUVs perform poorly when hit from the side, even though they're much higher off the ground than other cars.

"People often think they're safer in one of these vehicles, but many cars hold up better than some of these midsize SUVs in this test," David Zuby, the institute's senior vice president, told the Associated Press.

You can watch the crash videos here.

Let's Hope the Clinic Showed Baywatch Reruns

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 5:28 PM EDT

The missing mayor of Atlantic City has officially resigned after spending a week in a psych hospital. Robert W. Levy may have been in a little over his head as mayor. Before getting elected, he had served for decades as the city's chief lifeguard...

Want Health Insurance? Call Us Back When You're Homeless

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 1:58 PM EDT

Does living in a house worth $250,000 in Baltimore make a family of six rich? That's what conservatives seem to think.

After 12-year-old Graeme Frost helped Democrats lobby Congress to pass a bill expanding the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), conservatives vilified his family, claiming they were too affluent to qualify for the program. The state health insurance program helped pick up the tab when Graham and his sister were injured in a car accident that left them both in comas and hospitalized for five months. Because, among other things, they live in a house assessed at $263,000 (originally bought for $50,000) and make a little under $50,000 a year, critics seem to believe that the Frosts and their four kids were living high on the hog (and were apparently just too cheap to buy private insurance).

"Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices," Mark Steyn wrote on the National Review Online. "But, if this is the face of the 'needy' in America, then no-one is not needy."

The implication, of course, is that before getting any help from the government, the Frosts should have sold their home and everything else they own to pay the medical bills first. Aside from being highly irrational—a quarter-million dollars will barely buy a parking space in some parts of D.C., much less cover five months of hospital bills for catastrophic head injuries—what good is government-sponsored health insurance if you first have to become homeless and bankrupt before you're worthy enough to use it? The vicious attacks on the Frosts seem like a harbinger of things to come, unfortunately, should any democratic president actually succeed in getting some sort of health care reform off the ground.

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