Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer


Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent several years 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.

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How Pot Could Save Obamacare

| Tue Nov. 15, 2011 6:00 AM EST

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider the constitutionality of the Obama health care reform law this term, guaranteeing a decision on the landmark legislation by the end of June, right in the middle of the 2012 election campaign. The administration seems fairly confident that the court won't, in fact, overturn the law. It has asked for an expedited review of the legal challenges, and, like the law's opponents, it has pressed the court to settle the matter as soon as possible so states can move forward with implementing the law.

"We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement Monday morning. The administration has good reason to be optimistic—and if the law is eventually upheld, the Obama team might owe a thank you to a surprising group of people: pot smokers. Here's why.

Marco Rubio: Compassionate Conservative?

| Fri Nov. 11, 2011 6:31 AM EST
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

On Thursday, while the country was digesting the lowlights of the latest GOP presidential debate, some of the Republican faithful were in DC hearing from a lawmaker many Republicans would like to see on the ticket in 2012: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Rubio, who's on the short list of potential vice presidential candidates, didn't disappoint. The man occasionally called the "Cuban Barack Obama" wowed a crowd of conservative Federalist Society lawyers with a speech on the "Constitution of Small Government." It could have been really dry, but was, in fact, almost inspirational.

Rubio was propelled to victory last fall thanks to his wooing of Florida tea partiers with fiery speeches about fiscal responsibility and smaller government. Despite his Cuban ancestry, he campaigned as an immigration hawk. And he even showed little sympathy for extending unemployment benefits to struggling Americans unless they were paid for by budget cuts elsewhere.

On Thursday, though, he didn't sound much like a tea partier. Nor did he echo much of the increasing anti-government rhetoric of the GOP presidential candiates. Instead, he actually acknowledged a place for government, took shots at big business, and—gasp!—argued in favor of a social safety net. He sounded like a younger, smarter George W. Bush, articulating something that sounded a lot like compassionate conservatism. It was clear why the unfunny and often dull front-runner Mitt Romney has said he'd like him as a possible running mate.

The Tea Party Goes On Trial

| Wed Nov. 9, 2011 12:24 PM EST

Fewer than 1 percent of all civil lawsuits in this country ever make it to a jury trial. But somehow, a bunch of angry tea party activists have managed to land one. Their target? A fellow tea partier.

Tea Party Patriots (TPP), one of the country's largest tea party groups, has spent the last two years and thousands of dollars of its members' donated funds suing Amy Kremer, now the chairwoman of Tea Party Express, another tea party group founded by a GOP political consulting firm in California. Kremer was one of the original TPP board members. She was there in the beginning and even registered the group's domain names and set up its website. But in the fall of 2009, Kremer defied the rest of the board by participating in a Tea Party Express bus tour. So TPP kicked her off the board and then sued her, trying to wrest control over the group's email list, its trademark and other intellectual property. The fight has been nasty and, well, sort of pointless.

In 2009, TPP won a restraining order (PDF) barring Kremer from using the Tea Party Patriots' name, trademark, domain name, and especially its most valuable asset—its email list. She countersued (PDF) for slander and also opposed TPP's trademark application, on the grounds that she put the term into circulation months before TPP was incorporated. In May, TPP won a restraining order against Kremer ordering her to hand over control of an inconsequential TPP Google group that gets about four posts a day, mostly from the same person.

Then things really got personal. In October, Kremer's daughter, Kylie, sued Jenny Beth Martin, TPP's co-founder, and her husband, Lee, who was TPP's treasurer for a while. Kylie Kremer argues that the Martins defamed her by posting false and scurrilous allegations about her on Facebook. Kremer is asking for unspecified damages and legal fees.

In the meantime, though, the original TPP lawsuit is finally going to trial in Georgia. Opening arguments were scheduled for Tuesday and the trial is expected to run for at least a week. It will feature a parade of tea party luminaries, including the Martins, Kremer, and Mark Meckler, the frequent Fox News guest and TPP co-founder. But a verdict in the case won't be the end of the tea party's legal infighting.

The Atlanta Tea Party, which is associated with Jenny Beth Martin, recently filed a new lawsuit against Kremer and her boyfriend, who they allege collected money for a tea party event in 2009 but failed to turn it over to the group's leaders. Now, they're suing to get it back. Given all the litigation between these tea party factions, it's entirely possible the lawsuits could outlive the movement itself. 

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