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

Speaking of

T hree years ago, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley was abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered by two men, one of whom was allegedly a member of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), founded in 1978. Both of his assailants, Charles Jaynes and Salvatore Sicari, are now serving life sentences for murder. They have also been found liable for Jeffrey's wrongful death in a civil suit that ended in a symbolic $328 million damage award to the Curley family. But according to Jeffrey's parents, Robert and Barbara Curley, Jaynes and Sicari were not solely responsible for their son's murder. They blame it also on NAMBLA and have filed a $200-million wrongful-death suit in federal court against the group, seven of its alleged members, and its Internet service provider. Some have compared this case to the successful 1999 lawsuit against anti-abortion activists who maintained an alleged "hit list" of abortion providers, or to recent lawsuits...

Safety and Freedom

O f all the lame excuses offered for the failures of U.S. intelligence and security that facilitated the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the most disingenuous was the repeated claim that antiterrorism efforts have been restrained by respect for America's freedoms. Tell that to the victims of harsh counterterrorism and immigration laws passed in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing: the Arab Americans who were wrongfully imprisoned for several years on the basis of secret evidence; the asylum seekers who have been turned away from our borders by low-level bureaucrats without ever receiving a hearing; the thousands of lawful immigrants imprisoned and threatened with deportation for minor offenses committed years ago. Tell it to the victims of racial profiling on our highways and in our airports. I don't doubt that some federal law-enforcement agents are honorable and respectful of individual freedom. But in general, the law-enforcement bureaucracy respects our...

Patriotic Dissent

I don't imagine that he welcomed it, but September 11 was not a bad day politically for George W. Bush. It marked his transformation from a relatively unpopular, arguably unelected, and widely unrespected president to a "leader" with practically unanimous support. At least for the short term--and no one knows how long that will be--Bush's overshadowing political vulnerability is gone. These days, he's not even an acceptable punch line. Public fear has immunized the president from criticism or even muted disapproval, as well as from satire. "Americans need to watch what they say," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has ominously observed. It's not that Bush has given people any new reason to trust his judgment or abilities. Unlike New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, he did not respond to the attack with instinctive fortitude and grace. It's just that Americans are too frightened now to continue believing that the president is an inexperienced, shallow, spoiled man of average...

Reproductive Entitlement

nce women were considered disabled by pregnancy or the mere possibility of it. Before the modern civil rights era, women could be fired because they were pregnant or not hired because they seemed likely to become pregnant. From the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century, women were excluded, under law, from presumptively masculine occupations that were considered incompatible with their maternal functions; they were also subject to protective labor laws that limited their hours of work and their work assignments, in order to preserve their ability to bear and care for children. The drive to define women as human beings first and mothers second has been central to demands for equal rights, and in the 1970s, feminists succeeded in outlawing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Women are no longer considered disabled by fertility. Today, however, they may lay claim to being disabled by infertility. It is no small historical irony (and not exactly a sign of progress) that...

An Imperial Presidency

T errorism was expected to bring back big government, but lately it seems that federal power isn't growing so much as it is coalescing in the White House. Some in Congress have reacted to recent power grabs by the Bush administration with appropriate outrage. But the tendency of Congress to guard its own power shouldn't obscure its now historic role in stripping power from the federal courts. Attacks on the judiciary have intensified since September 11 but, like terrorist cells, they have been growing for years. This has been an ominous development. The twentieth-century rights revolution, which helped to liberate racial minorities, women, and gay people and increased the fairness of criminal prosecutions, was largely occasioned by the willingness of the federal judiciary to begin enforcing the Bill of Rights. That, of course, is why many social conservatives hate the courts. Since they came to power in the 1980s, conservatives have been working to deprive the federal courts of their...

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