Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terri Schiavo and the Republicans

UPDATE AND BUMP: I wrote this yesterday but I needed to add some facts and correct some assertions that will help clarify my thinking. Some of the information actually makes the Florida judge in this case look worse. But I may have been overly hard on Michael Schiavo.

I'm going to add some comments to Wongdoer's analysis below because this case really shows more about the depravity of society and the impoverished state of our legal framework than anything else. The notion that the United States Congress has to intervene to even temporarily save this woman's life is preposterous and the comments that most liberals are making are morally reprehensible.

There are key factors in this case that few people in the media are accurately portraying but they are crucial.

(1) Michael Schiavo has two children and lives with his fiancee but has not divorced Terri. He has committed adultery, and is trying to actively end the life of Terri (as opposed to a terminal illness or condition, brain-dead status, etc.). But . . . Terri has been on a feeding tube for 15 years. That is a long-time to hold a candle. Upon further review, I do not blame Michael for moving on to a large degree (the Guardian ad Litem report noted that he sought treatment and therapy for her for more than four years) but I do think that severing the marital relationship may have been better. Does it seem crass? Perhaps. That crassness is minimized by a paper divorce that would have further ensured that all Terri's property would go to her and her parents (lawsuit proceeds for injuries are separate property). I do not believe Mr. Schiavo ever proposed such an arrangement.

(2) There is no written authorization at issue in this case. The only evidence of Terri Schiavo's desires, which the judge credited, are the remarks Michael said she made to him in private. He first revealed those after her horrific crash heart stoppage that rendered her in the current physical/mental state she has now. There is no "do not resuscitate" order, there is no living will, etc.

(3) Terri Schiavo is alive and does not require mechanical assistance to keep her that way. The only question is will she receive food and water through a feeding tube. In other words: if she is fed, she'll live; if not, she starves to death just like anyone else who goes without food.

(4) This is not a states rights/federalism issue. Yeah, I'm talking to you Dahlia Lithwick. If the Left really believed that "[t]he rule of law in this country holds that this is a federalist system—in which private domestic matters are litigated in state, not federal courts," then there would never have been a Constitutional issue regarding homosexual sex, a Violence Against Women Act, a Constitutional issue regarding contraception or an abortion policy from the Supreme Court. Simply stated, cut the garbage.

(5) Who decides what is constitutional? Lithwick's statement that "Evidently, Congress has a secret, super-textual constitutional role as the nation's caped crusaders—its members authorized to leap into phone booths around the world and fly back to Washington in a single bound whenever the 'culture of life' is in peril" betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of EVERY Congress(wo)man, Senator, and Executive branch electee or appointee. Each one has the sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution. That's not a role only the courts have, it's a role every Federal officeholder has and should take seriously. Why did Andrew Jackson veto the Bank of the US? Because he felt it was unconstitutional and he had the duty to protect the Constitution.

The worst problem is that we've gotten to this point because (a) we rely on courts, not legislatures to protect the fundamental rights of people, thereby allowing legislators to duck hard decisions and let the blackrobed brahmins dictate from the bench, and (b) the progressivist notion that some lives are not worth living has infected our culture to the point that euthanasia is seen to many as a boon, not a bane.

All told, the Schiavo case comes down to the fact that the Florida courts have refused to render a humane and proper decision: if it takes beyond reasonable doubt evidence combined with a heinous crime and aggravating circumstances to put someone to death after a criminal trial, how can the mere preponderance of the clear and convincing evidence standard be met with such flimsy proof as Michael Schiavo's testimony? How can this suffice to condemn Terri to death by starvation? How can that comport with due process? In a rational world, it cannot.

Congress should never have been placed in a situation to become involved in this. Peggy Noonan and the Republican operatives who feared the political fallout only helped politicize what should not be a political situation. Michael Schiavo seems to want Terri dead so he can marry his "fiancee" and carry on as he has been doing. One judge's poor judgment in Mr. Schiavo's favor has turned this situation into a national circus. A travesty from a tragedy, pure and simple.

See more at Just One Minute, and here too; the discussion here, and the federalism issue discussed here.

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