Thursday, March 24, 2005

Supreme Court Chickens Out...

Damn - and I was really looking forward to seeing Rehnquist squirm...

Sorry, that's not to knock the gravity of Terri Schiavo's current condition (or Rehnquist's either, for that matter). But I think the Court should have heard the case, if only to take a long, hard look at whether what Congress did was constitutional. I suppose the fact that it denied a stay tacitly suggests (1) it was; (2) however, the Eleventh Circuit did not abuse its discretion...ok, garbled legal-speak, and I'm not even sure that would be the correct standard, so translated...the Eleventh Circuit wasn't required to order the feeding tube be re-inserted. However, for all intents and purposes the Supreme Court has remained silent on this "extraordinary" piece of legislation, which is disturbing for the potentially dangerous precedent it sets. I hope, if broader Schiavo-inspired legislation does get passed, the Court will review it.

Incidentally, I'm not taking sides in the right-to-life/die debate. I think the question's made much harder in this instance by the fact that (1) Schiavo did NOT leave a living will, and (2) she's not on life support, and is, essentially, going to die of starvation/dehydration. (Though as to the latter point, I believe the Supreme Court has ruled that feeding tubes are not legally distinguishable from life support, or something to that effect.) In my heart, I can't really blame Schiavo's parents for doing everything they can to keep her alive - though I also can't think Terri Schiavo could possibly have wanted this whole drawn-out charade. But I do blame Congress for attempting to sweep aside the law established by the Florida courts - who have *exhaustively reviewed* Schiavo's case and all the arguments on both sides - in order to enforce a conservative view of whether Schiavo should live or die. I'm no federalist by a long stretch, but if that doesn't violate the principles of federalism and federal-state court comity (not to mention separation of powers), I don't know what does. (Of course, the last time federalism was argued in favor of Florida's courts, they lost, too - and y'all know what I'm talking about.)

And finally, while I'm trying to resist cheap shots at Bush, I have to note for the record that with all the care and political capital he's expending on the impending death of one woman in a persistent vegetative state, he apparently has nothing to say about the deaths of all those kids at Red Lake High School. What has that got to do with this, Bush supporters may protest, and insist there's nothing *to* be said about those kids except that it's a tragedy. Still, one could argue that trying to prevent tragedies like *this* is more within the province of the legislature than prolonging the tragedy of Terry Schiavo. Just my two cents.

2 Comments:

Blogger echan said...

I didn't know that you were allowed to comment on this stuff.

But the grand debate aside, I kind of look at this from the more libertarian POV, despite the lack of the living will, I see this struggle as between Schiavo and her parents, not between her parents and her husband (who they've villified to no end). There's got to be a point in one's adulthood where parental control ends, and one such brightline is at marriage.

Also, as an aside, I completely hate how the Conservatives are trying to tar and feather the judicial system on this. I just want the phrase "Activist Judge" to go away.

4:35 PM  
Blogger starsheep said...

While I do share the same concern about the whole legal maneuvering, what I find sickening is that this woman is being starved to death. Even death penalty convicts die in one hit (well, most of the time anyway). This poor woman's dying slowly ... what did the doctors say? "Will die within a week or two?"

Wow.

If that's not "cruel and unusual" I don't know what is.

5:52 AM  

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