The only thing that really disturbs me about the Congress getting into
Terri Schiavo's case is that this scenario is repeated all over the country all the time, but those which don't get litigated and publicized will probably be ignored. Things like this are only news the first or second time they occur.
Update: On Joe Scarborough's program, some allegations I haven't hear before. If true, the case for removing this from the Florida courts is strengthened. Her husband won a sizeable award for malpractice, and if she dies, he gets the money. She told her parents she was leaving him the evening before she was found in her home in a coma. A doctor who treated her says that she was responsive and recognized people coming into the room and could follow instructions. That doesn't sound like PVS to me. There are claims that he told the hospice personnel not to treat her infections. The whole case smells bad. The husband has an obvious conflict of interest, and I can't understand why the judge wouldn't remove him, unless he is crooked or himself in a PVS.
They say hard cases make bad law, but so do bad judges. I really don't like having the federal government intervening in this way, but there has to be some more time granted to settle all of these allegations. Of course, they could all be false or misleading, but the harm done by keeping her alive a little longer is neglible compared with that of killing her without sufficient cause. If I were in that state, I wouldn't want to live, but I wouldn't want someone who stands to profit from my death to make the call. We allow death row inmates to have federal courts review their cases; why not this woman?
I'm fully aware that support of this law is not consistent with my own arguments, but given the direction our common law has taken, I have a hard time denying the same scrutiny to an innocent woman that is routinely given to murderers on death row.
Update: The federal judge in Florida has refused to reinstate
Schiavo's feeding tube, apparently using an ambiguity in the law to duck the real issue and to rebuke Congress for trying to overrule Judge Greer. The opinion
holds that Schiavo's parents did not meet the requirements for granting a Temporary Restraining Order, specifically the condition that they have a "substantial likelihood of success on the merits." He then reviewed the claims of her parents that she has been denied due process, and found them without merit.
Ironically, the 17-year-old who killed nine people and himself in Minnesota, could not have been given the death penalty
, had he not committed suicide. Hugh Hewitt
argues that "Endangered Vegetables Get More Protections Than Terri Schiavo," citing the Endangered Species Act. Andrew McCarthy
confirms my suspicions:
it bears noting that Whittemore was placed on the federal bench by President Clinton in 2000 after spending a decade as a judge in the state courts of Florida. His opinion is a staunch approbation of the integrity of Florida�s procedural framework, and extremely deferential to the performance of his former state-court colleague, Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer. Essentially, Judge Whittemore reasons: Florida�s procedures are fair and designed to achieve a just result, there is no basis to suspect that those procedures did not produce a just result here, and, therefore, federal due process has been satisfied � without any need to revisit (i.e. , conduct a de novo review of) the facts that were actually found here under those fair procedures.
The law passed only granted him jurisdiction; it didn't tell him he had to do a de novo
review, so he used a technical loophole to avoid reaching the merits of the case. It strikes me as an ornery reaction to a public outcry--in essence telling the public and political branches that democracy has no place in the courts, and justice not a very large one. As Hugh Hewitt points out, this is Pontius Pilate justice. Rich Lowry
has a terrific political analysis of this case, in light of the charges of hypocrisy from Democrats. He lists all the "compassionate" intrusions passed by Congress in the past and concludes:
Whenever life-related issues arise, liberals ask: How can conservatives favor preserving life when they support executing people? There's an answer for that (for another day), but the more acute question is for the other side: How can you oppose death sentences for killers, but support one, in effect, for Schiavo, whose only crime is not being capable of feeding herself?
Of course, it's possible to oppose the Schiavo bill on principled procedural grounds, maintaining that it is not the business of Congress or the federal courts. But one suspects that as soon as they are considering anything other than the fate of poor Terri Schiavo, liberals will lose their newfound suspicion of federal action.
I don't find the hypocrisy of the Republicans here nearly as disturbing as that of the left.