How disgusting has Congress been in its handling of the Terry Schiavo case? Check out this fine essay by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick:
Whether Terri Schiavo will live or die in the coming days has come down to this: Can federal district judge James Whittemore set aside virtually every bedrock constitutional principle on which this nation was founded, just so members of the United States Congress may constitutionalize the nowhere-to-be-found legal principle that a “culture of life” is a good thing?
This morning's decision by Congress and President Bush—to authorize new federal legislation that will obliterate years of state court litigation, and justify re-inserting a feeding tube into Terri Schiavo, based on new and illusory federal constitutional claims—is not about law. It is congressional activism, plain and simple; legislative overreaching and hubris taken to absurd extremes.
Let's be clear: The piece of legislation passed late last night, the so-called “Palm Sunday Compromise,” has nothing whatever to do with the rule of law. The 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. The rule of law has long provided that such domestic decisions are generally made by competent spouses, as opposed to parents, elected officials, popular referendum, or the demands of Randall Terry. The rule of law also requires a fundamental separation of powers—in which legislatures do not override final, binding court decisions solely because the outcome is not the one they like. The rule of law requires comity between state and federal courts—wherein each respects and upholds the jurisdiction and authority of the other. The rule of law requires that we look skeptically at legislation aimed at mucking around with just one life to the exclusion of any and all similarly situated individuals.
See the original for links. Since this was written, Judge Whittemore has ruled against Schiavo's parents
You might also have a look at this column, by Robert Scheer writing for the Los Angeles Times:
I cannot remember a time when Congress and the president have acted with more egregious political opportunism and shameless trafficking in human misery than last weekend, leaping into the 15-year-long Terri Schiavo saga at the last possible moment as grandstanding defenders of the defenseless.
Although Schiavo's relatives on both sides of the issue are assuredly acting in good faith, national politicians certainly are not.
That was clear even before ABC News revealed the contents of a memo circulating among Senate Republicans that trilled over how exploiting this complex case in the most simplistic way would “excite” the GOP base and would be “a great political issue.”
Otherwise, they would have taken up this tortuous issue in earnest long ago. Better yet, they should have trusted the Florida state legal system and doctors who have examined Schiavo's case over and over again.
Instead, facing a media storm dominated by heart-rending but inconclusive video clips of Schiavo, Republican demagogues led by Rep. Tom DeLay (D-Texas) — who is battling ethics problems — took the easy, cynical way out. They rushed through a bill, past cowed Democrats, that moves the case to federal court and applies only to Schiavo's parents.
And to complete the trifecta, have a look at this post from Ed Brayton about the always vile Tom DeLay:
Such moral myopia. Such narcissism. Yeah, Tom, it's all about you and your political beliefs. God was so concerned about the future of your political movement that he decided to strike this woman down in the prime of her life, beginning a decade and a half of anguish for everyone who cared about her. He planted the thoughts in the minds of her husband and her parents to start a big legal battle over it so it would blow up into a political issue just so that you and your pals could fight back against your political enemies. Because after all, it's all about you. And God loves you so much he's willing to necrotize the brain of an innocent victim just to help you score some political points later on.
What could DeLay have said to trigger this entirely appropriate response? Go check it out for yourself!