Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Congress' Shame

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!


At 6:47 PM, Anonymous tc99mman said...

I agree with you on the Schiavo case. A truly compassionate person would let that poor lady die. I don't see the point in prolonging this. FYO: John Derbyshire on National Review Online (The Corner) concurs. He believes in evolution, too. There are some of us on the Right who object to those who denigrate science.
Still, I wonder, why is this on an evolution blog?

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for the comment. I have blogged about Derbyshire before, who does seem pretty good on these sorts of issues. However, Derbyshire also holds views on other issues, especially homosexuality, that I find highly objectionable.

Evolution is the main focus of this blog, but it is not the only thing I blog about. I tend to comment on political issues with a church/state angle to them, since I see such issues as related to the fight over teaching creationism. I also blog about religion occasionally, because religious questions invariably come up in discussing evolution. And I blog about chess from time to time, becuase I really like playing chess!

At 7:55 AM, Blogger J-Sin said...

ahh! DeLay is NOT a democrat! I'm sure that was a misprint, but ay carumba!...thanks for the post...it was great...congress, it would be nice if you guys and gals would get back to perhaps fixing REAL problems such as better fuel efficiency so we can lower gas prices and demand thus making our economy stronger, or say, hmm, I don't know FIND BIN LADEN, or perhaps even get out of Iraq! or even better, fix the deficit...but no we waste taxpayer time and money so that the GOP can pander to their base as if they really give two shits about this lady...especially noting Bush's support for a bill that just several days ago found a six-month old baby's plug pulled in Texas despites the parents wishes (that was due to a lack of funds though!)

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous David Holland said...

Where does he call Delay a Democrat? I can't find it.

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave S.

Dave, Robert Sheer, in his column (as quoted by Jason and in the original) indicated DeLay was a Democrat. See the last paragraph of the Sheer quote.

Another note - The leaked memo referred to by Sheer is quite possibly fake. Nevertheless, it's not like we neded more proof of right wing pandering to their So-Con base.


Post a Comment

<< Home