Schiavo legislation

Given the new focus of this blog, I have stayed away from the political aspects of the Terri Schiavo case. From a legal standpoint, though, I find the Congressional legislation disconcerting. Basically, it grants one (and only one) federal court in Florida jurisdiction to hear a case brought within the next 30 days (and only in that timeframe) by “[a]ny parent” of Terri Schiavo (and only a parent) relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life.

This is horrible precedent. Basically, Congress is saying that because a majority of its members evidently believe it politically expedient to disagree with the conclusions reached by state courts on matters of state law, it is literally going to make a federal case out of this. Moreover, this is a federal case that only two people have the power to bring. This not only violates the concepts of separation of powers and comity, it strikes at the heart of federalism. From a more non-legalistic standpoint, doesn’t this mean Congress should intervene in every case of this type? If Terri Schiavo’s parents are entitled to such legislation, aren’t everyone’s?

My comments have nothing to do with the merits or validity of the positions taken by Schiavo’s parents or husband. We need to stop sacrificing the rule of law for political purposes. Which reminds me, Stephanie Herseth voted in favor of the bill, once again demonstrating that having a law degree does not mean legal principles take priority over political pandering. Still, she at least cast a public vote. The Senate didn’t have the guts to go on record and approved the legislation with a voice vote.

CLARIFICATION/UPDATE: If the Argus is correct, not objecting to the voice vote means all the US Senators are on record supporting this legislation. Not surprisingly, Thune is upfront about his support. Sen. Tim Johnson’s staff said he supported the legislation as the “best-case scenario” to the “wrangling” and because the bill contains language saying it is not precedent for future legislation.

1 comment to Schiavo legislation

  • I hope you will continue to mix politics in with the rest of whatever you decide is your stuff here.

    The solution to irrational political blogs is not less blogging by rational political bloggers.

    Despite my view that lawyers are often the cure of the disease they cause, someone with your background can offer insight into politics and government that many of the rest of us are separated from or immune to.

    The “Schiavo Legislation” can only be disussed in terms of partisan politics. The medical information has apparently been obvious for years even if the parents of Terri S. don’t seem to understand it or are unwilling to let go of their domination of her. The same kind of domination which may have let to Terri’s bullemia? or anorexia and then to the failure of her heart.

    This is a tragedy of all kinds made much worse by Tom DeLay’s willingness to stoop to any level in an attempt to make partisan gains.

    Keep digging. There is a raft of information that has been willingly ignored in the race to gain partisan advantage.