Friday, April 01, 2005

Terri has passed...but the debate rages on...

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay attacked the Judiciary yet again yesterday. On Thursday, March 31, shortly after Terri Schiavo passed away, DeLay said
"The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior..."
When the case reached its first go-round on the U.S. District Level after the Terri Act was passed, the court unexpectedly rejected the family's claims. Aside from DeLay's posturing and blustering, what did the act actually say?

"After a determination of the merits of a suit brought under this Act...."
Apparently the court was supposed to rubber-stamp the suit, because after all, Congress passed a law and the President signed it. The phrase "after a determination of merits" was apparently put there for...for...well, I'm confused what it was there for. If Tom DeLay wanted to have the feeding tube re-inserted, he should have INSISTED on the phrase "PUT THE FEEDING TUBE BACK IN HER EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY" or other clear, concise unmistakable words to that effect. He is, after all, the HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER. Some would argue that Congress has no right to order such an action, but if they were illegally transferring jurisdiction of a case anyway, why not go for the whole hog?

When he attacked the courts for being "out of control" he was being either disingenuous or he outright lied. Well, either one works to get votes. The court was clearly aware of Congress's intent for there to be a de novo determination of facts, but also was limited by what the record of the case so far had determined (see here).

DeLay and other Congressmen insisted that Judge Greer advocated Terri's death and was determined to make that happen. But as Judge James Whittemore noted, "by fulfilling his statutory judicial responsibilities, the judge [Greer] was not transformed into an advocate merely because his rulings are unfavorable to a litigant."

This is what it boiled down to:
1. Congress didn't like the outcome on the state court level, so they illegally wrested a case out of the state system and threw it to the federal courts in order to cause a different outcome.

2. The Schindler family's attorneys thought if they could throw enough legal shit against the wall, enough of it would stick to at least get her feeding tube reinserted. I can't blame them for trying, especially when a life was at stake, but don't blame the courts when the shit doesn't stick.

3. Conservative and Liberal judges alike refused to touch this with a ten-foot pole, including judges appointed by Bush senior. Same for the Supreme Court, which, last time I checked, helped Bush win Florida in the 2000 election. So, four years ago (since they decided in January 2001) they were geniuses. And now they're heartless morons.

4. Democrats and Republicans became very strange animals over this case. Democrats were suddenly very much in favor of states' rights, except for Jesse Jackson, who went to Florida to plead for the reinsertion of the feeding tube, and the 47 House members who joined Republicans to pass the Terri Act. Republicans, who blasted the Clinton Administration for seizing Elian Gonzales, were very much in favor of Gov. Jeb Bush's possible plan to seize Terri from her hospice with either state troopers or the National Guard.

5. Advocates of multiple causes hijacked this case from the get go. Randall Terry, who I've mentioned previously, came down to get some PR for his pro-life organization. Although when you threaten a judge with violence, that dims your message a bit. On the other hand, he's already threatened doctors with violence, so this is nothing new. Disabled rights activists claimed that this was a dawn of a new state-sponsored genocide against disabled people. Bah! The courts did not decide "Well, we don't like Terri, so we're going to KILL her today." They ruled in favor of her husband, who claimed she would not want to live like this. And no, I'm not going to get into the accuracy of that wish, because frankly, I'm not in a position to tell you or anyone else what her actual wishes were.

6. Speaking of advocates, I'm tired of Schindler family lawyers and former Schindler family lawyers appearing on shows like Sean Hannity's and claiming they have "no interest" in this case. Or for the matter, hosts like Sean claiming they're "open minded" about the case. Bullshit.

7. I'm just waiting for the medical malpractice issue to come up, since a big money lawsuit windfall was one of the prime reasons Michael Schiavo and the Schindler family fought for so long.

8. I am disgusted that Michael Schiavo refused to let Bobby Schindler, Terri's brother, in her room as she passed away. How petty, even to the end.

9. And planning to bury her remains in an unmarked grave is a whopper, too. It really highlights how Michael and the Schindlers thought of Terri after 1997. If she was "gone" in terms of mind but not body, Michael had no use for her to live. But her family clung to her right to a corporeal existence regardless of what condition her mind, spirit or body was in.

10. More people need living wills.

11. God has plans for you. Watch South Park and you'll see what I mean.


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