Adventus

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“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, March 28, 2005

Jarndyce v. Jarndyce

As I've said, with regard to the legal issues in the Schiavo case: it wouldn't have mattered if Terri Schiavo had left behind a piece of paper. At no point in 7 years did any court ever agree with the Schindler's position, or reject Michael Schiavo's position. Not once. In other words, from the first ruling by the first court, Terri Schiavo had effectively made an "end of life" decision.

It made no difference. And that controversy could now be codified into law:

The Republican-controlled House already passed a bill that would allow the federal courts to review cases like Ms. Schiavo's, in which the patient has left no written instructions, the family is at odds and state courts have ordered a feeding tube to be withdrawn. That bill evolved into one that was narrowly tailored to Ms. Schiavo.

Now some Democrats, prodded by advocates for the disabled, say Congress should consider whether such a law is needed.

"I think we should look into this and very possibly legislate it," said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who opposed Congressional action in the Schiavo case. Mr. Frank was speaking on Sunday on the ABC News program "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." Mr. Frank added: "I think Congress needs to do more. Because I've spoken with a lot of disability groups who are concerned that, even where a choice is made to terminate life, it might be coerced by circumstances."
'Who decides?', was the issue being fought out in the Schiavo case. Now will it literally become a federal matter? Now will it become a question litigated even if papers were signed, witnessed, and hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar?

Litigation is always possible. The Schiavo case shows the lengths to which people will go over this issue. It could have been just an aberration. It looks like it might become more than that.

We need an ethic of death. Another set of laws, only means another set of legal problems.

Addendum: Watertiger unfortunately doesn't provide a link to the original, but I'm happy to link to her, anyway.

A few choice comments from those who would make new law:

"What Congress did, it seems to me, was not all that extraordinary," said Mitch McConnell, one of the Senate's top Republicans, on the Fox News Sunday program. He likened the lawmakers' intervention to the sort of judicial review that routinely takes place in death penalty cases.

"What we simply did was grant to the courts an opportunity to review the case -- something they do in habeas corpus petitions in death penalty cases all the time," he said adding, that at any rate, Republicans were no more culpable than Democrats in passing the legislation.

"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America," DeLay told a meeting of the Family Research Council earlier this month.

"We have to do everything that is in our power to save Terri Schiavo and anybody else that may be in this kind of position," he said.

Representative Dave Weldon of Florida, one of the chief Republican backers of the Schiavo bill, blamed the media for the public's opposition, and said that on the "issue of life ... we, as conservatives, are always fighting an uphill battle.

"We have the media totally against us. The arguments are always presented in the headlines in language that works against us," he said on ABC television.
Given the atmosphere, perhaps Congress should just leave this alone.

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