Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Schiavo Case, in Other People's Words

While I agree with my old school chum Rogers Cadenhead's observation that Terri Schiavo is never going to get better no matter what, I must also concur with Ann Althouse's fine piece on the federalism aspects of the case, or rather that it's a bit silly to make that your chief objection unless you do the same about all such things. She quotes a Wall Street Journal editorial here:

We'd have more sympathy for this argument if the same liberals who are complaining about the possibility of the federal courts reviewing Mrs. Schiavo's case felt as strongly about restraining the federal judiciary when it comes to abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues they don't want to trust to local communities. In any event, these critics betray their lack of understanding of the meaning of federalism. It is not simply about "states' rights." Conservatives support states' rights in areas that are not delegated to the federal government but they also support federal power in areas that are delegated.

Think of an analogy to the writ of habeas corpus. As John Eastman of the Claremont Institute points out, "We have federal court review of state court judgments all the time in the criminal law context." The bill before Congress essentially treats the Florida judgment as a death sentence, warranting federal habeas review. Mrs. Schiavo is not on life support. The court order to remove the feeding tube is an order to starve her to death. Moreover, Mrs. Schiavo is arguably being deprived of her life without due process of law, a violation of the 14th Amendment that Congress has the power to address.

I am torn about this case, since as the lovely and talented Mr. Cadenhead points out it's more than likely Terri would neither know the difference nor profit from either course of action. It's all tragedy to me, I guess. And although I get a bad feeling about the husband, that's exactly the kind of reason that shouldn't sway me either way. But I agree that an inconsistent view of federalism is not helping anyone. So I'm punting, and good luck and God bless all around.


Rogers said...

You can't appreciate state's rights properly until the entire apparatus of federal government is playing for the other team.

Give us some time, and my fellow liberals will be the biggest state's rights advocates you've seen since the War of Northern Aggression.

Every day, I give up a little more hope that the pendulum will ever swing back to the glorious days when liberalism was triumphant, Reagan was comic relief, and Nixon was considered a hard right-winger.

I need to believe that no matter how bad things get, I can move to Vermont and experience my kind of democracy. All of this gargantuan, intrusive, micro-managing conservatism is robbing me of my dream.

Uncle Mikey said...

Yeah, I don't see the point in focusing on any one person like this. I still don't like Elian Gonzalez any better than Scott Petersen or Michael Jackson. I'm never going to get my 15 minutes if other people keep getting 15 days, weeks or months.

I think your time is coming back around, I feel strongly Hillary Clinton can make it happen. Or maybe Hillary Swank. Someone with impressive teeth, anyways.

Having lived in Berkeley and Austin, I think you'd be right at home in either, good sir. And I'd love to have you nearby so I can recalibrate my scales more often, so come to lovely, scorchingly hot and allergy-ridden central Texas, baby! We've got traffic, and you can actually SEE the air now!