Fat Steve's Blatherings

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Terri Schiavo: The South Rises Again

      Two different opinions illustrate one of the odder aspects of the Schiavo case: a weird nostalgia for the early nineteenth century.

      The April 11th edition of Nation Review notes:
. . . a House committee issued a subpoena that would have had the effect of keeping Mrs. Schiavo’s tube from being disconnected (and could, in theory, have led to a clarification of some of the factual disputes in the case). Whatever one thinks of the merits of that use of the subpoena power, it seems remarkably highhanded of Judge Greer to flout it.

Congressional subpoenas have not heretofore been considered subject to the review of state courts — a point that was lost on all the commentators who confidently opined that it was the congressmen who were threatening the separation of powers.

      Yes indeed, it is remarkable.  Even more remarkable is that so many people supported the idea.

      Meanwhile, Donald Sensing wrote:
As a resident of Tennessee, I have no standing to tell the people of Florida that their laws are either unjust or incorrectly applied by their state courts.

      Huh?  Free speech obviously gives him the "standing" to tell anyone in the U.S. anything at all, as long as certain general limits are observed (no threats, no "fighting words," no invasion of privacy, etc.).

      But note that word "standing" again.  It's a legal term.  I, Stephen M. St. Onge, a resident of Minnesota who is no known relation of Terri Schiavo, have no right to bring a suit in Florida's or Minnesota's courts on this issue.  But I, Stephen M. St. Onge, a citizen of the United States of America, have every right to petition the Congress over anything I want.  Most certainly I have a right to petition Congress to do its Fourteenth Amendment duties of preventing a state court from depriving someone of life without due process of law.

      The opponents of the Schiavo bill seem to want to give the "several States" a sovereignity they had before the Civil War -- or at any rate, a sovereignity they claimed.  They won't get it.  What they will get is more authority for judges to kill people, not as punishment for crime, but because they are inconvenient.  I don't think, in the long run, that they will like that.



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