Patterico reader Clinton W. Taylor has this excellent piece on Terri Schiavo. His argument: “we dispose of our property with more care than we are disposing of her life.” It’s very compelling. Go give it a read.
A story in the L.A. Times today has this line:
In this case, lawyers for the parents of Terri Schiavo say their daughter has been denied her right to due process of law, despite nearly seven years of litigation in the Florida courts.
Can you imagine a story in this newspaper about a death penalty case in California that said:
In this case, lawyers for the defendant say their client has been denied his right to due process of law, despite nearly seven years of litigation in the California courts.
I didn’t think so.
UPDATE: My preliminary impression is one of surprise at how technical, procedural, and weak some of the claims seem. This impression is strengthened upon reading the complaint submitted by counsel for the parents. I would argue that her right to life is being threatened, because there is insufficient evidence that she wished to end her life under these circumstances. I would argue that no one should die without having the facts of the case decided by a jury — something that cannot happen unless a TRO is granted.
This is my first chance to respond to yesterday’s hysterical L.A. Times editorial about Terri Schiavo:
Republican leaders, eyeing an opportunity to appease their radical right-wing constituents, convened Congress over the weekend to shamelessly interject the federal government into the wrenching Schiavo family dispute. They brushed aside our federalist system of government, which assigns the resolution of such disputes to state law, and state judges. Even President Bush flew back from his ranch to Washington on Sunday to be in on what amounts to a constitutional coup d’etat.
Conservatives are the historical defenders of states’ rights, and the supposed proponents of keeping big government out of people’s lives, but this case once again shows that some social conservatives are happy to see the federal government acquire Stalinist proportions when imposing their morality on the rest of the country. So breathtaking was this attempted usurpation of power, wresting jurisdiction over a right-to-die case away from Florida’s judiciary, that Republican leaders in the end had to agree to limit this legislation’s applicability to the Schiavo case.
It’s the end of the republic, folks.
Except that all the bill does is provide federal jurisdiction for a court to determine whether Schiavo’s constitutional rights have been violated.
In response to the Times‘s melodramatic outburst, may I simply ask: would you say the same thing about providing federal habeas review for those convicted of capital crimes? What is the difference between providing federal habeas review for Terri Schiavo, and providing it for someone sentenced to death in state court?
UPDATE: Still waiting for an answer.
Here you can read Judge Greer’s order explaining why he found “clear and convincing evidence” that Terri Schiavo would want to be starved and dehydrated to death. The finding of “clear and convincing evidence” was based in part on a mistake by the judge.
Greer explains in the order why he rejected testimony from Diane Meyer, who corroborated testimony from Terri’s parents that Terri had said Karen Ann Quinlan should be allowed to live. Greer wrote:
A witness [Meyer] called by Respondents testified to similar conversations with Terri Schiavo but stated that they occurred during the summer of 1982. While that witness appeared believable at the offset [sic], the court noted two quotes from the discussion between she [sic] and Terri Schiavo which raise serious questions about the time frame. Both quotes are in the present tense and upon cross-examination, the witness did not alter them. The first quote involved a bad joke and used the verb “is”. [Patterico notes: the joke in question was: “What is the state vegetable of New Jersey?” Answer: Karen Ann Quinlan.] The second quote involved the response from Terri Schiavo which used the word “are”. The court is mystified as to how those present tense verbs would have been used some six years after the death of Karen Ann Quinlin [sic].
In other words, although this witness originally seemed credible, the judge decided that she was not credible largely because he believed that Karen Ann Quinlan had already died in 1982 — while the witness had Terri Schiavo saying Karen Ann Quinlan was alive. But Karen Ann Quinlan died in 1985, not 1976 as Judge Greer appears to have believed.
Based largely on this mistake in dates, Greer rejected the testimony of Meyer in favor of that of Michael Schiavo, his brother, and his sister-in-law, who apparently testified that Schiavo had said she wouldn’t want to be “hooked to a machine” (is a feeding tube a “machine”?).
It’s hard to admit you’re wrong, and when this was pointed out to Judge Greer five years later, he wrote that it made no difference to his credibility analysis when Quinlan had died. As I read the language quoted above, it made a big difference to him. Greer just didn’t want to admit it.