Posted by Robert Alt
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore declined to enter an injunction this morning which would have required the reinsertion of the feeding tube in Terri Schiavo. The Fox News/AP report is here. The parents have vowed an appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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I dont know enough about the American constitution, but it seems that conservatives are more often in favour of states rights (federalism?) than are liberals who prefer a more centralized system. In cases like abortion (roe vs. wade), its seen as a great step against state rights by mandating abortion on all states rather than letting each state decide for itself.
In this Schiavo case, most conservatives, even the non-Christian ones, are quite concerned about this particular case. The federal govt has stepped in (for all appearances to make a law for a single person, for a single case) in order to mandate that this be a federal issue rather than a state issue as it seemed to previously be - is this a violation of the respect for state rights? I understand that even if it is, that the majority of conservatives would see this as a lesser evil, but Im curious if there are conflicting issues that arent being discussed. Any comments from those who know much more about constitutional issues?
This battle will be won, if at all, in the Florida legislature or with Jeb Bush. Neither has taken sufficiently strong action, and perhaps neither will. But the federal courts are very unlikely to save Terri.
Parenthetically, this is the same 11th Circuit that refused to get involved in Bush v. Gore, despite the Florida courts antics.
What is the principled argument that Congressional involvement, in the form of legislation, is appropriate here despite concerns about federalism? Dont get me wrong, something should be done. What the courts down there are allowing Terris husband to do to her is atrocious. However, even if conservatives recognize this as an exception to Federalism generally, we still must have an argument to stand upon.
As far as Im concerned, liberals have no basis to talk about Federalism now that it serves their "interest" given the fact that for the past 125 years Progressivism has actively sought to undermine the system of the Founders.
Rob, Id suggest that the answer is in the 14th Amendment (1868), which declares that "No State shall . . . . deprive any person of life . . . without due process of law,"
and further mandates that "Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."
IMHO, on the merits this may be less a right-to-die case than a due-process case in which heroic efforts are being made to check and correct the actions of a very possibly malfeasant civil-court judge in Pinellas County, FL.
The full text of the 14th Amendment is here: