March 21, 2005

Guess jk is a Liberal...

I am going to break with my friends at the WSJ Ed Page, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and I suspect half of the ThreeSources.com crew.

I support Michael Schiavo's decision to remove the feeding tube from his wife. He may be an execrable man who is looking to cash in the chips of her malpractice award and her parents have certainly made a bold proposition to assume all responsibility for her continued care, but I have to feel that the spouse has a right to speak for one who cannot speak for himself/herself.

The state courts of Florida have taken that view, as have some portion of the 80% in an online Wall Street Journal poll, who have said that it was wrong for Congress to intervene.

William Kristol and Fred Barnes made eloquent and reasonable appeals this weekend on FOXNews's "Fox News Sunday" and "The Beltway Boys." The WSJ Ed Page even lumps me in with the liberals:

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.


For the record, I do support states' rights in Roe if not Lawrence, and have always held that Federalism is the solution to the homosexual marriage contretemps.

My legal claims coincide with my personal claims. I hope that, mutatis mutandis, my wife would have intervened about 14 years before Mr. Schiavo.

Posted by John Kranz at March 21, 2005 10:51 AM

According to this timeline:
http://www.miami.edu/ethics2/schiavo/timeline.htm
Terri's husband first asked that her feeding tube be removed almost 7 years ago.

For the first 4 years of Terri's incapacitation her husband apparently attempted everything possible to revive her congitive function. For the next 4 years he apparently anguished over the inevitible, finally asking the court to allow him to stop feeding her. For the ensuing 7 years Terri's parents, and many others, dragged the couple through every court that would let them in the door.

So in summary, of the 15 years this ordeal has lasted (thus far) Michael spent 8 of them trying to nurse Terri back to health and the Schindlers, et. al., spent 7 more trying to prevent him from doing what JK (and, we're led to believe, Terri) would have wanted all along.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2005 2:50 PM

strangely, he's been living with his fiance for 10 of those past 15 years.
... and has two children with her.

Posted by: AlexC at March 22, 2005 12:07 PM

AlexC,

Yes, there are some odd possibilities of motives and conflicts in the husband. And it is certainly legitimate to question his decision.

What I think is beyond question is his being empowered to make the decision. If she were conscious, she could refuse treatment and I think her spouse is best able to make the decision for her when she cannot. The husband, not the parents, not Congress.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2005 12:48 PM

AlexC, Do you know the specific course of events that led him to a new intimate relationship? And how those events correspond to the attempted rehabilitation of his wife who "has no cerebral cortex" and all the angst that must have caused?

His in-laws and other interested parties refuse to allow this chapter of his life to close. Should this obligate him to forego any happiness for as long as they may demand?

I can tell you that a time comes in a man's life when he recognizes his own mortality. (Not from personal experience, mind you. I just "know." ;)

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2005 12:03 AM | What do you think? [4]