The so-called “right-to-die” movement was handed another victory this week when the Florida Supreme Court struck down a law designed to prevent the starvation death of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman who has been the latest target in the left’s crusade against the elderly and disabled.
The ruling by the Florida high court is the most recent episode in a six-year legal struggle by Terri’s estranged husband, Michael Schiavo, to end her life. Mr. Schiavo contends that Terri is in a “persistent vegetative state” and therefore should be condemned to a starvation death by having her feeding tube removed, even though her condition does not meet the medical or statutory definition of “persistent vegetative state.” To the contrary, she responds to communication, recognizes her family, receives no life support or respiration and is considered physically stable.
But apparently, the seven justices of the Florida Supreme Court couldn’t care less. On Thursday, the court unanimously declared “Terri’s Law” unconstitutional, claiming it violates the separation of powers and encroaches on the authority of the judiciary.
Passed by the Florida Legislature in October of 2003, “Terri’s Law” granted Gov. Jeb Bush the authority to counter a court order by Judge George Greer to remove Terri’s feeding tube. Clearly, the measure was designed to both protect Terri Schiavo’s life and provide a “check” on a court run amuck – both actions supported and even required by the Constitution.
But not according to Chief Justice Barbara J. Pariente, who displayed an alarming ignorance of both history and constitutional law in the Court’s written opinion. In it she writes, “The continuing vitality of our system of separation of powers precludes the other two branches from nullifying the judicial branch’s final orders.” Doing so would lead to the judiciary’s subordination “to the final directive of the other branches.”
The judiciary has hung its hat on bizarre reasoning before, but this ruling really takes the cake. In the view of Chief Justice Pariente, the judiciary should be considered “untouchable” by the other two branches of government. The courts can nullify or rewrite the laws passed by the legislative branch to suit a certain agenda, and it’s perfectly fine. But if the Florida Legislature takes action to halt a court ruling decreeing the starvation death of an entirely innocent woman, that’s a flagrant violation of the separation of powers.
So much for consistency in the courts.
Unfortunately, Pariente doesn’t stop there. She goes on to warn that if the judiciary is subordinated to the other branches, the rights of every American citizen will also be subordinated, “including the well-established privacy right to self determination.”
Apparently, elected members of the Legislature are all boogeymen out to strip away our rights, but un-elected judges and justices have nothing but benevolence in their hearts for freedom and the American way. I think Terri Schiavo and the Schindler family would disagree.
The chief justice continues by saying that if restraints are placed on the judiciary, “the essential core of what the Founding Fathers sought to change from their experience with English rule would be lost, especially their belief that our courts exist precisely to preserve the rights of individuals, even when doing so is contrary to popular will.”
Such statements are fine and dandy as long as you’re ignoring both history and facts. Chief Justice Pariente would have us believe that the Founding Fathers possessed a deep abiding trust in the judicial system, but that’s simply not the case. The Framers specifically designed the judiciary to be the weakest of the three branches of government, not the strongest. The only reason the judiciary carries so much clout today is due to recent actions by activist judges to reshape our courts into something they were never meant to be.
Instead of praising the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling, the Founding Fathers would be horrified by what is transpiring today. Not only because it virtually spits on the sacred American institution of checks and balances, but also because it shows absolutely no regard for the life of an innocent woman. Pariente continually references individual rights in the court’s opinion, but she apparently has little concern for the individual rights of Terri Schiavo. She is more concerned with idealism than with the sacred life of a fellow human being. Perhaps that is the most troubling aspect of the court’s ruling.
The Florida Supreme Court has made its decision, but the battle to preserve Terri’s life is far from over. The so-called “right-to-die” crowd is fighting furiously to set a precedent in this case, a precedent that will be the basis for outright legalization of euthanasia on demand. It’s up to life-honoring Americans who have already seen abortion’s devastating effect on our culture to ensure that this week’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court does not lead us into another American holocaust, a holocaust of euthanasia.
David N. Bass is an 18-year-old homeschool graduate who writes for World Newspaper Publishing and is a regular columnist at AmericanDaily.com, ARationalAdvocate.com and RenewAmerica.us. He is also a contributing writer to many other online sites, including Tolkien-Movies.com. Bass is currently working on his first novel.