May she rest in peace. Out of respect for her family, I’m refraining from further comment on this matter for the remainder of the day.
March 31, 2005
March 30, 2005
Catherine Crier has been on FoxNews all day touting her view that the law giving the federal courts authority to hear Terri Schiavo’s case is unconstitutional. On Hannity & Colmes, she repeated this charge, screaming over ACLJ representative Jay Sekulow at least twice that the law is a “bill of attainder.” The end of their exchange was particularly embarassing:
HANNITY: This is what is in play here, Catherine. Here you have Congressional subpoenas ignored by an arrogant judiciary.
HANNITY: Here you have laws that are dismissed outright without any consideration. They’re supposed to be, Catherine, co-equal branches of government and for these judicial tyrants, frankly, to ignore these laws …
HANNITY: …to that extent, really puts into jeopardy the question of whether or not we have co-equal branches of government.
CRIER (talking over the last half-sentence): OK, Sean, let me answer it. Let me answer it. Number one, the request they made was that the federal judiciary take a look at this. That was the legislation out of the federal government, and in fact the federal judiciary has bent over backwards to do exactly that.
SEKULOW: Catherine, it was supposed to be de novo …
CRIER: Second, secondarily…
SEKULOW: Hold it. It … the statute said, if you read the statute, the statute says de novo trial. That’s what it says. That means a complete re-look. You can’t do that in an hour and thirty-five minute oral argument. You know that, and I know that. That’s not due process.
CRIER: Well, but, but it …
SEKULOW: That’s a wink and a nod.
CRIER: But it was illegitimate for the federal government or the state …
SEKULOW: No one said … you may not like the statute but no one’s held it unconstitutional.
CRIER (talking over the last half of that sentence): Jay, we’re going to take turns here, I assume we’re going to get both a hearing here.
SEKULOW: Get your facts right.
CRIER: And that is the state court just like the federal court cannot do a bill of attainder. They cannot write a piece of legislation for ….
SEKULOW: No court yet has said that this statute is unconstitutional.
CRIER (in a raised voice): Jay, are you just going to simply filibuster and shout me down or are we going to have a two-way conversation here?
SEKULOW: Well, get your facts right.
CRIER (screeching): Well, get YOUR facts right! And that is this is a bill of attainder
SEKULOW: It’s called an an act of Congress, and nobody’s held it unconstitutional.
CRIER: It is inappropriate for the government to write a piece of legislation for a single individual. You know that, I know that it’s absolutely UN-CONSTITUTIONAL.
SEKULOW: No court has held it unconstitutional.
HANNITY: Guys, hang on one second. Here’s the point I want to make here.
CRIER: Yeah, Sean.
HANNITY: We elect representatives to go make laws. That’s what we hire them to do. But for judges to just dismiss out of hand Congressional subpoenas, dismiss out of hand laws passed by Congress, signed by the President of the United States, it shows that they have no respect for that other branch of government. They are the ones that are out of control…
CRIER: But Sean…
HANNITY: I don’t understand why you …
HANNITY: don’t see that.
CRIER: If it is unconstitutional for Congress to write a bill regarding one individual, if that is inappropriate given our Constitution forward, why are we supposed to say the judges are doing wrong?
HANNITY: One judge…
SEKULOW: Catherine! No judge has said it’s unconstitutional!
CRIER (screaming): It is unconstitutional!
SEKULOW: They raised that, the courts did not say it was unconstitutional. You don’t like it. That doesn’t make it unconstitutional.
CRIER (screaming over that last sentence): You can scream all day long, but the fact is it is unconstitutional.
SEKULOW: I guess you’re the judge and the jury now.
CRIER: No, I believe in the rule of law, and obviously you don’t.
In other words, not only is Crier the legal eagle too stupid or too lazy to look up the phrase “bill of attainder” before bandying it about, she also thinks that it’s OK for a court to take jurisdiction and do a half-assed job if the Constitution says they had no right to take jurisdiction at all. Can just anybody work for CourtTV these days?
UPDATE: According to Wuzzadem, this mental midget was a judge, too. So basically, we have one judge who doesn’t know what a bill of attainder is, passionately defending the credentials of another judge, who doesn’t know what teh common English words “clear” or “convincing” mean. That should do wonders to build everybody’s confidence on the judiciary.
UPDATE x2: Here’s the silver lining. While constitutional illiteracy appears to be a helpful trait for those seeking to appear on CourtTV, at least it’s not an absolute requirement. In this online call-in program, Florida lawyer and blogger Matt Conigliaro states correctly the ruleof what is or isn’t a bill of attainder:
Question from anna: Isn’t it unconstitutional for Congress to get involved in a personal matter such as this?
Question from tfarrugia: Doesn’t the fact that the law specifically addresses an individual make it unconstitutional?
Matt Conigliaro: Unfortunately, constitutional questions can be very complex. Congress has the authority to pass laws that affect an individual, so long as the law comes within one of Congress’s powers and does not violate any constitutional right. For instance, Congress is prohibited from passing bills of attainder. If this is a bill of attainder, then it’s unconstitutional. Whether it is or not is rather complicated and concerns whether Terri is being punished. In the past, bills of attainder were usually laws that were passed in order to sentence someone for an offense. Imagine if Congress decided that Michael Jackson was guilty of a crime and just passed a law saying he is to spend 10 years in prison. That would be a bill of attainder.
Bingo. The only thing I would have said differently myself is that the chances of Congress passing any statute designed to punish Terri Schiavo were slim to none, and therefore, this issue wasn’t really so complicated after all.
I will provide 100 single cuts from 100 different patient’s brain CT’s. All the neurologist has to do is say which ones represent patients with PVS and which do not.
If the neurologist can be right 6 out of 10 times he wins the $100,000.
March 29, 2005
March 28, 2005
While Terri Schiavo slowly starves to death without the benefit of the new trial Congress mandated, convicted murderer Lisl Auman got hers because the judge’s instructions to the jury failed to address the theoretical possibilty that jurors are too dumb to know that stealing back your own stuff isn’t “burglary.”
Of course, these cases are nothing alike. For one thing, Auman wasn’t sentenced to death for her crime. For another, Schiavo never committed a crime, while Auman was never sentenced to die for hers. For another, as those annoying John Ziegler ads keep reminding us 24-7, the State of Florida isn’t really “killing” Terri Schiavo, just “not taking extraordinary measures to keep her alive” (along with forcibly preventing anyone else from doing so, by why get bogged down on the details?).
Obligatory irony alert – from a March 18, 2001 Rocky Mountain News article on Auman’s crime:
The letter was dated Jan. 4, 2001, addressed to Hunter S. Thompson in Woody Creek. It came from the women’s prison in Canon City.
“I laughed out loud while reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas during my stay (13 months) at the Denver County Jail,” Lisl Auman wrote on yellow legal-size paper in looping, blue ink. “Thank you for helping to bring a smile to my face. During that time.”
Auman told Thompson that she was in prison for felony murder. She maintained her innocence. She wrote down her Web site.
“I didn’t know what to make of it when I opened the letter,” Thompson says. “My attitude is, `What the f— are you so cheerful about?’ If I were you, I’d slit my wrists.”
Then again, if I were Hunter Thompson, I’d probably shoot myself.
March 27, 2005
I think it’s high time for the Puppyblender to stop pretending he has no position on the Terri Schiavo case. For one with no position, he seems to be gunning pretty hard for the pro-death side. The last straw for me was a favorable link to Football Fans For Truth, whose Schiavo F.A.Q. could have been written by George Felos, Michael Schiavo and George Greer, followed by an even more shrill entry that compares Schiavo skeptics to the “Free Mumia” crowd. Glenn later backs off a bit from the Mumia analogy, but not really:
Well, the “Free Mumia” comparison only applies to the unwillingness of some commentators to look at the actual record, and the willingness to posit a huge and implausible conspiracy on the part of numerous judges, attorneys, etc. (And Schiavo-partisan Randall Terry is just Al Sharpton with an inferior tailor. At best.). But the point is taken, and I apologize for any suggestion that the cases are otherwise comparable, because of course they’re not. There’s nothing tragic about what happened to Mumia.
Um, yeah, but I think there’s a more fundamental difference than that. Reasonable doubts exist as to whether Michael Schiavo has Terri Schiavo’s best interests at heart, whether Terri ever expressed a desire to be killed rather than put on life support, or even whether she really is PVS. There is no reasonable doubt as to Mumia’s guilt.
UPDATE: Reynolds goes further out into left field by drinking the phony phederalist Kool-Aid (in a more literal sense than that analogy is normally applied). Hat tip: Prestopundit, who appears to have drunk more than few cups of it himself.
Say hello to the newest Bear Flag League member, the Claremont Institute.
It seems to me that the “Kill Terri” crowd has at least two discrete factions, each of which has an agenda of their own. One group is obsessed with death as an end in itself; the other, with the infallibility of the courts.
The first group, which includes Michael Schiavo and his Kevorkianesque* lawyer, George Felos, is quite properly categorized as the “culture of death” by its opponents. Supporters of the death culture generally reject such crass labels, but come dangerously close to adopting them in some of their more candid moments. For them, mercy killings are an end in themselves, patient’s intent being merely a procedural hurdle that must be overcome to advance their agenda in our current, unenlightened society, but which will eventually go the wayside in favor of a broader “duty to die,” to quote Colorado’s then-Governor Richard Lamm. So finding an intent where a patient has not clearly expressed it is only an intermediate step; the hope is that by the time the next Terri Schiavo comes around, we won’t have to argue about intent at all. Nor will we have to argue about whether a patient is really PVS or minimally conscious; both are deemed severe handicaps, and both will trigger that sacred “duty to die.”
The second, much larger group, which I’ll dub the judicial supremacy crowd for want of a better term, believes that once a court has made a ruling, that ruling should stick no matter what. These are the people who think that the republic would explode if any modern executive were to refuse to bow down to the courts. Typically, such objections are phrased on more-law-abiding-than-thou terms, as if there were a clear rule of law that made courts the only ones responsible for following the Constitution, while everyone else took an oath to affirm The Constitution According To Five Judges, instead. Stubbornness on the parts of the “political” branches of government, as judicial apologists love to call them, is seen as crass and … heaven forbid … political, just as they are seen among the general population, who is supposed to know better than to form independent legal theories on their own. Stubbornness from the courts, however, is treated as a whole ‘nother matter.
Take, for example, this article on Judge Greer’s propensity to stick by his early rulings no matter what. To the Schindlers, of course, this “feature” of Greer’s jurisprudence has been extremely frustrating:
Attorney Pat Anderson, who had represented the Schindlers for three years of the court fight, filed three motions for recusal but said she could not get Greer to budge.
“A lawyer told me when I first got involved in this case that he (Greer) does not have a reverse on his transmission,” Anderson said. “He apparently is too prideful to say ‘I made a mistake. I made a mistake because I didn’t have all the information and I am sorry I made a mistake.”‘
That’s pretty much how most people would describe anybody, judge or no, whose views won’t budge no matter what new evidence you provide that may indicate their original conclusions were wrong. But to judicial supremacy crowd, once a judge gets involved the stubbornness trait ceases to be a vice and magically transforms into a virtue:
“There are very few people who have shown the will to stand up to raw power,” said Stetson University Law Professor Michael Allen, who has studied the Schiavo case. “He’s one.”
“This is simply a case of people not liking this decision, and the fact that a judge is standing up to this is quite important,” Allen added.
To the judicial supremacists, it is anathema to utter out loud the possiblity that any “fact” found by one judge and not reversed by another (under a nearly impossible “clearly erroneous” standard) may not in fact be a … well… fact, or that any “law” made up by a few activist judges at the top level, appealable to no one, may be anything other than a … er… law. For them, the mere fact that “Judge” Greer, an individual whose own judgment seems more than a tad questionable, found such “facts” under purported to be “clear and convincing” evidence is enough. That he later explained away his false Perry Mason moment with Diane Meyer, or relied on a fuzzy CT scan rather than allow a more determinative MRI or PET scan, let alone step aside from the case and allow another judge to re-visit his supposedly “clear” and “convincing” determinations, makes him a tragic hero of the judicial supremacy cause, without whom we would surely devolve into anarchy or become a Taliban-style theocracy.
I say, checks and balances are a two-way street. Originally, courts were supposed to be “the least dangerous branch” of government since they have no power to enforce their own judgments. Andrew Jackson took full advantage of this, (in-)famously pronouncing that “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Like Ann Coulter, I agree that chaos would result if this became the regular course of action of the “political” branches, but also like Ann Coulter, I also think it might be good if an executive did so every once in a while, preferably in response to a judicial ruling that is clearly unsupported by the text of the statute or constitutional provision it purports to interpret. Much as I like the idea of a constitutional republic with checks and balances and all that good stuff, if the only real choice we have is between being One Nation Under Judges and One Nation Under Unrestricted Democracy, I’m opting for democracy.
*I’ve used this analogy several times before, but am beginning to think it is terribly unfair to Jack Kevorkian. Kevorkian may have bumped off off a few depressed patients who weren’t really terminally ill, and is rightly criticized for that, but for what it’s worth, there is no question at all that any of his victims intended to die. Quite the contrary, each of his victims contacted him voluntarily, most flying in from other states, for the specific purposes of dying.
When I accused John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of jumping the shark,*I in no way intended to imply that the schlock who comes after them, John Ziegler, is any better. The only reason I accused one but not the other of shark-jumping is because only has-beens can jump the shark, and while Heckle and Jeckle may be has-beens, Ziegler is more of a never-was-in-the-first-place. This crappy, self-promoting piece (h/t: Patterico) was no exception, and I applaud my usual nemesis, the L.A. Times, for spiking it. If you agree, be sure to follow the link and vote in their (admittedly meaningless) online poll. If you don’t, you can always go listen to John Ziegler instead.
*Yes, I do realize that some claim the phrase “jump the shark” has itself jumped the shark. So too has the observation that “jump the shark” jumped the shark, so there.