Friday, March 25, 2005

OBLIGATORY SCHIAVO POST: Because I think Blogger closes your account if you don't say something about it. As I am conspiracy-minded, my favorite comment comes from ObWi Katherine, in the midst of a discussion of the merits of the law Congress actually passed:

You don't get de novo anything, let alone a [temporary restraining order], if you don't state a non-frivolous legal claim. And they didn't. It's as simple as that.

This is first-semester-of-law school stuff. Either the majority was in such a hurry and so blinded by ideology that they forgot to check on the statutory language (they don't lack for lawyers on their staffs), or the Schindlers' attorneys are in way over their heads, or someone high up in the party was playing a very cynical game.

All these losses by all these different courts, all being portrayed as judicial usurpations. How perfectly does it set up the filibuster fight for the GOP? What chance do John McCain and Chuck Hagel stand in a 2008 primary if they don't vote the party line on the nuclear option? And non-presidential candidates can have their own reasons to worry--chairmanships, primary opponents, that sort of thing.

Reid should have been up there arguing that they were blatantly abusing power, that they didn't believe in checks and balances, that they were bullying their way into private matters that were none of their business...they did end up proving our argument all on their own, and the Senate Dems' deal may have prevented a worse bill from passing. And Reid and Durbin were both out of the country. Even so, I think they screwed this one up.

As for Levin's comment, a specific explanation about the meaning of a specific change of a specific statutory provision, which is immediately agreed to by the leader of the other party, is going to carry more weight then some random Congressman's speech about choosing life. And one is supported by the plain text of the statute, and one simply isn't.

The middle paragraph is what I found interesting--the part about the very cynical game and the chance to blame this all on the judiciary. Katherine also directs us to this from Chris Matthews sidekick David Shuster:

Despite the sweeping floor statements about "protecting life," the legislation itself did not require the federal courts to start by reinserting Schiavo's feeding tube. And while the bill does give the Schiavo family "jurisdiction and standing" to make an argument in federal court, take a look at Section 3 called "relief." Section 3 states, "After a determination of the merits of a suit brought under this Act, the District Court shall issue such declaratory and injunctive relief as may be necessary..." The key words are "after a determination..." Congress did not say the federal court must accept the merits of the lawsuit.

Based on what Schiavo's parents have been saying this week, it appears the legislation's fine print was never shared with them by Bill Frist or anybody else for that matter. Early Monday morning, after President Bush signed the Schiavo bill, Bob Schindler was positively beaming in front of the television cameras. He said he walked into his daughter's hospice room and told her, "We had to wake the President up to save your life."

Did Bill Frist and Tom Delay ever call the Schindler family and say, "not so fast?" Apparently not. In their latest court filing, the Schinder family still clings to the misleading notion offered by lawmakers last weekend that their bill required Schiavo's feeding tube to be immediately reinserted. Quote, "If Congress meant to give the federal courts the power to let her die..." says the Schindler's filing, then passing the law "would be little more than a cruel hoax." Read it again... The Schindlers argue: "If Congress meant to give the federal courts the power..." The fact is, that's exactly what Congress did. And a "cruel hoax" on Terry Schiavo's family is exactly the right description. As one of my doctor contacts observed, "This has always been about politics, not about helping Terri Schiavo or her parents."

John Cole's series of battlefield conversion posts (well, not really) brought on by the Schiavo-bankruptcy bill double-punch are pretty great too. And speaking of the bankruptcy bill--the last topic I was obsessively blogreading about, when I was in hiatus mode all those many......two weeks ago--here's John Quiggin dissecting the only credible pro-bankruptcy bill position I've noticed. "Credible" meaning attempting to find a reason for passing the bankruptcy bill that doesn't involve the Republican Party and Joe Biden being entirely in the thrall of the credit card industry. You know--a good reason. There apparently isn't one.

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