Schiavo Case: Creeping Tyranny

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The reason why the United States Constitution is so admired around the world as an inspired and enduring stroke of genius is that its framers figured out that the preservation of liberty, and thus, the Union, would depend upon an eternal vigilance when it came to Separation of Powers.

So, the Founding Fathers, seeking to avoid the unfortunate historical pattern of the human tendency towards tyranny, built the notion of Checks and Balances right into the document. Thus, the fundamental underpinning of our government, is the idea that the House of Representatives and the Senate pass legislation and that the President serves as executive while they all leave it up to the Courts to interpret the laws.

As John Adams put it: "The judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislature and the executive, and independent of both, so that it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that." This design works well so long as each body understands both the scope and limits scope of its own duties and respects those of the other branches. The Terri Schiavo case --whereby a husband succesfully sought the removal of feeding tubes from his comatose wife, only to see intervention from Washington-- ought to raise the eyebrows of any honest Constitutional scholars. For what on the surface certainly seems like a selfless act of altruism on the part of a right-to-life majority might really be a Republican-controlled junta riding roughshod over the judicial process and taking us one step closer to totalitarianism.

At first blush, who would even think of criticizing Congress for delaying its Easter recesses in order to save the life of a semi-comatose woman whose husband wants to pull the plug on her over the objections of her parents? And Bush looks like just as much of a hero for rushing up from the Texas ranch to sign the bill into law before the ink could dry.

Afterall, Michael Schiavo is the most unsympathetic litigant since O.J. Not only does this heartless creep want to bury his spouse, but he's been making the rounds of all the TV talk shows, blaming the controversy on his supposedly greedy in-laws who he claims have been after Terri's insurance settlement money for years.

Yet, the plain truth is that Michael Schiavo no longer loves his wife. Otherwise, how do you explain that he's been shacking up with another woman long enough to have a couple of kids with her? Any family lawyer could tell you that the only reason why he still refuses to divorce Terri is that he'd have to share half of the marital assets with her parents, so that they could continue to care for her.

After squandering a million dollars on a protracted, seven-year legal battle, instead of on state-of-the-art rehabilitation and medical care to make his wife as comfortable as possible, Michael finally convinced the courts to order Terri's feeding tubes yanked. I believe the decision was wrong, because the unfortunate woman never signed a living will requesting that such a step be taken.

But the courts often render wrong decisions, and we're setting a dangerous precedent when we celebrate an end run around an unpopular ruling by the other branches of government specifically forbidden from making such an interference with the legal process. I shudder to think where this all might lead now that the scales of justice have been trumped by a Bible-thumping Congress with a vigilante mentality.

Black Star News columnist Kam Lloyd Williams, Jr. is a member of the NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars. For more reports please click on "subscribe" on our main page for the newsstand edition of The Black Star News or send a check or money or to 234 5th Avenue 5th Floor, NYC, 10001. You can also call us at (212) 481-7745 with story ideas.

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