Thursday, January 10, 2008

Senator Tom Harkin Supported Terri Schiavo Federal Law

I get so sick of historical revisionism, that I decided to post this entry about how Democrats also backed the Terri Schiavo federal law. This is what Tom Harkin, Democratic senator from Iowa, said at the time:

Where there is a genuine dispute as to what the desires of the incapacitated person really are, then there ought to be at the end some review by a federal court outside of state jurisdiction. You might say, 'Why a federal court?' State courts vary in their evidentiary proceedings and in their process--fifty different ones. . . . Every review of that, up through the state courts, is basically on the procedure, not upon the first facts. In a case like this, where someone is incapacitated and their life support can be taken away, it seems to me that it is appropriate -- where there is a dispute, as there is in this case--that a federal court come in, like we do in habeas corpus situations, and review it and make another determination.

He's no "theocrat." Indeed, Harkin is one of the most liberal members of the Senate. And he was right to want to protect a helpless and vulnerable woman from the bum's rush she received in Florida. Too bad the press has its own narrative to sell rather than the truth.

Alas, the federal judge refused to follow the law and Terri is now in her grave.



At January 11, 2008 , Blogger nissa_loves_cats said...

When I first heard of the Terri Schiavo case, I assumed that everyone knew about the euthanasia program in Nazi Germany and what that led to, and so no one outside of the American Nazi Party would dare advocate for Terri's killing.

The fact that I was wrong still scares me.


At January 11, 2008 , Blogger Mort Corey said...

The word "Nazi" has been so overused as a means of derision that it's meaning has almost been lost. They were National Socialists. Their policies and programs were quite similar to many of those promoted by the Republicratic party today.

Not inferring anything in particular, just a pet-peeve.


At January 11, 2008 , Blogger James said...

As one lawyer who studied the case put it;

Terri Schiavo had process but she didn't have DUE PROCESS.

The Federal Judge who got the case ruled that Terri Schiavo was not entitled to the protection of the 8th Admendent of cruel and Unusual Punishment because she was not a convicted criminal.

That was utterly mindblogging when you consider the US Supreme Court is entertaining the notion that Lethal Injection may be unconstitutional becuase it causes pain.

But the Florida courts passed upon Terri Schiavo a court decree mandating that Terri be starved and dehdydrated to death over a period of almost 14 days. The Hospice even had an extensive exit protocol which outlined the pain management for Terri including the administration of morphine.

Terri was subjected to a PROLONGED process that would result in her death.

Something, that could never be passed upon a criminal guilty of mass murder as method of execution.

Terri was also denied the right to a jury trial.

The right to jury trial is an important constitional right given to the most evil of people when the potential of loss of life will occur.

At January 12, 2008 , Blogger Wetware said...

If you want to make valid arguments then you should make valid comparisons.

As much as inflammatory imagery and wording adds interest it doesn't add credibility and cannot turn an invalid comparison to a valid one.

The constitution mandates that a criminal court must sentence a CRIMINAL to a punishment that is neither cruel nor unusual.

The criminal court sentencing process is not comparable to the probate court process of enforcing the right of a citizen to refuse unwanted medical treatments and surgery.

American citizens have the right to make medical treatment choices that others would disagree with and that others would not accept.

American citizens have the right to refuse medical treatments and surgeries even if such refusals appear to bystanders or the courts to have obvious outcomes or consequences.

Certain religions reject blood transfusions. Certain religions reject medical treatment altogether. This is neither a new concept nor is it narrowly limited to such cases as Schiavo.

It has been a legal fact for many years.

What competent, unbiased or uninvolved lawyer would claim that fourteen appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts; five suits in Federal District Court; Florida legislation struck down by the Supreme Court of Florida; a subpoena by a congressional committee to qualify Schiavo for witness protection; federal legislation (Palm Sunday Compromise); and four denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States demonstrates a lack of "due process" ???

The Schiavo case has been labelled the most litigated probate court case in U.S. history. You would find it difficult to find many probate cases that make it to a state supreme court and for this case to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court is astonishing given the bending of the rules and the amount of latitude that had to be granted by the courts just to allow the Schindlers standing to present a case at all.

I am guessing the lawyer referred to by James was somehow involved in the case and making excuses for flawed legal arguments and faulty filings that resulted in failure.

James- if you take a look at court rules accross the United States and in particular Florida you will note that jury trials are not an option in most states for probate cases.

I don't know if the criticisms are meant as a starting point for meaningful discussion and debate or even as a starting point toward finding ways to effect change for the future. These criticisms have appeared endlessly and usually are accompanied by inaccurate or blatently false information about the case history or about the people involved in the case.

If you are suggesting that probate cases should be heard before a jury perhaps it would be interesting to explore the ramifications of that.

I can tell you that seating a jury is no trivial matter. I can tell you that compulsory jury duty only exists for criminal trials in most jurisdictions.

Most citizens don't consider jury duty as a honor or a privlege. Jury duty has been made the butt of jokes by comedians. Most citizens don't understand "civic duty" or a duty to democratic society.

So if you are proposing- by way of criticisms- that the system should be changed I would be interested in hearing whether you have any idea what you would want to change, why it should be changed and how such change could be proposed to the people and whether you believe the people would react favorably to the proposed changes.


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