[FoRK] Debunking the Right Schiavo spin

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Mar 22 17:15:51 PST 2005




Tom DeLay puts the Hammer down

If there was ever any doubt it, Tom DeLay has just made it clear: When  
Republicans pushed for emergency legislation in the Terri Schiavo case,  
they weren't intending just to give Schiavo's family one more day in  
court. Their intention was to force a federal judge to order the  
re-insertion of Schiavo's feeding tube.

  It hasn't worked so far, and DeLay seems to be steaming. In a  
statement released this afternoon, the House majority leader said Judge  
James Whittemore's refusal to order the re-insertion of Schiavo's  
feeding tube is "obviously disappointing" and contrary to the desires  
of the legislators who passed the Schiavo bill.

  "Congress explicitly provided Terri Schiavo's family recourse to  
federal court, and this decision is at odds with both the clear intent  
of Congress and the constitutional rights of a helpless young woman.  
Section two of the legislation we passed clearly requires the court  
determine de novo the merits of the case -- or in layman's terms, it  
requires a completely new and full review of the case. Section three  
requires the judge to grant a temporary restraining order because he  
cannot fulfill his or her recognized duty to review the case de novo  
without first keeping Terri Schiavo alive."

  While Delay's statement may accurately reflect the sentiment of some  
members of Congress, he misrepresents both Whittemore's ruling and the  
Schiavo legislation itself. DeLay seems to suggest that Whittemore  
didn't engage in a de novo review of the constitutional claims raised  
by Schiavo's parents. In fact, Whittemore did exactly that. In his  
ruling, Whittemore considered and rejected each of the five  
constitutional arguments the parents raised in their lawsuit. He did  
not do so based on the conclusions reached by the Florida courts; he  
did so based on facts and legal reasoning set forth in his own opinion.  
DeLay claims that the Schiavo legislation "requires" Whittemore to  
issue a temporary restraining order. It does not. The text of the law  
provides that the court "shall issue such declaratory and injunctive  
relief as may be necessary to protect the rights of Theresa Marie  
Schiavo under the Constitution and laws of the United States relating  
to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment  
necessary to sustain her life." Having concluded that the legal  
proceedings in Florida adequately afforded Schiavo all of the rights to  
which she was entitled, Whittemore was free to find that no injunction  
was "necessary" to protect those rights further.

  DeLay, who has described Schiavo as God's gift to the religious right,  
said the fight for her life goes on. Schiavo's parents are filing an  
appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and DeLay  
seems confident that the judges there will do as they're told.  
"Disheartening as the judge's decision is, I know the Schindler family  
is appealing to the 11th Circuit, and as long as there's still a chance  
to save Terri, this fight is not over," DeLay said. "I firmly believe  
the circuit court will give the case a full and appropriate review."

  -- Tim Grieve

  [14:59 EST, March 22, 2005]

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