Monday, March 21, 2005

MH - The Political Significance of Terri Schiavo

Much has been written about this, especially in the last few days since Congress got involved, including some very good analysis of this at NRO. Moral implications aside (and I don't mean to minimize this; it is, in fact, the most important aspect of the case - just not the center point of this post), the significance lies in such a dramatic example of judicial usurpation of the rights of Americans. This is definitely not what the Founders had in mind.

Now, most of us have been seeing this coming for a long, long time. In that sense, this is nothing new - just, as I mentioned above, a most dramatic example. But I think we're coming to a crossroads here in America. Is this going to continue to be a republican democracy - or perhaps I should ask whether we're going to retain at least the illusion that we function under this kind of government - or are we going to acknowledge what this country is in fact becoming, a liberal oligarchy ruled by judges who operate under no restraints by the public.

Mark Levin puts it dead-on in this NRO post this morning:
The right to live, or more specifically, the right not to be killed, is a fundamental right. And it's a right recognized in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence. So ingrained in our society is the notion of life, that the 8th Amendment prohibits "cruel and usual punishment" (even short of death) and the 14th Amendment prohibits states from depriving any person of life without due process of law. This has nothing to do with federalism, unless you ignore the 8th and 14th Amendments. (Unlike the Left, that contorts the 14th Amendment, I'm recognizing its literal meaning.)


We must not allow the Left to define the terms of this debate. It is willing to make almost any argument to protect the supremacy of the courts. And even though Congress here is instructing the federal courts to review the case, the Left objects to any congressional exercise of constitutional authority over the judiciary. As Rep. Jim Moran (Dem, VA) said yesterday, "The judiciary has spoken."

Somehow in this country, we got the idea that the courts were gods, and their words sacrosanct. It is true that the judiciary was created as a balance against the legislative and executive branches, but that those branches in turn would have some balance over the judiciary as well. It's called the system of Checks and Balances, for those of you who remember your high school civics - or at least did back when they taught those kinds of things, before schools became dominated by multicultural sensitivity training.

There has been much discussion in recent months, a great deal of it arising from the Iraq War, as to whether or not some Catholic Americans are guilty of putting their country before their Church. I have asked myself many times how much allegiance I can give America considering her dark descent into wickedness. My own opinions on the war are mixed and not worth going into in the context of this post. However, I do believe that our Catholic theology can inform us in our position on what the government can and must do for Terri Schiavo. And, regardless of our feelings regarding our country, we must not fail to look at Terri's case in context of what it means for American jurisprudence, and the future of America's people. If America is to remain, in any sense, a "last, best hope" - if it is to remain worth saving - we must act now, and we must not be afraid to do so as Americans, regardless of what our religious convictions are. I don't believe it shows any disrespect to the moral implications of Terri's situtation to say that there are national implications as well, and that we should care about what they are.

Courts exist to interpret the legality of laws, not to create them. For some time they've been creating them, often where no legal basis exists, and usually with hostility to religion - we've seen it advance from prayer in schools to abortion to display of Nativity scenes and the Ten Commandments to homosexual marriage to euthenasia to Terri Schiavo. This is long past a slippery slope - it's an avalanche. Which is why Terri's case is so important. It's already beyond asking where this is going to stop. We're now at the point where we ask "with who's life will it stop?"

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