The 12 judges on the 11th Circuit didn’t disclose what the vote count was today on its decision to let Terri Schiavo die, but the split in the judges’ opinions was evident in their comments, as reported by MSNBC.
Speaking for the side that was unfortunately the majority, Judge Stanley Birch Jr. wrote that “the time had come for the dispassionate discharge of duty.”
To be dispassionate about this case is outside of my comprehension. Is his statement an indication of detached secular amorality, or is it just the process of creating a professional force field to protect him as he does a task he feels he is obligated to do, but really doesn’t want to? Whatever it is, it didn’t stop him from chiding Bush and the GOP congress:
“In resolving the Schiavo controversy, it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people — our Constitution.”
The Founding Fathers obviously thought that some day the courts might get full of themselves and begin to take the governance of the nation into their own hands, and they provided powers to the Executive and Legislative to reduce that risk. Judge Birch apparently does not want to be so constrained — and indication that this is exactly the rigth time for extreme checks and balances
Those who wrote dissenting opinions sound much more human and humane than Birch. Judges Gerald Tjoflat and Charles R. Wilson, who also dissented the last time the Schiavo case came before the court, wrote:
“The relevant question here is whether a rational factfinder could have found by clear and convincing evidence that Mrs. Schiavo would have wanted nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn under these circumstances. The plaintiffs carry a heavy burden, but I do not believe that this question can be determined in this expedited fashion without a hearing on the merits.”
These judges see the case clearly: It is an exceptional case that is not entirely about the record before the court and the process that is normally followed. They see that the questions that are left hanging are too numerous and too troubling to be left unanswered just because they are coming into the process later than what is normally accepted.
Judges like Birch, attorneys like Felos, the heartless and cruel reaction by many liberals, the alliance with death forged by the Democrats — all this sinks my hope for America like nothing else in recent years. Oddly, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has restored some of that lost hope by separating himself from so many who have stood beside him and declaring that this slow death of a helpless woman is an outrage.