Carol Platt Liebau: Complete Contempt

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Complete Contempt

I can scarcely believe that this is America. You have a young woman -- brain damaged but alive, able to breath on her own -- being dehydrated and starved to death. Congress passes legislation clearly intended to require Terri to be kept alive, while the courts (hopefully) considered a host of troublesome issues.

The refusal to grant injunctive relief is most egregious. In refusing to restore nutrition and hydration while the case is considered, the court is ignoring the clear intent of Congress, expressed by Tom DeLay after the legislation was passed: "We are confident this compromise addresses everyone's concerns, we are confident it will provide Mrs. Schiavo a clear and appropriate avenue for appeal in federal court, and most importantly, we are confident this compromise will restore nutrition and hydration to Mrs. Schiavo as long as that appeal endures." (emphasis mine)

How can the courts justify their contempt for a written law? Perhaps it can be argued that the legislation was inartfully drafted -- but that's the case any time that the courts are called upon to "interpret" legislation. And the intent of Congress is the dispositive factor.

Courts have had the right to hold laws unconstitutional since the days of Marbury v. Madison. They don't have the right simply to ignore a law's plain meaning. "Our robed masters," indeed.


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