Carol Platt Liebau: Utter Contempt - for Law, Ethics and Congress

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Utter Contempt - for Law, Ethics and Congress

Something is quite amiss with the district court judge who refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. What this judge is doing is akin to starving a convict on death row, even as his appeals are being litigated.

Here is the law passed by Congress over the weekend. Note the fact that it calls for DE NOVO review by the District Court. "De novo review" allows review of the entire record, facts and law (one isn't bound by the usual appeals court standards, that is, of reviewing only for legal error except in extraordinary circumstances, for example).

Even if the judge HAD looked at everything "de novo" as he was supposed to -- and ruled against Terri Schiavo -- it's hard to believe that the judge wouldn't order the feeding tube reinserted, pending appeal. After all, there's always time for Terri to die. The big problem would be letting her die, and then a higher court determining that she should have been able to live.

Courts grant injunctions if there will be irreparable harm should the relief not be granted, especially in cases like this one, where a life hangs in the balance. Here, permitting someone to go without food and water for some indefinite period of time is certainly irreparable harm.

It's hard for me to see how anyone could think the district court judge ruled in accordance with the law with respect to either (1) the standard of review (de novo) or (2) injunctive relief.

What's more, the judge ignored the clearly expressed wishes of the Congress that Terri Schiavo receive food and water while her case is relitigated in federal court.

It is an awful, bankrupt opinion . . . legally and ethically.


Post a Comment

<< Home