October 24, 2003

If I had a hammer

Over at Right Minds Forum, I felt I was being goaded by John William Kurowski, founder of what appears to be a one man organiztion, the American Constitutional Research Service (no single link or website seems to be available). The question is related to Judge Greer's decision to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. This is the question that John thought was insufficiently answered: "Who would you say is to determine the facts and judge the law when a life is at issue in a legal matter: Judge, Jury, Executive, Legislature?" My first answer was none of them should, but John persisted. I reproduce my second answer here because I thought that it was well written and plus it explains an essential characteristic of my political philosophy. The original title was "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning..."

The Hammer Song

I admire your tenacity, but some point you should reassess your monomania. You're like a child who's discovered a hammer for the first time, and everything looks like a nail. For you, every issue is a constitutional issue.

You got an answer. You didn't like it. Therefore, you assume we didn't sufficiently consider the constitutional merits of the issue.

The government should not have the power to decide death in right-to-die cases. If I followed your wishes, and said, "Gee, John you're absolutely right; the jury should decide the facts in a right-to-die case," then I will have ceded to you that there is a right-to-die and that the government can compel death in situations where no crime has been committed. I absolutely refuse to accept the premise your question implies.

But if you wish me to concede that we live under a regime of judical tyranny as you seem to imply in this sentence -- "Unfortunately, those who believe in saving Terri from a court approved sentence of death have not used their time wisely to counter what Terri’s husband’s shyster lawyer will argue in court to have Terri’s Bill overturned as being unconstitutional, and then have Terri‘s feeding tube removed, and for the final time!" -- then, by all means, I agree, judges rule by fiat, they can overturn the expressed will of the people on a whim under the multifaceted emanations and penumbrae of a constitution only their eyes can see.

Let's examine your questions in terms of a criminal death sentence.

"Should the Legislature make this decision?"

Indeed, legislatures can decide whether capital punishment is an allowable sentence, and when it can be applied.

"Should a Judge make this decision?"

In some cases, a jury can decide the death penalty, but in most cases, a jury decides guilt or innocence, and the judge determines the penalty.

Should the Executive make this decision?"

The executive can pardon or commute a death sentence.

Hmmm... it appears that all three branches are involved in the question of life or death. So there you go, you have two answers: all or none. But somehow I doubt that you'll be satisfied.

The title of the original post was "More compassion from the Culture of Death". It's a post about culture. Culture transcends constitutionality. Unless, by some strange reason, you believe that governments should decide culture, as many liberals appear to think, then maybe you ought to lay this constitutional stuff down for a minute.

Because my sincere belief is this: there is no sense in applying constitutional patches on a corrupt culture. Just as there is no sense in applying patches to a set of severely worn out jeans. The patch won't hold.

These are quotes I hold close at hand:

  • "The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of the society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however logical or respectable."
      -- William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, describing the theme of his book
  • "Before kingdoms change, men must change."
      -- Attributed to John the Baptist
  • In Henry Adams' novel, Democracy. Senator Ratcliffe is asked, "what is to become of us if corruption is allowed to go unchecked."
    "My reply," said Ratcliffe, "is that no representative government can long be much better or worse than the society it represents. Purify society and you purify the government. But try to purify the government artificially and you only aggravate the failure."
  • And last but not least:
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
      -- John Adams, founding father and president of US of A.

See the pattern?

Posted by Bob at October 24, 2003 05:42 AM

Here's the original post "More compassion from the Culture of Death":


"It is simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process," Felos said. "Just because Terri Schiavo is not conscious doesn't mean she doesn't have dignity."

It's sad when death is seen as more dignified than life. For a counter example see here
Related link: Fla. Gov. Orders Comatose Woman Be Fed (Note: AP seems to continuously update this page.)

Posted by: bob at October 24, 2003 06:21 AM