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Rights and Schiavo



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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.)

What really offends the Left is Congress asserting its constitutional power over a court, and not in service to the liberal agenda. Article III specifically empowers Congress to determine the jurisdiction of the federal courts, which is all it did today. It authorized a federal court to determine whether Terri Schiavo’s due process rights and the right not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment were properly protected by a state court. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided on its own that abortion was a federal question, not to be left to the states, without any constitutional basis whatsoever. It preempted every state court and legislature (and Congress, for that matter). And the Left celebrates this decision.

As for why Congress is acting here, as opposed to any other case with overlapping issues, I suppose that question could be asked whenever Congress acts. The Schiavo case has risen to national attention. So, Congress is responding. That’s how representative government works. The week after the Titanic sank, Congress held its first hearings to change U.S. maritime laws.

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.”



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