Adjectives on the Typewriter

she moves her words like a prizefighter

24 March 2005

Legislating from the Bench

First off, I readily acknowledge that's quite a clichéd (and controversial) title, but personally I can't come up with anything better to describe the actions of Judicial Branch in this Schiavo case. I've avoided the topic for a while, knowing how people tend to overreact to present dilemmas. But this is too much. There is more at stake than one woman's life; the procedures and laws we establish now set precedents for the years to come, and there's no telling the extent of impact those precedents will have on future generations. It's not something we can quantify.

At any rate, that's neither here nor there (yet). My point is that whatever comes out of this Schiavo case won't just be about Terri's death-- or life, if a miracle happens. The root problem here is that a judge, a fallible and sinful judge, is grasping for the authority to decide whether someone should live or die. Frankly, he's trying to play God. And although the Judiciary has been out of hand for quite a while, this case presents us with the opportunity to correct the problem, to return to the principles this nation was founded upon. Principles of inherent human rights, of Lex Rex, of checks and balances. Our country was formed on the idea that men, as corrupt, depraved humans, cannot be given sole power over the lives of others. Thus, the Constitution established three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. With the power of a nation distributed across the three branches, no one branch could assume total authority. The other two stood to restrain, to prevent one branch from oppressing the people.

In the current Schiavo case, the Executive has recognized Terri's right to live. Both President George Bush (R) and Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) have stood up for the Schindler family and its plea to keep their daughter alive.

The Legislative Branch, too, has supported the Schindlers and Mrs. Schiavo by issuing a subpoena that would have kept Terri alive at least temporarily. But, in both cases, the Judicial Branch has ignored completely the mandates of the other branches. Their flagrant arrogance is unpardonable. Judges do not have the authority to deny the other branches, nor do they have the authority to make their own laws. That duty is given solely to the Legislative Branch. Still, these Judges, both on the state, federal, and Supreme Court level refuse to change their rulings (or their apathetic silences). Can we expect one branch to regulate itself for the preservation of justice? Obviously not.

It is said that power corrupts. Why then do we give sinful men the power both to make laws and to enforce them? And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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