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How the Schiavo Federal Court Case Might Have Been Won(Long article worth the read)
FindLaw's Writ ^ | Saturday, Mar. 26, 2005 | By MICHAEL C. DORF

Posted on 03/28/2005 11:20:36 AM PST by fight_truth_decay

Over the course of the past week, the Terri Schiavo case made headlines with its swift and unsuccessful journey through the federal courts. The string of court defeats might have left the impression that the case was doomed from the outset. Yet the litigation's failure may owe more to a poor tactical choice by the lawyers advising the Schindlers--Terri's parents--than to the case's underlying merits.

The original Schindler complaint included a variety of federal constitutional and statutory claims. Each of them was weak at best, as was quickly reflected in federal district judge James Whittemore's ruling that the Schindlers had failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of any of them.

Moreover, the claims set forth in the Schindlers' original complaint failed to take advantage of the procedural opportunities that Congress presented them in the special bill it passed on their behalf, now commonly known as Terri's Law. Each of the claims in the original complaint permitted the district court to decide the merits without receiving new evidence. Thus, Judge Whittemore refused to issue an order restoring the feeding tube pending the outcome of a trial he thought unnecessary. And neither the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals nor the U.S. Supreme Court was willing to intervene.

After their first unsuccessful trip all the way up the federal judicial ladder ended on March 24, the Schindlers returned to the federal district court the next day. The amended complaint they then filed contained one potentially meritorious claim, but by that time the courts had probably concluded that there was nothing to their case. Accordingly, Judge Whittemore and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals made short work of their five new claims.

Had the Schindlers put their best foot forward in the initial complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction, they might well have fared better.

What was the potentially successful claim that appears to have been tacked onto the end of the amended complaint as a mere afterthought? It asserted, fittingly enough, that disconnecting Terri Schiavo from her feeding tube violated a constitutional right to life protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. That claim was stronger than the others and should have positioned the Schindlers to make good use of Terri's Law. It had the added virtue of encapsulating what the case was really about, at least from their perspective. But presented as it was at the eleventh hour, the right-to-life claim came across as too little, too late.

The Schindlers' Original Claims

To see how the Schindlers might have won, it is first worth examining why they lost--by looking at the weaknesses of each of the claims in their original complaint.

First, the Schindlers contended that the state court trial judge who had ordered the removal of Terri's feeding tube had denied her federal constitutional right to an impartial decision maker. Rather than acting as a judge, they argued, Florida Circuit Judge George Greer had become her health-care surrogate.

But Florida law expressly authorizes a trial judge to ascertain, based on all available evidence, what a patient's wishes are, where there is no written advance directive and the family members disagree. Judge Greer was simply acting as a judge, looking at evidence to decide a factual matter: what Terri would have wanted.

Second, the Schindlers claimed that Judge Greer violated constitutional due process by failing to appoint a guardian ad litem or a lawyer for Terri. But due process simply requires representation--and Terri had that in abundance. Michael Schiavo's lawyers made the arguments tending to show that she was in a persistent vegetative state and would want the feeding tube out, while the Schindlers' lawyers made the arguments tending to show that she had some cognitive function and would want the feeding tube to remain in. That is exactly how the adversary system is supposed to work, and additional lawyers would not have raised additional points.

Third, the Schindlers claimed that Judge Greer violated due process in that he never personally visited Terri. But there is no federal constitutional right to have a judge make a fact-finding field trip: Courts routinely hear evidence in their courtrooms. Here, the court took testimony from five physicians who had personally examined Terri.

Fourth, the Schindlers alleged that Florida law violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against incapacitated persons such as their daughter. How so? In general, Florida law permits judges to serve as proxy decision makers for their own family members but not for others; yet Florida permits judges to play this role (in certain circumstances) when a party before the court is incapacitated.

Under the relevant Supreme Court precedents, including the 2001 decision in Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, distinctions on the basis of physical or mental disability are only subject to the most minimal judicial scrutiny; if they are barely "rational," that is enough. And of course it's rational to distinguish for this limited purpose between people who are too incapacitated to express their wishes and people who are not.

Fifth, the Schindlers argued that Terri's First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion had been infringed. But under the 1990 Supreme Court precedent of Employment Division v. Smith, the government does not infringe on the constitutional right to free exercise of religion when it applies a general law to someone whose religion would otherwise require a different outcome. And here, the Florida law for determining when a feeding tube may be removed was generally applicable.

Sixth, the Schindlers invoked the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which mandates a more generous standard for judging free exercise claims by persons whom the government has confined to an institution. For them, a condition is legally impermissible if it imposes a "substantial burden" on religious exercise, even if the burden arises out of a general law or policy--unless the burden serves a compelling interest.

Judge Whittemore thought this claim had little likelihood of success because the statute's language only applies to conditions imposed by "government." As I discuss below in connection with the "right to life" claim, that reasoning is questionable. Nonetheless, Judge Whittemore appears to have been correct in his bottom line conclusion that the RLUIPA claim had little likelihood of success on the merits. In addition to requiring government action, RLUIPA requires that the person on whose behalf the claim is being asserted be in a state-run institution, and The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, Inc., where Terri is institutionalized, probably does not count.

The Core Weakness in All of the Schindlers' Original Claims

Terri's Law gave the Schindlers a remarkable--and in some ways, unprecedented--opportunity. Congress empowered them to litigate anew any issues relating to their daughter's condition. Violations of Terri's rights were to be determined without regard to any prior rulings by the state courts: de novo in lawyer's jargon.

Yet for the most part, the Schindlers and their lawyers squandered their opportunity by initially presenting claims that alleged that the state courts themselves had denied Terri her procedural rights. The only way for the federal courts to evaluate those claims was to look at what happened in state court--that is, to evaluate rather than ignore what occurred in state court. Not surprisingly, the federal courts were reluctant to say that anything that happened in state court was so irregular as to constitute a denial of due process.

To be sure, the religious freedom claims were capable of fresh evaluation but they had a different problem: They were subject to dismissal as legally insufficient without the necessity of a factual determination.

In sum, what the Schindlers needed--but what they failed to include in their original complaint--was some plausible allegation that would have required the district court to take evidence anew on two critical questions: (1) Was their daughter in a persistent vegetative state? (2) What would her wishes be, given her condition?

The Right-to-Life Claim That Came Too Late

Only after they lost in the district court, before the three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit, before the en banc Eleventh Circuit court, and in the U.S. Supreme Court, did the Schindlers' lawyers discover the claim on which they should have staked their case in the first place. They asserted, finally, that their daughter has a federal constitutional right not to have her life extinguished by the state-ordered withdrawal of her feeding tube, absent evidence that she would have wished that result. Even then, they only included this potential winner after asserting four more fairly weak claims.

What is the basis for a federal constitutional right to life? Although there is no direct judicial authority for such a right, there is good indirect authority. In particular, the 1990 Supreme Court case of Cruzan v. Missouri Dep't of Health clearly stated that a person has a right not to be involuntarily connected to a feeding tube, and that the state must respect that right in the case of an incapacitated person by abiding by his or her previously expressed wishes. The Cruzan case permitted states to require clear and convincing evidence of a desire to be disconnected, but where such evidence was present, the Court made clear, the patient's wishes are paramount.

It stands to reason that if there is a right to have a feeding tube disconnected, there is also a right not to have such a tube disconnected--at least where the evidence shows that a patient would wish to remain connected. After all, most constitutional rights include their opposites: The right to speak includes a right not to speak; the right to have an abortion includes a right not to have an abortion; and so on.

To be sure, constitutional rights are also generally rights against state interference rather than rights to government assistance. Cruzan was rooted in the common law right to refuse medical treatment, and there is no corresponding right to receive medical treatment from the government.

But that distinction should have counted for little here, because the Schindlers were not asking for any affirmative assistance from the state. They were willing to provide care for their daughter. They just didn't want the state to prohibit them from doing so. In that sense, their constitutional right-to-life claim, like the claim in Cruzan, was also a claim against state interference.

Accordingly, Judge Whittemore appears to have been mistaken in his second ruling. He found that the right-to-life claim failed to allege "state action," a requirement that a plaintiff show that it is the government, not just a private party, that is the cause of injury. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed that result based on the same argument.

Yet, both Judge Whittemore and the Eleventh Circuit failed to come to grips with the fact that Judge Greer issued an order instructing Michael Schiavo to remove Terri's feeding tube, even specifying the exact date and time when he should do so. The state court did not merely stand idly by while permitting Michael to take such action; the court affirmatively mandated the disconnection. That ought to have counted as state action by a state actor--Judge Greer--who was a named defendant in the federal court lawsuit.

The Significance of Terri's Law

Had the Schindlers gotten over the state action hurdle, they would have had to contend with the response that the state had good reason to order Terri's feeding tube removed--namely the evidence that this is what she would have wanted. Yet the federal court could not have reached that conclusion without conducting a new trial of its own. Terri's Law requires de novo determination of such matters.

The federal court, then, could have directed that the feeding tube be reinserted so that this new trial could take place. (Remember, under Terri's law, prior state court determinations could not be cited to show that the Schindlers were unlikely to succeed at trial. So the "likelihood of success on the merits" component of the preliminary injunction showing necessary to reinsert the tube would have been easier for the Schindlers to satisfy.)

The Constitutionality of the Federal Statute

There remains the question of whether the federal statute is constitutional. The answer is not entirely clear.

The most obviously objectionable aspect of Terri's Law is that it establishes a rule of law for just one person--Terri Schiavo. Although that makes it a bizarre and, in my view, unjustifiable, exercise of Congressional power, this is not a constitutional flaw. There is a long history of so-called "private bills." As long as such bills do not impose criminal penalties, they do not run afoul of the Constitution.

What about the fact that Terri's Law requires the federal courts to disregard prior determinations by state courts? That too is objectionable on policy grounds but probably not on constitutional grounds. In habeas corpus cases, for many years, the federal district courts engaged in de novo review of federal legal questions that had previously been determined by state courts. The Supreme Court and Congress subsequently cut back on the scope of habeas review, but there is no reason to believe they were constitutionally required to do so.

Granted, Terri's Law goes farther than the old interpretation of the habeas statute in authorizing federal courts to give de novo reconsideration to questions of fact rather than just to questions of law, and in seeming to authorize even de novo reconsideration of questions of state law. (For reasons unknown, the Schindlers did not raise any claims under state law, even though there would have been jurisdiction to raise such claims once they were in federal court with federal claims.)

But while Terri's Law may be criticized as unwise, de novo review is probably constitutionally valid. Congress will sometimes have good reason to want to make a federal forum available for de novo litigation of suspect state court factual findings. For example, during Reconstruction and subsequent periods of racial conflict, Congress could have thought that state courts would not give African-American litigants a fair hearing.

I would argue that Congress would have had the power to authorize de novo federal court proceedings in those circumstances--to replace racist state court fact determinations with fairer federal court ones. If so, then the question whether the Schiavo case presents comparable circumstances is simply a policy question, not a constitutional one.

Perhaps Terri's Law ran afoul of the constitutional doctrine forbidding Congress from changing the outcome in a litigated case in which there has been a final judgment. Yet it didn't quite do that either; Terri's Law afforded a new forum, but it did not require a particular substantive outcome. (We know, of course, that Congress was hoping that the federal courts would rule for the Schindlers. But the very fact that they did not, shows that the law did not mandate any particular outcome.)

Finally, Terri's Law could be seen as a violation of Cruzan itself. That case clearly states that when there is clear and convincing evidence that a patient wishes to have a feeding tube disconnected, the government cannot insist that the tube remain in place. Yet in some sense, that is exactly what Terri's Law attempted to do. It authorized federal courts to hold extensive proceedings--and to prolong Terri's attachment to the feeding tube during those proceedings--even after her constitutional right to be disconnected had been established by clear and convincing evidence in the Florida courts.

Whether that or another constitutional attack on Terri's Law would have succeeded will likely remain forever unknown, for as this column goes to press in the early hours of March 26, 2005, the Schindlers appear to have run out of options in the federal courts. They may yet obtain relief in the state courts or elsewhere, but the federal courts that once seemed their best hope have turned a deaf ear to their claims.

The Lingering Mystery: Why Did the Schindlers Wait to Raise their Best Claim?

Even if the Schindlers had brought their right-to-life claim at the outset, they might well have lost. Judge Whittemore and the Eleventh Circuit could have issued exactly the same legal rulings that they actually did, and even if the Schindlers managed to win on the law, at the end of the day, the federal courts might well have agreed with the state courts on the facts.

Yet given the weaknesses in the claims the Schindlers did bring in their original complaint, one is left to wonder why they didn't assert the one claim that had a better chance of success. One possibility is simply the rush of events. The Schindlers' legal team were undoubtedly drafting their complaint even as the legislation in Congress was changing by the minute.

Haste may indeed explain the Schindlers' initial failure to raise the right-to-life claim, but there is another intriguing, though highly speculative, possible explanation: Perhaps their lawyers were blinded by ideology. A federal "right to life" based on Cruzan falls within the general doctrine of "substantive due process," under which the Supreme Court has invalidated state laws prohibiting contraception, abortion, and sodomy. That doctrine is anathema to religious conservatives, who scorn it as judicial activism run amok. It is the doctrine that underwrote Roe v. Wade.

It is possible that in drafting their original complaint, the Schindlers' lawyers could not bring themselves to rely on cases that the pro-life movement abhors, and that they did so, in their second federal complaint, only when their desperation would color the courts' perception of the issue.

If this explanation is accurate, it would be ironic indeed, for it would mean that the Schindlers' and their lawyers' intellectual consistency precluded them from using to their advantage a gift bestowed by a Congress with no such qualms--a Congress that in enacting Terri's Law was willing to cast aside the spirit if not the letter of principles it often professes to hold dear: principles of federalism, separation of powers, and the rule of law.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: cruzan; denovo; eleventhcircuit; employmentvsmith; equalprotection; freeexercise; jameswhittemore; judgegreer; law; prolife; religion; righttolife; rluipa; roevwade; schrindler; schrivo; supremecourt; terri; terrislaw; univalavgarrett
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To: Dead Dog

In published articles, including a 1997 op-ed in the Minneapolis–St. Paul Star Tribune, he has advocated the starvation of Alzheimer’s patients. He has described PVS patients as indistinguishable from other forms of animal life. He has said that PVS patients and others with brain impairment lack personhood and should have no constitutional rights. Perusing the case literature and articles surrounding the “right to die” and PVS, one will see Dr. Cranford’s name surface again and again. In almost every case, he is the one claiming PVS, and advocating the cessation of nutrition and hydration.
http://www.startribune.com/stories/779/23033.html


151 posted on 03/28/2005 3:22:37 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: My2Cents; hchutch
I expect the people I vote for to stand up for their own principles, not mine. You said they did it for me and people like me. I guess you're saying they threw us a bone, and their convictions really weren't in it.

Now you're deliberately acting as if you're stupid.

I'm saying that there are always competing factions demanding satisfaction from politicians. This fight pitted the pro-life community against the small-government conservatives. The pro-life community "won" this round, but they also managed to burn up a great deal of political capital that was to be used for other critical tasks. Now it looks like we've lost the opportunity to use the nuclear option. Thanks, buddy.

You derailed one of your own goals (it's also one of mine)--and you derailed another major goal of the entire GOP, all in one week, to get your way--and then your side of the aisle squandered the victory.

What you're telling me is that as long as we vote Republican, you're willing to tolerate us unwashed religious nuts, but as soon as we expect our elected leaders whom we worked for, sent money to, and have fought to support, to take a stand when it counts, we're lucky to get the time of day.

Do you support making English the official language of the United States?

If so, then kindly do us all a favor and learn how to read it.

I am saying that your side got a LOT of patronage. Your side then proceeded to waste that patronage. Your side will be expected to deliver a lot of victories in return for that wasted patronage.

What your side did with the patronage you received is of no account. We conservatives believe in letting people deal with the consequences of their decisions.

152 posted on 03/28/2005 3:23:19 PM PST by Poohbah (If it's called "collateral damage," how come I can't use it to secure a loan?)
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To: hchutch

As Hugh Hewitt said last Friday, the great divide in the country isn't "conservative vs. liberal," that's too simplistic an analysis...It's "secular vs. religious." I've seen this on FreeRepublic this past week, and it distresses me. People who were united behind Bush last year, and now many of these conservatives are turning on the religious pro-life conservatives, some telling us the GOP would be better off without us.


153 posted on 03/28/2005 3:24:06 PM PST by My2Cents (America is divided along issues of morality, between the haves and the have-nots.)
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To: Poohbah
Thanks a lot. Y'all took out a huge loan of goodwill.

Man Poohbah, step back from the cyniscim a bit. This fight existed with or without Schiavo, and it exists without us the constituence. This is a power struggle between egotistical men in suits vs. egotistical men in robes.

However, I wouldn't characterize the Bush's moves as pandering. Nor would I consider myself part of the Evangelical Right to Life group, but this whole episode has me out for (political) blood.

154 posted on 03/28/2005 3:25:23 PM PST by Dead Dog
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To: My2Cents
People who were united behind Bush last year, and now many of these conservatives are turning on the religious pro-life conservatives, some telling us the GOP would be better off without us.

I am a religious conservative.

I am also a person interested in practical results. And if the religious right doesn't generate practical results (or those results are adverse to the cause of conservatism), then the GOP is much better off without the religious right.

Also, kindly note that the people turning on Bush are the folks whining about Bush not engaging in impeachable offenses to satisfy their whims.

155 posted on 03/28/2005 3:27:41 PM PST by Poohbah (If it's called "collateral damage," how come I can't use it to secure a loan?)
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To: Poohbah

I refuse to take the blame for "burning political capital." If the Republicans in Congress can't get the President's agenda items through, it't not because they spent a chit on a pro-life issue; it's because they're feckless weenies.


156 posted on 03/28/2005 3:27:49 PM PST by My2Cents (America is divided along issues of morality, between the haves and the have-nots.)
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To: Dead Dog
Man Poohbah, step back from the cyniscim a bit.

Give me one good reason why I should. I've learned far too much about a bunch of FReepers.

157 posted on 03/28/2005 3:29:06 PM PST by Poohbah (If it's called "collateral damage," how come I can't use it to secure a loan?)
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To: My2Cents
I refuse to take the blame for "burning political capital."

And there you have it: you help make the mess, then refuse to take responisbility for it.

You've eloquently made the point: by your own analysis, the GOP is better off not doing business with you.

158 posted on 03/28/2005 3:32:38 PM PST by Poohbah (If it's called "collateral damage," how come I can't use it to secure a loan?)
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To: Poohbah

The whole concept of Political Capital as a expendible resources is a bad analogy, and does not reflect reality in politics.

Bush himself has said in effect that Political Capital is created when it is expended.


159 posted on 03/28/2005 3:34:39 PM PST by Dead Dog
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It is good for us to think ahead and plan for our last days, whenever they might be. Most importantly, it is good to discuss our wishes with family.



Although "living wills" are becoming very popular, we should remember that they did not originate within Christian circles. Euthanasia and "right to die" organizations exist, in part, to encourage elderly and infirm people to get out of the way to make room for the more productive and useful members of society. Before euthanasia would ever be accepted by society, "right to die" advocates knew the climate of society would have to change. In 1967, a Chicago attorney by the name of Luis Kutner introduced a new document designed to bring about that change. The document was called a "living will."



Signing a "living will" may mean signing away unspecified treatment in an unknown situation in the future. It is far better to make our wishes known to a trusted friend or family member or to appoint a durable power of attorney who will speak for us when we cannot speak for ourselves.


But... my family knows me well. Won't they know what I would like done when my death is imminent?


In a survey of nursing home residents, 80% said they would want life support if necessary. However, only 30% of their families thought their loved ones would want life support. Families need to talk! Families must communicate! This will also help eliminate anger and disharmony between family members.


http://www.lutheransforlife.org/Life%20Issue%20Info/End-of-Life/ventilators_-_feeding_tubes.htm


160 posted on 03/28/2005 3:34:45 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: Poohbah

Then good-bye.


161 posted on 03/28/2005 3:35:23 PM PST by My2Cents (America is divided along issues of morality, between the haves and the have-nots.)
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To: Dead Dog
The whole concept of Political Capital as a expendible resources is a bad analogy, and does not reflect reality in politics.

We lost an opportunity to get the nuclear option.

Bush himself has said in effect that Political Capital is created when it is expended.

OK, this wasn't "expended." It was squandered.

162 posted on 03/28/2005 3:35:43 PM PST by Poohbah (If it's called "collateral damage," how come I can't use it to secure a loan?)
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To: My2Cents

Good riddance.


163 posted on 03/28/2005 3:36:00 PM PST by Poohbah (If it's called "collateral damage," how come I can't use it to secure a loan?)
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To: Pinetop
Felos is a New Age mystic (a search into this about him provides interesting and creepy insight into his personality and motives) but it has been suggested by more than one person that there are scientology ties to this case. And who knows, maybe Felos has some of his own too. A quick google of "Felos" and "scientology" definitely nets some results.

Here's a FR thread that I bookmarked for interest a couple weeks ago and forgot all about it until you asked about Felos - Scientology, The Clearwater Bar Association and Judge Greer. I haven't read it yet, but I believe I will now.

Why do you ask anyway? Have you found that scientology has come up in other similar situations? Or do you ask just because it's FL - I know the Lisa McPhearson case was in Clearwater also.

164 posted on 03/28/2005 3:37:16 PM PST by agrace
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To: Ronzo
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! The STATE (as represented by Judge Greer) ORDERED the feeding tube removed! What does this mean? It means that Terri's constitutional rights were violated, since no one in government can deny someone LIFE without due process. This dude argues that Terri did receive due process, but in actuality, it was only her husband's wishes that were under consideration, not Terri's. Judge Greer is WAY OUTA BOUNDS here. (As most of us already know.)

Well -- I don't agree with the decision -- though I never sat with all the facts before me as did the judge. (Remember, one reason we don't over-turn findings of facts by judges or juries very easily, is a recognition within the system that only the finder of fact can judge the credibility of the witnesses having had the opportunity to see them in Court and to have them subject to cross examination. That is why jury and factual findings by a judge sitting as fact finder are accorded such weight -- and rightfully so). Having said all that -- the determination in this case was NOT what did Michael want.

Indeed, the determination was what did Terri Schiavo want. In making that finding, the Court certainly did rely on the witness statement of Michael -- but it is important to understand the posture of the case. In this case, the Court has determined that Terri Schiavo did not want to be kept alive. So, in that sense, the Court has made a finding of fact on what it believes to be her wishes, and denying those wishes would be to deny Ms. Schiavo her right. In the end -- the Court applied Florida law, letting the husband serve as the guardian. It then made a factual determination that Terri wanted to die -- and in doing so is now upholding Terri's desire. (All the other Courts merely held that the judge did not abuse his discretion. Which, in essence, means that even if they don't agree with him, the facts were such that as a reasonable fact-finder he could have reached his conclusion based on the facts.)

The Schiavo family needed expert appellate advocates, and they desperately needed someone who understood the import of the Congressional legislation. They did not have that. In essence, Congress passed a law to help her -- and the Schindler attorney went to the Middle District and asked for something other than what the statute provided. The Court, of course, found that the cause of action was weak, and did not warrant the injunctive relief requested. It was a major blunder.

Just remember -- in the end, the only entity that could have saved her without a successful appeal, was the Florida legislature. They had a bill pending to that would have made it against Florida law to end the life of any person without an express written medical directive. In addition, the legislation could have been applied to the Schiavo case. The legislature voted it down. (Florida Senate 21-18). Several republicans voted against it, and when it died they went home for Easter to let Terri die. They are the parties who really stopped this thing.

So far as I can tell -- the Trial Judge made his decision on the only facts before him at the time. He rigorously applied Florida law -- even when we did not want him to. Then, the Federal Courts declined to overturn his finding, as they properly found no abuse of discretion and no properly plead Federal cause of action. The Court system worked perfectly. It was the system of laws enacted by the legislature that failed. The Congress should have mandated a de novo review, and applied the right to all cases like this in each state. That broad law would have been Constitutional, and it would have eliminated discretion. They were too chicken to do so. And, of course, the Florida legislature failed miserably at their task.

165 posted on 03/28/2005 3:38:58 PM PST by Iron Eagle
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To: Poohbah
I disagree. This is a fight we need fought, and won. Not so much for Terri, but for the balance of power..specifically the constraint of the Judiciary.

It doesn't matter who appoints them, if they know they have the rest of their lives to wield unlimited power with little or no consequences. They would all turn to tyrants it's human nature, and if it wasn't Communism would work.

We need them to fight it out now, or we will be left with only the Second Amendment option, and that is no good for anyone.

This will only be Squandered if certain justices remain on the bench. Which is likely. I'm still ready to pull the impeachment trigger on Kennedy et al over the whole International Law is Relevant crap. These guys need a correction.
166 posted on 03/28/2005 3:42:16 PM PST by Dead Dog
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide

"If GOD ALMIGHTY had been lawyer or witness for the Schindlers, He would have lost."

Yes and No. Yes, He would have been overuled by Greer and No, because He would then overule Greer, strike him dead, and free Terri and thats that.


167 posted on 03/28/2005 3:46:20 PM PST by DarthVader (John "Diarrhea of the Mouth" Kerry = Vile Smelling Excrement)
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To: Bluegrass Conservative

Terri's parents are virtually broke.

Their counsel is with Christian Law Association.

What this article is saying may be true, but if you read all the corruption and illegalities authorized by Judge Greer and detailed in articles at www.theempirejournal.com I don't think it would have mattered what court they are in.

Also read 10 dirty guardianship tricks....it's easily found via google.


168 posted on 03/28/2005 3:52:39 PM PST by tutstar ( <{{--->< Impeach Judge Greer http://www.petitiononline.com/ijg520/petition.html)
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To: agrace

I know a little about Scientology's views on eugenics and euthanasia. And, I did know that Scientology is a major presence in Clearwater, Florida. So, I just was speculating about whether Felos had represented the "Church" of Scientology or was a member. I think I will nose around...


169 posted on 03/28/2005 3:54:16 PM PST by Pinetop
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To: My2Cents

Some of these scions on the Religous Right scare me just as much as Hillary Rodham Clinton does, to be honest. There are some of those folks who DO NOT consider Catholics or Mormons to be Christians. Some of these "culture warriors" strike me as control freaks.

I didn't sign on to the conservaitve movement to exchange left-wing control freaks for right-wing control freaks.


170 posted on 03/28/2005 4:29:31 PM PST by hchutch ("But, Rally, they're SMOKE GRENADES.")
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To: nmh
Stop blaming Congress, Jeb and George. Be honest for a change and put the blame where it belongs - the Shindlers and their incompetent attorneys.

Several Freepers with legal backgrounds have been saying this all along.

171 posted on 03/28/2005 4:45:59 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: PhiKapMom
You have that right -- their pleading is something a first year law student wouldn't turn in. Having Randall Terry anywhere near this was a huge mistake along with Klayman IMHO!

Not so fast - I work with 1st Year law students, and they are very capable of handing in 1/2-baked and top-to-bottom crappy work,

That being said, you are right that the Schindler lawyers royally stunk. Indeed, as you point out, having Randall Terry and Larry Klayman involved is even more evidence of rotten judgement on the part of the Shdindlers.

172 posted on 03/28/2005 4:56:53 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: My2Cents
This perspective that the Schindler's had lousy lawyers is part of the revisionist spin.

How do you explain the Freepers with a legal background (like me) who have been saying this for a while - certainly before this weekend?

It is the truth and not spin - the first trip to Federal Court was a bad joke. It isn't new spin that sprung this weekend - anyone paying attention would know that.

173 posted on 03/28/2005 4:59:38 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: My2Cents
This perspective that the Schindler's had lousy lawyers is part of the revisionist spin.

How do you explain the Freepers with a legal background (like me) who have been saying this for a while - certainly before this weekend?

It is the truth and not spin - the first trip to Federal Court was a bad joke. It isn't new spin that sprung this weekend - anyone paying attention would know that.

174 posted on 03/28/2005 5:00:55 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: fight_truth_decay

This article makes good points.

One of the disturbing things to me is that the Schindlers have had lousy lawyering from the start. They were manipulated and mislead by groups with political agendas of their own.

They should have retained a top flight Constitutional lawyer like Alan Dershowitz or Davis Boise who have expressed great sympathy and understanding of Terri's plight, instead of a using inexperienced political idealogues .


175 posted on 03/28/2005 5:05:57 PM PST by PJBlogger (BEWARE :: HILLARY and her HINO want to take back YOUR COUNTRY !)
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To: HitmanNY
Stop blaming Congress, Jeb and George. Be honest for a change and put the blame where it belongs - the Shindlers and their incompetent attorneys.

Several Freepers with legal backgrounds have been saying this all along.

My next question is WHEN will it sink in, if ever?

The Shindlers through incompetent representation caused Terri's death.
176 posted on 03/28/2005 5:08:25 PM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: fight_truth_decay
Moreover, the claims set forth in the Schindlers' original complaint failed to take advantage of the procedural opportunities that Congress presented them in the special bill it passed on their behalf, now commonly known as Terri's Law.

Tragic.

177 posted on 03/28/2005 5:11:56 PM PST by Right_in_Virginia
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To: nmh

Depends - too many people have too much emotionally invested in winning this one. They need to develop clarity of mind. With clarity they can see and recognize what happened here.

If they embrace a victim mentality (who would have thunk it, right here on FR?) they will just embrace the idea of losing, but securing the moral highground. Then it becomes about them, and not about making change.

And then they are marginalized.


178 posted on 03/28/2005 5:19:41 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: Dead Dog
Or, in otherwords, it's not so much the merit of their case...but a legalistic pissing match with grown men wearing robes in a huff.

It shouldn't have mattered. Congress, with the passage of "Terri's Law" gave the Schindlers a remarkable" and in some ways, unprecedented--opportunity".

Congress gave the Schindler's the power to start over:

" Congress empowered them to litigate anew any issues relating to their daughter's condition. Violations of Terri's rights were to be determined without regard to any prior rulings by the state courts: de novo in lawyer's jargon."

For some unknown reason, the Schindler's legal team failed to evoke this right. My heart sank with each appeal filing, and just broke in two with the brief they filed before the US Supreme Court.

This is a another tragedy.

179 posted on 03/28/2005 5:29:39 PM PST by Right_in_Virginia
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To: HitmanNY

LOL!!! Sounds like you have your hands full!


180 posted on 03/28/2005 5:31:18 PM PST by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Increase Republicans in Congress in 2006!)
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To: PhiKapMom

I work with students from the best law schools all the way down to the lowest ranked ones - needless to say, they are all among 'America's Best & Brightest.'

I know this because they tell me so... '-)


181 posted on 03/28/2005 5:33:20 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: PJBlogger
Alan Dershowitz or Davis Boise

Is it too late to call in these "top flight" Constitutional lawyers or one from the "A Team"?

182 posted on 03/28/2005 5:33:36 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: My2Cents

Next, we'll hear that FR was never actually a conservative website.


183 posted on 03/28/2005 5:35:12 PM PST by virgil
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To: HitmanNY; My2Cents; Torie

A whole group of you Freeper Lawyers were appalled at the pleading made by the Schindler Lawyers to Federal District Court last week. In fact, Torie was even on the radio complaining before I knew it was Torie. He was great and very articulate on what should be included.

I decided to read Court documents for myself on Friday evening and with no law degree, the document that went to the District Judge by Schindler's lawyers was appalling. I haven't come down off the ceiling when Terri's life was at stake, the lawyers asked for damages for the Schindlers and their legal fees be paid. Then I read the scumbag Felos' document he submitted -- all kinds of case law cited. Did notice if you go way back with Felos that the court documents he prepared earlier are not near as slick as they are today with the ACLU on his side.


184 posted on 03/28/2005 5:41:57 PM PST by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Increase Republicans in Congress in 2006!)
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To: HitmanNY

Know some law students here at OU through my son -- confidence they do not lack. :)


185 posted on 03/28/2005 5:48:19 PM PST by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Increase Republicans in Congress in 2006!)
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To: Pinetop

Greer falls into that search:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1361797/posts

Scientology attorney Wally Pope—who represented his "church" in the Lisa McPherson case—was the individual selected to bestow this high honor on Judge Greer! Wally cited high ideals, personal character, and judicial competence:

"Yet, in the teeth of all that, he has steadfastly demonstrated exactly what the John U. Bird award was created to honor: high ideals, personal character, judicial competence and service," lawyer Wally Pope said before bestowing the honor.


186 posted on 03/28/2005 5:48:47 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: Pinetop

Judge Greer received a campaign gift from the law firm of Michael Schiavo’s attorney...only one day after "Terri’s Law” was declared unconstitutional by a Pinellas county court....Of course, no direct evidence suggests collusion between the two parties, but the timing of the campaign contribution is highly suspect.

http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1371060/posts


187 posted on 03/28/2005 5:52:35 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: PhiKapMom

Yes, confidence is not a problem, but that's not to say there aren't problems!

One thing I say about many of the young adults in our best colleges and universities, as well as our law schools (of course, our Best & Brightest) is that they have a strange combination of exagerated self esteem, misplaced self confidence, and almost no genuine self assurance.

This is compounded by the fact that most of them 'don't know what they don't know.' That is, they will be cavalier and confrontational about matters of constitutional rights, for example, and yet show an almost profound ignorance of history, relevant historical documents (like the Federalist Papers), and in many cases even the text itself. This doesn't stop them from having a very loud and strong opinion.

What they lack in actual knowledge, they are very quick & willing to replace with things that they think they know but in fact, don't know. In fact, they seem to think that things they make up (sloppily) should have equal (or more) impact and weight than more established things.

The saddest part about this is, of course, that I think I can remember a time when I resembled those remarks. ;-)


188 posted on 03/28/2005 6:09:52 PM PST by HitmanLV
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St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2001

http://www.sptimes.com/News/052501/Floridian/The_spirit_and_the_la.shtml

Every morning these days, Felos(twice married/divorced) is 160 pounds of elastic on his bedroom floor. He does yoga, inspired by a framed portrait of Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of spiritual realization. He does more stretches and takes out a machine that helps with his chi, or body energy.

The purpose of the morning routine is to be "present in the sensation of his body."

He takes out a throw pillow and meditates for a half hour before showering and drinking a concoction of protein powder, banana, orange juice, yogurt and goat's milk.

Each morning he checks to see if something has grown on the mango tree and bamboo he planted in the front yard.

Felos visits different places of worship about twice a month, he says. He has spoken at several, including the Palm Harbor Unity Church, the Center for Conscious Living and a spiritual awareness center in Crystal Beach.


189 posted on 03/28/2005 6:11:29 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: My2Cents
I don't think this case would have turned out even close to what it has if it wasn't for the persistence of judge Greer.He stood up and called the bluff of the president, the US congress and the governor of Florida.There is no way anyone could convince me that a state probate judge from some small county in Florida wields more authority than the president of the United States,the US Congress and The Florida governor.
190 posted on 03/28/2005 6:11:35 PM PST by rdcorso (In America Criminals Have More Rights Than The Disabled.What A Disgrace)
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To: HitmanNY

My son is a Graduate Assistant in the English Deparment at OU and teaches Comp I and II. He gave a "C" on one of the papers and the student came in his office furious because he had been in English Honors in High School and no teacher had given him a "C" before on a paper. He demanded to meet with the professor that is the mentor to several of the grad students. My son took the student and his paper to the professor who reviewed the paper, looked at the student, and told him he thinks my son could have given him a "D" and still been right. He then proceeded to tell the student that the corrections my son had made were proper.

The professor gave the student a book on English Grammar and told him to read the Rules, print out his paper again, make the corrections, and then tell my son that he was still wrong. The student came in and apologized the next day to my son and told him that none of his English Honors teacher's in High School had bothered to correct his work, just gave him an "A." He also asked him to please print out the English Grammar tips my son had handed out the first day of class he didn't think he needed and trashed.

Been interesting to hear my son talk compared to when he was a student -- totally different perspective and he tells me if he ever forgets what he was like as a student to remind him.


191 posted on 03/28/2005 6:21:01 PM PST by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Increase Republicans in Congress in 2006!)
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To: My2Cents
and now many of these conservatives are turning on the religious pro-life conservatives, some telling us the GOP would be better off without us.

They have been doing this for years. The current controversy has just brought it to your attention. The same crowd always finds some group to their right that they want to toss out of their Big Tent. And Hugh Hewitt is one who has acted this way in the past.

192 posted on 03/28/2005 6:43:32 PM PST by Pelham
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To: rdcorso

He appears to be the ruler of the world.


193 posted on 03/28/2005 6:52:12 PM PST by Pelham
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To: PhiKapMom

You raised a fine son there - God bless! :-)


194 posted on 03/28/2005 6:56:08 PM PST by HitmanLV
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To: Hildy
Innocent people dying in war. I'm not talking about soldiers

I understand your point, hildy, but it is just different. Knowledge of the retaliation after an attack serves to deter the attack in the first place. Example, if N. Korea launches a nuke at us, their country will cease to exist. Period, and of story. It's just the way it works, and every potential aggressor knows it.

This is just so different. The judge ordered her death because she was inconvenient, not because her countrymen launched an attack.

We could go back and forth on this, but I have followed your position on this and other threads, and we just disagree. You have made a good case for your side, though.

FReegards...

195 posted on 03/28/2005 7:13:51 PM PST by Semper911
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To: fight_truth_decay

bump


196 posted on 03/28/2005 7:59:58 PM PST by queenkathy (I'm praying for that God will perform a miracle.)
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To: fight_truth_decay

"Alan Dershowitz or Davis Boise
Is it too late to call in these "top flight" Constitutional lawyers or one from the "A Team"?"

Unfortunately, I believe the options in the Courts have run their course, and due to incompetent counsel, they were waged on the wrong issues and were lost before they even got off the ground.

IMO the special interest groups with their own agenda
(even though I might agree with parts of that agenda) have hijacked Terri's interest and given her representation by an idealogue instead of a top Constitutional lawyer and that doomed Terri.

I also believe that these idealogues would have never ceded the spotlight to Dershowitz, Boise, or Ted Olson, even though they are the only kind of lawyers who would have had a ghost of a chance to save Terri.


197 posted on 03/28/2005 10:56:36 PM PST by PJBlogger (BEWARE :: HILLARY and her HINO want to take back YOUR COUNTRY !)
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To: Iron Eagle
So far as I can tell -- the Trial Judge made his decision on the only facts before him at the time. He rigorously applied Florida law -- even when we did not want him to. Then, the Federal Courts declined to overturn his finding, as they properly found no abuse of discretion and no properly plead Federal cause of action. The Court system worked perfectly. It was the system of laws enacted by the legislature that failed. The Congress should have mandated a de novo review, and applied the right to all cases like this in each state. That broad law would have been Constitutional, and it would have eliminated discretion. They were too chicken to do so. And, of course, the Florida legislature failed miserably at their task.

This is where things get tricky. Obviously, Michael was Terri's guardian according to Florida law. However, we are getting into a bizarre realm when a judge ORDERS the death of a human being, based on LITERALLY nothing more than the guardian's recollections! In this case, the type of fact finding and proof normally associated with a civil court makes for a very, very poor decision.

I understand that technically speaking, the judge is only backing what Michael wanted done, enforcing the rights of the guardian. (In almost any other instance, this is exactly what a judge should be doing!) However, when the guardian is seeking to end the life of the person whom he is entrusted, and there is a serious and vigorous disagreement from other interested parties, then we have a situation where he is obligated, at least ethically speaking, to be a bit hesitant!

Is it what Terri wanted? It is extremely obvious that there's no way in hell anybody could possible know what she wanted, given the state she's in and the lack of any written will regarding the matter. Why didn't Greer just say NO! I don't think--even given the lower bar of proof in civil litigation--that there could be even reasonable assurance that Terri wanted to die. It seemed quite obvious (at least from what I've read here on FR) that Michael had some ulterior motives for wanting to end Terri's life.

But more disturbingly, can any judge, anywhere in this nation, even given the current laws on the books, in good conscious order someone's starvation? Whether or not they are coherent is immaterial, as this is a human being we're talking about.

Even if someone had written a will stating they would like to die of starvation (or whatever flowery jargon would appear in such a will...) if they ever were diagnosed with a hangnail, does that mean that a judge must enforce that person's request for a cruel and unusual death? Does any judge have that power?

Couldn't any of the appellate courts, seeing that this was a case to ultimately determine the end of a human life, realize that a standard a little bit more strict and vigorous is required than that normally used in civil cases? Even if the Schindler's lawyer's didn't do such a bang-up job, isn't it obvious to the appellate court judges that there is a problem, and that further review is necessary? But then again I did not read the briefs filed by the Schindler's lawyers, so perhaps they were bigger idiots than I realize.

But I do think it's a mistake to start writing laws and passing legislation based on this case alone. If Greer made a bad decision, which he obviously did, then one only needs a competent team of lawyers to point out the judge's error and get an appeal. I think the real issue here is the incompetence of the Schindler's attorneys, and the great skills of Micheal Schiavo's counsel.

198 posted on 03/28/2005 11:34:01 PM PST by Ronzo (God ALONE is enough.)
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To: HitmanNY
"This is compounded by the fact that most of them 'don't know what they don't know.' That is, they will be cavalier and confrontational about matters of constitutional rights, for example, and yet show an almost profound ignorance of history, relevant historical documents (like the Federalist Papers), and in many cases even the text itself. This doesn't stop them from having a very loud and strong opinion."

There is a movie called "The Human Stain" (which I don't recommend) in which the punch-line is this:

"People are just getting dumber, but more opinionated."

199 posted on 03/29/2005 12:21:22 AM PST by Ronzo (God ALONE is enough.)
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To: Right_in_Virginia
They didn't fail to evoke this "right", according to Robert Bork (He was on Fox over the weekend). Judge Whittmore choose to ignore the intent of Congress on his own discretion.

I'm curious as of how Congress passing this law fits with their power to set Jurisdiction in of the Courts. IMO, they were within their power, but I haven't heard this debated.
200 posted on 03/29/2005 6:28:32 AM PST by Dead Dog
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