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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Monday, April 18, 2005



A few days back I posted some thoughts on the Terri Schiavo case. One of my contentions elicited a comment and I would like to set the record (as I see it) straight. I would, however, be grateful if anyone with a better understanding of legal-speak that myself would step in and correct me if I am in error.

Here's the contention in question:

The second inaccuracy involved with the polling is the question as to whether or not the government should step in to counteract the courts' decisions and save her life. Does anyone see the problem there? How about the fact that our government (state and federal) is composed of three (count 'em, three) branches. Those would be (in the order in which they are found in the US Constitution): the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial. So, the government was involved in this case way, way before you or I had ever heard of it, let alone before the US Congress stepped in. So why should the Congress, President or even the Governor not have the power to impose a check (or even a balance) on the Judicial branch? As a matter of fact, they have every right to do exactly that (see point 3a).
To that, dopderbeck left a comment that, I think, confirms my opinion that there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding out there concerning this case. His comment opened with this:

I share a few of your sentiments, but you have it wrong about Congress and the courts. Nothing in the Constitution suggests that Congress can overrule the factual findings of a state court.
I honestly do not know whether or not the Congress can, in fact, Constitutionally "overrule the factual findings of a state court". I know that at least one branch of the Federal Government can. Regardless, I cannot find any evidence that Congress attempted to "overrule" anyone. Here's what they actually said:

Any parent of Theresa Marie Schiavo shall have standing to bring a suit under this Act. The suit may be brought against any other person who was a party to State court proceedings relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain the life of Theresa Marie Schiavo, or who may act pursuant to a State court order authorizing or directing the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life. In such a suit, the District Court shall determine de novo any claim of a violation of any right of Theresa Marie Schiavo within the scope of this Act, notwithstanding any prior State court determination and regardless of whether such a claim has previously been raised, considered, or decided in State court proceedings. The District Court shall entertain and determine the suit without any delay or abstention in favor of State court proceedings, and regardless of whether remedies available in the State courts have been exhausted. (emphasis mine)
My reading of this Act is that Congress said: We want the courts to go back and start from the beginning so that we can be sure that we have determined her true wishes to the best of our ability.

The reason this de novo establishment of fact was so important (although ultimately ignored and not carried out) is that there had been no such determination had been carried out in a very long time and, from what I understand, new information had come to light (e.g., this affidavit).

So in the end it appears that Congress did not overstep its bounds while a judge did by ignoring a duly passed law. Would the law have been struck down by a court if there had been time? Maybe. But if it had the result would have been the same: Terri would be just as dead. On the other hand, had the any judge honored his/her duty to impartially interpret the Law, maybe we could have gotten closer to the truth before condemning an innocent woman to death.


Don't Let Me Stop You has a good post on the topic. And as they link in their post, definitely read this piece.


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