Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Fear, Loathing & Determination In The Terri Schiavo Case

by Joe Gandelman

Right now the most miserable job in the world belongs to federal U.S. District Judge James Whittemore who is deciding on whether to order a feeding tube put back into Terri Schiavo, who has become a symbol of an ethical dilemma for some and seemingly a political football for others.What more can you say about a case where the Congress meets to pass a law to apply specifically to just one case, GOPers are reportedly being told what a great issue it is for their party, talking points have been distributed, the President flies back to Washington to sign the bill passed by Congress (one of the few times apparently that he has flown back from Texas due to a crisis in the nation's capitol), and an initial poll shows most Americans don't agree with the President or Congress.No matter what Whittemore does, he and the judiciary are going to come under intense fire:
If he refuses to order the feeding tube put back in, he will probably be accused of being an unfeeling or activist judgeand his decision will be appealed anyway.
If he orders it back in he'll will be accused by others of trampling states rights and injecting the federal judicary into a patients rights case largely propelled into national prominence by politicians responding to a clamor from conservatives and Christian Evanglicals.
If he somehow comes up with something that isn't a clearcut yes or no he'll be accused of being a wimp and sidestepping the issue.

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