Terri Schiavo and Dred Scott

Musing Minds looks into the legal issues regarding Terri’s case, and finds out that

In seeking guidance regarding the ending of a human life, the court looked to how another court weighed the harm that would result from the improper sale of a petroleum product.

And further,

the court denied the stay knowing with absolute certainty based on the laws of science that Terri would be dead long before any trial could be heard, and thus practically denied the trial contrary to the clear spirit and intent of the legislation.

You’ll want to spend some time there.

Musing Minds links to Andrew McCarthy’s article ‘Beyond a REasonable Doubt,’

Terri Schiavo has been ordered by a state judge to be killed by starvation and dehydration. The order implicates her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights not to be deprived of life absent due process of law — the courts that have examined this case do not dispute this indisputable point. I believe it is unquestionably the law of the United States — today, already, without any need to change the law for Terri’s benefit — that due process mandates that no person may be deprived of life by state action unless every factual predicate legally necessary to validate the state action has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The two factual predicates that triggered the state order in this case — that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) and that she evinced a desire to die rather than be sustained by food and water if ever she were in a PVS — were not established by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This cannot be denied. Even the Florida court, which claims (however dubiously) to have made its conclusions using a lesser “clear and convincing evidence” standard, cannot and presumably would not contend that the reasonable doubt standard was used in the state proceedings.

Andrew points out, as have others, that criminals accused of capital crimes receive more consideration and care in their court cases than has Terri. They receive more legal protections, more careful analysis of the evidence, and more concern from for their Constitutionally protected rights.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments do not distinguish between the lives of capital murderers and the lives of other persons. They don’t mention “criminal” and “civil” distinctions. In this context, they command simply that no person shall be deprived of “life…without due process of law.” There is no reason in the text of the Constitution to believe that “due process of law” should have a different meaning depending on whether the life to be taken by state action is that of a convicted criminal or that of some other person.

You’ll want to read the whole thing.

The fifth amendment reads “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The fourteenth amendment is longer, but here is the portion Andrew McCarthy refers to:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I have been thinking that Terri Schiavo is the Dred Scott case of this century, and it is interesting to note that the fourteenth amendment was a direct result of and a response to the Dred Scott case.

You can read more about the Dred Scott decision here.

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Collected Quotes, Quote 3

“When a strict interpretation of the Constitution, according to the fixed rules which govern the interpretation of laws, is abandoned, and the theoretical opinions of individuals are allowed to control its meaning, we have no longer a Constitution;we are under the government of individual men, who for the time being have power to declare what the Constitution is according to their own views of what it ought to mean.”
Justice Curtis of the Supreme Court, dissenting judge in the Dredd Scott case.

For some reason, Judge Greer comes to mind.

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Greek Myths and Boys

A conversation overheard in the CommonRoom van with the Boy and his cousin, as we were listening to the “D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.”
The Boy: You know what? Later on in the story there’s a child with a thousand legs!
Cousin: Boy, you weren’t supposed to tell me! It was supposed to be a surprise!
The van was surprisingly quiet with eight children while we were listening to that tape, I can tell you. 🙂 I like the Greek myths, myself. Hermes is my favorite. 😀

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The Art of Changing Oddities

We’ve been doing school this morning with four more students than usual, tripling my reading audience for the First Years. I finally directed them to a drawing project which should distract them for a few minutes, and came to hide in the bookroom with a light snack. My elevenses, if you will. The Head Girl poked her head in the doorway and directed my attention to a worldmagblog entry this morning. “You should read it,” she said. “It’s great. You’ll love it.” She was right. Indeed, I usually do find their blog edifying, and if World Magazine is not on your daily, or at least weekly, reading schedule, you have been remiss. The Headmistress respectfully suggests that you will be glad to correct this deficiency.

Here’s today’s gem:

From “Picasso on Modern Art, Including His:”

“In art the mass of people no longer seeks consolation and exaltation, but those who are refined, rich, unoccupied, who are distillers of quintessences, seek what is new, strange, extravagant, scandalous. I myself, since Cubism and before, have satisfied these masters and critics with all the changing oddities which pass through my head, and the less they understood me, the more they admired me. . . . Fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortune, riches. And today, as you know. I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titan, Rembrandt were great painters. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the cupidity of his contemporaries.”

This goes along with Pipsqueak’s post about abstract, modern art, and the news article that revealed that critics in the field cannot tell the difference between art work done by 4 y.o. children and that done by genuine, realio, trulio, really live artists. Actually, I suspect they could tell the difference, because they generally thought the art done by 4 y.o. children was better, and they were quite right.

See Pipsqueak’s post here.

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Words Matter

For some reason, I feel as if my day is wasted if I don’t read just a little bit before bed each night. This is somewhat irrational, because there are nights where I have to prop my eyelids open with a toothpick to be able to read, but it is wrong to go to sleep without first having a dosage of good text.

My before-bed-reading lately has consisted of “Brideshead Revisited,” “The Four Loves,” and my Bible. Last night I discovered that I had left BR downstairs, and I was too lazy tired to go get it. What else should I read, then? I decided to go for “Monarch and Conspirators: The Wives and Woes of Henry VIII” by John Van Duyn Southworth. I picked it up at a library book sale a few weeks ago and it has been tempting me ever since. In case you were unaware, I have a weakness for books on British history. It’s almost as bad as my weakness for chocolate.

Anyway. To get to the point of this post (I did have one), there was a fascinating bit in this book about the Earl of Richmond (Henry VII’s) entry into London after the Battle of Bosworth (which ended the Wars of the Roses and led to the Tudor dynasty). Cutting to the chase, here’s what Southworth has to say:

“For a great many years, there was a strange misunderstanding about Richmond’s joyful reception as he came into the city of London. The original account was written in Latin. Bernard Andreas, the historian who wrote it in 1485, recorded that Henry VII entered the city gates of London ‘joyfully’ (laetanter, in Latin). About forty years later, John Speed, one of the first historians describing the event in English, misread the Laten word as latenter, which means ‘secretly,’ so he assumed that the conqueror had entered the city in a carriage, closed and curtained so he would not be recognized. Other historians followed this man’s lead, so for well over a century people believed that Henry had come sneaking into the city…which was as far from the truth as it could be. Not until 1902 did James Gairdner…go back to the original Latin and discover the mistake. After nearly four centuries, the public was at last treated to a much pleasanter description of the affair.”

Isn’t that fascinating? Or have I thorougly destroyed my reputation as a normal person and revealed the Geek Within?

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