Monday, March 21, 2005

The Conservative Dictators

I have been skeptical at just how committed the religious right is to imposing its agenda by government force, undermining a free society for the sake of a theocratic agenda. Well, here's a case that shows how easily the religious right is willing to take on the role of a lawless dictator, overthrowing the entire structure and procedure of American government at a moment's notice.

In its crazed campaign to keep a brain-dead woman alive against the will of her husband, Congress has now passed a law violating the separation of power between the legislative and judiciary and between federal and state governments by arbitrarily altering the jurisdiction of the Terry Schiavo caseā€”and doing so ad hoc, not as part of any general rule affecting all such cases universally.

If leftists did this sort of thing, conservatives would scream (correctly) that this is a step toward dictatorship. Yet the most committed religious conservatives will not hesitate for a moment to wipe out the entire mechanics of a free society in their lust to use government power to impose religious restriction on the individual. Even worse: not a single Senate Democrat was willing to stand up and stop them.

"Federal Court Hears Schiavo Case," Charles Babington and Mike Allen, Washington Post, 3/21/05

"A dispute over the fate of a brain-damaged Florida woman moved into federal court today after President Bush signed into law a bill, approved after midnight, that transfers jurisdiction in the case away from state courts.... Congress gave jurisdiction over the case to federal courts early today, an extraordinary legislative move that could empower a US judge to effectively reverse years of state court rulings. Voting 203 to 58 at 12:42 am, the House joined the Senate in approving the measure and rushing it to Bush. He signed the bill into law at 1:11 am, saying, 'I will continue to stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities.'... The Senate, operating under unanimous-consent rules, passed the legislation yesterday afternoon with no debate and with only three members present.... Frist called the measure 'a unique bill' that 'should not serve as a precedent for future legislation.' Some Democrats objected to an earlier, broader version that might have applied to many cases of incapacitated patients.... Although numerous lawmakers, especially Democrats, expressed unease over interfering with a state court's rulings and Michael Schiavo's assertion that he knows his brain-damaged wife's desires, they generally have been quieter than the conservative activists and right-to-life groups campaigning vociferously to keep Schiavo alive. A single senator could have postponed yesterday's action but none did so, even though some criticized Congress's actions."