Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Equal Protection Under the Law...

...exists for everyone except Terry Marie Schiavo (NYTimes Op-Ed):

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida shall have jurisdiction to hear, determine, and render judgment on a suit or claim by or on behalf of Theresa Marie Schiavo for the alleged violation of any right of Theresa Marie Schiavo under the Constitution or laws of the United States relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life.

If Congress can make a special law actually naming this women, why can't it make a special law about me, or President Bush, or political enemy X?

Of course, the "activist federal judges" may yet strike this law down. Then what..?

I don't think I understand this country anymore. Or maybe I never did, and was operating under illusions. Neither provides an especially happy state of affairs.

5 comments:

Will said...

I take it that a law singling out a particular person by name for special *burdens* would be an unconstitutional bill of attainder. The tradition of laws that give rewards to single people is more ambiguous.

Of course, one could try to argue that this law does impose a burden, but I take it that's not how it will be characterized.

Nick said...

hmm, I strongly disagree.

Giving special rights to one group is as egregious as denying special rights to one group. They're identical. That's like saying, "discrimination wasn't hurting black people, it was just helping white people" and had the discrimination laws been written more cleverly, they should have succeeded.

Whether the line does indeed help or harm, there must be a rational reason for drawing the line in the first place. Find me one here.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with Nick, or, at least I did before listening to ATC yesterday. Jeffrey Rosen was discussing the constitutionality of rewards/benefits, and he pointed out that the Supreme Court has fairly regularly decided that benefits are perfectly fine while bills of attainder/punishment are not, making Will's statement an insufficiently stark contrast. Either it's a punishment, which is verbotten, or it's a benefit, making it perfectly constitutional*. I don't really see that there's a third option, at least not considering the way that this is winding it's way through the courts and then counting the overlap with Congress's meddling.

*disclaimer: not a law student, just someone applying some logic to what was stated, perhaps in a manner too simplified for this bear of little brain to realize

agm

Anonymous said...

BTW, what Rosen said that the precedent for this sort of matter (special cases of bills giving benefits to someone, as opposed to "broad policy", whoever that soundbite was from ad naseum yesterday) was decided on during Reconstruction, when the Court decided to back down on a number of cases regarding such bills giving benefits. He cited as an example his con law prof, who talked about how his parents were allowed to stay in the US by such a law. This is why it seems to me that such Congressional action is already considered constitutional.

agm

Anonymous said...

This seems more then anything like a cookie for the Evangelical base. All the legal experts have said that the Fed. Court will almost certainly tell the parents to get lost. The R's must have known when they were drafting the law that the chances of fed court ruling their way were pretty low.