Law professor Jonathon Turley also comments in today's USA Today, vis a vis the Schiavo case:
The Framers expressly sought to keep Congress from intervening in legal cases or imposing forms of punishment. The Constitution imposes a separation of powers, requires due process and prohibits forms of legislative intervention. Yet such principles become mere abstractions when the discussion turns to feeding tubes. For members, the Schiavo bill offered a sudden surge of popularity and clarity after weeks of punishing debate over Social Security plans...
In intervening in Florida, the only thing that legislators had to give up was any claim to principle. The sponsors admitted that their intervention was a flagrant violation of federalism, but insisted that they simply could not let principle stand in the way of "doing the right thing." Of course, the test of principle is the ability to remain faithful regardless of personal preference. If you comply with principle only when it is convenient or popular, it is a pretense of principle.
This, of course has been precisely my argument—to the enormous irritation of some commenters—that the Republicans have been entirely unprincipled in their lame defenses of the Terry Schiavo law, passed in a midnight session a few days ago.
Moreover, it is, in my mind, simply another illustration of the lack of commitment to principle that the Republicans have shown in recent years. The party of free trade, less government, and fiscal responsibility has saddled us with all manner of steel, textile and softwood tariffs, passed a hugely pork-laden farm subsidy bill, and presided over a massive expansion of government spending and tax cuts that have led to a ballooning deficit.
Although, admittedly, I am more upset about government spending increases than tax cuts, since I prefer to starve the beast as much as possible. But only if that starvation actually leads to smaller government, in which case it's simply irresponsible pandering.
Republicans yammer on incessantly about the superiority of their principles, yet it seems they are peculiarly unable to actually implement them, even with a government majority. And now, in the case of Ms. Schiavo, apparently even eager to abandon them, as long as they can try to ensure the desired political outcome results.
In fact, the term unprincipled, doesn't even begin to cover it.
Still, the Courts have so far been no more principled than the Congress. Despite the Congressional mandate for de novo review, the 11th Circuit has simply decided to ignore the law, and the clear intent of congress in providing a preliminary injunction to re-insert Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube. As conservative radio host, author, blogger, and Constitutional Law professor Hugh Hewitt writes:
Judicial contempt for the coordinate branches on this scale is simply staggering. Anyone defending this morning's majority or yesterday's ruling has to defend this disregard of Congressional action. Had either court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, that would have at least clothed the Pontius Pilate approach with some legal cover. But reciting irrelevant standards for granting injunctive relief in advance of trial in a case where Congress intended the injunction to issue is simple sophistry. As I wrote yesterday, there are many different standards governing the issuance of injunctive relief, and when Congress intends great caution —as with imminent harm to endangered plants and animals— the trigger for injunctive relief is very sensitive. The 11th Circuit has now ruled that the Congress intended a higher standard of review in Terri's case than in the routine case of imminent harm to, say, Munz's Onion or the snail darter. Absurd, and obviously so.
Apparently, the courts, deciding that Congress' new Schiavo Act was just silly, decided to simply ignore it, without any of that tedious business about declaring it unconstitutional. Or providing a preliminary injunction for the Schindler's. Drag it out a couple of more days, after all, and there will be no more controversy about Ms. Schiavo's status since she'll be dead, and the whole issue will disappear.
No one appears willing to abide by the traditional legislative or judicial processes, and we should all be offended.