Monday, March 28, 2005


Terri Schiavo vs. Elian Gonzales

John Fund compares the Schiavo case with the Elian Gonzales events of five years ago.

Not surprisingly, the same groups that praised and supported the federal governments reversal of a Florida state court ruling followed by an armed removal of Elian to Cuba - now are flabbergasted by the federal governments intervention in the Schiavo case. No matter your opinion on either case, the politics of these two cases are too apparent to ignore. Sadly, in both situations, an individual who is incapable or at least poorly capable of explaining themselves has been exploited in the name of political posturing. Intelligent individuals on either side of these two cases have valid points. Layer in a healthy serving of strong emotion mixed with religion and both the Schiavo and Gonzales sagas are both compelling and divisive. The main problem in both cases is that the Federal government acted with pure political intent. Congress (Schiavo) and the Clinton/Reno Justice Department (Gonzales) would have you believe that they were acting to protect civil or constitutional rights. The only problem is that, on a daily basis, scores of people are sent back to Cuba and people are removed from life support, but there is no congressional investigation or intervention by the president or attorney general. Unfortunately, in these two cases, the federal governments intervention only served to aggravate these situations rather than work towards a consistent policy based on precedent and law.

From Fund's article:
Of course, there are differences between the Gonzalez and Schiavo cases. But clearly many of the people who approved of dramatic federal intervention to return Elian to Cuba took a completely different tack when it came to the argument over saving Terri Schiavo. Rep. Frank makes a compelling argument that Congress took an extraordinary step when it met in special session to create a procedure whereby the federal courts could decide whether Ms. Schiavo's rights were being violated. He may have a point when he accuses Republicans of "trying to command judicial activism and dictate outcomes when they don't like" rulings. But where were Mr. Frank and other liberals when the Clinton administration decided to sidestep a federal appeals court and order an armed raid against Elian Gonzalez? While Mr. Frank allowed that the use of assault rifles in the Elian raid was "excessive" and "frightening," he also defended the Justice Department's view that "of course [agents] had to use force."
According to some reports, Gov. Jeb Bush considered seizing Mrs. Schiavo, à la Elian, and taking her to a hospital so she could be fed. But he did not do so. "I've consistently said that I can't go beyond what my powers are, and I'm not going to do it," the governor says. Janet Reno and the Clinton administration showed no such restraint when it came to Elian Gonzalez.

Governor Bush should be commended for his actions. He has publicly supported the re-insertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube but has limited his actions to those legally granted by the Florida constitution and state law. He has made - at least in this case - the Florida executive branch an example of how the federal government should behave.

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