Judicial Tyranny

The old question of judicial overreach, long a concern of conservatives, seems to be taking a turn for the worse right now. With the Republicans in the Senate trying to break a deadlock over nominees, one judge in Florida has taken it upon himself to decide that Terri Schiavo should die. I’ve written before about the Terri Schiavo case here, but I’ve been thinking (and listening to Rush Limbaugh) a lot over the last few days, as I drove up to South Dakota and back. There is something about the current approach to the judicial problem, which focuses almost entirely on nominating the right judges, it seems, which bothers me. And over the many hours I’ve spent in the car in the last four days, I think I know what it is that bothers me about this approach.

You know the old saying, of course, “Power corrupts.” I don’t think this is quite accurate, since God has absolute power and He is not in the slightest corrupted. But given the sinful human nature, it’s not too far off the mark. Perhaps it might be better said, “Power reveals.” That is, power shows what’s in a man’s heart. I am convinced that this is the reason why celebrities and athletes seem to so frequently have such terrible morals. I don’t think they’re really worse than other people; it’s just that their money and fame remove most obstacles to doing whatever they want to do.

In the case of judges, this principle would seem to explain why judges tend to drift leftward. Conservatism hold strongly to the principle of limited government, and it is modern day liberalism which looks to government to solve all problems, and therefore modern liberal political theory which offers any politician more power. If a conservative senator or a representative tries to seize power this way, his constituency can remove him. But there is no check on a judge except higher courts, and of course the highest court of all, the Supreme court, is just as susceptible to this problem as the others. A number of judges in recent years have drifted leftward, like Souter and O’Connor, but I don’t think any have become more conservative over the years.

This means that in order to correct the problem of judicial tyranny, the nominations process is not enough. There has to be some accountability for judges after they are appointed; even Supreme Court judges. The constitution of the United States set up various levels of government to act as checks on each other, and some were more democratic and some less. The judicial branch is the least democratic of all- they are not elected and are appointed for life. But this does not mean they are unaccountable. Their jurisdiction can be limited, and they can be impeached. Further, they depend on other branches to enforce their decisions.

If I were the governor of Florida I would use my executive power to protect the life of Terri Schiavo, and I wouldn’t care what some judge said. Judges are supposed to interpret law. But if a judge oversteps his authority, I would not allow myself to be subject to his tyranny. It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion. It’s another for a judge to seize power that is not his.

And if I were a congressman, I would push to impeach the judge that allowed Schiavo to be killed, whether a federal judge or a supreme court judge. I think that the other branches of government have to step in to rein in out of control judges, using their legitimate constitutional powers. They’re called “checks and balances” for a reason. This problem will not be solved just through the nominations process, because a lot of judges that are nominated will naturally abuse their power, if there are no consequences for them doing so, and it doesn’t matter what their political leanings are going in. It’s human nature, and it’s why we all have to be accountable.

I am neither a governor nor a senator, of course. I’m a pastor, so I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is preaching the gospel and teaching people God’s principles of right and wrong. But Republicans had better start paying attention. Many of us support them because they seem to be the party that is better in touch with human nature, being limited and imperfect, which is why limited government is so important. But if they become the party of government solutions for all problems (just different solutions), they will lose a lot of support.

Start reining in those judges. Don’t just appoint ones you like better. Start slapping down the ones who overstep their authority. Otherwise, the problem will never go away.

19 thoughts on “Judicial Tyranny

  1. The constitution gives power to the congress to limit the jurisdiction of the judiciary. Congress could tell the Supreme court to butt out of medical cases and abortion cases. That’s the way I see it.

  2. Robert says:

    Reprinted from NewsMax.com

    Sunday, March 20, 2005 10:19 a.m. EST
    Nurse: Terri Can Eat Normally

    A certified nursing assistant who cared for Terri Schiavo in 1997 filed a sworn affidavit in the case stating that she was able to feed Schiavo normally on multiple occasions – but that husband Michael Schiavo would only allow a feeding tube.

    Heidi Law, a CNA at the Palm Gardens nursing home, testified: “At least three times during any shift where I took care of Terri, I made sure to give Terri a wet washcloth filled with ice chips, to keep her mouth moistened. I personally saw her swallow the ice water and never saw her gag.

    “[Another CNA] and I frequently put orange juice or apple juice in her washcloth to give her something nice to taste, which made her happy. On three or four occasions I personally fed Terri small mouthfuls of Jello, which she was able to swallow and enjoyed immensely.”

    Law testified that the only reason she didn’t attempt to feed Ms. Schiavo more frequently was “because I was so afraid of being caught by Michael.”

    Editorializing on the case in light of Law’s account, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette said Sunday: “It is one thing to withdraw a feeding tube; another entirely to withhold that day’s meal tray.”

    Carla Sauer Iyer was a registered nurse at the same facility. In her own affidavit Iyer testified that Ms. Schiavo was capable of speech, explaining, “[Terri] spoke on a regular basis, saying such things as ‘Mommy’ and ‘help me.'”

    When she put a washcloth in Terri’s hands to keep her fingers from curling together, Iyer said, “Michael saw it and made me take it out, saying that was therapy” that he had forbidden.

    “Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri’s death,” the RN noted. “Michael would say ‘When is she going to die?’ ‘Has she died yet?’ and ‘When is that bitch gonna die?'”

    If Judge Greer saw this affidavit why hasn’t Michael Schiavo been indicted? This Judge is guilty of derelection of duty. Once a case goes to a judge, the law no longer applies. This judge was in charge of monitoring the original malpractice settlement, but apparently he is blind in more than one way

  3. Stuart says:

    The quote is “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Legislatures won’t do anything about removing corrupt judges until the voters start removing corrupt legislators.

  4. Anonymous says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    I am outraged that the courts would buy the story that this was terry’s wish when he never stated that these were her wishes until seven years after her accident. How convenient for a man whom had already moved on to someone else. If it was her wish to die, and he is trying to carry out her wishes then sign over all rights to any money gain such as life insurance or movie rights and set up a foundation in Terry’s name where he doesn’t benefit. Or have the decency to turn over guardianship to her parents. He has moved on, except for the money!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been outraged over the last few days as I watch this story unfold. It certainly has taken a terrible turn. But I am not surprised, as nothing seems to surprise me anymore. Is nothing sound or just in our system, a system that we once trusted to execute a convicted killer or draft a soldier. Why are our judges behaving in such a conservative manner. They have all ruled that Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die or in the view of some to starve. I guess when you can’t feed yourself anymore, you will starve. I have watched as the dogooders hold protest and demand that Terri’s feeding tube be reinserted. I can’t help thinking to myself that If she could speak she would tell all of you to stay the hell away from her death bed and mind your own business. You say that you care about her and can feel her pain, yeah right! How dare you make a mockery out of the misery of others. Her parents as well who are being used by criminals like Tom Delay who would rather hold the body of a dying woman in front of him as a shield. Maybe then you won’t notice that he is being investigated for criminal activity.
    Apparently her husband has another love interest. Is your anger toward his personal life so strong that it has clouded your judgement. Terri will not ever regain the us of her cerebral cortex. regardless of your anger toward her husband. If he were to divorce Terri than you would certainly say that he was a man who divorced his vegetative wife while she lay dying. I am disgusted that you have all lost your collective minds. When a ruling goes against you, you blame it on the liberal courts. Well do your homework, most of the judges that ruled in this case are conservative and your problem is not in the fact that they are liberal but rather in the fact that they refuse to make a radical and liberal decision. Look up the word liberal. Talk about turning the judicial system on it head. What ever happened to checks and balances. They apply to others but not you, right. The legislative and execute branches of our government have no business what so ever in the personal choices of one family. This reminds me of the child who asks their father for a decision and when they don’t like the answer they go to their mother.
    I would like to see the majority of you volunteering your time in a cancer unit or a state hospital where they kept patients like Terri, If you think that you can pray them out of their vegetative state than more power to you, we can really use your help. We are losing people to cancer, diabetes and strokes everyday. As Americans we smoke to much and over indulge. Put your collective minds together to write to the tabacco, oil and fast food corporations. Ask them to stop poisoning our air, food and lungs. No, I didn’t think so, this isn’t up your alley because it would mean getting off your lazy self righteous rear ends and actually practicing what you preach.
    Did it every occurr to you that God did not invent the feeding tube a liberal Scientist did.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I worked in a hospital for 20 years and in a detention center for over 10 years. It seems to me that Terri is being murdered by her husband and that many of our judges are allowing it. What a shame when the most learned in our country cannot distinguish between right and wrong——-the judges must be “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel” I also wonder if money is not somehow involved and perhaps power and control issues. What a shame and disgrace for the country.

  8. bill sez………

    if someone does not step in and
    show leadership right now and feed
    this woman, it will say that our society as we know it is doomed.

    to post police to stop the father
    and mother from bringing a glass
    of water for their dying daughter
    is the sign of a society going down the toilet.

    this case is abominable.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You people disgust me! It is God’s will that she should die in peace. It is science that is keeping her alive not God. God did not invent the feeding tube that is keeping her alive. Man and science. If we did not have such advancements in health care technology she would have died a long time ago. Let her go to heaven. It is time.

  10. Well, Anonymous, that is something like saying God did not invent the baby spoon with which I feed my child. The machinery is not keeping her brain alive or pumping her heart, it is simply providing her food and water. Because she is really not on life support in any meaningful sense, she will not die on her own. There must be an external cause. In this case, the cause of death will be starvation or dehydration. To cause one’s death is murder. How could a thinking, reasonable person possible circumvent this conclusion?

    Andrew McIntyre

    Andrew McIntyre

  11. Anonymous says:

    Most people are forgetting Terry got braindamaged from an eating disorder.
    Yes, people. Terry was starving herself to death. Her heart collapsed from a potassium deficiency.
    I can say with complete confidence that Terry wanted to starve to death. She wanted to be skinny even if it killed her. Her husband is granting her this final wish.

  12. all those anonymous jerks who say
    this was a “natural death” are
    sadly informed.

    terri was murdered by the system.

    one single man claiming to be her
    husband, who in the meantime was
    fornicating with his mistress and
    fathering children was responsible
    for a story no one could verify.

    terri had an eating disorder only according to this demented man
    masquerading as her “husband.”

    no one in her family knew of any eating disorder, which supposedly caused her to collapse in the first place.

    as far as a potassium deficiency, it can be brought on artifically by infusing an unknowing person with fertilizer. that’s right.
    when nitrate is joined with potassium, it combines and depletes the body, if it occurs there. she was found face down
    and the authorities at first wanted to treat it as a homicide.
    the husband has never been cleared of possibly rendering Terri in the condition in which she was found.
    he personally stood to benefit by her never again being able to talk nor regain her faculties.

    when she was found to still have a
    beating heart, she was treated and was able to eat on her own and even respond in the early days. she attropied and eventually was in need of a feeding tube. she still was able to take water and some sustenance by mouth.

    several years after she first was felled, she was found with broken bones to include the femur. a lawsuit ensued and approximately $1.2 million was gained by the husband in a malpractice suit against a hospice, of which about $600 thousand went to lawyers and the rest mostly got spent on her care, so the supposed husband does not stand to gain anything from that. but the question had never been answered as to how she got the broken bones.

    the courts found consistently on technical grounds and supported her feeding tube being removed because the husband wanted it.
    this is a system problem.

    seven years after the woman collapsed, the husband suddenly started saying that it was her wish to not be supported by artificial means.

    this is a giant hoax. the husband has technically gotten away with murder. there was no living will.

    there is nothing peaceful about dying from dehydration. your body actually is pummeled by internal spasms and makes an effort to survive by taking water from the extremities. the lack of food stuff is also no help at this time.
    the body convulses. there is pain.
    if she was a vegetable, why did they administer morphine? a vegetable cannot distinguish pain.
    this idiotic story is ludicrous.
    morphine is used to stop a beating heart. i know this for fact.

    the woman was flat out murdered. the sad commentary about all of this is that dumb asses like “anonymous” above make statements and draw conclusions about things they know absolutely nothing thereof.

    when the system denies the parents from giving water or food to their daughter when they try by having police at the bedside to obsruct anyone from helping, you essentially have a police state not unlike anything that we have heard about the Nazis or the Taliban. Even Sadam Hussein could not come up with a scenario this grotesque.

    we have in our presence sick people like the dumb asses who made all those stupid statements about Terri when they had no clue about the truth at all.

    i am very saddened today.

    yes, the good Lord watched all this and you “dumb asses” will receive your come uppance someday when i hope someone i.e. the system actually has the chance to pull your feeding tube……….
    you people are sick.

    lady liberty is weeping today.

  13. pfkflyer@comcast.net says:

    There is a much simpler expanation for the observed leftward drift of judges than what you propose: freed of political influence by their lifetime appointments, judges tend to base their decisions on fact, in comparison with which American public opinion is to the right because of our puritan heritage. If you want judges that are farther to the right than what we have now, you need to prevent universities and law schools from teaching so much actual fact, and imbue the curricula with more relgion and moralistic opinion.

  14. PKFlyer,
    It’s not really any simpler an answer, it just happens to fit your biases better. Just because it fits your biases better doesn’t make it any truer. But if it improves your mood to shoot your mouth off about things without any actual arguments or support, I guess you can do it. But basically all you said was, “You’re wrong because you’re wrong. I’m right because I’m right. Liberalism is true because it’s based on facts, and conservatism is false because it’s based on something other than facts (lies?).”

    That’s what we refer to as a tautology. It doesn’t exactly add much to the debate, does it? It’s about as constructive as a driveby middle finger.

    But thanks for reading, anyway.

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