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Terri Schiavo: The first shot in the battle against judicial activism

By Frank Salvato
web posted April 4, 2005

Terri Schindler-SchiavoThe damage has been done. Terri Schindler-Schiavo has died. No legal wrangling, lobbying, protesting or moral epiphany can change that. The time for considering action on Terri's behalf has passed and that can't be rectified with the reinsertion of a feeding tube. Terri is cold and lifeless. Perhaps now the realization of just how final the option of death is will start to sink in. You can never go home.

There are many who want to make Terri's death something other than what it is.

Was it about the right-to-life versus the right-to-die? I'm sure it can be argued to a certain degree of success that it was. On the one hand, we had a young woman who was severely brain damaged and who may or may not have expressed her desire to be given the ultimate relief if ever found to be in such a position. On the other hand, she wasn't on a ventilator and she wasn't terminally ill. She was a living, breathing, swallowing human being whose only compromise was that she needed assistance in obtaining food and water to survive.

Are those who expressed their outrage politically motivated? I doubt it. It is clear to see that everyone experienced Terri's death on an emotional level. Those who took political action -- or didn't as the case may be -- literally put themselves in a no-win situation. Just about every poll taken proved that there was no "winning" position on this issue. Everybody lost, especially Terri. Most people understand this.

While both of these aspects of Terri's life and death are catalyst for good discussions on the ethics of politics and euthanasia, both together and separately, there is a more disturbing issue afoot.

Terri Schindler-Schiavo's death is an American tragedy. It didn't have to happen. It highlighted the grotesque failures of our judicial system at every level. It spotlighted the fact that those who practice judicial activism and political positioning under the guise of following procedure and precedent champion their own agendas over their sworn oaths to uphold even the most basic of rights afforded us under the US Constitution, the rights to life and liberty.

Many of the major judicial failures in Terri's case emanated from the courtroom of Judge George Greer. A former scandal-plagued Pinellas County Commissioner, Greer monetarily coerced his way through an unopposed election for Chief Judge of Florida's Sixth Judicial Circuit. If Terri's death exposes only one scoundrel to the light of scrutiny it should be George Greer.

Greer's tenure presiding over the Schiavo case offered a plethora of questionable decisions.

Why did he admit hearsay evidence as fact? Why did he assume the role of Terri's guardian in the face of a conflict of interest and against Florida judicial canon? Why did he refuse to appoint a Guardian ad Litem for Terri in light of Michael Schiavo's compromised moral and ethical positions? Why did he fail to enforce Florida law that would have provided Terri therapy until her demise? Why did he allow Michael Schiavo to spend money designated for Terri's care on legal services designed to end her life? Why did he allow Terri to be admitted to a hospice under false pretenses? Why did he fail to order confirming MRI and PET scan evaluations? Why did he admit into evidence the testimony of a biased medical panel some of whom were right-to-die advocates? And why didn't he recuse himself in the face of his flagrant bias against the Schindler family when petitioned to do so?

These glaring transgressions against Florida law, US law and Florida judicial canon should have sounded an alarm; instead they were upheld in court after court after court.

An even more disturbing fact is that the federal judiciary -- whether you agree or disagree with how they came to be included in this case -- refused to even address the inequities of Greer's court. Charged with reviewing the case de novo, the federal judiciary did nothing of the sort. Instead they engaged in a deadly game of indignance with the legislative and executive branches of our federal government. They refused to hear arguments and gave no cause. They played constitutional politics while a life hung in the balance. Terri's life clock clicked onward toward her hour of reckoning and the tyranny of judicial activism donned the dark shroud of death.

America is at a important crossroads. If we are diligent in demanding that the glaring injustice of judicial activism be addressed then we can say in all honesty that Terri Schindler Schiavo, in her death, fired the first significant shot in the battle against judicial activism. If we fail and continue to allow the tyrannical conquest of judicial activism to abridge our inalienable rights we have not only failed as a free people but our country's survival will be in question.

As the door to Terri's earthly world closes We the People must recognize the gift she has left behind, an opportunity to combat the crisis of judicial activism on the national stage. It is appropriate that with her passing, and very aptly in her name, the American people take on the challenge of ridding our nation of this tyranny so that justice and morality triumphs over activism and agenda.

In the end, the death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo was about Terri, the woman, the daughter, the sister, the friend. We should never forget that and we should be grateful for the gift she left behind. Truly, she is a friend to all of us. We the People have failed our friend once, we her friends can't afford to let her down again.

To the Schindler family I offer my most sincere and heartfelt condolences. To Terri I wish a speedy ascent on angel's wings. Rest in peace.

Frank Salvato is a political media consultant and managing editor for TheRant.us. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us. Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato


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