Thursday, March 24, 2005

The American Taliban Issues a Fatwa – The Religious Right Threatens to Kill One of its Own

He’s a Republican, a Southern Baptist and the Judge at the center of the Terri Schiavo case. His rulings in the Schiavo case are thoughtful, heartfelt, well reasoned and worded to the letter of the law and can be viewed here ( . Further, Greer’s decision has been supported by the second circuit court, a federal judge (Whitmore) a three judge panel from the 11th circuit court, the full 11th circuit court and the supreme court. Sounds like a pretty rock solid, stand up, conservative Christian kind of guy, the kind of guy you would want in your good old fashioned Bible belivin’ church right? Wrong!

How much you want to bet the RR has not even read the decisions or taken the time to study the applicable laws? Worse still, how much you want to bet the RR has read the decisions and studied the laws and decided to distort and twist things just enough to drive their demented followers into an all out feeding frenzy?

Here's what D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries has to say:
It is a striking and frightening fact that in America today one state judge can be suspended from office for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from public display-as Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was in August-while another, Judge Greer, can order the death of an innocent human being without any consequence whatsoever.

So, Kennedy wants consequences eh? I wonder where this type of rhetoric might lead…

From the News Telegraph:
A judge who ordered the death of a profoundly disabled woman at the centre of one of America's most controversial "right to die" cases has been given armed protection after receiving threats to his life.

To the fury of pro-life campaigners, Judge George Greer, 63, ruled on Friday that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should be withdrawn.

The judge, who is registered blind, is now in fear for his safety and is accompanied by two sheriff's deputies everywhere he goes.

More on the story from Baptists for ethics…

St. Petersburg Times portrayed Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George W. Greer--who has ruled that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube can be removed, allowing her to die--as an unlikely figure to be at the center of an international debate.

A long-time friend described him as “the religious right.”

Pro-life groups have protested Greer’s rulings in the case. He has received e-mails and letters calling him a murderer. One man asked him if he is related to the ruthless Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. A woman who believed his decisions weren’t Christian called and asked if he thought he was going to heaven.

He has received death threats and is accompanied by deputies on his way to and from work as a security precaution.

Greer belongs to Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., but his attendance waned after a Baptist publication the church supported became critical of him.

“If I don’t like what the St. Pete Times writes about me, my only recourse is to cancel my subscription,” he said. He said he stopped his donations to the church, though he is still a member.

The Florida Baptist Witness editorialized on Terri Schiavo’s case in the Sept. 4 and Sept. 25, 2003, issues. Executive Editor James Smith called on Greer to “err on the side of conservative judgment” and
urged Florida Baptists to write the judge expressing their “concern about the sanctity of human life in Terri’s case.”

Greer later told the newspaper he disagreed with the editorials and called them “unchristian.”

“There’s a difference between me saying, I think you’re in error and I wish you’d reconsider your position, as opposed to, you’re wrong, you’re dead wrong, you’re stupid,” he said in
an interview with the paper’s managing editor in August.

Greer told the St. Petersburg Times that critics who condemn him in the religious press “have nothing to do with my relationship with God. They can’t affect it.”

When Spineless Pandering to a Vocal Minority Jeopardizes the Rights of All – The Religious Right Fights for a Bill of Attainder

Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution - No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed


attainder n. The loss of all civil rights by a person sentenced for a serious crime. [<>

In the context of the Constitution, a Bill of Attainder is meant to mean a bill that has an negative effect on a single person or group (for example, a fine or term of imprisonment). Originally, a Bill of Attainder sentenced an individual to death, though this detail is no longer required to have an enactment be ruled a Bill of Attainder.

From US

In their zeal to pander to the Religious Right, Bush and the Republican congress have passed Terri’s Law which has all of the appearances of a bill of attainder.

The following is from Matt Conigliaro’s Blog, Abstract Appeal which for my money is the best source of objective information on the Schiavo case:

I've already seen much talk of the law being an unconstitutional bill of attainder. Bills of attainder are prohibited by Article I, Section 9 of the federal constitution. A bill of attainder is generally a law that punishes a person (or a class of persons) without a trial. The classic form of a bill of attainder sentenced a person to prison or death.

Is Terri's Law II an unlawful bill of attainder? Well, the one person angle is easy to spot, bringing this challenge quickly to mind, but the other aspects are less clear. Is Terri being punished? It's arguable that her constitutional right to privacy is being negatively impacted by forcing her to receive medical care that a court has determined she would not want. But then the "punishment" here is to have a court review that very determination to ensure her rights have been protected.

The argument likely to get a lot of attention is an equal protection challenge. Simply put, the government is required to treat similarly situated people in the same manner unless a good enough reason exists not to do so. What constitutes a good enough reason in a given case depends on the type of discrimination involved.

If the discrimination implicates a fundamental right, then the only reasons good enough to permit the difference in treatment are the very few that advance compelling government interests by the least intrusive means possible. Racial and religious discrimination, for instance, require this sort of strict scrutiny.

Where no fundamental right is involved, courts generally use what's called rational basis scrutiny, meaning that a good enough reason is anything reasonable, not arbitrary.

Here, it is arguable that Terri's constitutional right to privacy -- specifically, the right to reject unwanted medical treatment -- is implicated. If so, that could be found to trigger the strict scrutiny analysis.

Whether it's strict or rational basis scrutiny that's utilized, the question will be if Congress had a good enough reason to pass this law affecting only Terri and her parents, and not anyone else similarly situated. If this challenge is raised, I look forward to seeing the arguments.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Terri Schiavo Case – An Objective Review

To say that Terri Schiavo has been exploited to the emotional hilt by the Religious Right would be a grand understatement. The issues involved in this case are extremely serious regardless of your position on the issue. However, lacking in most discussions is objective information. One of the very few web sites that has made an effort to provide documented, objective data on the legal issues surrounding this case is Abstract Appeal. I would encourage anyone interested in Terri Shiavo’s case, whether you agree or disagree with the court decisions, to look at this site to learn what the real legal issues are. Here is the web site:

Abstract Appeal

Let us pray that at least one or two members of the Religious Right will take just a few moments to stop engaging in character assignation and look at the core issue.