They are in total conflict. In an editorial today, the NY Times thought there was closure already, provided by the autopsy and the law of the land.
They seem to think that litigation and the autopsy provides closure, and accuse Jeb Bush of going down a “terrible road”, and doing “heart-breaking” things to the public mind. For them, the episode was a “terrible lesson” in what “government should and should not do”.
Losing no time, Governor Bush had already written to the Times in a pre-emptive move, perhaps guessing what they were about to say. At least they had the decency to print it on the same page.
And what he said was, to sum up, “government has a duty to protect the weak, the disabled and the vulnerable.” And of course, before the autopsy, it was a guessing game as to whether Terri was even a functioning life, let alone weak and disabled and vulnerable.
A Dr. D’Angio wrote a letter from Mt. Vernon, NY, to say the following:
“We did not need an autopsy to know that Terri Schiavo had hopeless brain damage, or to know that many of her body’s systems were normal. Her family loved what was left of her and asked only to be permitted to care for her at their own expense.”
The sheer idiocy of the court’s position was this. “If Terri is a person she has rights, and the court will defend those rights and decide what to do.” And what the court found was that she was not a person within the usual meaning of the word because she had no functionality (and therefore no rights?), and therefore should be put to death by “natural” means. And so Justice got trapped within its own circular reasoning.
My view, already stated elsewhere, was that government did not belong here, and should never have stuck its nose into it. Separation of Church and State, indeed. Here was a situation where the problem and the decision properly belonged within the boundaries of the religion embraced by the victim and the victim’s parents. And that religion was the Roman Catholic Church.
This case remains open, there was no closure, and Bush is right to do whatever it takes to keep it open. And let it continue to fester in the public mind.
I’m more interested here in the Times’s assertion that the law provides closure. That is the thinking of most citizens, or should be, if the law could do that. But it cannot, even though that is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they invented and wrote out our system.
A case is brought looking for closure, and resolved by a judge in the lower court. And if the judge doesn’t provide the closure sought, it goes to the Court of Appeal. And if they don’t manage it, then to the State Supreme Court (who probably will decline to rule), and then the U.S. Supreme Court, who will even more likely do the same thing.
No, the courts do not provide closure, which is why many seek to do it for themselves, with sometimes shocking results. And we don’t know how to answer these people, other than to say “lock ’em up!”, without parole if necessary.
That is the great conundrum facing this country today.
The advocacy system (“my lawyer’s better than your lawyer!”) needs to be changed in a big, big way, by Congress and by legislatures, a lawmaking system which, ironically, is peopled by and with lawyers.
And Terri Schiavo is helping to bring that about. We must not forget her, for she stands as a symbol of the Great Moral Failure of our age.
The case remains open.