Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Leave it to the uber-moron Joseph Farah, founder of the Worldnutdaily, to up the ante even higher in the race to see who can be the most ridiculous and extreme in their anti-judicial rhetoric. In this article on the Schiavo situation, he makes numerous false statements about the case and then urges that the Federal judges who opposed him in the case be thrown in jail. No, I’m not making that up:

Members of Congress were huffing and puffing about the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals after its decision to ignore the will of Congress. Yet there has not been a move by the most powerful branch of the federal government to hold the federal court accountable for its contempt of Congress or its role as an accomplice to judicial homicide…

Unless these renegade judges are reined in – and I mean with criminal prosecution, if necessary – this case will represent a landmark, not just in the state-sanctioned death of an innocent woman, but in the breakdown of law and order in our society.

First, he is simply wrong. The Federal courts did not ignore the will of Congress, they followed the law as Congress wrote it. Nothing in that law required that the court issue a stay pending trial. And the legislative history of the bill, even if the court had considered it, cut against the position that the bill required a stay for two reasons. First, because there was a section in the bill that would have required a stay initially, but Congress removed that section before passing the bill. Clearly that indicates that they did not intend to mandate a stay by the court. Second, you have both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the author of the bill saying during debate, “Nothing in the current bill or its legislative history mandates a stay. I would assume, however, the Federal court would grant a stay based on the facts of this case because Mrs. Schiavo would need to be alive in order for the court to make its determination. Nevertheless, this bill does not change current law under which a stay is discretionary.” Hence, the courts had the discretionary authority under the bill to issue a stay or not issue a stay, and the criteria they use to determine that says, in part, that the plaintiffs must show that they have a reasonable chance of winning the case. Because there was no legitimate Federal right at stake, that standard was not met and the court, applying the same criteria it does to every case within the confines of that law, decided not to issue a stay. And that decision was upheld by a conservative appeals court and a largely Republican-appointed Supreme Court.

So his premise, that the courts were “defying” Congress, is false on its face, which means his conclusion absurd. Along the way he also engages in many of the same lies told by the right throughout the case. For instance, he says:

A local county elected politician, a judge, made the determination to accede to the wishes of Terri’s estranged husband to pull her feeding and hydration tube, thus sentencing an innocent, non-terminal handicapped woman to death.

False. The court did not rule that Michael could do what he wanted to Terri. The court did what it was required to do under Florida state law, made a determination of what Terri herself would have wanted based upon the testimony of multiple people, not just Michael. The determination was made under the strictest standard available, the “clear and convincing” standard, mandated by Florida law. That determination was upheld by the state appeals court and the state supreme court and even by the Guardian Ad Litem appointed under the hurried law the Florida legislature passed to prolong the case.

He did this despite mixed medical opinions about her prognosis.

Even more false. There was no legitimate “mixed medical opinions” about her prognosis. The medical evidence was crystal clear and the only two people who examined her who claimed otherwise did so on absurdly false grounds. Dr. Hammesfahr, the charlatan who fraudulently calls himself a Nobel prize nominee, claimed to have helped patients “far worse than Terri”, but could not provide a single case study to support that claim. In fact, all of his work is with stroke patients, not with PVS patients. He was simply lying, and the court caught him in that lie. And Dr. Cheshire, who signed the affidavit for Jeb Bush in the last weeks of the controversy, admitted in that affidavit that he had no evidence at all that Terri was not PVS, only that he had a “sense” of the “presence of another human being” in the room with him. The court rightly rejected such a ridiculous basis for a diagnosis. The medical evidence in this case was amazingly clear to all but the most delusional. The cat scans showed that most of her brain had been necrotized and replaced by spinal fluid, leaving only a brain stem to support basic bodily functions. She had a flat EEG for 15 years, for crying out loud.

Extremist nuts like Farah are now calling for criminal trials for those who do not share their delusions and do not accede to their false claims about this case. But they are not alone. They are aided by several prominent members of Congress and by most of the leadership of the religious right. And the threat they pose is very real.


  1. #1 Andrew Wyatt
    April 12, 2005

    This is insane. I have never seen this level of contempt for judges or the law in general in the mainstream public consciousness. The far right really seems to want some of crypto-anarchistic mob-ocracy, where whatever the majority says from moment to moment goes, and any notion of universal principals of freedom and justice goes right out the window. These lunatics seem to believe that “democracy” means “mob rule”. It’s like we’ve stumbled through the looking glass. Rebuplicans are proudly declaring their frothing hostility to republicanism.

  2. #2 spyder
    April 12, 2005

    I missed hearing this reported, or this is the first of it. From Max Blumenthal’s column, in The Nation

    Washington — Michael Schwartz must have thought I was just another attendee of the “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” conference. I approached the chief of staff of Oklahoma’s GOP Senator Tom Coburn outside the conference in downtown Washington last Thursday afternoon after he spoke there. Before I could introduce myself, he turned to me and another observer with a crooked smile and exclaimed, “I’m a radical! I’m a real extremist. I don’t want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!”

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