Monday, March 21, 2005

Go read now.

Dalia Lithwick's column on the grotesquerie of the GOP trying to ride a brain-dead woman to political advantage is must-reading. Here's an excerpt:

Let's be clear: The piece of legislation passed late last night, the so-called "Palm Sunday Compromise," has nothing whatever to do with the rule of law. The rule of law in this country holds that this is a federalist system—in which private domestic matters are litigated in state, not federal courts. The rule of law has long provided that such domestic decisions are generally made by competent spouses, as opposed to parents, elected officials, popular referendum, or the demands of Randall Terry. The rule of law also requires a fundamental separation of powers—in which legislatures do not override final, binding court decisions solely because the outcome is not the one they like. The rule of law requires comity between state and federal courts—wherein each respects and upholds the jurisdiction and authority of the other. The rule of law requires that we look skeptically at legislation aimed at mucking around with just one life to the exclusion of any and all similarly situated individuals.

And what is the overwhelming constitutional value that supersedes each of these centuries-old legal notions? Evidently, Congress has a secret, super-textual constitutional role as the nation's caped crusaders—its members authorized to leap into phone booths around the world and fly back to Washington in a single bound whenever the "culture of life" is in peril. Republicans acknowledged this weekend that their views on "the sanctity of life" trump even their convictions about federalism. Or, as Tom DeLay put it, when asked how he reconciles this bill with conservative calls to keep the federal government out of state matters, "We, as Congress, have every right to make sure that the constitutional rights of Terri Schiavo are protected, and that's what we're doing."

This congressional authority to simply override years of state court fact-finding brings with it other superpowers, including the power of gratuitous name-calling: Members of Congress unable to pronounce Schiavo's name just last week are denouncing her husband as an adulterer and common law bigamist who withheld proper medical care from her. I wonder what they'd say about my parenting—or yours—if they decided to make a federal case out of every domestic-custody dispute currently resolved in state court proceedings.

For God's sake, read the whole thing.

One silver lining, at least: The public is smarter than the GOP gives them credit for.

Let's be clear on this: The Republican Party has descended to new depths of cynicism and deceit. The party that claimed it wanted to protect marriage has voted to destroy a husband's ability to make health-care decisions for his incapacitated wife. The party that has wrapped itself in the mantle of states' rights has declared that it can and will invent from whole cloth reasons to overturn state decisions that it doesn't like. The party that imagines it has a monopoly on family values and claims it wants to get government off of people's backs has announced to the world that the government, not you, has the final say over your family's medical decisions. What's shocking isn't the new depths these cretins have found, it's the raw, naked cynicism and corruption of this showboating that's surprising.

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