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Monday, March 28, 20051111993800

Elian Gonzales and Terri Schiavo

"Selective Restraint," by John Fund, Opinion Journal, 28 March 2005, http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110006480 (from Drudge Report).

Amid the sloppy arguments and emotional appeals of the Terri Schiavo case, John Fund has wise words.

The sad case of Terri Schiavo has raised passions not seen since five years ago. Then another bitterly divided family argued in Florida courts over someone who couldn't speak on his own behalf: Elian Gonzalez.

In both cases, those who were unhappy with the courts' decisions strained to assert the federal government's power to produce a different outcome. The difference is that in Mrs. Schiavo's case, Congress backed off after passing a bill that merely asked a federal court to hear the case from scratch, something that U.S. District Judge James Whittemore declined to do. By contrast, those who wanted the federal government to intervene in Elian Gonzalez's case went all the way, supporting a predawn armed federal raid on the morning before Easter to seize the 6-year-old boy despite a federal appeals court's refusal to order his surrender.

Both cases were marked with hypocrisy and political posturing galore. Both times some conservative Republicans talked about issuing subpoenas to compel the person at the center of the case to appear before Congress; they swiftly backed down when public opinion failed to support their stunt. Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, argued that by opposing Elian's return to his father in communist Cuba, conservatives were abandoning the principle that "the state should not supersede the parents' wishes." In the case of Terri Schiavo, many conservatives who normally support spousal rights decided that Michael Schiavo's decision to abandon his marital vows while at the same time refusing to divorce his wife rendered him unfit to override the wishes of his wife's parents to have her cared for.

But liberals have gotten off easy for some of the somersaulting arguments they have made on behalf of judicial independence and states' rights to justify their position that Terri Schiavo should not be saved. Many made the opposite arguments in the Elian Gonzalez case.

Well said. If one believes in law-courts and states rights, then Attorney General Reno was wrong to seize Elian Gonzales. If one believes in law-courts and states rights, then Mike Schiavo has the power to make decisions for his wife.

Fund closes with a quote by Governor Bush

According to some reports, Gov. Jeb Bush considered seizing Mrs. Schiavo, à la Elian, and taking her to a hospital so she could be fed. But he did not do so. "I've consistently said that I can't go beyond what my powers are, and I'm not going to do it," the governor says. Janet Reno and the Clinton administration showed no such restraint when it came to Elian Gonzalez.

Exactly right. Stop the madness. Bush in 2008!


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Posted by: aaron | Monday, March 28, 2005