Monday, March 21, 2005

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES has passed the bill ordering a federal judge to review the case of Terri Schiavo. The vote was 253 to 58, with 5 brave Republicans breaking ranks to vote no, and 47 spineless Democrats voting in the affirmative to rip to shreds this country's 230-year-old principle of an independent judiciary and separation of powers.

There are a number of points that need to be made about this bill, some of which were not clear to me before just now.

  • The Senate and House bills are different. The Senate bill would apply only to Terri Schiavo's case (although how that could stick is unclear). The House bill would allow the federal government to review ALL cases in which state court judges rule to authorize the withholding of food or medical treatment.
  • The news accounts I read yesterday said that the Senate vote was unanimous. It was, but there were only a handful of senators present, and the bill was passed by voice vote.
  • The House bill was passed by a roll call vote, only because a few Democrats refused to agree to a voice vote. That resulted in the Republicans having to hastily call back Republican representatives who had left for the Easter break. Although this delay did not change the ultimate outcome, at least it demonstrated some backbone on the part of House Democrats.
  • The bill that the House passed had been introduced only hours before, had not been scheduled in advance for debate, and was passed after 40 minutes of discussion in an almost empty House chamber. This may seem obvious, but it's important to be fully aware of how profoundly undemocratic and unconstitutional this legislative action was, and is.

I have been trying to find a complete listing of all the House members who voted against H. Res. 182. When I do, I will post their names. If anyone else reading this finds the list, please let me know via a Comment.

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