Andrew McCarthy analyzes the court ruling
Andrew McCarthy writing in
NRO analyzes the bill that Congress passed in order to help Terri and how the judge interpreted it so narrowly as to permit him to not even give the facts a new hearing, which was obviously Congress's intent. So -- the legal eagles once again find a loophole through which they can let a human be dehydrated and starved to death.
When Congress provided for de novo review, uninhibited by what had already been determined in Florida, it seems clear that this is what they thought they were getting at. They were saying: Before we allow state action to deprive the constitutional right to life, let's be certain we really are dealing with a PVS case and a woman who actually made an informed choice to refuse sustenance. Judge Whittemore, to the contrary, has decided to interpret Congress's command as limited to an inquiry about whether Florida's procedures are likely to produce good results. As for the results actually produced � a finding of PVS and informed choice to die � he doesn't see the need to kick those tires because, he lamely notes, the Schindlers haven't explained how they could possibly relevant.
The judge, I believe, is wrong and needlessly stingy in construing what the just-passed law directs him to do. Terri Schiavo has had neither the standard medical tests (including an MRI and PET scan) nor the extensive clinical observation that should be mandatory for any finding of PVS on which an effective death sentence is to be predicated. If the proof supporting the PVS finding or the informed-choice finding � which Florida law require to be proved by clear and convincing evidence � is blatantly inadequate, then she has then not received the due process of law necessary to justify a taking of life under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. If she is not a PVS case and she is being tortured by starvation and dehydration, the Florida ruling removing the feeding tube is subjecting her to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
That's what we need a de novo review of: Why weren't standard tests done, why shouldn't they be done before a final PVS conclusion is made, and, in their absence, why should we be confident in the accuracy of the PVS diagnosis? There may be good answers to all these questions, but that is what evidentiary hearings are for.