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May 19, 2005

Bob and Mary Schindler meet with Pope

From LifeNews:

The Pope held a meeting with Terri Schaivo's parents on Wednesday at the Vatican. He met with them at a general audience in St. Peter's Square and they presented him with a picture of their daughter, who died in late March after a painful 13 day starvation death.

They presented Pope Benedict XVI with a framed picture of Terri featuring pictures of her both before and after her 1990 collapse.

Pope Benedict takes a strong stand against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

He's previously said the state should not "grant to some the power to violate others' fundamental right to life" because it "contradicts the democratic ideal to which it continues to appeal and undermines the very foundations on which it is built."

"By allowing the rights of the weakest to be violated, the State also allows the law of force to prevail over the force of law," the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said.

Yesterday, the Schindler family met with Vatican Cardinal Renato Martino and thanked him and other Catholic officials for speaking out on Terri's behalf in the weeks leading up to her death.

I'm glad the Pope did this. The Schindler's need to know that we haven't forgotten.

Coverage: insignificant thoughts

Posted by Danny Carlton at May 19, 2005 07:50 AM

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Pro-life judges

In 1993, a fourteen-year-old boy, Willie Searcy, was in a car accident that left him a "ventilator-dependent quadriplegic." For the rest of his life he was going to need machines and constant nursing to keep him alive. His parents' insurance wouldn't cover it, and the family didn't have the money to pay for it. They had a ventilator, but no backup generator in case of a power failure. Medicaid provided 104 hours per week of nursing, but it was cut to 34 hours per week when he turned 21.

His injuries were partly caused by a defective seat belt in the Ford pickup his stepfather was driving at the time of the accident. An East Texas jury ordered Ford to pay Willie Searcy $30 million. That money would have kept him alive if he'd ever gotten it. But Ford's legal team took the case to the Texas Supreme Court, where, unfortunately for Willie Searcy, the judge who took the case was Priscilla Owen:

Two years after the lawyers representing Willie Searcy and the lawyers representing Ford had requested an expedited hearing, Owen wrote the majority opinion. A process that could have been completed within months of the oral argument in November 1996 dragged on until Owen completed her opinion in March 1998.

Her opinion was stunning. Not because it ruled against Willie Searcy and his mother, Susan Miles, but because of how it ruled against them. Owens ruled the case would have to be retried in Dallas because it was initially filed in the wrong venue. Yet venue was not among the issues, or "points of error," the court said it would consider two years earlier when it took up the case. "We felt like we got ambushed," said Ayres. A lawyer who had worked at the court at the time agreed: "If venue wasn't in the points of error, it is unusual that the court addressed it. If the justices decide they want the court to address something not in the points of error, they would ask for additional briefing. They send letters to the parties and ask for briefing." There had been no letters and no requests.

Willie Searcy's case was a textbook example of "results oriented" justice that is common in Texas. Often, judges first determine the desired outcome of a case. Then they adapt the facts and the law to make it happen. It was also a glaring example of judicial activism, or making law from the bench, which is anathema to conservative Republicans -- unless it serves their purposes, as it did in the Terri Schiavo case.

These rulings are not entirely informed by the justices' love for certain principles of law. If the Texas Supreme Court is the most business-friendly bench in the nation -- and it is -- it's because corporate interests pay for the justices' election campaigns. Of the $175,328 Owen took in from the Texas defense bar while Willie Searcy's case moved through the courts, she got $20,450 from Baker Botts, the mega-firm run by Bush family consigliere James A. Baker III. Baker Botts was part of Ford's defense team.

It would be another three years before the Dallas Court of Appeals handed down a ruling giving Willie Searcy's family money to care for him. But it was too late. Four days after the ruling, his ventilator stopped working during the night. When his mother went into his room at 5 a.m., he was dead.

Priscilla Owen is one of the judges Democrats have filibustered.

Posted by: ignu at May 19, 2005 02:06 PM

Errors are errors, and if the case was filed in the wrong venue, you can't blame the judge who catches it. The lawyers who filed in the wrong venue would be at fault. In 1998 Bill Clinton was president. You might just as well blame him for the death since you're tossing blame with no logical linkage. But then it would seem that you like tossing blame to the right, don't you.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at May 19, 2005 04:16 PM

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