Thursday, October 23, 2003

Schiavo redux.

The Times' web article on constitutional issues raised by the Florida legislation (mentioned here late yesterday) appeared in print today. Privacy, of course, is the big issue -- does Terri Schiavo have a right to have her medical decisions made by her husband or can the state override her surrogate's choice (based upon substituted judgment)? Beyond that, does a statute that is addressed to only one person's situation impermissibly blur the line between "legislature" (which typically decides policy issues prospectively and generically) and "court" (which typically decides issues retroactively and in the context of individual cases)? Problem is, those distinctions are frequently blurred by both courts and legislatures. The practice of passing "special legislation" for the benefit of one individual is so well established in the federal system that Congress has a separate calendar just for those measures. Florida's law on special legislation is reportedly quite narrow, and there may be some real question whether the Schiavo law would pass muster in that state.

The New York Times editorialized against the legislature's and governor's overruling of the many court decisions that have quite unremarkably upheld Terry Schiavo's husband's right to make the decision he's made.

posted by tommayo, 7:58 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter