People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Judiciary Raises Its Ugly Head ... Again

Here's today's quiz.

Which (one) of the following does not belong?

a) Nazis
b) Communists
c) Fascists
d) The federal judiciary

If you selected (d) you win. But not for any reason you might think. The first three are - or were - political / social / economic movements that tried but failed to destroy our country. The fourth, our court system, is having much greater success.

Here is today's example (from the Charleston Gazette):

Bush, industry seek reversal of mine ruling
Ken Ward Jr., Staff writer

A federal judge overstepped his authority when he blocked the streamlined permitting of new mountaintop removal coal mines, the Bush administration says in a new legal brief.

Lawyers for the Army Corps of Engineers asked a federal appeals court to overturn the July 2004 ruling by U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

Corps lawyers said that Goodwin’s ruling came in the third legal effort to “halt the practice of valley fill mining.”

Specifically, the Goodwin ruling examined the corps’ historic practice of approving valley ill waste piles through a Clean Water Act authorization called Nationwide Permit 21, or NWP 21.

Under the law, such permits are supposed to be used only to approve categories of activities that, cumulatively, would have minimal environmental effect.

In October 2003, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the corps over this practice. Lawyers for those groups argued that the corps could only approve valley fills through individual permits, which receive more detailed reviews.

In his July 8, 2004, opinion, Goodwin ruled that the corps had never concluded that valley fills caused only minimal adverse impacts.

Without such a finding, the judge said, the corps cannot use NWP 21 for any mining permits. (link)
While hundreds of thousands of the most impoverished people in the country attempt to scratch out a living by bringing to market the only commodity in abundance in this part of the world, a federal judge toys with legal precedents and gains admission to cocktail parties of the very hip and well-connected (oh, and lavishly well-funded) environmental groups by thwarting the efforts of our coal miners.

Judge Goodwin. Doing to America what tyrants, blackguards, and monsters were never able to do.

Global Warming To Cause ... Ants

In another in a long line of attempts to scare the beejeebers out of us, "scientists" have determined that the "looming crisis" over "global warming" will cause an ant invasion. I couldn't make this kind of hogwash up if I tried.

Global warming could trigger ant invasions
NewScientist.com news service
Shaoni Bhattacharya

Global warming may lead to an unexpected threat from the insect world - swarming invasions of tiny ants - suggests new research.

The study of 665 ant colonies in environments ranging from tropical rainforests to frozen tundra suggests that in warmer environments the ants' body size shrinks, on average, while the number of individuals in the colony booms.

Global warming might shrink ant workers by as much as a third, says Michael Kaspari at the University of Oklahoma, US, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, who carried out the study: "And since ant species with small workers appear to be particularly successful at invading, ant invasions - already destructive - may become more common in a warming world." (link)
The key words in this article are: Could, May, Suggests, and Might.

Translation: We're guessing.

Just Kill Her

It was just announced on television that the federal judge who heard arguments yesterday in the Terri Schiavo case has refused to order her feeding tube to be reinstated.

He is a Clinton appointee.

The case will probably go to a federal appeals court now. Prospects for her being saved are dimming.

Day Four And Counting

Terri Schiavo hasn't been given any food or water in almost four days. Imagine the suffering she must be experiencing right now.

Meanwhile the debate over her fate seems to have shifted to one involving the power of the United States Congress. This editorial in the New York Times this morning is typical of the missing-the-point "outrage."

A Blow to the Rule of Law

If you are in a "persistent vegetative state" and there is a dispute about whether to keep you alive, your case will probably go no further than state court - unless you are Terri Schiavo. President Bush signed legislation yesterday giving Ms. Schiavo's parents a personal right to sue in federal court. The new law tramples on the principle that this is "a nation of laws, not of men," and it guts the power of the states. When the
commotion over this one tragic woman is over, Congress and the president will have done real damage to the founders' careful plan for American democracy.

Ms. Schiavo's case presents heart-wrenching human issues, and difficult legal ones. But the Florida courts, after careful deliberation, ruled that she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means in her current state, and ordered her feeding tube removed. Ms. Schiavo's parents, who wanted the tube to remain, hoped to get the Florida Legislature to intervene, but it did not do so.

That should have settled the matter. But supporters of Ms. Schiavo's parents, particularly members of the religious right, leaned heavily on Congress and the White House to step in. They did so yesterday with the new law, which gives "any parent of Theresa Marie Schiavo" standing to sue in federal court to keep her alive.

This narrow focus is offensive. The founders believed in a nation in which, as Justice Robert Jackson once wrote, we would "submit ourselves to rulers only if under rules." There is no place in such a system for a special law creating rights for only one family. The White House insists that the law will not be a precedent. But that means that the right to bring such claims in federal court is reserved for people with enough political pull to get a law passed that names them in the text. (link)

This narrow focus is offensive? Funny, I don't remember these guys being so worked up when Bill Clinton sent US marshals to abortion clinics around the country after an abortionist was shot and killed.

And the sudden interest in states rights is laughable. Just two weeks ago, the US Supreme Court overturned death penalty law in two dozen states by conjuring out of the ether a need to ban the execution of seventeen year-olds. And the editorial page of the New York Times praised the decision.

So I know they don't mean what they are writing here.

But why the expression of outrage? It's because the judiciary is under assault by the elected representatives of the people - what should be the most important branch of the government. This effort to demonize Congress for having passed a law attempting to save Terri Schiavo's life happens to coincide with the threat made by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NM) whereby he and his Democratic colleagues announced that they will shut down the government if the Republicans in the senate force a vote on judicial nominees that Harry's crowd has determined do not fit their mold.

In the meantime, Terri is being starved to death.

Remember the stand that the editors at the New York Times have taken next time they express anguish over the plight of those unable to fend for themselves.

And This Is The End Result ...

The ongoing and relentless devaluing of human life manifests itself in a number of ways. A brain-damaged woman in Pinellas Park, Florida is starved to death - it's what she would have wanted, they say - and a teenager with self-esteem issues takes up two handguns and a shotgun and kills nine people ...

10 Die in Minn. Student's Shooting Rampage
By JOSHUA FREED, Associated Press Writer

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) -- A high school student went on a shooting rampage on an Indian reservation Monday, killing his grandparents at their home and then seven people at his school, grinning and waving as he fired, authorities and witnesses said. The suspect apparently killed himself after exchanging gunfire with police.

It was the nation's worst school shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999 that killed 13 people. (link)
Callous disregard for our fellow human beings is on the rise. As are the incidents of slaughter. And we debate the merits of Congressional intercession in the debate over a "right to die."

There is one thing we can count on. There will be many more stories like these in coming years.