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Florida Stuck Where the Republican Sun Don't Shine

Setting aside for the moment Congressional endeavors, it is instructive to look at the state of Florida in the unflattering light cast by Terri Schiavo’s death by dehydration. After all, we used to embrace a concept known as federalism which ensured (among other things) that the vast majority of power affecting US citizens in their everyday lives would be local in nature and therefore directly bound to the consent of the governed. A couple of dead white guys named Hamilton and Madison were all over this back in the day. They wrote a book.

The power that is currently killing Schiavo is definitely local, but it’s also absolute. Not quite what those old guys had in mind. The executive and legislative branches of the Sunshine State are in the final days of an abject lurch toward complete subservience to the judiciary. Today, the Sunshine Senate failed by a few votes to pass a law that would have likely saved Schiavo, if only temporarily. Several members of that formerly legislative body were quoted in distinctly un-sunny terms, indicating that there was no point in passing “Terri’s Law” since a similar law had already been ruled unconstitutional by the Sunshine Supreme Court. This capitulation capped weeks of discussion about how to craft legislation that would not displease the sovereign judges. The Sunshine Governor fared no better. Today he was seen begging at the feet of these same overlords, waving an affidavit and asking for permission to assert executive power.

The 27th state has a dark and cloudy secret. Its mostly overcast with a 90% chance of judicial tyranny. Who, we may ask, is this Judge Greer? He’s a human black cloud thundering in probate court. If he were any lower on the judicial totem pole, he’d be starving traffic violators in a county courthouse. Yet here he is, enjoying deference that would embarrass Arafat at the UN. He’s tossing out motions made by the governor and listening to seemingly prohibited ex parte communications from the husband’s lawyer. He's ignoring some statutes and creating his own. Today he ordered the county sheriff to ensure that law enforcement personnel did not act contrary to his ruling and gave instructions to the attorney for the hospice where Schiavo is dying as to what steps to take should law enforcement fail to follow instructions. In the good old days, the legislature was tasked with creating laws and the executive was tasked with enforcement.

The website of the Sixth Circuit of Florida proudly proclaims that it “is recognized as one of the most efficient trial courts in the nation.” And now we see why. Republican principles can be extremely inefficient. Better to just enjoy the sunshine in the shadow of an omnipotent judiciary.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 24, 2005 12:28 AM.

The previous post in this blog was The Legal Battle Over Terri.

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