Thursday, March 24, 2005

Our Favorite Moralist With the Major Gambling Problem Weighs In 

Showing he has absolutely no sense of separation of powers, Bill Bennett says Governor Bush should just send in the troops:
In theoretical terms, this is a conflict between the separate powers of Florida government, as the judicial and executive branches have different opinions about what the Florida constitution requires. But in practical terms, Terri's life hangs in the balance: If the Florida supreme court prevails, she dies. If Governor Bush prevails, she lives. It is a mistake to believe that the courts have the ultimate say as to what a constitution means. Every governor is bound by oath to uphold and protect his state constitution. In the case of Florida, the constitution Mr. Bush pledged to defend declares that, "All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty..." If the governor believes that he and the Florida legislature possess the constitutional authority and duty to save Terri's life, then he is bound by his oath of office to do so.

James Madison remarked in the 51st Federalist that "auxiliary precautions" — constitutional mechanisms such as separation of powers and checks and balances — are necessary for limiting the power of government, a means for the end of protecting rights. But, Madison also reminded us, "a dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government." The Florida constitution echoes Madison when it states in Section 1 that, "All political power is inherent in the people."

The "auxiliary precautions" of Florida government — in this case the Florida supreme court — have failed Terri Schiavo. It is time, therefore, for Governor Bush to execute the law and protect her rights, and, in turn, he should take responsibility for his actions. Using the state police powers, Governor Bush can order the feeding tube reinserted. His defense will be that he and a majority of the Florida legislature believe the Florida Constitution requires nothing less. Some will argue that Governor Bush will be violating the law. We think he will not be violating the law, but if he is judged to have done so, it will be in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., who answered to a higher law than a judge's opinion. In so doing, King showed respect for the man-made law by willingly going to jail (on a Good Friday); Governor Bush may have to face impeachment because of his decision.

In taking these extraordinary steps to save an innocent life, Governor Bush should be judged not by the opinion of the Florida supreme court, a co-equal branch of the Florida government, but by the opinions of his political superiors, the people of Florida. If they disagree with their governor, they are indeed free to act through their elected representatives and impeach him. Or they can vindicate him if they think he is right. But he should not be cowed into inaction — he should not allow an innocent woman to be starved to death — because of an opinion of a court he believes to be wrong and unconstitutional.

Governor Jeb Bush may find it difficult to protect Terri's rights without risking impeachment. But in the great American experiment in republican government, much is demanded of those who are charged with protecting the rights of the people. Governor Bush pledged to uphold the Florida constitution as he understands it, not as it is understood by some Florida judges. He is the rightful representative of the people of Florida and he is the chief executive, in whom the power is vested to execute the law and protect the rights of citizens. He should use that power to protect Terri's natural right to live, and he should do so now.
(via, yuck, NRO)
Hear that, everyone? Bennett has just made a case for every executive from now on to just do what he damn-well pleases.

Now let's ponder this one for a minute. What if Governor Bush thought that the state of Florida should shut down all $500-a pull slot machines? What would our virtuous Mr. Bennett say about that? I'm sure he would insist that the governor was overstepping his authority.

Given the revelations of the past couple of years about Mr. Bennett, I'd venture a guess that no one today would believe he was making the argument because of his strong belief in limiting the power of government but because he likes to play slots -- a lot. Heck, he likes to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per night playing slots apparently.

But, really folks, who's going to believe what Bill "High Roller" Bennett says from now on?

Better yet, after the events of the last four years, why does anybody believe anything any Republican says these days?

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