Fox News Commentator Wrong on Law on Schiavo

TO: Ms. Lis Wiehl, University of Washington Law School, and Fox News legal commentator

Good morning, Ms. Wiehl. I am not a lawyer and don’t even play one on TV, but I teach American history and government part time at an excellent Miami area high school, and I was puzzled (as are my students, I am certain) by your Fox News comments aired at least twice yesterday (3/19) in re congressional activity to aid embattled, brain-damaged Terri Schiavo.

You amazingly said that such aid would be “unconstitutional” because “bills of attainders, that is, laws designed to help an individual, are prohibited.” You also stated that “private bills in Congress are unconstitutional.”

Neither statement of yours is correct, or even close to being correct. Bills of attainder, prohibited in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, are bills (once a great tool of our brutal English masters) that are cranked up by legislators to punish, not help, specific individuals. So far, every legislative idea regarding Terri Schiavo I have heard reported wants to help her live, not hasten her death. Only a fanatic Florida state judge and Terri’s common-law bigamist “husband” are cheerleading the Death Squad.

(By the way, why don’t you do a truly insightful commentary on the interest-conflicted absurdity of Judge Greer’s allowing Mr. Schiavo to be his ailing wife’s legal “guardian”? He is the same “caring” husband, of course, who openly flouts his marriage vows by living with another woman and her two children by him. Furthermore, Mr. Schiavo apparently has spent much of his ailing wife’s million-dollar jury award to sustain his life, not that of his deteriorating wife No. 1.)

Furthermore, private bills, as you should know, are introduced every day in Congress, passed, and eventually enforced with little difficulty. (Public bills deal with general questions and become Public Laws, or Acts, if approved by Congress and signed by the President. Private bills deal with individual matters such as claims against the Federal Government, immigration and naturalization cases, land titles, et cetera, and become private laws if approved and signed.)

Your 180-degree-wrong double pronouncement, unfortuntely, gives a horribly biased and totally misleading analysis of what Congress actually is trying to do to trump a Florida’s judge’s application of cruel and unusual punishment for an innocent, living citizen. Professor Wiehl needs to go before the Fox cameras and ‘fess up — something that you probably require your wayward students to do from time to time in the classroom.

Thanks for your eventual mea culpa.

Mike Thompson
Palmetto Bay, Florida