March 31, 2005

Thank you, Judge Stanley Birch.

Judge Birch, of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals,wrote the following in a concurrence to the recent finding by his court that it could not hear Terry Schiavo's parents' last appeal:

The separation of powers implicit in our constitutional design was created "to assure, as nearly as possible, that each brance of government would confine itself to its assigned responsibility." INS, 462 U.S. at 951, 103 S. Ct. at 2784. But when the fervor of political passions moves the Executive and the Legislative brances to act in ways inimical to basic constitutional principles, it is the duty of the judiciary to intervene. If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow. See New York, 505 U.S. at 187, 112 S. Ct. at 2434. Accordingly, we must conscientiously guard the independence of our judiciary and safeguard the Constitution, even in the face of the unfathomable human tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo and her family and the rececnt events related to her plight which have troubled the consciences of many. Realizing this duty, I conclude that Pub. L. 109-3 (Terri's Law -jb) is an unstitutional infringement on core tenets underlying our constitutional system.

This, mind you, is a conservative judge. Emphasis in original.

Where have all the real Republicans gone? Will they please stand up? I'd like them back. They, in contrast to the current crop of ethically-challenged religious fundamentalist-pandering lockstep lackeys, made me proud to be American. I'm not going to lie to you and say I liked Ronald Reagan, ever; but I will say that opposing Reagan and his policies still felt like an intramural game. The current struggle feels like War of the Worlds. I have no idea where people like Rove and Feith and Delay and Frist come from, and I'm really not sure I want to.

I love my country very much. I will do whatever I can do defend and nurture it. I will fight for the rights of those I disagree with to say what they wish. I will fight as best I can, in what manner I am able, to make these United States a place in which I am proud to live and represent to the world. I'm not entirely sure why I love my country, as I have little experience with the rest of the world; it's not a necessarily logical thing, and I recognize the weakness of my experiences here. I will say this - as a mixed-race Jew, I am strongly committed to a vision of America that I have been given by my parents and my teachers growing up. I have looked for that United States of America throughout my life, and I haven't found it; it's an ideal, not a place. However, I have come across flashes of it throughout the world, and I have seen it described in the Constitution - imperfectly, but there. I've found it in New York. I've run across it in California. I've found it in the middle of the country. I've found it in Texas. I've been surprised by it in North Carolina, had it run up ove rmy own northeastern teenage prejudices with the power of a freight train. I've had it shown to me by immigrants and refugees, by people who've suffered things I can't imagine as they came looking for it - and when they found the imperfect disheveled version that makes me angry on a daily basis, they still wept for joy. People who came here and found a twisted lie and sneered at me to point out flaws I hadn't even imagined before they left in disgust showed me places it needs to do better; people suffering daily show me places it doesn't even try. People on television trying to tell me how to live (or die) because Their God Tells Me So remind me what our forefathers were trying to escape and why I can't give up trying to make the Constitution live and breathe.

I know I'm not right, or wrong, and that the United States is just another form of ideology - another in a long line of ideologies that have killed and divided man. But I also know that more so than any other idea or faith or ideology I've run across, the United States of America is an idea that anyone can pick up and claim; one that anyone can make themselves a part of simply by saying "Yes. That's how it can be, in this one place." No, nothing magical happens because of that. It doesn't make them right. But it does mean that if that person finds me, we have a common ground - not because of how we were born, or who our parents were, but a shared vision of how Things Can Be. Not how they should be, necessarily; but how they can be - how they can work, how we can live, and argue, and exist, and survive, together. Because of something we learned, and considered, and thought about - and, ultimately, decided for ourselves was a good choice.

It's rose-colored. But it's what keeps me going.

Posted by jbz at March 31, 2005 11:58 PM | TrackBack


JB: you might find this amusing.

[Hrm, for some reason I can't seem to make the link work- URL is: ]

Posted by: Luis Villa at April 1, 2005 1:00 AM
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