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March 29, 2005

Alan Keyes: Huckster or Maniac?

I hope everyone realizes that I strongly oppose the decision to euthanize Terri Schiavo in absence of her clear, unambiguous declaration of her wishes to be put to death, and to leave this decision in the hands of a what is effectively an ex-husband looking to marry his new hootchie.

But.

We live in a society of laws. We live in a democracy. There are certain laws or rulings that we conservatives don't like, but that does not, I think, give us the moral right to break them. As I've analogized before-- there are laws and rulings that leftists don't like; do conservatives grant lefties the right to break laws or commit violence simply because the lefties feel compelled to do so by their consciences?

It cannot be the case that conservatives are permitted to break the law if their conscience so dictates but leftists are required to observe the law. (And, as I've pointed out previously, the converse is obviously true as well.)

Obviously society has come to tolerate peaceful, and even not so peaceful, protests which are in fact technically illegal. But beyond creating nuisances for the police or commuters? I don't know if I'm prepared to say that I support conscience-based vigilatism.

Terri Schiavo is being euthanized. The court decision was senseless and borderline barbaric. The Florida legislature, the elected representative body with the inarguable power to change the law to protect Terri, declined to do so.

The courts have spoken. That doesn't mean they're right. But it does mean, alas, that that is the current state of the law. And the legislature has also spoken-- through its silence.

Should the law be broken on occasion? I suppose it should. But those who break the law in order to vindicate a deeply-held political belief must also ask what such law-breaking does to other important political beliefs-- beliefs like respect for the law, for civil society generally, and for democracy itself.

I grow weary of columns like this arguing that Governor Jeb Bush is duty-bound to break the actual law to vindicate a higher moral law.

The Florida state constitution declares unequivocally that in the state of Florida "the supreme executive power shall be vested in a governor … ." The word supreme means highest in authority. There can be no executive authority in the state of Florida higher than the governor. No state law can create an executive authority higher than highest in the Florida constitution. Therefore no court order based upon such a law can constitutionally create such an authority.

Idiotic. In the first paragraph alone he discards the whole checks-and-balance system of government and argues, in effect, for an absolute monarchy.

We conservatives say, correctly, that judges are not empowered by the constitution to make law.

You know who else isn't empowered to make law? The executive branch (yeah, it's allowed to promulgate "regulations" in a loosey-goosey constitutional gloss on the word "law").

But: I don't see how we can say this branch, unauthorized to make its own law by the constitution, should not do so, but this other branch, which we like better but which is also not authorized to make law, should be allowed to make up and enforce the law as it so chooses... when it suits us.

If the governor tells the local police in Pinellas County to step aside, they must do so, or else be arrested and tried for an assault on the government of the state, which is to say insurrection.

An argument can be made that he's kinda-sorta right, in the sense that police are generally under the authority of the executive... but they're also sort of under the authority of the courts, as any of us might find ourselves, when they are subject to a lawful (though moronic) court ruling.

But "insurrection"? Are you kidding me?

One of the reasons I got turned off to Free Republic was the constant praise of this preening jackass.

...

The governor of Florida cannot be obliged to enforce unconstitutional edicts, nor can he be faulted for acting to stop an evident violation of the constitution. In his oath as governor he swore to "support, protect and defend the Constitution and government of the United States and of the state of Florida."

He argues, or rather asserts without much real evidence, that the ruling in question is "unconstitutional." And by doing so he commits the same error that millions of liberals and lefties and judges do: mistakenly believing that "unconstitutional" means "something I don't personally agree with."

I could go on. I won't. Call me a statist, but I think it's dangerous business to start advocating on behalf of virtually unrestrained executive power.

For starters: what the hell do we do if Hillary! is elected President? I don't know about you, but I'm not about to start just reversing myself on these issues, the way liberals do, depending on which party is in power. It can't be the case that conservatives have unlimited executive power and yet liberal executives are limited by the courts and legislatures when they disagree.

I hate this guy.

I've seen other articles like this. I meant to link one last night... but I didn't. I didn't want to start what I thought would be an enormous row.

But I guess it's something that has to be discussed. What, precisely, are the limits of "conscience"?

To Answer My Own Question With Another Question Update: Is Alan Keyes a huckster or a maniac?

Well-- can't he be both?

Related-- Verdict Tossed Out Because Jurors Brought Bible Verses Into Their Deliberations: Sorry, I agree with this ruling 110%.

The law says you examine the evidence and arguments presented to you at trial. You are not allowed to begin hunting for your own evidence and arguments. Even if it's the Bible.

Render unto Caesar.


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posted by Ace at 05:56 PM

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