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Evolving Standards of Decency

William Kristol

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Thank god for our judges. (Oops! Sorry. No offense, your honors. I didn't mean to write "God." Or at least I didn't mean anything specific or exclusionary or sectarian or unconstitutional by writing "God." It's just an expression I occasionally use. It does go way back in U.S. history. I hope it's okay.)

Anyway. Thank God for our robed masters. If it weren't for them, Christopher Simmons might soon be executed. In September 1993, seven months shy of his 18th birthday, Simmons decided it would be interesting to kill someone. He told his buddies they could get away with it because they were still minors. He broke into the house of Shirley Crook in Jefferson County, Missouri, bound her hands and feet, drove her to a bridge, covered her face with tape, and threw her into the Meramec River, where she drowned. He confessed to the crime, and was sentenced to death according to the laws of Missouri.

It appears, at this writing, that Terri Schiavo will not. In a series of decisions in Florida state courts, Circuit Judge George Greer and his colleagues have chosen to credit the claim of Michael Schiavo that his wife long ago expressed a well-considered wish to be killed if she found herself in a disabled state. Of course, there is no reason to believe she ever seriously considered she might find herself in such a state. They have chosen to deny efforts by Terri Schiavo's mother and father to assume responsibility for their daughter's care. They have chosen to strike down legislation passed by the Florida legislature, and signed by the governor, to permit the governor to allow water and nutrition to be given to patients who leave no written directive, and to allow some recourse for family members who wish to challenge the withholding of nutrition and hydration.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website (new window will open).

Posted: 27-Mar-05



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