United States District Judge James Whitmore of Florida will today feel the scorn of millions. He did what judges are supposed to do last night. He applied the rule of law in a tough case.
Terri Schiavo's feeding tube will not be reattached.
Why? He denied the forty-one year old woman's parents' motion to reattach the tube, holding, in part, that their request for emergency injunctive relief lacked a showing of substantial likelihood of success.
Expect an emergency appeal, and then a lightning quick hearing in the United States Supreme Court. And then watch Antonin Scalia wet himself.
What shall he do? His belief that God is at the heart of it all will pull him in the direction of Ms. Schiavo's parents and the religious right. Yet his commitment to constitutional structure will yield the conclusion this is no federal question. Tough political call for Nino. Perhaps he'll delegate the brief writing sub rosa to his understudy, the ever silent at argument Clarence Thomas. (I once appeared before the Supreme Court. There were eight justices on the bench, and then this stone-faced fellow staring into the netherworld.)
The Schiavo case is an eerie parallel to the Michael Ross case in Connecticut. In that case, a federal judge, Robert Chatigny, threw procedure and judicial decourm to the wind, threatening a defense lawyer with the loss of his license for supporting Mr. Ross's desire to die. Chatigny is no Bible banger, but the illusion of righteousness knows no dogmatic creed.
Comes now Congress and the president abandoning the deliberative process in a spasm of legislation.
Scary times. It makes judes like Mr. Whittemore priceless treasures of calm, intellect and discernment.