Inconsistent positions

Amazing! The Schindlers’ lawyer has either no brains or no morals.

It’s amazing what a lawyer will say when his back is against the wall. Terri Schiavo’s parents have been arguing that she would not have wanted to be taken off life support, and that taking her off support would be “murder.”

But the New York Times reports today a truly extraordinary argument made by her attorney:

The lawyer, David Gibbs, also said Ms. Schiavo’s religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic were being infringed because Pope John Paul II has deemed it unacceptable for Catholics to refuse food and water.

“We are now in a position where a court has ordered her to disobey her church and even jeopardize her eternal soul,” Mr. Gibbs said.

Ummm … I can’t say I’m completely current on my Catholic theology but the last time I checked sin was something you did, not something that someone else did to you. So the court can’t order her to “jeopardize her eternal soul” unless it is ordering the carrying-out of her own (sinful) wish. But of course, if terminating life support is shown to have been her wish, that puts an end to the case, since her wishes are controlling.

Or does Mr. Gibbs really want to argue that, because Terri Schiavo was a Catholic, the court should force her to comply with the Magisterium?

No, I didn’t think so.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: