During a visit last week to St. Petersburg, FL, former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said he backed efforts in 2005 to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case and stop her doctors from removing life support:
He told reporters he supported government intervention to keep the severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo alive after courts ordered her feeding tubes removed: “I thought it was appropriate to make every effort to give her a chance to stay alive.”
Politico’s Ben Smith noted that Giuliani “avoided comment” on Schiavo in 2005, and suggested his current statements are a “pander” to the cultural right. But a New York Post article from April 1, 2005, in the midst of the controversy, quotes Giuliani expressing the same position:
“I think the right decision would have been to keep the feeding tube in, under the circumstances of the case,” former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.
Giuliani’s take on Schiavo reflects the same support for government overreach that characterizes his positions on a range of issues. Glenn Greenwald has documented similar cases, such as Giuliani’s belief that the President of the United States has the legal authority to imprison American citizens without any opportunity for review, or that the president has the authority to override Congress and mandate funding for wars.
Such extreme claims of executive power were also a hallmark of the right’s efforts during the Schiavo scandal. As federal appeals court Judge Stanley Birch, a Bush I appointee, wrote in his concurrence in a Schiavo case, their efforts were unconstitutional:
In resolving the Schiavo controversy it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people — our Constitution.