Today's stories on Schiavo and baseball have something in common. Both involve an appeal to the federal government to exert power that, under the Constitution, it doesn’t have. That is, both involve states’ rights—i.e., federalism.
Conservatives are the supposedly the guardians of federalism. In practice, many of them are for it only when it gets the results they want. Consider today’s stories. A brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo, has been unconscious for 15 years. A judge, representing the state of Florida, rules that she can be allowed to die. Conservatives rally to her defense and call for federal intervention.
The other story is that Sen. John McCain holds hearings on the use of certain prescription drugs in professional baseball. This is less a conservative-liberal issue, but Sen. McCain is a Republican and a conservative on many issues.
McCain has said, "Major-league baseball players and owners should meet immediately to enact the standards that apply to the minor leagues, and if they don't, I will have to introduce legislation that says professional sports will have minimum standards for testing."
My question: Why are either of these federal issues?
Baseball is an entertainment business. Whether its performers enhance themselves with legally available drugs should be an issue for baseball to decide. They have, in fact, decided it: the use is forbidden. I think that’s probably a good decision, but it’s their decision. It’s a private decision.
The case of Schiavo is different, but it still involves the question of who decides: Schiavo’s parents or her husband. That question should be up to a court—and a state court has decided. I would also add that there should be some rights by the payer of the medical bills. If the public is paying for her to be on a feeding tube in an institution for 15 years, the public authority may decide that it is not a wise use of public money. If the parents want her on the feeding tube, maybe they should pay for it.
Conservatives may disagree with me on this, but just because they feel strongly about a certain outcome does not justify an appeal to federal power.
Respond to Bruce.