Is Sarah Palin crazy?

Is Sarah Palin crazy?  Was she out of her mind when she implied that the Obama health care bill was going to create a "death panel" that would encourage the elderly to check out early if their illness or infirmity was draining too many dollars from the system?

Sure, there is a provision in the bill for end-of-life counseling by doctors, but it does not establish "death panels."  And yes, it does call for explanations of orders regarding life sustaining treatments, and why such orders might be beneficial to the individual and the individual's family, but there is no language in the bill mandating the individual's death.

Of course, as we have learned, the absence of specific language in the Constitution or a statute doesn't mean that something isn't there.  There is no language in the Constitution guaranteeing a right to abortion, but that didn't stop the Supreme Court from concluding that such a right exists.  The right to an abortion arose out of the right of privacy that also lacks any textual support in the Constitution.

A corollary concept is that specific language in the Constitution prohibiting something doesn't mean that it is actually prohibited.  The Constitution clearly and specifically declares that no Senator can be appointed to an office in the United States if the salary for that office was increased during the term for which the Senator was elected.  The salary of the Secretary of State was increased during the term of Senator Hillary Clinton.  Nonetheless, she was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to that office.

We have also seen that despite the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law, a compelling state interest can exist that renders unequal treatment permissible.  An elite state law school's desire for a racially diverse student body was held by the Supreme Court to permit the law school to treat white applicants less favorably than non-white applicants.  The Court deferred to the law school's judgment that diversity was a compelling state interest.

If the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is subordinate to "a compelling state interest," one could reasonably fear that the Amendment's guarantee that no person should be deprived "life, liberty, or property" without due process of law is likewise subordinate to "a compelling state interest."  Arguably, the preservation of dwindling government health care dollars is "a compelling state interest."

Before dismissing the above argument as ludicrous, I hasten to remind the reader that it was not too long ago that, in the interest of the greater good, states were forcibly sterilizing the mentally retarded.  "It is better for all the world" said the eminent jurist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. speaking for the Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell (1927), if "society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.  The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.  Three generations of imbeciles is enough."

In 1932, the Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began a study of untreated syphilis in black males.  The study began with 399 black men with syphilis.  The men were falsely told that they were going to be treated, but they were never given the proper treatment to cure their illness.  Even in 1947 when penicillin became the drug of choice for syphilis, it was not offered to the men.  The study went on for 40 years, but the men were never given adequate treatment for their disease.  Despite the Hippocratic Oath that doctors supposedly take to "do no harm," a number of doctors participated in the study in the interest of medical research. 

Today, over one million abortions a year are performed.  This deliberate killing takes place with the sanction of the highest court of our land, and with the approval of our President.  These abortions are to prevent the birth of unwanted children who might become a financial burden for their mothers, families, or society.  Many of these abortions are paid for by taxpayers through agencies of our federal and state governments.

If the burden of the unwanted justifies their extermination prior to birth, it is not unreasonable to wonder whether the burden of the unwanted ill and infirm elderly would constitute a justification for their early exit from this world.  Will some number of ill and infirm aged be "enough"?

There are but a few steps between government mandated end-of-life counseling, and the "better for all the world" ending of life by government mandates. 

Sarah Palin is not crazy.
Howard Lurie is emeritus professor, School of Law, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania. Contact him at hlurie1@inbox.com. 
Is Sarah Palin crazy?  Was she out of her mind when she implied that the Obama health care bill was going to create a "death panel" that would encourage the elderly to check out early if their illness or infirmity was draining too many dollars from the system?

Sure, there is a provision in the bill for end-of-life counseling by doctors, but it does not establish "death panels."  And yes, it does call for explanations of orders regarding life sustaining treatments, and why such orders might be beneficial to the individual and the individual's family, but there is no language in the bill mandating the individual's death.

Of course, as we have learned, the absence of specific language in the Constitution or a statute doesn't mean that something isn't there.  There is no language in the Constitution guaranteeing a right to abortion, but that didn't stop the Supreme Court from concluding that such a right exists.  The right to an abortion arose out of the right of privacy that also lacks any textual support in the Constitution.

A corollary concept is that specific language in the Constitution prohibiting something doesn't mean that it is actually prohibited.  The Constitution clearly and specifically declares that no Senator can be appointed to an office in the United States if the salary for that office was increased during the term for which the Senator was elected.  The salary of the Secretary of State was increased during the term of Senator Hillary Clinton.  Nonetheless, she was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to that office.

We have also seen that despite the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law, a compelling state interest can exist that renders unequal treatment permissible.  An elite state law school's desire for a racially diverse student body was held by the Supreme Court to permit the law school to treat white applicants less favorably than non-white applicants.  The Court deferred to the law school's judgment that diversity was a compelling state interest.

If the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is subordinate to "a compelling state interest," one could reasonably fear that the Amendment's guarantee that no person should be deprived "life, liberty, or property" without due process of law is likewise subordinate to "a compelling state interest."  Arguably, the preservation of dwindling government health care dollars is "a compelling state interest."

Before dismissing the above argument as ludicrous, I hasten to remind the reader that it was not too long ago that, in the interest of the greater good, states were forcibly sterilizing the mentally retarded.  "It is better for all the world" said the eminent jurist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. speaking for the Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell (1927), if "society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.  The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.  Three generations of imbeciles is enough."

In 1932, the Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began a study of untreated syphilis in black males.  The study began with 399 black men with syphilis.  The men were falsely told that they were going to be treated, but they were never given the proper treatment to cure their illness.  Even in 1947 when penicillin became the drug of choice for syphilis, it was not offered to the men.  The study went on for 40 years, but the men were never given adequate treatment for their disease.  Despite the Hippocratic Oath that doctors supposedly take to "do no harm," a number of doctors participated in the study in the interest of medical research. 

Today, over one million abortions a year are performed.  This deliberate killing takes place with the sanction of the highest court of our land, and with the approval of our President.  These abortions are to prevent the birth of unwanted children who might become a financial burden for their mothers, families, or society.  Many of these abortions are paid for by taxpayers through agencies of our federal and state governments.

If the burden of the unwanted justifies their extermination prior to birth, it is not unreasonable to wonder whether the burden of the unwanted ill and infirm elderly would constitute a justification for their early exit from this world.  Will some number of ill and infirm aged be "enough"?

There are but a few steps between government mandated end-of-life counseling, and the "better for all the world" ending of life by government mandates. 

Sarah Palin is not crazy.
Howard Lurie is emeritus professor, School of Law, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania. Contact him at hlurie1@inbox.com.