This is old news, I know, but I hadn't learned the details till today. And I'm filled with revulsion for my country in general and the Rethuglicans in particular. And the Demo-lie-down-and-dies should have stopped it after the fact—so they're just as guilty of betraying the Constitution as these three bandits.
From Mel Martinez' biography at Wikipedia:
Despite an absence of a quorum, the Senate approved The Palm Sunday Compromise, formally known as the Act for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo (S. 686 CPS), in the early hours of March 20, 2005, to allow the case of Terri Schiavo to be moved into a federal court. The bill passed unanimously by voice vote and no formal record of the vote was made. Bill Frist (R-TN), Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Mel Martínez (R-FL), the only Senators present, voted for the bill with the remaining 97 Senators not present.
The act was strongly criticized by many on both sides of the political divide for the following reasons.
* The law applied to only one individual. Comparisons were drawn with bills of attainder, which are specifically prohibited by the United States Constitution. While some saw this as a legally flawed analysis since bills of attainder take away individual rights rather than bestow them, the rights of Michael Schiavo, as Terri's guardian, to make decisions on her behalf were stripped away.
* The law was a violation of the separation of powers. Many argued that Congress had exceeded its powers by substituting its judgment for that of the courts and directing the courts on how to proceed. This argument was addressed by Judge Stanley Birch in a highly critical concurrence with the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, given on March 30, 2005.
* The law failed to create any substantive rights. The law enacted by Congress obliged the federal courts only to review the rulings of the Florida state courts to determine whether procedural due process had been afforded. However, there was no serious argument that the Florida courts had violated any constitutionally mandated procedural requirements. Nineteen different Florida state court judges, at various times, considered the requests on appeal in six state appellate courts.
As in the state courts, all of the Schindlers' federal petitions on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo and appeals were denied, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari – effectively ending the Schindler family legal options.
At the same time as the above law-aimed-at-one-person was passed, the so-called Sciavo memo surfaced, causing a political firestorm. The memo was written by Brian Darling, the legal counsel to Florida Republican senator Mel Martinez. It suggested the Schiavo case offered "a great political issue" that would appeal to the party's base [core supporters] and could be used against Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, because he had refused to sponsor the bill. [Nelson won re-election in 2006, btw. So much for the best laid plans of mice and lice.]
No one bothered to suggest that 3 men out of a body of 100 ramming a 'law' through was improper? Hello?!?
At least their plan to keep the agonies of the family going failed. The federal court agreed with the state courts. The circus ended and Terri was allowed to die quietly—at last.
The only good thing I can find to say about Martinez is that he pulled a Palin. He has cut-and-run a year and a half before his term is up.
He had said shortly after taking office he planned to serve only one term.
From here it looks as if he took on the job for just the amount of time he needed to pick up the perks the Senate hands out so generously. He now has a lifetime pension and life-long health care—both paid for by you and me. It's a good gig if you can get it.
So long, Mel. Good riddance. I hope your successor treats Florida better than you have—but I'm not holding my breath.