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Congress, the Courts and the Terri Schiavo Case

I always have been able to depend on the Democrats to self-destruct, but sadly the Republicans have entered the self-mutilation race -- big-time.

JOHN OBRIEN

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Potomac

Fortunately, Virginians can easily avoid the miserable fate that has been visited upon Florida's Terri Schiavo.

In our state, any citizen can execute a "living will," also called an advance medical directive, without assistance from a lawyer. Such a document allows the person to state what medical treatment, if any, should be used if he or she is in a comatose or unresponsive state and has little chance of recovery.

Internet searches for advance medical directives and Virginia will produce links to the Web sites of governmental and various nonprofit groups that provide free fill-in-the-blank forms that meet legal requirements for living wills.

GARY JACOBSEN

Woodbridge

Gary Bauer's comment that "protecting life is an issue that transcends federalism" and Congress's involvement in the Terri Schiavo matter show how the so-called new federalism is a farce.

By interfering in the Schiavo case, Congress is blurring any remaining line between local and national questions. This is not to say that state authorities always get it right, but the Schiavo case is, nonetheless, a state issue. We are either a nation of separate sovereigns or we are not; we should either have trust in state government, or we should abandon the dual-sovereignty model.

As long as federalism -- as it is traditionally understood -- is a bedrock principle of constitutional law, it cannot be ignored on ad hoc issues that are dear to those who wield the power. That is a power abused, and all Americans should be alarmed.

DAN WOLFF


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