how is this different than Mass. Supreme Court ordering the legislature to make a law legalizing gay marriage?
I'm no lawyer, but the arguments that the Massachussetts Supreme Court did something extraordinary or overstepped its bounds in that case seem false. The plaintiffs (gay and lesbian couples who want to marry) sued the State in court. Plaintiffs do that in America all the time. The court has to decide who has the better argument, the plaintiffs or the state. In this case, the state court found that the state's constitution could not be read to prohibit same-sex marriage, and that there was no rational basis for doing so. When courts find against a state, then the state has to do something about it, and when writing law is concerned this falls to the legislature. But, again, I'm not a laywer so I may be missing something.
Same thing happened during the Civil Rights era when "activist judges" ruled against Southern segregation, which was codified in many state and local laws. Unconstitutional laws had to be stricken or amended--grudgingly, I might add.
The difference here is that the Congress, a lawmaking body, mandated that the Schiavo case must be given a federal hearing--even though state courts have the final sayso in these kinds of disputes, or did. So, they broke new ground. And in doing so, some argue, overreached.
To me it seems that in the future, when similar family disputes over termination of life-sustaning measures arise, families NOT the Schindlers now have grounds to claim discrimination if the Congress doesn't pass a bill to permit them to take their dispute to federal court.
One of the principles of our country is that special laws are not made for individuals. This seems to be a violation of that principle.
In the gay marriage case, we're dealing with a dispute over the civil rights afforded to a class
of people. In the Schiavo case, a bill creating a special federal hearing was passed solely for an individual--who actually is representative of many others; however, their cases are expressly excluded from future consideration in the bill. It's mindboggling.