by Steven Ertelt
April 5, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told reporters on Tuesday that he’s not interested in having the Senate go after judges who violated a federal law Congress passed mandating that Terri Schiavo’s starvation death be stopped and allowing her parents to take their lawsuit to federal courts.
"I believe we have a fair and independent judiciary today," he said, according to a Reuters report.
Frist admitted the federal review of the case "was not as complete as we would like," but he said the courts were "fair and independent."
The comments appear to be a change of heart from a statement Frist made when subpoenas were handed down to try to save Terri’s life.
"Anyone who violates this law is subject to criminal fines and imprisonment," Frist said then.
Later Tuesday, Congressional Democrats attacked Republicans for wanting to go after the Terri Schiavo judges.
"If they don’t get what they want, they attack whoever’s around," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "Now they’re after the courts, and I think it goes back to this arrogancy of power."
However, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, and other top pro-life lawmakers are planning a conference on Thursday and Friday called "Confronting The Judicial War On Faith."
David Gibbs, the lead attorney for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler plans to attend the event.
But, they will need to convince other Republican senators to support them if they plan to proceed on any action.
"I’m not for things that go after judges. They’re an independent branch of government. We need to respect that," said Sen. Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican, told the Associated Press.
Last week, Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that the judges in Terri’s case should be held accountable.
"For this judge in this district to ignore that is tantamount, I believe, to an offense that should be discussed in the Congress," Santorum said.
He was referring to U.S. District Judge James Whittemore, who twice went against Congressional legislation that required halting Terri Schiavo’s painful starvation death. The measure also allowed Terri’s parents to have a complete federal hearing on the merits of their lawsuit, which Judge Whittemore also ruled against.
"What we asked for in the Congress was a new finding of fact," Santorum said. "And this judge in this district ignored it, snubbed his nose at Congress, I think against the law. I think he should be held accountable for it."
Without naming him, Santorum also criticized Circuit Court Judge George Greer for ignoring subpoenas Congress issued seeking to question Terri, her estranged husband Michael and hospice administrators.
The subpoenas were issued in an attempt to stall removing Terri’s feeding tube, but Greer overruled them and reissued his order authorizing Terri’s death.
On Fox News Channel’s "Hannity and Colmes" program, Santorum said he has talked with members of Congress about looking into the judge’s actions.
"[W]e cannot continue to expect that the laws that we pass and the intentions are clear, that are just simply ignored by the judges and have their nose, basically thumb their noses at us," Santorum said. "And here is a situation where the intent of Congress was clear."
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said he would pursue contempt charges against Greer for ignoring Congressional subpoenas.
"The Congress will pursue this, if we have to hold him in contempt of Congress," DeLay told radio talk show host Sean Hannity.
"We will do everything to enforce the power and authority of the Congress and no little judge sitting in a state district court in Florida is going to usurp the authority of Congress," DeLay added.