Tom DeLay Apologizes for Harsh Words After Terri Schaivo’s Death

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 13, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Tom DeLay Apologizes for Harsh Words After Terri Schaivo’s Death Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 13
, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay apologized on Wednesday for the strong words he used to condemn the nation’s judicial system following the 13 day-long painful starvation death of Terri Schiavo.

DeLay held a press conference at his Capitol office and told reporters he used a poor choice of words to describe his frustration with a judicial system that didn’t take the disabled woman’s rights into consideration before signing off on her death.

"I said something in an inartful way and I shouldn’t have said it that way and I apologize for saying it that way," DeLay told reporters, according to an Associated Press report.

After Terri’s death, DeLay said he would pursue contempt charges against Circuit Court Judge George Greer for ignoring Congressional subpoenas intended to prevent Terri’s starvation.

"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. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

In his news conference, DeLay indicated he still does "believe in an independent judiciary. I repeat, of course I believe in an independent judiciary."

However, he also indicated the Constitution gives the power to Congress to oversee the courts.

"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said.

According to the AP report, DeLay did not directly answer a question about whether the judges in Terri’s case should be impeached. Instead, he referred reporters to his request for the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on "judicial activism" and Terri’s case.

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore 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.

Other leading lawmakers expressed their frustration with the judges in Terri’s case.

Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity in an interview late March, "For this judge in this district to ignore that is tantamount, I believe, to an offense that should be discussed in the Congress."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist initially called for holding the judges accountable, but has backed off.