House Republicans Don’t Plan to Investigate Terri Schiavo Judges

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Republicans Don’t Plan to Investigate Terri Schiavo Judges Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 25, 2005

Washington, DC ( — No investigative hearings are scheduled in Congress despite comments from some lawmakers who want to look into the judges who violated a Congressional law calling on them to review Terri Schaivo’s parents’ lawsuit.

Following Terri’s thirteen day painful starvation death, many key members of Congress, such as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, said the judges who ruled she should die should be held accountable.

"The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," DeLay said then, saying the House "will look at an arrogant and out of control judiciary that thumbs its nose at Congress and the president."

However, pro-life Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, a Republican, said many lawmakers don’t want to move forward with hearings unless it can be proven one of the judges did something illegal.

"I think we should be very, very careful about exercising legislative oversight of case-specific decisions in federal court, unless it rises to the level of judicial misconduct, in which case it’s certainly appropriate to remove judges," Inglis told the Associated Press. "But I don’t think that happened in this case."

According to AP, a spokesman for Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who heads a Judiciary Committee subcommittee that oversees courts, says the Congressman has no hearings scheduled on Terri’s judges.

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.

Meanwhile, Circuit Court Judge George Greer also came under fire for ignoring Congressional subpoenas seeking to protect Terri and reauthorizing her death.

Hearings held so far that have covered Terri’s plight have focused more on the need for legislation to protect disabled patients like her.

Earlier this month, DeLay apologized for the strong words he used to condemn the nation’s judicial system.

"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.

Yet, 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.