Guest: Barry Richard, Arianna Grumbine, Brandi Swindell, David Boies, Christopher Hitchens, Hamden Baskin, Randall Terry, Bobby Schindler
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY SCHINDLER, MOTHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: Governor Bush, you have the power to save my daughter. It‘s been seven days. Please, please do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: This breaking news: Just minutes ago, Terri Schiavo‘s mother making a direct appeal to Florida Governor Jeb Bush to save her daughter‘s life, this after a federal court again rejects the family‘s frantic pleas to keep Terri Schiavo alive and from not starving to death.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed.
With her father warning that Terry is down to her last hours, her parents make their emotional, desperate public call for Governor Jeb Bush to step in and save their daughter‘s life. Can the governor take any extraordinary steps they want? And would that step be their final hope? We‘re going to have the latest breaking news live from Florida, so much to tell you about, about what can be done to save the life of this dying woman from starvation.
Joining us will be the parents‘ and the family‘s spiritual adviser, Brother Paul O‘Donnell. We‘re also going to be having Randall Terry and Michael Schiavo‘s attorney. And, later David Boies and Barry Richard will be here. There are veterans of Florida‘s legal wars after fighting it out in 2000 for Al Gore and George Bush. They‘re here tonight to take on the Schiavo case and to answer this question: Does this family have any legal options left?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome to the show.
We‘re going to be talking to Terri Schiavo‘ brother, Bobby, in just a minute. But you‘re looking right now live at a shot of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, where Terri Schiavo‘s family has suffered another legal blow, possibly a fatal legal blow. A three-judge panel in Atlanta has again refused to answer their request to have Terri‘s feeding tube replaced.
That news prompted the family to come out, talk in front of the microphones and beg Jeb Bush to save their daughter‘s life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. SCHINDLER: Governor Bush, you have the power to save my daughter.
It‘s been seven days. Please, please do something.
BOB SCHINDLER, FATHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: With a stroke of his pen, he could stop it. He could stop it immediately. He‘s put Terri through a week of hell and my family through a week of hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got the latest breaking news on this story, a story that has gripped America over the past week.
With me now is Terri Schiavo‘ brother, Bobby Schindler.
Bobby, thank you so much for being with us during this difficult time.
I‘ve got to tell you, there‘s so many people behind you and across America that are shocked and agonizing over this decision. We can‘t even imagine what your family is going through right now. Describe the emotions that you all are having to endure while you‘re fighting literally for your sister‘s life.
BOBBY SCHINDLER, SISTER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: Well, it‘s hard to describe. You know, I think people are upset and outraged, just as my family is, because they see a disabled woman that for, no reason at all, is being killed in this manner.
And it just—our family doesn‘t understand why. It doesn‘t make any sense, and we‘re just trying to do anything we can to save my sister‘s life.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me—tell me specifically, Bobby, because I know the governor‘s office is watching this show. I know a lot of other politicians and judges are watching right now. What do you want Governor Jeb Bush, what do you want the state‘s attorney general, what do you want Florida politicians to do to save your sister‘s life?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, you know, legally I can‘t answer that, but I know my sister has been abused. She‘s been neglected. There‘s circumstances surrounding her collapse, the night she collapsed back in 1990. And we just feel that legally that the governor can take my sister into protective custody. And, if in fact that is true, we‘re asking, we‘re pleading with the governor to in fact do so.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me about the circumstances that you‘re discussing regarding her collapse back in 1990.
B. SCHINDLER: Well, we still don‘t know. I mean, to this day, we still don‘t know what caused Terri‘s collapse.
Over the past two years, we have gathered a tremendous amount of evidence that indicates that there might have been a violent episode and possibly suggests that Michael could be the reason that Terri is in this condition that she‘s in right now.
SCARBOROUGH: In what way? Are you suggesting that Michael may have abused her in a way that put her into a coma?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, the night she collapsed, it was only her and Michael at home. I was the first one to arrive that night. There‘s three different accounts by Michael of what actually happened to my sister.
But, really, the smoking gun with what happened that night is there‘s a bone scan that was taken just 53 weeks after my sister‘s collapse back in 1991. We didn‘t discover it. Our family didn‘t discover this until 2002. And this bone scan indicated that there was broken bones throughout my sister‘s body and the radiologist noted that Terri had a history of trauma.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about a comment that your parents made earlier. They talked about judicial homicide, that they believe the court system in this country was killing your sister. Talk about that.
B. SCHINDLER: Well, there are so many questionable circumstances about my sister‘s condition. We have doctors, many doctors that believe my sister can be helped, if just given the chance.
The court has never afforded her a chance at any type of rehabilitation or therapy. There‘s also, as I said, suspicions as far as how she collapsed. The court never took the time to investigate what might have caused my sister‘s collapse. There are serious questions about my sister‘s wishes.
You know, my sister‘s—Michael did not come forward and reveal or petition to anybody that my sister made these wishes until seven years after the fact. And they were only in—and what‘s really important here about my sister‘s wishes, seven years after she collapsed, and they only appeared after he made his intention that he was going to marry another woman.
SCARBOROUGH: So did you, you, your parents, your relatives, Terri‘s friends, nobody around her ever heard her say what she‘s allegedly said to her husband, that, if this were to happen to her, that she would want a feeding tube removed?
B. SCHINDLER: No, never.
And her mom or dad, Suzie, my sister, and myself, never heard Terri ever—it was very uncharacteristic of Terri to ever make—or state such wishes. And, again, they appeared seven years after her collapse. And they did not appear when Michael was pleading with the jury back in 1992 that he needed $20 million to take care of Terri for the rest of his life. He intended to care for Terri, bring her home and take care of her by his own testimony.
And there was never any mention of any alleged death wish by Terri when Michael was pleading with the jury that he needed money to take care of Terri for the rest of her life.
SCARBOROUGH: What do you make of Judge Greer, the trial court judge who heard this case in the beginning, and said that he found clear and convincing evidence that your sister would not want to live in this sort of state? And I read that in the court documents. He uses the term clear and convincing evidence. What clear and convincing evidence is there that Terri would want to be starved to death the way she is right now?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, I just explained it to you.
Seven years after my sister collapsed, Michael petitioned the court that Terri made these alleged death wishes. There‘s all these conflict of interests on behalf of Michael. But yet the judge looked at Terri‘s wishes seven years after the fact and believed that they were not only clear, but convincing.
It‘s important to know that there was a guardian ad litem appointed to this case just prior to the trial starting in 2000. And after a thorough investigation—I believe he spent three to six months‘ time frame investigate thing case—he found that Michael‘s petition was not credible, found that Michael‘s statements or Michael‘s saying that Terri wants to die in this manner was not credible, and recommended that the feeding tube to stay in.
This was back in 1999, just before the trial started. Yet, the court disregarded this guardian ad litem‘s investigation and instead ruled to have my sister‘s feeding tube removed.
SCARBOROUGH: Your father sounded very angry tonight and his anger was directed at Governor Jeb Bush. Do you and your family not think that he‘s done enough up to this point?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, you know, I think you can understand my father‘s and my mother‘s and really our whole family‘s anger at this point. You know, my sister is going through starvation and dehydration for absolutely no reason at all. She‘s disabled. And we‘re just outraged that something like this can take place, especially at, you know, the hands of the court.
And what we‘re asking is the governor—we‘re told by our legal—you know, legal people that have looked into this, that the governor has the power to intercede. And we‘re simply pleading with the governor to intercede and rescue my sister from this horrible and gruesome death that she‘s undertaking right now.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, any final thoughts that you would like to pass along to America tonight, as so many people across this country are praying for your sister and hoping that there will be a resolution that will save her life?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, you know, our family is extremely grateful for all the support and prayers that we‘re receiving. It‘s really been lifting us up through this. I mean, it‘s extremely difficult, as you can imagine, you know, what we‘re going through. And all the support that we‘re receiving is really—is really the reason that we‘re able to stay strong. And we‘re just very appreciative for all the prayers and support that we‘re receiving.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bobby, thanks for being with us. I know that you and your family, and especially your sister, are going to be in our prayers tonight and throughout the weekend.
B. SCHINDLER: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, let‘s—let‘s move on and talk about the decision from the 11th Circuit.
Terri‘s family is reaching the end of the legal line and the question is, do they have any options left?
With me now is NBC News correspondent Pete Williams. He has covered this story from the very beginning.
Pete, of course, this family has gone from a federal court in Tampa to the 11th Circuit, up to the Supreme Court, back to the—and back to the circuit court in Tampa. Do you suspect that this family is now going to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States one more time, and will that be their last option?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly could. They have two options here. They‘ve, by the way, lost a vote this time going back to the 11th Circuit. The first time they went to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel, that panel voted 2-1 to deny the injunction. Tonight, the panel voted 3-0 to deny the injunction.
The dissenting judge who was with them earlier this week says, now that he‘s seen the subsequent filing, he agrees that they don‘t raise any new claim, they don‘t raise any new constitutional issue. They could try go to the full 12 Circuit Court of Appeals, as they did earlier this week, where they only got two votes on their side. Or they can go directly to the Supreme Court. But no matter which they do, it‘s just seeming increasingly unlikely that they have any viable options left and that these further appeals in the federal courts just aren‘t getting anywhere.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, I understand that the judge in Florida may be called back into it, that there actually may be another hearing before Judge Greer again. Have you heard anything on that count yet?
WILLIAMS: Well, we‘re waiting, of course, for the ruling from Judge Greer on this newest request that the lawyers for the parents have made. They claim that they have new evidence that she has the capability to communicate her wishes. They had a telephone hearing on that.
And the judge has denied one of their motions, which is that he remove himself from the case. And we‘re waiting now for the subsequent decision on the new claim that they have new evidence.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Pete, and I understand there have also been death threats already. There have been death threats against Michael Schiavo. What can you tell me about that?
WILLIAMS: Well, there have been many threats against Michael Schiavo, against the judges in this case, according to law enforcement officials that I‘ve talked to tonight.
And the difficulty for investigators is, of course, you can say all kinds of things about people that are protected by the First Amendment. The difficulty for law enforcement is to decide when these things cross the line into illegality. They did arrest a man in North Carolina today who was accused of posting a note on the Internet and e-mailing a note to people that said that there was a bounty for $250,000 on the head of Michael Schiavo and also making similar threats against some of the judges involved in this case. So, he has been arrested and will be prosecuted in North Carolina.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Pete Williams. We greatly appreciate you being with us.
And with us now, joining us from the front lines of Terri‘s hospice is her family‘s spokesman, Randall Terry.
Randall, how is the family dealing with this latest legal blow?
RANDALL TERRY, SPOKESMAN FOR PARENTS OF TERRI SCHIAVO: They‘re emotionally distraught, as you‘ll see from the interview with Bob just a few minutes ago, the stand-up press conference he did.
He‘s angry. He called it judicial tyranny, judicial homicide. He called upon Governor Bush to be a man of integrity and courage and intervene and save Terri‘s life.
SCARBOROUGH: Randall, I‘m going to ask you a question. We have got to go to break, but when we come back, you were quoted today saying there‘s going to be hell to pay if Terri Schiavo dies. I‘m going to ask you about that when we return, that—who you‘re talking about.
And, also, we‘re going to be talking to the spiritual adviser to Terri Schiavo and see what brother Paul O‘Donnell has to say. He also has some very pointed words for fellow Catholic Jeb Bush.
And, later, a showdown on the Schiavo case between Pat Buchanan and Christopher Hitchens and also with attorney Boies.
We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Terri Schiavo is starving to death tonight by judicial edict. And there‘s a desperate plea from Terri Schiavo‘s parents appealing to Governor Jeb Bush to do something, anything. We‘re going to be talking to their spiritual adviser, also to a spokesman who says there will be hell to pay if the governor doesn‘t do something.
That‘s when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re back now.
And Joining us from the front lines of Terri‘s hospice is her family‘s spokesman, Randall Terry.
You know, Randall, today in the “USA Today,” you said there‘s going to be hell to pay if Schiavo dies. What do you mean by that?
TERRY: Well, first of all, I said it about three days ago.
And what I said was obviously an emotional time and a very emotional figure of speech. And I was speaking directly about the nine Republican senators in the Florida State Senate who rode into power, most of them, using pro-family, conservative rhetoric. And, in a moment of crisis, they turned their back on all that rhetoric and they voted to let an innocent woman die.
And I believe for those nine senators at some level they‘re going to have repercussions.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Randall, you also tonight—and you were there right by them when they did it. The father came out. He is very angry at Jeb Bush.
TERRY: Yes. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: What does he want Jeb Bush to do?
TERRY: He wants Jeb Bush to use his executive authority as the governor of this state to intervene and save Terri‘s life. The mechanics of it are really simple. DCF has the statutory authority, no matter what Judge Greer said to suspend that statutory authority.
Governor Bush swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, which guarantee the right to life to disabled people. He sends the DCF here, takes her in an ambulance to a hospital, like they were planning on doing two days ago, and he rescues her from death. You know, this is so critical, Joe. If the rule of a judge equals the rule of law, then everything that every judge said or did in the Soviet Union or communist China or for Nazi Germany was OK, because it was the rule of law. But our government, our country is not based upon that idea.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. You know, Martin Luther King, you‘re always hearing quotes from his letter from a Birmingham jail when he says, basically, an unjust law is no law at all. You don‘t hear anybody on the left saying that tonight.
TERRY: Unfortunately, you‘re right.
SCARBOROUGH: And, certainly, the shocking thing, remains shocking, remains shocking to so many Americans, that you have one little county court judge elected by a couple of thousand votes that‘s basically sentenced this lady to death because no other court has the guts to overturn his decision, despite the fact that the husband didn‘t even start talking about what he heard from his wife until seven years afterwards.
TERRY: Yes, this case is riddled with craziness. But there is a bigger crisis here, in my opinion, concerning the judiciary.
And that is this, the cowardice and the lack of backbone in the legislative branches of our governments and in the executive branches of our governments at the state and federal level. The founders created three separate, but equal branches of government. They could never have imagined presidents and governors and legislative bodies falling prostrate before an imperial judiciary.
At this point, what we should very much do, is law enforcement agent or any legislative body, before they create any law or try to enforce any law, they should just kind of ask permission of the judiciary beforehand and say,is this OK with you guys? This is not self-government.
SCARBOROUGH: Like five years ago—and I agree with you completely. It‘s not. It‘s unbelievable how the judiciary is as arrogant as they are doing. Again, you got a guy that gets a couple thousand votes in central Florida trumping a president‘s wishes who gets 51 million votes.
TERRY: It‘s unbelievable.
SCARBOROUGH: But are you suggesting tonight that the governor of the state of Florida or the attorney general of the state of Florida should exercise an operation, much like the Elian Gonzalez operation five years, ago, where they break down a door, they recover somebody, and then they move them out?
TERRY: No, not at all.
I‘ve spoken to various policemen here. And I frankly believe that the police here would happily just step aside. There‘s no Pinellas Park policeman that‘s going to try and stop the governor of the state of Florida from bringing an ambulance and saving thing girl. It‘s not going to happen. So that picture you painted simply doesn‘t exist.
All the governor has to do is send an ambulance, send the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, some in the—some paramedics and take her away. No one here is going to stop that. Most of these policemen are sympathetic with Terri, because they see her reacting.
One of the great horrors of this is that the media has not been able to show the American public the truth about Terri, because Judge Greer, again, will not let a camera in that room. And a lot of the footage that we‘ve shown over the past year and a half was taken illegally by the family, just so that everyone could see, look at what‘s going on here.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
Yes. You know, and, unfortunately, I think Americans would like that opportunity. The judge is not allowing that opportunity. And for the life of me, I can‘t figure out why.
But, Joe, one more thing before I go. One more thing before I go. Why do we have law? Why do we have authority? We have it for the sake of justice. And there are attorneys that are saying Jeb Bush has the authority and there are attorneys saying he doesn‘t have the authority. Well, then you know what? Err on the side of justice. Go in and get this girl.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And...
TERRY: And then we‘ll sort it out later in the courts.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much. I greatly appreciate you being with us tonight.
I think we should err on the side of justice. I also think we should err on the side of life. It doesn‘t matter whether you‘re pro-choice, pro-life. We‘ve got a guy—we‘ve got an interested witness at best who has said that he heard Terri Schiavo say that she wanted to die seven years after this case first came up, from the first time he said it, seven years after the case first came up.
And based on that single interested testimony, Judge Greer is claiming that there‘s clear and convincing evidence to starve Terri Schiavo to death. I don‘t understand it.
Now, “The Miami Herald,” of course, reported that, earlier this week, on Thursday, that there were some authorities that were going in to seize Terri Schiavo. They were stopped by the local police department.
Now, earlier today, outside the hospice, an unbelievable scene, as a 10-year-old child tried to bring Terri Schiavo water. As he walked towards the hospice, he was arrested and handcuffed. In Tallahassee, there was a peaceful vigil outside the governor‘s mansion trying to send a message to all politicians in Florida and to Governor Bush that something must be done to stop Terri Schiavo from starving to death.
With me now are two of those protesters who participated. We have Brandi Swindell back with us and also Arianna Grumbine.
Brandi, let me begin with you. Tell me, how did the protests go today and what do you all want the governor, the attorney general and politicians across the state of Florida to do?
BRANDI SWINDELL, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, GENERATION LIFE: Well, the protests today went very good. It was very intense.
We had a number of people that were in front of the governor‘s mansion pleading and praying that the governor would intervene. And we are crying out, asking that Governor Jeb Bush write an executive order and get Terri out of that hospice. She‘s being held hostage and she‘s dying of thirst.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what do you say, though, to those who would say:
“Listen, all the courts have reviewed this. The state court has reviewed it. The state Supreme Court has reviewed it. The federal courts have reviewed it. The law has been looked at. The law has been interpreted and the judiciary has spoken”?
SWINDELL: You know what? The courts have turned their back on this dear, precious woman. And it‘s very troubling and disappointing to actually see in our society this woman being treated as property.
I mean, Michael Schiavo is treating her like a rag doll. Why should a man have custody over her? And if you look at all the courts, I mean, it‘s all—it‘s all men. It‘s Judge Greer. It‘s Judge Whittemore. It‘s Justice Kennedy. You have George Felos, Michael‘s attorney. You have Michael‘s two brothers speaking out that Terri should die. You have Michael‘s girlfriend‘s brother speaking out that she should die.
It‘s all men sentencing this precious woman to death. And it‘s just terrible to see that. And any woman who believes in equality or justice for women should be very disappointed by this situation.
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, what would you like to say to Florida politicians tonight? What did you say earlier today out in the rain during this protest, during this vigil to try to save Terri Schiavo‘s life?
ARIANNA GRUMBINE, PROTESTER: Well, Joe, I think the most important thing right now is to let people know that it‘s not over yet, to let Governor Bush know that he cannot sit back, and sit back silently, as he‘s been doing for the past week and for the past few days.
It‘s shocking, absolutely shocking, for me, as a young person and me as a woman, to just see so much silence from all of the forms of government, so much silence from our executive branch. Everybody is just supposed to sit back and say, OK, everything is all right, as long as Judge Greer puts his stamp of approval on it. It just passes all of the power into the hands of one man, one judge. It‘s frightening, quite frankly.
SCARBOROUGH: Brandi, will you continue your hunger strike until there‘s a resolution in this case?
SWINDELL: I will. I‘m going on day nine of not having any food. And I‘ll continue to do so to simply identify with Terri and just to try and get the message out that this poor woman is being starved to death. She‘s dying of thirst. And it‘s such a grave human rights violation.
And I plan to stand with her until she gets nutrients and water again.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Brandi, Arianna, thank you so much for being with us tonight and talking about the protests earlier today.
Now, when we come back, we‘re going to have Michael Schiavo‘s attorney. He is going to be here, Hamden Baskin, as we continue our live coverage of the fight to save Terri Schiavo‘s life.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re live with breaking news, obviously, from in Florida. We have got a report right now over the wires that “The Miami Herald” is reporting tonight that there was almost a showdown between state agent whose tried to seize Terri Schiavo and police. That happened a few days ago, but we‘re getting more reports over the wires about it tonight.
Coming up, much more, including my interview with Michael Schiavo‘s attorney.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you need to know.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. You‘re looking at a live shot of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, where Terri Schiavo‘ parents have failed once again to save their daughter‘s life.
Now let‘s turn to one of the attorneys on the other side of the case. We have got Michael Schiavo‘s attorney Hamden Baskin. He‘s co-counsel to George Felos.
Let‘s get right to it.
What does this decision from the 11th Circuit mean for your client?
Is this legal debate over?
HAMDEN BASKIN, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL SCHIAVO: Well, it certainly appears to be in the federal—in the federal district. The federal district judge, Judge Whittemore‘s opinion was upheld 3-0, as I understand it, even with the judge that previously dissented joining the panel after he looked at the record a little further.
Now, they certainly can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but whether the Supreme Court, who has denied it several times before, would even be able to get to it during this critical period is really just a guess.
BASKIN: I think they‘re certainly going to try to accommodate it.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, the last time the Supreme Court looked at this, they rejected it 9-0 last time.
BASKIN: They did.
SCARBOROUGH: So, really, there‘s not a lot of hope at the Supreme Court.
I want to read you what the lead editorial on “The Wall Street
Journal” said today, just a part of it, and get you to respond. It says:
“The biggest failing of our legal system is that it couldn‘t accommodate the most humane outcome and return Terri to the care of her parents and siblings, who are willing to provide for her.”
Why does your client not support that, since there are parents who will take care of her?
BASKIN: Well, I think that, in fact, the judicial system and the husband absolutely supported Terri‘s right to privacy, her constitutional right to make her own end-of-life decisions.
That is the real courageous battle here. And this man stood by her for over 15 years during this difficult period. And we see it simply as vindicating Terri‘s own wishes, as opposed to turning her over against her wishes. This is about death with dignity, Joe. And that‘s it. The judicial system looked at the evidence. And, as you know, it‘s been debated. Judge Greer found the facts. He retried the facts a second time.
There were over six or seven additional meaningful evidentiary hearings. And it is simply time. The legal options are coming rapidly to a close.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I think you‘re right there, certainly on the federal level and most likely on the state level.
My final question, coming across the wires tonight a report from “The Miami Herald” that there was a showdown between state agents that were coming over to seize Terri Schiavo and local law enforcement officers, who told them, you‘re not going to get Schiavo unless you‘ve got a judge with you. Were you aware of that and was Michael aware of that while it was going on?
BASKIN: Well, certainly, I don‘t know that it was quite that dramatic.
But what happened was, the Department of Children and Family has statutory rights in this state and they certainly were prepared to take them to task and to execute on them. Judge Greer entered an injunction against removal of Terri with due notice. And his mandate was going to be enforced and in fact enforced by the sheriff and the Pinellas County—
Pinellas Park Police.
Therefore, a showdown was not going to occur unless the FDLE came with a judgment from a court of competent jurisdiction above Judge Greer, which could have been many forms, but it never materialized.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, Hamden Baskin.
BASKIN: You bet. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you. Thank you so much. We greatly appreciate you being with us tonight. I know it‘s been an incredible time for all of you.
Now, right now to talk about the Schiavo case, we have got MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and also Christopher Hitchens. He‘s of course a regular columnist for “Vanity Fair” and Slate.com.
Let me ask you, what is your take on this, Christopher?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “VANITY FAIR”: The reason why the judges have been so consistent on this is not because, as—I can‘t believe the show I‘ve just been listening to—not because, as you‘ve allowed people to say, that they‘re Nazis or Stalinists or sadists or...
SCARBOROUGH: Did I say that?
HITCHENS: Yes. Well, no, the people who you‘ve been the megaphone for all evening and been encouraging, I might add, the silly girl who says, why should it only be men who decide, the people who...
SCARBOROUGH: These are family members, Christopher. What‘s so silly about...
HITCHENS: Randall Terry—wait, are you asking me or telling me?
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m asking you a question.
HITCHENS: Well, why don‘t you listen to what I have got to say, then?
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re saying that they‘re ridiculous people. They‘re principals in this situation.
HITCHENS: I‘ve had to be sitting in this chair for half-and-hour listening to you being a megaphone for frauds. And I‘m giving you my response.
You‘ve had people. And you‘ve been encouraging them and flattering them for saying that it‘s all men, that it‘s unfair to women, that the judge is a fascist and Stalinist and sadist and so on. It‘s not because of any of this. It‘s because they can‘t find that there‘s a life involved. The woman is dead. It‘s a four-letter word, D-E-A-D. There‘s another four-letter word.
All her biological and medical lines are flat, F-L-A-T. She‘s the ex-W-I-F-E of the wretched, luckless Michael Schiavo, who has had to put up with a great deal of innuendo and abuse also from your guests. It‘s all over. There isn‘t a life to protect.
What you‘re—what you‘re doing is encouraging extremists, religious fanatics like Randall Terry to try and recover credit for a church that is, for good reason, been losing it lately, by appealing to hysteria and demagoguery and emotion.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
HITCHENS: You should be ashamed of the show you‘ve been running.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? You should be ashamed of your characterization. And I request that, on Monday, when we fax it to you, that you read the transcript of this entire show and line it up with what you have just accused me of.
HITCHENS: You faxed me no such thing. You faxed me no such thing.
SCARBOROUGH: I said I will fax it to you on Monday and we will compare notes on Tuesday on this show.
Pat Buchanan, what‘s your response to what‘s been going on in Florida?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think what‘s happened here, Joe—and let‘s get down to the basics—is, a woman has been put under a sentence of death in a very cruel way by starvation and dehydration.
She appears to be about to die of thirst in a couple of days. She‘s guilty of no crime. The judge has ordered this and ordered taken away all of her constitutional rights. Now, the courts have ruled on this repeatedly. And they‘re going to do nothing. They‘re paralyzed. Even the federal court, after Congress acted and called for a de novo hearing and called, in other words, for a brand new hearing.
The legislatures have acted. Congress has. The Florida legislature has failed to act. That leaves us with the executives. The president of the United States has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, which means you defend the right to life of innocent people, as has Governor Bush. If I were Governor Bush, days ago, especially after Congress acted, I would have gone to the clinic myself, with the state troopers, and I would have talked to the folks there and we‘re—saying, we‘re going to put Terri into an ambulance. We‘re going to put the tube back in. She‘s going to be fed and she‘s going to be given water.
And then we‘re going through the process through the federal courts and they are going to have to order it taken out. And, at that point, it is down to the president of the United States. Is he going to sit there, Joe, and watch a woman put to death in the United States of America who is guilty of no crime and done in a way we would prosecute people if they did it to their cat?
Now, this is the situation. I think—I think what the president has done is right, what Governor Bush has done. I understand their agony. But I think it is time for executive action, in the sense that we have a tremendous conflict here between the judicial branch and the executive branch. And the president and the executive branch also take an oath to the same Constitution the judges do. And then...
HITCHENS: It must be wonderful never to be interrupted when you‘re talking like this. Unbelievable. No interruptions. No interruption.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in David Boies for a second.
David Boies, there are going to be law professors in the next coming years—David Boies, if I can bring you in for a second, there is going to be in the coming years courses taught on this case about the disputes between the judiciary and the legislative branch. Do you think the judiciary has overstepped their bounds or do you think they‘re just following the law?
DAVID BOIES, AUTHOR, “COURTING JUSTICE”: I think the law should be that, at least where a disabled person is not suffering any pain, that any member of a family ought to be able to give nourishment, water, food to keep that person alive.
There‘s a real question as to whether that‘s the law. Congress had the opportunity when it passed the law to make that the law on Palm Sunday. The Florida legislature this past week had an opportunity to do that. Neither of them did it. And what they did was, they left it up to the courts under the current law to make a decision.
And I think it‘s very hard to criticize the courts for what they‘ve done when the legislature hasn‘t made the law clear. Now, at the same time, particularly in the last 48 hours, I think that Terri‘s parents have made the right argument, which is that it‘s a deprivation, state action deprivation of due process to prevent somebody from being fed.
And that was an argument that I thought was persuasive. And I would have hoped that the courts would have given that argument more traction than it did. It came late. And I think that was one of the problems. But I think that‘s the right argument.
HITCHENS: It wasn‘t the argument they made, though, was it?
SCARBOROUGH: David Boies, stay with us. Christopher Hitchens, stay with us. Pat Buchanan will also be with us.
And coming up, we‘re also going to have former counsel for George Bush Barry Richard. That‘s coming up next, as this special SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY report live from Pinellas Park continues in just a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
Here with me again, David Boies, who represented Al Gore in the contested election of 2000. And he‘s also the author of “Courting Justice:
From the New York Yankees vs. Major League to Bush v. Gore.” We also have Barry Richard, who represented President Bush in the 2000 election dispute. And, of course, also back with us, Pat Buchanan and Christopher Hitchens.
Now, Barry Richard, you believe the courts have handled themselves correctly. I‘ve got to ask you, this judge has said, Judge Greer said there was clear and convincing evidence that Terri Schiavo wanted to die. What is that clear and convincing evidence?
BARRY RICHARD, FORMER COUNSEL FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I don‘t know. I wasn‘t in the courtroom to see the evidence. And most of the people that I see carrying placards on the streets weren‘t in the courtroom to see the evidence either.
And judges are supposed to decide cases based upon the evidence in the courtroom, not upon the evidence that is presented on television. The difficulty here is that people are very quick to blame the judges and often will abandon their own principles in order to blame judges. So, we‘re seeing now people who decry judicial activism blaming judges for judicial restraint.
I don‘t have an opinion on the merits of this case, because I wasn‘t there to watch the evidence. But I find it disturbing that the judges are damned if you do and damned if you don‘t. And that‘s the situation in this case.
SCARBOROUGH: Christopher Hitchens, you‘re angry. A lot of other people are angry at the way that this is being handled in the press, the way we‘re handling it here tonight. Who is to blame? Do you believe it‘s right-wing religious types that are to blame?
HITCHENS: Well, I wouldn‘t disagree with that.
I mean, I think it was David Boies who said that he thought that the family had taken the right line. I mean, through their lawyer, they said that we should be observing the Vatican rules and asking our courts to decide whether or not Ms. Schiavo would go to hell or to purgatory if the decision of every other court that‘s ever heard the case was upheld.
We can‘t have our courts molested in this way and held up in this way by people like Randall Terry and Pat Buchanan, discredited supporters of an extreme right religious world view and of a Vatican that has lost its moral authority. This is their attempt to get back. And they‘re using a dead woman, a woman who has passed on, who is no more, who is the ex-wife of Michael Schiavo, in the most deplorable way, without a tincture of moral seriousness.
There‘s no chance of saving her. She doesn‘t feel a thing. The only way to behave about this is to—is with some gravity and some respect. Let it come to an end. And they want to prolong—when they say they wish to prolong her life, what they want to do is prolong her torture.
HITCHENS: They come from a—they come from a—they come from a—they come from a tradition that ...
HITCHENS: ... torture, too, and the torture of our institutions.
HITCHENS: They come from a tradition that really, that really respects that.
BUCHANAN: Look, Chris, we don‘t have—I agree. The Catholic Church doesn‘t have the great decision of your hero Leon Trotsky.
But there‘s contradictions in what you say, Christopher. One, she‘s dead, and now she‘s being tortured. You can‘t torture a dead person. If she is dead, she should be buried.
HITCHENS: If what you said is correct, it would be torture. Of course there‘s no torturing of a dead person.
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me say this. Joe, let me say this.
What is being done to this woman is what was done by the Tiergarten 4 program in Germany before World War II, where life unworthy of life, senile people and deformed babies were put to death by law, by judges, right according to law. Those were considered crimes against humanity. This is the first time I know of in my life where an innocent woman has been ordered put to death in this horrible fashion. And I think it is time...
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Pat Buchanan.
... BUCHANAN: ... for the executive to step in and act, because he has got obligations under God and under the law as well.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re back. And, again, a live shot of Pinellas Park outside the hospice.
David Boies, the author of “Courting Justice,” is with us.
David, what is your prediction. Is it the end of a legal road for this family?
RICHARD: I—I think it basically is. I think there‘s still some appeals to run, but I don‘t think the courts are going to change their minds.
SCARBOROUGH: Barry Richard, I‘ll ask you the same thing.
RICHARD: I agree with David. I don‘t think we‘re going to see any changes in the judicial situation with the case. I think it‘s—there may be a few things left, but nothing is going to change.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you, Barry. Thank you, David.
We apologize. We got the Terri Schiavo‘s brother for the entire first block that—had less time for the rest of our great panel. But we appreciate you all being with us, as well as Pat Buchanan and Christopher Hitchens.
Keep it tuned to MSNBC this weekend. We‘re going to be covering this heartbreaking story about Terri Schiavo until the end.
Have a good Easter.
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