updated 3/31/2005 11:04:42 AM ET 2005-03-31T16:04:42

Guest: Catherine Crier, Peter Beinart, Jesse Jackson, David Gibbs

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Breaking news.  You are looking at a live picture of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Just minutes ago, Terri Schiavo’s desperate parents filed their final emergency appeal to the highest court in the land.  Now they and millions of Americans are awaiting word about whether Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube can be reinserted and whether her life can be saved. 

ANNOUNCER:  This is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: “The Terri Schiavo Case.”

SCARBOROUGH:  It’s been 13 days since Terri has had food or water, and she still clings to life.  We are going to be talking to the Schindler family attorney, David Gibbs.  Is there any hope in the new appeal? 

Plus, the Reverend Jesse Jackson will be here to talk about his emergency meeting earlier today with Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  And, later, we’re going to turn to another amazing story today in Florida. 

A 5-year-old girl wakes up in the middle of the night to find her parents murdered, shot in their own home.  And tell you why it could and should have been prevented, and we will play you the child’s heart-breaking 911 call. 


TIA HERNLEN, 5 YEARS OLD:  My mommy and daddy...

OPERATOR:  Uh-huh.

HERNLEN:  I think there is a bullet on the floor.

OPERATOR:  There’s a what?

HERNLEN:  And there is blood coming out of my dad’s mouth and he fell off the bed.

OPERATOR:  He did?  Where’s mommy at?

HERNLEN:  She is, I don’t know.  I think they’re dead.

(END AUDIO CLIP)             

SCARBOROUGH:  It’s an incredible and tragic story.  And the biggest tragedy, it should have been prevented. 

But, first, our top story, the last hope for Terri Schiavo.  Within the past hour, the United States Supreme Court received the Schindler family’s appeal.  It could be the family’s last hope for Terri. 

From Washington down to Terri’s hospice in Florida, it’s been a frantic day in the case. 

Lisa Daniels is outside Terri’s hospice again with the very latest. 

Lisa, what do you have for us tonight? 


Well, today really was an emotional day, with the legal decisions and all the waiting for updates on Terri Schiavo’s condition.  Just over to my right, I can see Bob Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s father.  He is talking to members of the press right now, but just a couple of minutes earlier, he was quieting thanking protesters and supporters who came here to deliver prayers for Terri Schiavo. 

Earlier in the day, Bob Schindler gave us an update on Terri Schiavo’s condition.  He told us that she is alive, she is responsive, she is conscious.  And his biggest point was, it is not too late for anybody with any power to save Terri.  Here’s what he said. 


BOB SCHINDLER, FATHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  Terri is still with us.  She is—under the circumstances, she looks darn good, surprisingly good.  She is weak from the lack of food and hydration.  But her skin tone is not break—is fine.  Nothing is breaking down. 


DANIELS:  Mid-afternoon, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to intervene in the case.

You will remember that Schindlers filed a motion, saying that U.S.  District Court Judge James Whittemore got it wrong.  He considered the procedural history of the case—this is what the Schindlers claimed—but, instead, he should have looked at the entire case, all the facts, all the testimony, everything. 

Well, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals at about 4:00 a.m. Eastern time said, no, thank you.  We are not going to intervene in the case. 

Back here on the ground, as I said, Joe, earlier, it was very tense.  There was a lot of waiting.  And people want information.  George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s attorney, has been at the hospice all day.  In fact, I can see his car from this vantage point, and I think that is making people on edge.

But I did get a chance to talk to a lot of the supporters behind me.  And it’s really amazing.  They come from all over the country.  Many of them here have been camped here days on end.  And it’s been quite amazing, but, again, I guess the headline today, Joe, is very tense.  There really is a charge in this atmosphere here—back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Lisa Daniels, I want to ask you a quick question about the Schiavo family. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Now, obviously on our show, on all the other shows on the cable networks and the broadcast networks, we are hearing one side of the story.  Nobody from the Schiavo family seems to want to come out and talk to anybody.  Their attorneys aren’t coming out. 

They have to understand that they are taking an absolute beating in public opinion, in the eyes of the public opinion.  Why are they not talking?  What have you heard down there? 

DANIELS:  I wish I could answer that question, Joe, but your point is a very good one, and it really presents a challenge as a journalist, because everything you see behind me is pro-Schindler, from the supporters to the people on the street.  Everything is pro-Schindler. 

We call constantly George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s attorney, to give us some information.  But we really haven’t heard anything.  And Michael Schiavo is maintaining that he is not going to be talking to reporters.

So, all I can tell you is what I have told you in the report, that I can see George Felos’s car here, but in terms of one-sided reporting, it really does present a challenge. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It really does.  Thanks a lot, Lisa.  And you are exactly right. 

DANIELS:  Sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, friends, we have been trying to get the Schiavos to come on and talk.  We certainly understand if they decide not to talk, but it has been, this entire show, this entire story has been—it’s just been one side of the story, because the Schiavos are not talking.  I am not saying that because anybody told me to say that. 

I just learned, in politics, I learned in the law, I learned in public relations, in everything that I have done in my life, you have got to get your side of the story out.  They are not getting their side of the story out.  And it’s going to cause incredible problems.  I mean, this story has already been framed by so many people in their minds.  It presents some great challenges.  Anyway, thanks again, Lisa. 

Now, despite setbacks, Terri’s family still holds out some hope with the Supreme Court.  Their attorney, David Gibbs, joins us now. 

David, thanks for being with us. 

I just got to ask you a question, though.  Why?  Why again?  You have been to the Supreme Court five times.  You have lost every time.  Do you think you have any hope at all of prevailing there? 

DAVID GIBBS, ATTORNEY FOR PARENTS OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  Joe, I do, and I will tell you why.  I would not sign my name to the document if I did not believe that we had strong constitutional claims that Terri’s rights were being violated.

And I think, more than the why, we need to talk about the who.  This is a life-and-death case.  I am walking into a room.  I see a young lady that I have grown to be friends with through her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and I saw how healthy she was.  I saw how animated she was.  I saw how she was trying to communicate.  I have heard what the doctors have said.  She is feeling the pain. 


SCARBOROUGH:  But, David, we have known that all along, though.  You knew that when you went up there the first five times and lost.  What is different this time?  What new information are you passing along to the United States Supreme Court, so this claim is nothing more than a frivolous attempt to grab more attention? 

GIBBS:  What we are asking the court to do, the congressional law said that they were supposed to ignore everything in the state proceeding and start over in federal court. 

The federal courts have said, no, we are going to look at the state proceedings, and they have proceeded to protect and defend the decisions of the state courts.  And so what we are saying to the United States Supreme Court, even though that violates what the Congress intended, if you are going to look at the state record, you need to look at the entire record.  And what they have done is, they have just looked at the summary digests, the cases, the procedural histories. 

We are asking them to look at all the evidence before any action is taken to end Terri’s life.  And, as you realize, Joe, we are in the latter stages.  We are watching this lady starve to death.  I am looking at a mom and dad who are watching their daughter die.  They would trade places with her in a second. 

And I think you have got an excellent point.  I think one of the reasons why Michael Schiavo and his lawyer can’t come out here and be proud is, something very barbaric, something very tragic is happening.  We are starving to death an innocent woman. 


SCARBOROUGH:  The thing is, though, they have made that decision, though, David.  I don’t understand.  If they have made that decision, if they are doing it for all the right reasons, why won’t they come out and talk to America? 

Now, David, I am going to tell you this, and I am going to tell our viewers tonight, you are going to lose at the Supreme Court.  I don’t think you are going to lose because of the merits of this case.  I think you are going to lose because this is a fight for power between branches of the government.  And you know what?  The 11th Circuit tipped their hand.  I want to read you something that I know you have read.  It’s from the 11th Circuit decision today. 

GIBBS:  Yes, sir.

SCARBOROUGH:  They say, “Lawmakers have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people, our Constitution.”

I have got to tell you, I am shocked that the 11th Circuit admitted what this was all about.  This entire Terri Schiavo case is all about a fight between the legislative and judicial branch.  And I will tell you what, David.  In my opinion, they are willing to let her die because they don’t want to cede power to the United States Congress or the president. 

GIBBS:  Well, Joe, I think that’s a very sad commentary, but when you read the decision, they clearly said they don’t believe Congress had the right to do it.

And I think we need to realize here in America, we don’t always have true justice.  We just have a system of justice.  But, as a lawyer, defending these noble parents, who have fought so long and so hard for the life of their daughter, we have to go forward in every court where we possibly can.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, David. 

GIBBS:  And while many would say the Supreme Court won’t rule, we again have to pray that they would see the wisdom, the justice in sparing Terri’s life. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David Gibbs III, I wish they would rule on the merits.  I wish they would rule on the facts.  I wish they would make the federal judge in Tampa, Florida, follow the law.  The law was passed in Congress.  They have decided not to follow it.  They have decided not to give a new look at all the evidence.  And Terri Schiavo is going to die because of it, but, then again, as I said before, this is not about justice.  This is about power. 

Thanks a lot.  I appreciate you being with us. 

You know what, friends?  I know that sounds cynical.  I worked across the street from the United States Supreme Court.  And I saw presidents, I saw speakers of the House, I saw majority leaders, and I saw judges, whether they were conservative, liberal, Republicans, Democrats, once they got to power, they did everything they could to consolidate that power.  That’s what’s happening tonight at the United States Supreme Court.  That is why they are not going to listen to Terri Schiavo’s final, last, best hope.  That’s why she is going to die. 

Now, last week, the Florida Senate voted not to pass legislation that would put Terri’s feeding tube back in place.  Now Jesse Jackson has gotten involved, calling key members of the Black Caucus, trying to get them to change their minds. 

And today, of course, the Reverend Jesse Jackson visited Jeb Bush.

Reverend Jackson, talk about that meeting.  What happened? 

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION:  Well, Jeb Bush contends, if he could wave a magic wand, he would support reinserting the feeding tube and the—the water. 

Even at this stage, he has two appeals in to the courts that will be roundly rejected.  So legally his options have been exhausted.  I met with the Senate president, who said today that even the vote last week was not really about Terri in that instance, and that the legislation was much too broad to apply to her situation. 

And even if they passed something, it would, in fact, go to the courts, which the courts have closed down on the situation.  So, it seems that the legal options and legislative are closing down on Terri very fast, Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, she is pretty much doomed to death, isn’t she, death by starvation, because our courts and because our legislatures can’t do anything. 

JACKSON:  Well, you know, I highly respect separation of powers and checks and balances.

But, somehow, she is falling between the cracks.  Usually, in the case of death, it is beyond your control.  And you accept that fate.  And you—your informed faith helps you get through it.  In this case, here’s a case where a woman is dying, and it’s within our control.  She needs food and water, and we have food and water, but will not give her food and water.

And there’s something about that that is inhumane and cruel.  You know, today, it came out that the pope is on a feeding tube.  And it’s the right thing to do.  And they would not dare take it away.  I am glad the Vatican has weighed in on saying, put the feeding tube back in Terri.  So, whether it’s the pope or Terri Schiavo, there’s something about people dying when it’s not necessary that is not morally sound. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree with you, Reverend Jackson.  Thanks so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate the update. 

And, coming up, we are going to hear from friends of Terri Schiavo who visited Terri moments ago.  And they are going to tell us what her condition is and what happened the day before.

Plus, of course, we are keeping you updated on the latest breaking news, what is happening at the United States Supreme Court, where another appeal has taken place and.

Of course, another heartbreaking story in Florida, the 911 call made by a 5-year-old girl when she found her bullet-ridden bodies of her parents in her home. 


HERNLEN:  There is blood coming out of my dad’s mouth and he fell off the bed.

OPERATOR:  He did?  Where’s mommy at?

HERNLEN:  She is, I don’t know.  I think they’re dead.


SCARBOROUGH:  That chilling story later on tonight.  I’ll tell you what, and, again, the worst thing is, it could have been solved.  It could have been cured. 

But, first, let’s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 



SCARBOROUGH:  More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.  I am going to be asking Judge Catherine Crier why nobody in the court system thinks Terri Schiavo’s life should be saved.  That’s coming up next.


SCARBOROUGH:  We are looking at a picture of the U.S. Supreme Court, which may hold the last hope, however slim, for Terri Schiavo. 

As I was saying a minute ago, for Terri Schiavo’s case, it makes you ask, why, when Congress asked for review of the entire case, did the courts deny Terri that review?  Are we witnessing a judiciary with an agenda? 

With me now to talk about it is former Judge and Emmy-winning reporter and also Court TV anchor Catherine Crier.  She’s also author of the new best-selling book of the Peterson saga, “A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation.”

And, Judge, we would like to get you to talk about that book as soon as the Terri Schiavo ends. 

CATHERINE CRIER, COURT TV:  I understand, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But I want to talk about, first of all—and you know what?  Maybe it’s because I was in the legislative branch.  I am sure, as a former judge, you disagree with me vehemently.

But I read what the 11th Circuit wrote.  And let me read it to you again.  They said, “Lawmakers have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people, our Constitution,” our Constitution.

And it just confirms all my worst suspicions, that this isn’t about Terri Schiavo.  This is about the battles I always saw in Washington, D.C., where the legislative branch was fighting the judicial branch, was fighting the executive branch.  And it was this tug of war.  Am I being too cynical? 

CRIER:  Yes and no.

From Marbury vs. Madison on, we know that the government’s three branches have fought with each other, but our founding fathers said, in fact, that the Constitution means that the Congress cannot write a single bill about a single individual.  James Madison came along and said, despite all of the pleas, we cannot give money for widows and orphans of one fire over here or one event over there, because the Constitution does not allow Congress to do that.

And if we recognize what our founding fathers said, it is left to the judiciary to make these sort of determinations.  It’s not a power struggle.  It is, in fact, what our founding fathers determined should be a division of duties between the three branches.  If you want to give the president of the United States or the Congress the right to tell one family, one individual what is going to happen with their lives, then you are rewriting our founding documents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, if that’s the case, Catherine, then why hasn’t somebody ruled that this congressional act was unconstitutional?  Why didn’t Judge Whittemore in his decision say, I am not going to play this game; it’s unconstitutional?


SCARBOROUGH:  Instead, he just ignored Congress.  He forgot the fact that the House and the Senate passed this law, the president signed it, and just—just basically blew them off. 

CRIER:  No, they didn’t blow them off.  They basically didn’t have to take the unconstitutional route, because it was inappropriate. 

The court didn’t have sort of the jurisdictional standing to argue the constitutional question.  It was unnecessary.  The courts have given due process, in fact, through 25-plus hearings.  You may disagree with the ruling by the court that they decided that Terri Schiavo had, in fact, telegraphed her wishes through not only her husband, Michael, but other individuals, that, in fact, the medical doctors, when they weighed both sides, they determined this woman has no cerebral cortex.  She does not have the characteristics that you guys want to rewrite the medical doctrines to display.

And, in fact, the judges made determinations based upon both sides.  You may disagree, but the process, the process is appropriate under the Constitution.  And I don’t want to throw those documents out the window because you want to argue about this single case.  Terri Schiavo, according to the courts, did not want the feeding tubes.  And, in fact, I respect that decision on her part, as deemed by the courts. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are not concerned about the fact that a single

probate court judge in Central Florida can make a determination, says there

·         and say that there’s clear and convincing evidence that Terri Schiavo wanted to die, when you and I both know it’s not clear or convincing, and also said that the medical testimony was clear and convincing?  And all these courts have paid great deference to them.  In fact—in fact, they just accepted it. 

CRIER:  Joe, Joe, you—you are a lawyer.  You understand they are going there are going to be disputes, and judges will come down on one side or the other, ultimately. 

This is not one court, but judge after judge, hearing after hearing.  They have evaluated the evidence.  They have looked at the presentations on both sides.  They have made the...

SCARBOROUGH:  You say they.  Who is they? 

CRIER:  The judges that have reviewed this.  This is not one judge. 

It’s not two judges.

SCARBOROUGH:  Judge Greer, though.  But you know, though, it’s a trial court judge that is the finder of fact. 

This trial court judge has decided and made some decisions, and all the appeals court judges have to defer to this single judge, do they not, on findings of fact? 

CRIER:  Absolutely not.  They are able to look at it and see whether it was an abuse of discretion, whether or not the testimony was verifying the particular ruling by this court.  This is not a rubber stamp, and you and I both know that.

And I am sorry to hear, because it’s a political debate, that you are ignoring what you, in fact, know goes on. 


CRIER:  In the judiciary. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  I...


CRIER:  Joe, the judges—you have got a conservative, fundamentalist, Christian judge, Judge Greer, who, in fact, followed his heart and soul, and people are trying to make him out as the devil incarnate, who is only following some artificial standard. 

This man has been excommunicated from his church.  He has been threatened with death.  He has tried to do what in his heart he believed is the right thing to do.  And I am tired of listening to people trying to make him the devil incarnate for doing what he truly believes is right under the Constitution. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, of course, I don’t know what the judge truly believes.  I don’t know—I mean, he’s obviously...

CRIER:  You do know what he believes.  You have read his rulings. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He stuck to his guns.  I think he is wrong. 

CRIER:  And that’s all right.  You can think he is wrong. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it is horrendous.  I think it is absolutely horrendous what his decision means, not only for America, but I think it’s going to shake the confidence of our judicial system. 

CRIER:  What does it mean?  What does it mean?  What does it mean? 


SCARBOROUGH:  You know what it means? 

CRIER:  Yes, you tell me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It means that, if you are helpless, it means that if you are lying in bed...

CRIER:  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... under the Constitution of the United States of America, what it means is that, if you have a husband that has moved on, that’s got two kids, he can just say to the judge, seven years after you go down, well, I know, because she told me, that Catherine Crier wanted to be starved to death. 

That disturbs me.

CRIER:  Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That disturbs a lot of Americans.  And you know what?  a lot of people are coming on and saying, you know what?  Maybe it disturbs you, but, procedurally, it’s correct. 


CRIER:  Wrong. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That’s troubling to me.

CRIER:  I will tell you what disturbs me, is that we are making this a case about whether or not we can demonize Michael Schiavo.  I don’t know the man from Adam, but what I do know is that medical personnel said for the first three years that she was in treatment that this guy was so troublesome, demanding treatment for this woman, that they basically wanted to get a restraining order to keep him out of her room, because he was at her bedside. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, the problem, Catherine, is that...


CRIER:  Hold on, Joe.  It’s my turn. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Catherine, it’s a he said/she said. 


CRIER:  No, but, after years of sitting at her bedside, the fact that he went on with his life because the doctors were telling her—him—that she had no cerebral cortex, she was not there, as any of us knew her, that he should then devote his life to sitting at her bedside and not moving on, I find that just terribly distressing for my soul. 

She would not have wanted that.  I think many people around this country, 70-plus percent supporting the judiciary in this in our country are saying, we don’t expect this man to completely give up his life. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Catherine.

CRIER:  Joe, it’s not...

SCARBOROUGH:  Catherine, I got to go to break. 

CRIER:  It’s not...


SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to come back with you. 

CRIER:  All right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to come back to you. 

CRIER:  All right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But it’s my turn now to wrap it up.


SCARBOROUGH:  At least with this segment, and say, if he wants to move on, that’s his business.  If he wants to have a new wife, that’s his business.  If he wants to have two new kids with his new wife, common law wife, because he hasn’t divorced his first wife that is lying in a hospice center, that’s his business. 

But give up the guardianship.  Let the parents that love this woman stay with this woman, as he moves on with his new wife. 

We are going to have Catherine Crier coming back.  I wouldn’t let her go for anything.

But we are also going to have Pat Buchanan and Peter Beinart join our panel.  And I am going to ask them if the Democratic Party is going to actually profit from this.

And, also, much more of this heartbreaking 911 call that is made by a little girl after her parents were gunned down in their home when a judge denied a restraining order. 

We’ll have that story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.


SCARBOROUGH:  More of my heated debate with the shy and retiring Judge Catherine Crier in 60 seconds.

But, first, here’s the latest news that your family needs to know. 


ANNOUNCER:  This is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: “The Terri Schiavo Case.”


B. SCHINDLER:  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, OK, and encouraged.  So, she is still fighting, and we are still going to fight for her.  And we will do whatever we can to save her.  And it’s not too late. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Terri Schiavo’s father earlier today, at a press conference. 

Still with me now, Catherine Crier.  And also, we got MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  We also have Peter Beinart.  He is, of course, the editor of “The New Republic.”

Pat Buchanan, help me out here.  Catherine Crier kicking me all over the TV screen.  I’ll tell you, judges, you don’t talk badly about judges in front of others.  They defend their own. 


SCARBOROUGH:  But, Pat, you know, it’s something—it reminds me of a movie.  I don’t mean to sound like Chris Matthews here, always talking about movies, but you remember the Paul Newman movie back in the early 1980s, “Absence of Malice”?


SCARBOROUGH:  At the end of it, they are all sitting around. 

Everybody is covering themselves.  And Paul Newman says, you know what?  Everybody is just doing their job, and a young lady is dead.  That’s what it felt like here. 

Everybody is playing by the rules.  Everybody is doing their job, and, all across the world, the message is being sent that the United States government allows a helpless woman to starve to death. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, Joe, what is taking place in Florida is an execution.  It is a state execution, ordered by a judge, on a helpless woman because she is severely mentally damaged, brain-damaged. 

Now, we have heard about Terri Schiavo, and we have heard that it was said Terri Schiavo, you know, this is what Terri wanted.  Can any sane person say Terri Schiavo wanted to put her mother and father and brother and sister through this kind of hell while she was being starved to death and denied water and denied food?  This judge has made an insane decision.  A woman is going to die because of it.  And nobody has acted, Joe. 

Who is supposed to act?  The legislature legislates.  The judges judge, and the executives act.  This really—after the Congress acted and the legislature failed or did act, it should be incumbent, in my judgment, upon the governor of the state of Florida.  As I have said before, go in there, take that woman out of there, reinsert the tube, and tell Judge Greer, Judge, go ahead and hold me in contempt.  I will come in and defend myself. 

I mean, you are right.  Why are we not acting?  Jesse Jackson has got it right. 

CRIER:  Pat. 


BUCHANAN:  You don’t deny a woman food and water for 14 days. 

CRIER:  Pat, the reverse is absolutely true, though.  Why would we allow a family to do this to Terri Schiavo? 

I refuse to accede to your notion that we have lost the moral high ground.  It might be morally mercifully and justly right to allow this woman, according to what the judges have found, listening to both sides of the story, were her wishes.  Just because my parents would want me to stay alive because they loved me, I would not want the courts to deny my right to, in fact, die, if I did not want to be hooked up. 


BUCHANAN:  But, Judge, Judge, listen to this.  I mean, Terri Schiavo, when they do an autopsy of her, she is not going to die of brain damage.  We know that now. 

CRIER:  You can’t really...

BUCHANAN:  She is going to die of the organs shutting down because we denied her water.  Now, who killed her?  The brain damage did not kill her.  She has lived for 15 years.  This woman has lasted longer than a lot of men in good health would have lasted. 

CRIER:  Pat, what do you say...


BUCHANAN:  She’s being killed by denied food and water.


PETER BEINART, EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  This is just sheer demagoguery.

CRIER:  Joe, what do you all say to all of the families?  Hundreds of people die every week in this country because they have chosen or the families have chosen to remove them from feeding tubes.  This goes on all over the country every day. 

BUCHANAN:  I say they’re killing people if they are doing that. 

CRIER:  Then I disagree with you completely.  I want that right to make my choice. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I think there is a big difference, though, Catherine. 

And you know what? 

CRIER:  What is the difference? 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Hold on a second.  And we are going to have a discussion about this long after Terri Schiavo passes away. 

CRIER:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think there’s a big difference between keeping nutrients and water from somebody and unhooking somebody from a ventilator or a respirator of kidney dialysis. 

CRIER:  I am talking about feeding tubes.  I didn’t say a ventilator.  I said feeding tubes every day, hundreds a week across this country, feeding tubes alone. 

BUCHANAN:  She is not brain-dead.  She is not brain-dead. 


CRIER:  It doesn’t... 


SCARBOROUGH:  Let’s bring in Peter Beinart. 

Go ahead, Peter Beinart.

BEINART:  There are only two—there are only two questions here that really matter.  The first is, did she want to die?

CRIER:  Yes. 

BEINART:  The second is, who has the right to make that decision?

CRIER:  Absolutely. 

BEINART:  The court had the right to make that decision.  That is due process in America.  If they had—there were review after review after review.  If it had been a real transgression by the judge, they would have gotten involved.  And they didn’t.

BUCHANAN:  Peter, let me ask you a question.  Let me ask you a

question, Peter.  Do you suspect that Michael Schiavo, when he found out

seven years later, he discovered—his wife was only 26 when this happened

·         had told him she did not want to live, do you suspect that he is lying, and do you not believe that her parents are telling the truth when they said they want to care for her? 


BUCHANAN:  What I’m saying is, the judge’s decision is ludicrous to decide she definitely wanted to die based on what Michael Schiavo said. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, let Peter—Peter answer your question. 

BEINART:  First of all, he wasn’t the only person who testified that she had wanted to die. 

Second of all, it is, frankly, absurd, for you, who have not heard in forum of due process both sides of this case to suggest that you know better than that judge, you know better than the judge what she really wanted.  It is the judge’s role.  And if the judge had abused his authority, if it was an outrageous decision, the courts above him would have gotten involved. 

BUCHANAN:  Peter, use a rule of reason.  Would Terri Schiavo put her mother and father and brother and sister through this horror and herself through it? 


CRIER:  Yes, she would.  I would not want my parents overriding my significant other.

BUCHANAN:  I know you wouldn’t.

CRIER:  Who knows me better than anyone on this Earth, to say, they know. 

BUCHANAN:  He loves her so much...

CRIER:  Because they love me.  They want to keep me alive. 

BUCHANAN:  If Terri Schiavo’s husband...

CRIER:  No. 

BUCHANAN:  If Terri got well, by some miracle...


CRIER:  Why did he turn down $10 million?  Pat, why did he turn down $10 million to give up the guardianship if it was for any other reason than he thought he was doing what his wife wanted? 

BUCHANAN:  You know, I don’t know why this guy wants her dead. 

CRIER:  You tell me.   Yes, of course you don’t. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, mother and father will take care of her, and his brother and sister will take care of her and people take care of her.

CRIER:  In a state she doesn’t want?


BUCHANAN:  He can have his life.  He can have his money.

CRIER:  In a state she doesn’t want?

BEINART:  Pat, 70 percent to 80 percent of Americans are looking at this.  They are turning to their husband and wife and they’re saying, if I am ever in that situation...

CRIER:  Don’t you dare. 

BEINART:  I would like to be allowed to die with dignity.  Most Americans—people understand that.


BUCHANAN:  You think this is with dignity? 

CRIER:  Yes. 

BEINART:  Let me say this, yes.

CRIER:  Yes. 

BEINART:  The right to be able to die when you want to die if—and to be denied taken the tube off is the right to die with dignity.  And that’s what most Americans understand.  And it’s not about her parents.  It’s about her. 


CRIER:  Absolutely.

BUCHANAN:  You know how she is dying?  The way they way died at Dachau and the way they died in Andersonville. 


BEINART:  That is an outrageous, outrageous statement. 

BUCHANAN:  It is not.  They were starved to death and denied water. 


BEINART:  It is outrageous for you to say that.  First of all, the doctors have all said....


BUCHANAN:  Why do you want her dead so badly, Peter? 


BEINART:  She cannot feel the pain that we would feel from starvation.  And to compare it to the Nazis, when this woman—when the courts said this woman wanted to die is just outrageous, outrageous. 


CRIER:  And, Pat, how dare you?  Pat, how dare you ask us how much we want this woman to die?  Because there is no one on the other side of this that wants her to die.  If I could will her to get up to...

BUCHANAN:  Well, why don’t you give her some food and water?

CRIER:  To get up and walk, I would do so. 



CRIER:  But if I was in her situation, I would—and I had made it clear, if a judge did not comply with my wishes, then let him suffer the consequences. 

BUCHANAN:  If you—look, if you don’t want this woman to die, why are you against...

CRIER:  She is all...


BUCHANAN:  ... giving her food and water? 

CRIER:  She has been brain-dead 15 years. 

BUCHANAN:  If she were brain-dead, why don’t they put her in a casket and take the organs out? 


BUCHANAN:  We know she is not dead.  Fourteen days.  People went in there today.  A priest went in there.  Terri went in there.  They saw her.  She is not yet dead.  She is bad.  She breathing heavy.  She is not like she used to be.  We are killing her and you know it.


CRIER:  She is not like she used to be because, in fact, she has been gone for 15 years, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  We are killing her these last two weeks. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Peter Beinart.

BEINART:  In the state of Texas, there are infant mortality rates approaching 10 percent.  When was the last time you heard Tom DeLay say anything about that? 

You know, Terri Schiavo was not the only person in this country.  There are many people in this country who didn’t want to die, who, in fact, are dying.  And our government does nothing about it.  The Republican Congress pays no attention to it whatsoever.  And then we all this false piety about Terri Schiavo. 


BUCHANAN:  Well, what do you mean self—listen, I agree with you there.  I think our government ought to do something about it. 


BEINART:  Well, when was the last time they met in special session about that? 

BUCHANAN:  I think the president of the United States and I think the governor of Florida ought to do something to save, should have done something to save this woman’s life when this judge sentenced her to death in what is—would be called in any court of law, my friend, a cruel and unusual punishment. 


CRIER:  Pat, how come President Bush was able as governor to come along in Texas and basically say that hospitals who decide it’s not cost-effective to keep people alive can choose on their own through their doctors to remove this sort of thing?  That was your President Bush, my President Bush, who absolutely came forward and said that.

BUCHANAN:  I’m not defending...


CRIER:  Why, in fact, could Tom DeLay remove his father after 27 days? 

Why could Terri Schiavo’s father remove his mother after one week? 

BUCHANAN:  Catherine. 


CRIER:  And you’re not complaining about that.

BUCHANAN:  The very fact—the very fact you brought in Tom DeLay and you brought in politics and stuff like that tells me you know very well...

CRIER:  Mr. Schindler removed his mother after one week.


BUCHANAN:  You know very well what we’re doing, Catherine.

CRIER:  Oh, do I?

BUCHANAN:  Yes, you are.

CRIER:  No, don’t you speak for me, Pat Buchanan.  Don’t you speak for me.

BUCHANAN:  OK.  I’m going to tell you what you are doing. 

CRIER:  No, you can tell me what you think I am doing. 

BUCHANAN:  You are executing this woman.


BUCHANAN:  It’s a judicial murder. 

CRIER:  No. 

BUCHANAN:  You are putting her to death by denying her food and water.  Any simple 10-year-old, that kid would walk up there.  Why?  When a woman is dying of thirst, you give her water, for heaven sakes.  You don’t have to go to some judge or 19 judges to know that. 

CRIER:  The physical body of that woman remains.  Her spirit and soul have—have—she died as we knew her 15 years ago. 

BUCHANAN:  Why didn’t you bury her then? 

CRIER:  And she has expressed—because she has been on...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we are going to have to leave it there. 

CRIER:  ... artificial assistance since then. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Catherine, that’s going to have to be the last word.  Thanks so much, Catherine Crier, Pat Buchanan, Peter Beinart.  This one is going to be continued. 

Coming up next, we stand by as the United States Supreme Court considers the final appeal from Terri’s family. 

And still ahead, another heartbreaker in Florida.  We are going to be playing you the 911 call made by a little girl when she discovered her parents’ bodies shot to death at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.  And we are going to ask why this was not prevented.  We will tell you the whole story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

You are looking at a live picture of the United States Supreme Court.  We have just received word that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an emergency rehearing on the Terri Schiavo case.  That means it is over, the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to hear Terri Schiavo’s family’s appeal.  That means that all avenues for legal appeal have been closed.  It is now going to be up to commentators, judges, professors, journalists to talk about the impact of this case, because it is now all but certain that Terri Schiavo will die. 

Now we move on, another shocking story from Central Florida.  Five-year-old Tia Hernlen woke up this morning to gunshots.  Her parents were murdered.  And the little girl called 911.             

Take a listen. 


OPERATOR:  911, what is your emergency?

HERNLEN:  Hello.

OPERATOR:  Hello.  Is everything OK?

HERNLEN:  My mommy and daddy...

OPERATOR:  Uh-huh.

HERNLEN:  I think there is a bullet on the floor.

OPERATOR:  There’s a what?

HERNLEN:  And there is blood coming out of my dad’s mouth and he fell off the bed.

OPERATOR:  He did?  Where’s mommy at?

HERNLEN:  She is, I don’t know.  I think they’re dead.

OPERATOR:  OK, your daddy’s on the floor.  How old are you?

HERNLEN:  I’m 5 years old and I have a dog in a house.

OPERATOR:  OK, are you the only one there besides mommy and daddy?

HERNLEN:  Well, I said “Mommy” and “Daddy” and they didn’t even answer.

OPERATOR:  OK.  And what made you wake up tonight?

HERNLEN:  There was, I think I heard a gunshot.

OPERATOR:  You heard a gun?  Who has a gun in the house?

HERNLEN:  I don’t see a gun, but I’m scared.

OPERATOR:  Oh, sweetheart, I will not let anything happen to you.

HERNLEN:  Can you send a deputy down here?

OPERATOR:  I promise I will.  And you’re only 5 years old?

HERNLEN:  Mmm-hmm.

OPERATOR:  Was there anybody else in the house tonight besides you and mommy and daddy tonight, like an uncle or anything?

HERNLEN:  No, there’s no robber in the house.

OPERATOR:  OK, well, I didn’t think there would be a robber, sweetheart.  Did you have anybody staying over the night with you guys tonight?


OPERATOR:  OK.  So and the doors are all locked?  And everything like that.  Where are you in the house?

HERNLEN:  Well, I was in my room sleeping ‘till I heard a noise shot and it woke me up.

OPERATOR:  OK, listen to me.  Is your phone the kind of phone you can take with you and walk around?

HERNLEN:  Um, this...

OPERATOR:  There should be an officer at your front door.  I need for you to take your phone with you and walk over to the door and open it for me, OK?  And I will stay on the phone with you, OK?

HERNLEN:  But...  

OPERATOR:  I will not hang up.

HERNLEN:  I’m to the door.  I’m unlocking it.

OPERATOR:  OK.  You let me know when the officer talks to you.  OK, you go ahead.  You talk to the officer.

OFFICER:  You talking to the dispatcher?  OK, tell her I’m here now and you can hang up.

OPERATOR:  Bye, sweetheart.

HERNLEN:  Um, he’s here.

OPERATOR:  OK, sweetheart.  You be good, OK?  Bye-bye.


SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, it’s so heartbreaking. 

The men who shot them and later himself believed that the couple had turned him into the cops a few months back when he was arrested for growing pot and possessing steroids.  Could this tragedy have been avoided? 

Tia’s parents knew that David Johnson was angry, and they tried to get a judge to give a court-ordered injunction to keep him away, but the judge denied their request, saying that he didn’t think there was enough evidence. 

With us now to talk about this story is Florida Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi.

Pam, this is just absolutely tragic story.  Unfortunately, the judge was asked to keep this murderer away and he refused to do it.  Is it fair to blame the judge in this instance? 

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  You know, Joe, this must be the worst nightmare of any judge in this country, that something like this would happen. 

The law requires that you have two prior incidents of an assault, one within six months, and you have to be very specific in your allegations.  I think also, in this case, she had requested the injunction on behalf of her child.  And I am not certain if there was evidence that he had actually threatened the child. 

But, you know, having said all that, Joe, you know, an injunction can’t give someone a false sense of safety.  This guy was a maniac.  And I can’t think of anything, other than him being in prison, that would have kept this from happening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Pam, thank you so much.  We have got breaking news that we are going to have to tell you all about when we return. 

That’s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in just a minute with the latest news.  The Supreme Court has shut down all legal proceedings by refusing to hear Terri Schiavo’s emergency appeal. 

We’ll be right back.


SCARBOROUGH:  As we said earlier, this breaking news from the United States Supreme Court tonight.  The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear Terri Schiavo’s family’s appeal. 

For all practical purposes, this legal journey has ended.  NBC News’ Mark Potter says that the family’s attorneys say they will appeal no more. 

Stay with MSNBC for continuing coverage.


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