updated 4/22/2005 2:34:07 PM ET 2005-04-22T18:34:07

Guest: Ron Stephens, Martha Burk, Sheila Nix, Marty Minto, Fred Engh, George Lewis, Wade Henderson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST:  Are federal judges out of control?  Did their refusal to act on congressional law cause Terri Schiavo to die of starvation and thirst?  From gay marriage to the Pledge of Allegiance, courts are dictating to America.  Tom DeLay, the most powerful Republican in Congress, is demanding that the judges themselves be judged for their renegade behavior. 


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER:  We will look at an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumb their nose at Congress and the president. 


BUCHANAN:  Are we living under a judicial dictatorship? 

Then, professional athletes may not want to be role models, but they are, and all their brawling may be setting a horrible example. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The 13-year-old boy struck the other boy with a bat. 


BUCHANAN:  Now a teenage baseball game has ended in murder.  And a grieving community searches for answers. 

Plus, the Roman Catholic faithful believe it‘s a foregone conclusion that Pope John Paul II is going to heaven.  But one Christian radio talk show host has dared to dissent.  Now he is out of a job.  Is this a case of Catholic bashing or an assault on freedom of speech?  We will ask that talk show host. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

BUCHANAN:  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I‘m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe tonight. 

Our top story, House Majority leader Tom DeLay calls for a congressional investigation of judicial conduct in the Terri Schiavo case.  It‘s part of a growing conservative campaign to rein in the judges.  DeLay ignited the fuse when he said this the day Terri died. 


DELAY:  We will look at an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumb their nose at Congress and the president. 


BUCHANAN:  DeLay has somewhat backed off that statement, but now the question is on the table.  Has America become a judicial dictatorship, where unelected jurists render final verdicts on all social and moral issues?

Joining me to talk about it are Wendy Long, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and Democratic Congresswoman from Florida Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 

Debbie, let me start with you.  Here‘s a situation where a Florida judge says to a mother and father, you can not give water to your daughter, who is dying of thirst and starvation.  Congress then passes the law, said, let‘s take it to federal court.  The federal court won‘t even hear it, despite the fact this woman‘s right to life is at risk.  Did he not have a right to be angry with that? 

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA:  I think it‘s important to point out one minor mistake that you made in your opening statement.  Judge Greer, the state judge who presided...

BUCHANAN:  He‘s a Florida judge.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Yes.  And he is elected.  He was elected repeatedly, most recently in 2004, after he handed down several of the initial Schiavo case decisions.

So, to say that this is an activist judiciary run amuck is just so beyond the pale.  It‘s unbelievable. 

BUCHANAN:  We are talking about the federal judges, Congresswoman.  And we are talking about the fact that the entire Congress of the United States came back, as did President Bush, and overwhelmingly passed a law to say, let‘s take this up, and to have a re-de novo hearing of this case at the federal level, and the judges refused to do it. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  We are talking about an out-of-control Congress, a congressional leadership that inserted itself in a personal, private family tragedy that was overwhelmingly opposed by the American public, that wants to challenge the judiciary and its independence and make sure that they can now haul judges in front of the Congress and question their decisions, like the Schiavo case.  It‘s totally out of line. 

Wade Henderson.


RIGHTS:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead, Wade Henderson. 

HENDERSON:  Well, let me say at the outset, Pat, look, there‘s nothing more important to a functioning democracy than a fair and independent judiciary.  We are fighting to achieve that in Iraq.  We should be fighting to preserve that here at home. 

Here, you have a Congress that espouses values, family values, the right of a husband to protect the interests of his wife, and vice versa.  You talk about states rights, the right of states to make decisions that affect the life of its own citizens, and here you have an elected judge who is accountable to the voters during a specified period, all of which are being turned on their head, so you can score cheap political points by demonizing judges who respect family values and uphold the law as they interpret it. 

BUCHANAN:  Family values is denying food and water to a brain-damaged woman? 

HENDERSON:  Family values is respecting the sanctity of marriage and allowing a husband and wife to make judgments.

BUCHANAN:  How about the sanctity of life, Wade? 

HENDERSON:  To make judgments for their spouses. 

And if you want to change it, Pat, it‘s OK to have a debate about the issue, but you can‘t run roughshod over the judiciary because you want to score points. 


BUCHANAN:  We will be back to that. 

Wendy Long.


BUCHANAN:  Your thoughts. 

LONG:  Yes. 

Well, first of all, the Florida judge actually did exhibit some degree of activism by finding there was clear and convincing evidence of this woman‘s wishes, when there really is nothing of the kind, if you look at the record.  But the important issue here that we are talking about is the federal courts.  Congress is not unaccountable. 

Congress is directly accountable to the people who elected them.  They made a decision to enact a federal law to protect this woman‘s federal rights, if any.  They didn‘t opine on that.  They just said, let‘s just have a hearing, see what her federal rights are, and make sure they are protected. 


LONG:  That‘s a perfectly appropriate role for federal courts. 

And, by the way, this wasn‘t just a private family matter.  This family was feuding and brought itself into the courts and made itself subject to legal process.  There‘s nothing wrong with the federal government and Congress, which is accountable and which controls the jurisdiction of the federal courts, saying, let‘s make sure that we review this woman‘s federal rights, just the same way that federal convicted prisoners get their rights reviewed. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  All right. 

Let me go, take this question to both of you.  Under the Constitution, the Congress of the United States has the right to restrict the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court. 


BUCHANAN:  Now, we have Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court handing down decisions saying that homosexuality is a constitutional right, abortion is a constitutional right, you know, the Pledge of Allegiance, yes or no.  Doesn‘t Congress, which is what it‘s doing right now in the House, have the right to restrict the appellate review jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, because it is the first branch of government?  Is that not correct? 

LONG:  Pat, I don‘t think that...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  What Congress is doing right now is taking this country so far to the right that we are going to go completely over the edge. 

What the American people don‘t want to see happen is that the Congress haul judges in who are supposed to be independent, who are not supposed to have to answer for their individual decisions made in specific cases in front of a committee of the United States Congress. 


LONG:  No one is thinking of undermining the independence of judges. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  That‘s exactly what Congressman DeLay called for today, exactly.

LONG:  I will tell you what the big—I will tell you what the big threat is to the independence of the federal judiciary.  And it‘s this, it‘s senators insisting that federal judges, before they are even appointed, agree with the political views of those senators or they will hold them up and won‘t even let them get a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.  That‘s what threatens the independence of the federal judiciary. 

HENDERSON:  And let me say this. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Wade, go ahead.

HENDERSON:  That, in the final analysis, the Constitution does provide checks and balances to guarantee the independence and integrity of the courts, OK? 


LONG:  Yes. 

HENDERSON:  Obviously, the courts make independent decisions.  Sometimes, we are not going to like them.  But Congress doesn‘t have the right or the ability to determine the outcome of decisions in advance simply because they want to preclude every option. 

LONG:  Of course they don‘t.  No one is suggesting that.


BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you this, Wade.


BUCHANAN:  Because this is an issue I have been very concerned about. 

HENDERSON:  Sure.  Sure. 

BUCHANAN:  It is this.  Let‘s take the issue of gay marriage.  We all probably disagree on it.  We believe it should be decided at the state level.  What is wrong with the Congress of the United States saying, this issue is so controversial, it should be decided by elected legislators, not judges, and, therefore, the United States Supreme Court should stay out of this area, and it should be decided by legislators? 

HENDERSON:  Pat, Pat, and let me say this.  If Congress chooses to enact a constitutional amendment. 

BUCHANAN:  Not a constitutional—Wade.

HENDERSON:  And, obviously, I disagree with the premise of that amendment. 

BUCHANAN:  Do they have the power to do it? 

HENDERSON:  But if they certainly help to facilitate and enact a constitutional amendment on the issue of marriage, they can do so. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Congresswoman...

HENDERSON:  But that is the process, Pat.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Well, do you think that Congress should have done that when it comes to the civil rights of African-Americans or of... 


BUCHANAN:  What I am saying is...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Simply because you don‘t like the category of person that the judges are making a decision on, that you want to separate out the decisions the judges make.

BUCHANAN:  Hold on.  I want to make comment and then I‘ll go to you, Wendy. 

My comment is this.  We are democratic republic.  We are not a judicial dictatorship. 


BUCHANAN:  Decisions on deeply controversial matters like civil rights laws should be made by legislators. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  You can‘t pick and choose... 



BUCHANAN:  Wendy go ahead.  It‘s your turn.

LONG:  You know what?  The test, though, Pat, is not necessarily whether it‘s controversial or not.  It‘s whether the Constitution speaks to it. 

Does the Constitution govern this issue, and is it something that the judiciary should be deciding?  And the Constitution speaks to only a few things. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

LONG:  And the rest of them, it leaves up to the elected representatives and to the people to decide.  And when it...


HENDERSON:  And, Wendy, by that interpretation—Wendy, by that interpretation, I would probably still be a slave today. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  That‘s right. 

HENDERSON:  And I think that women would not have the right to vote. 


HENDERSON:  Whoa, back up.  Back up.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

HENDERSON:  Not every right that we enjoy today as citizens of the United States are explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, you...

LONG:  And legislatures are free to confer rights...


HENDERSON:  Wendy, hang on. 

Congress does have power, under the 14th Amendment, Section 5 of the Constitution, to address the social needs and civil rights of America. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Wade, Wade Henderson, you tell me...

HENDERSON:  That power exists.  Sure, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  You tell me where the constitutional right to homosexual relations is in what Madison and Hamilton wrote. 

HENDERSON:  Pat, Pat, Pat, the issue is not the right...

BUCHANAN:  The issue is...


HENDERSON:  ... to homosexual relations.  The issue is the right of human dignity to be protected under the Constitution. 


LONG:  And you can make those arguments to a legislature. 


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  You cannot pick and choose—you cannot pick and choose the civil rights that you wish...


BUCHANAN:  The truth is, why can the Supreme Court pick and choose and decide what rights it‘s going to create?  This is preposterous.  We overthrew kings, the divine right of kings, not for the divine right of judges, but for a democratic republic. 



WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Pat, you can‘t pick—you can‘t pick the civil rights you like the legislature to enforce and the civil rights that you want to reserve for the judiciary. 

BUCHANAN:  Elected legislators—look, we are going to continue this. 


BUCHANAN:  If you didn‘t have to catch a plane, Congresswoman, we would be going right here.

We are going to continue this debate on judicial power when we come back. 

Still to come, a California Pony League baseball game ends in murder. 

Have kids sports gotten totally out of control?

Stay with us.


BUCHANAN:  Are federal judges becoming a dictatorship?  We‘ll continue this intense debate when we come back.  You won‘t want to miss more of this SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown next.



BUCHANAN:  We are back with Wendy Long and Wade Henderson. 

Wade, let me start with you.


BUCHANAN:  Let‘s talk about the nuclear option now.  To describe it to our folks, Republicans are fed up with what they see as filibusters which deny a vote on appellate court judges who could be confirmed if a vote were held because they got majority support.  Democrats have filibustered it, so Republican senators are going to arrange it by working with the chair, the vice president, so that a simple majority vote can put a judge on the federal appellate bench. 


BUCHANAN:  And the Supreme Court.  What is wrong with majority rule? 

We got a problem with that, too? 

HENDERSON:  Pat, back up for one minute.  This is a president that, after the election, he said that he would seek common ground on issues of national importance.

And yet, on one of the most important issues facing the country today, and that is whether we will continue to have a fair and independent judiciary, he has chosen confrontation. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

HENDERSON:  Over conciliation. 

Now, let me start.  There‘s a false controversy here.  The president has had approved 205 out of 215 judges. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

HENDERSON:  He is getting 96 percent of the judges that he has sent to the Hill. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

HENDERSON:  He is only being challenged on judges who are so far outside of the mainstream that they can‘t get a vote. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  They are so far outside.  They are so far outside the mainstream, but they can get a majority vote. 


BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you this.

HENDERSON:  Well, but is that a fair thing? 


BUCHANAN:  Wait a minute. 


BUCHANAN:  Wait a minute.  Let me—hold it, Wendy.  Let me get in here just a second. 


BUCHANAN:  The president of the United States campaigned that he would nominate strict constructionists to the federal appellate court and Supreme Court who would interpret the law and not make the law. 

HENDERSON:  Is that right? 

BUCHANAN:  He has nominated them.  They come out of committee with support of a majority. 


BUCHANAN:  They are on the floor with the support of a majority, and you guys are using the old civil rights filibuster. 


BUCHANAN:  To kill their nomination. 

HENDERSON:  Back up for one minute. 

The president gets strict constructionists through the committee. 

They have been approved at a rate of 205 out of 215. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

LONG:  An irrelevant statistic, an irrelevant statistic. 


HENDERSON:  Let me give you an example.

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

HENDERSON:  Let me give you an example of one of the judges that‘s not getting through, a gay by the name of  Terrence Boyle.  He‘s already on the federal bench.  He‘s a district court judge in North Carolina, been on the bench 20 years. 

He‘s so outside of the mainstream that a unanimous Supreme Court, with Clarence Thomas writing the majority opinion, rejected this guy‘s decision on voting rights.


LONG:  Judges well within the mainstream get reversed all the time.

HENDERSON:  How far—come on.  He‘s wait outside.


HENDERSON:  Oh, Wendy.  Come on.

LONG:  Listen, listen, the relevant statistic here is that 10 out of the president‘s 34 nominees to the important courts of federal appeal have been filibustered and held up by the Senate. 

HENDERSON:  Two hundred and five out of 215, Wendy. 


LONG:  No, no, no, it‘s irrelevant.  And let me explain why, because those are the courts.  The appellate courts are the one that have the final say on most issues of constitutional law in this country.  Those are the ones who make the important constitutional law.

HENDERSON:  Wendy...

LONG:  The Supreme Court gets—you know what?  I am going to have a chance to talk here for a second. 

HENDERSON:  You‘re not being fair.

OK, I apologize. 

LONG:  The Supreme Court rules on very few cases.  It has a very limited docket. 


LONG:  So, these federal courts of appeal are really the final court of last resort on most federal constitutional issues.  And that‘s why they are so important.  And on those courts...


BUCHANAN:  Wade, it seems to me what you have got is a problem with democracy. 

HENDERSON:  Not at all. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, you have got the Senate, the majority.  You‘ve got Specter as head of the committee.  They vote them out of committee.  They go to the floor.  You can talk about them as long as you want.  And then it comes time to vote yes or no. 


BUCHANAN:  You people are afraid of a vote. 

HENDERSON:  Pat, settle down. 

BUCHANAN:  If they‘re such extremists, why are you afraid of a vote?

HENDERSON:  Pat, slow down.  I am not afraid of democracy.  As a matter of fact, I am supporting the rules that Thomas Jefferson helped to establish in the United States Senate. 

LONG:  Thomas Jefferson knew nothing of the filibuster.  The filibuster did not exist. 


HENDERSON:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute. 

The Senate has always been the great institution of debate.  And what we have said...

LONG:  Nobody is trying to debate here. 


HENDERSON:  Oh, Wendy.  Wendy, I want the same...


LONG:  There‘s still plenty of time to debate.

HENDERSON:  Wendy, I want the same respect I gave you, Wendy.  I backed...


LONG:  No one is trying to cut off debate. 

HENDERSON:  Wendy, I want the same respect, Wendy. 

LONG:  These Democratic senators are hiding from a vote. 

HENDERSON:  Wendy, I want the same respect, Wendy. 


BUCHANAN:  We got to get Wade in here. 

Go right ahead. 

HENDERSON:  You know as well as I do, Pat, that the ability to have extended debate on issues of importance is ingrained in the rules of the United States. 

LONG:  Let‘s debate. 

HENDERSON:  Been here now for over 200 years. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, Strom used that, didn‘t he?  

HENDERSON:  Hey, he did use it.



HENDERSON:  And wait a minute.  Strom used it.  And I was really unhappy about it. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

HENDERSON:  And I would say to you that, no, I didn‘t like the filibuster when it was used against me. 

LONG:  Never been used in the history of our country to keep judges off the bench, never once.


HENDERSON:  And yet we never advocated, we never advocated that the rules—the checks and balances of the Senate be overturned, just so you can have an abuse of power.  Come on.


BUCHANAN:  Wendy, let me ask you this.  Wendy, has there been any period of time where the Republican Party has filibustered to death federal appellate court nominees, the way the Democrats have done? 

LONG:  No. 

BUCHANAN:  In Mr. Bush‘s first four years? 

LONG:  No.

HENDERSON:  Is that the issue, guys? 


HENDERSON:  Isn‘t the issue whether... 


LONG:  It‘s never happened until now, starting in 2003. 


HENDERSON:  Wendy, isn‘t the issue whether the rules of the Senate apply both to legislation and to nominations?  And here‘s what we have said, guys.  There are checks and balances.  Wait a minute, Pat.  Let me finish.  There are checks and balances that exist in the Senate.  They have been in place now for 200 years. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Can I ask you a question? 

HENDERSON:  You would throw those out, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, I‘m not...


HENDERSON:  For temporary political gain and an abuse of power by Senator Bill Frist for some short-term political objective. 

BUCHANAN:  Wade, let me ask you a question. 

HENDERSON:  When the president is getting overwhelming approval of his judges. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you a question.  And hold it, Wendy.


BUCHANAN:  Does not the Senate have the right to alter its own rules if they see an abuse of power by a minority? 

HENDERSON:  Sure, it does. 

BUCHANAN:  It used to be 67 senators to shut down a filibuster.  They cut it to 60.  Now they say judges have a right to an up-or-down vote.  On this issue, a majority can vote.  Why can‘t they change the rules? 


HENDERSON:  Pat, the Senate can always change its rules.


LONG:  May I say something?  It‘s not even a change in the rules.  All it is, is a confirmation of the tradition of more than 200 years, that the president‘s nominees for federal courts get a vote.  It‘s not even a rule change. 


LONG:  It‘s just a confirmation of that tradition. 

HENDERSON:  You know as well as I do, to answer Pat‘s question, that the Senate is always empowered to change its own rules. 

LONG:  That‘s exactly right. 

HENDERSON:  It does require, however, a vote of 67 senators...

LONG:  It does not. 

HENDERSON:  ... to move to, to proceed to...

BUCHANAN:  What are you afraid of, then?

HENDERSON:  ... a rule change.

LONG:  It does not.

BUCHANAN:  What are you afraid of, then?

HENDERSON:  Pat, we are not afraid of anything.   




HENDERSON:  No, Pat.  What we‘re saying is...


BUCHANAN:  You sound like you are nervous about it. 

HENDERSON:  Pat, we are not nervous.

And I‘m—and let me say this.  Standing up for American democracy, standing up for the checks and balances of the Senate doesn‘t make me nervous. 

LONG:  You know what? 

HENDERSON:  But I have a lot—wait a minute.  I have a lot of faith, I have a lot of faith in the power of the Constitution.  And I have a lot of respect for the American people. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, well, let me ask you...


HENDERSON:  And if they don‘t like what senators are doing, they know how to address that. 

BUCHANAN:  Do you—do you have respect for a Republican majority which might have voted for some of these outstanding appellate court judges, Patricia Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, if they get 55 votes, do you have respect to be an appellate court judge?  But even with all the Democrats united against them, don‘t you respect a Senate that would vote a majority on that?

And don‘t you—would you not fairly say they can not be putting an extremist on the court if all but one or two Republicans vote for them? 

HENDERSON:  Pat, I respect a Senate that follows its own rules.  I respect a Senate that respects the separation of powers.  I respect a Senate that does not abuse power in order to achieve short-term gain. 

I respect a majority leader who stands up and who honors both the letter and traditions of the Senate to allow the business of our country to move forward. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

HENDERSON:  And anyone who puts that aside, I don‘t have respect for. 

BUCHANAN:  Wendy, what is going to happen?  We have argued the merits of it.  What I have heard from my sources is Janice Rogers Brown, I guess it is. 


BUCHANAN:  She‘s a federal judge in California. 

HENDERSON:  No, she‘s a Supreme Court... 


BUCHANAN:  Supreme Court California.  And Patricia Owen of Texas. 

LONG:  Priscilla. 

BUCHANAN:  Excuse me, Priscilla Owen of Texas....


BUCHANAN:  ... are both the ones they‘re going to take up this nuclear option on, the nuclear option being that, if there‘s a filibuster of this thing, they are going to vote to have them approved, if they are approved by 51 votes.  Is that what you hear is going to happen in the United States Senate next week? 


BUCHANAN:  Wendy.  Wendy.

LONG:  Well, I don‘t know when it will happen. 

I think certainly sometime in the next few weeks, this issue is going to come to a head, and we don‘t know exactly what form it will take; nor, Pat, do we know who the nominees will be.  Those two ladies you mentioned are outstanding judges, would be great candidates.  And 82 percent of the American people want the Senate to vote on these candidates.  So, it will be...


HENDERSON:  Wendy, those numbers are so false, they‘re not worthy of the... 


BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you about the two judges.  All right, you mentioned Boyle.  You mentioned Boyle.  And you obviously don‘t like him.  I won‘t bring that up. 


BUCHANAN:  What about the California judge? 

HENDERSON:  Janice Rogers Brown?  Sure.

BUCHANAN:  Brown, Janice Rogers Brown.

HENDERSON:  We oppose her, too.

BUCHANAN:  And what about Owen in Texas?

HENDERSON:  And we oppose Priscilla Owen.  Again, Pat...

BUCHANAN:  Are they extremists? 

HENDERSON:  Pat, let back up.


BUCHANAN:  Are they extremists?


LONG:  What have they ever done that you call extreme? 


HENDERSON:  Wait a minute.  Whoa.  Their record speaks for itself. 


LONG:  What?  Name something in their record. 

HENDERSON:  Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Wendy, are you going to let me speak? 

LONG:  Yes.  I am anxious to hear. 

HENDERSON:  I respected you.  I would like to have the same respect. 


HENDERSON:  Pat, I‘m telling you the following.  I didn‘t call them extremists.  That was your term. 

What I said is that the letter and rule of the Senate is important, but I also said the following.  These are individuals who had hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  These are individuals who, out of 215 judges, could not get the majority necessary to move forward.  What I am saying is, Senator Frist is on a power grab.  He is using these two women as a shield to proceed to grab power, violating the Senate rules and the integrity of his own office. 

BUCHANAN:  And he may succeed. 

HENDERSON:  Well, he may. 


BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Wade Henderson and Wendy Long.  We will be watching this one closely, as you can see. 

Coming up next, do some Christians doubt Pope John Paul II is going to heaven?  We are going to talk to a man of the church who is out of a job because he dared to entertain such a question. 

And what if your prescription doesn‘t fill the moral beliefs of your pharmacist?  Can he refuse to serve customers on moral grounds?  A twist tonight on this hot issue. 


BUCHANAN:  Teasing on the baseball field leads to murder.  It‘s shocking, but not the first case of violence in kids‘ sports.  Who is to blame?  What can be done about it?  We‘ll take a look. 

First, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know.


BUCHANAN:  In the latest tragic incident of kids killing kids, a 13-year-old California Pony League player became so upset with the taunting by 15-year-old Jeremy Rourke that he grabbed an aluminum bat out of the equipment bag and beat Jeremy to death while Jeremy was standing in a line at a concession stand. 

Here with more on this incredible story is NBC‘s George Lewis. 


GEORGE LEWIS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Residents of Palmdale, California, held a candlelight vigil last night, a community in shock following the brutal death of 15-year-old Jeremy Rourke, a former Pony League all-star.  Friends and family members tried to comfort Angela Rourke, the boy‘s mother.

KATHY UNGER, FAMILY FRIEND:  Two families are—lives are ruined because of an argument.  I don‘t understand.

LEWIS:  Witnesses said Jeremy was beaten to death with a baseball bat after teasing another teenager about pitching a losing ball game.  Sheriff‘s deputies took the younger boy into custody.

DEPUTY ALBA YATES, LOS ANGELES SHERIFF‘S DEPARTMENT:  The 13-year-old boy who struck the other boy with the bat, he had just finished playing a game that night.

UNGER:  They were trying to revive him.  He was pretty much gone.  His heart had stopped.  They tried to save him for probably 45 minutes.

LEWIS:  As flags fly at half-staff in Palmdale, Jeremy‘s friends say they still can‘t believe what happened.

RYAN GASPORRA, VICTIM‘S BEST FRIEND:  The kid got mad at him, I guess, and Jeremy will was probably just messing with him, didn‘t try to mean to hurt him.  But I guess the kid just overreacted and got a bat.

LEWIS:  Also stunned are the parents who actively support Pony League baseball here.

KEN CURTIS, PRESIDENT, PALMDALE PONY LEAGUE:  Both families have been part of Palmdale Pony for a number of years, and our thoughts and prayers are out to both of them.

UNGER:  I hope that all kids will realize that calling somebody a name, or because you lost your baseball game, is no big deal, and something like this won‘t happen again.

LEWIS:  Now, as the community mourns, the 13-year-old suspect faces murder charges. 

George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles.


BUCHANAN:  Joining me to talk about this story and what can be done to prevent more like it is Fred Engh, founder of the National Alliance For Youth Sports and author of “Why Johnny Hates Sports.” 

Fred Engh, this is appalling.  Is this—I mean, this is a 13-year-old kid.  This isn‘t some late adolescent hitting someone in the head with a baseball bat.  Are these types of things occurring more and more often? 


But, you know, the fact is that our organization is in its 25th year and we have been dealing with these issues for the last 25 years, certainly not as bad as what we have seen in this case.  But the question is, how does all of this happen?  And what happens is, it‘s a disease.  It begins with the parents.  And I call it my-kid-itis. 

What happens is, parents—and so, we all go out there as parents, and we see our son or daughter in these situations, all of a sudden, we don‘t like them sitting on the bench.  We don‘t like them being booed when they strike out.  We don‘t like anything that‘s not good and wholesome for our kids out there. 

So we react.  And many parent step over the line.  But now you see a child stepping over the line.  I have been asked the question many, many times since Indiana and the Pacers got into it.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

ENGH:  Or—excuse me. 

But—but we are seeing the results of the role models of the Ron Artests, where kids see players going up into the stands and attacking one another. 

BUCHANAN:  But, Fred, wait a minute.  I mean, all right, nobody condones what those players did, but that‘s a fistfight.  It‘s—even by grown men, it‘s a fistfights.  There‘s a lot of fistfights.  I played baseball.  You get in fistfights at baseball games, at basketball games.  That happens among young kids.

But for someone who is in grammar school to hit someone in the head with a baseball bat is just extraordinary. 

ENGH:  Well, absolutely, it‘s extraordinary.  And the question is, is, you know, we never thought or heard of things such as cell phone rage and airplane rage and road rage years ago.  But now we see it.  And we see a different society. 

We have become a society that is uncivil.  We take things into our own hands.  But, in sports, once we put up that scoreboard, standings, championships, all-star teams, that‘s when we create emotions.  And that‘s the kind of reactions that we are seeing kids take today out on ball fields.  Sure, we had kids that would get into it and fights and whatnot. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

ENGH:  But the problem is, is, today, when kids see these things as role models, that‘s the behavior we can expect.  We need to do something about it. 


ENGH:  Well, in communities across the country, think of where all these activities take place. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

ENGH:  They are on parks and recreation fields.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

ENGH:  And anybody that can go out there, wants to get a permit, virtually can do so.  So, they run leagues for kids.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

ENGH:  And they never require coaches to be trained and held accountable.  They never say to parents when they sign their child up that, look...


ENGH:  ... this is what this is about and this is what we expect of your behavior. 


ENGH:  When that doesn‘t happen, we can expect these kinds of things to occur. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Fred Engh, many thanks for coming on to talk about this tragic incident. 

Now we want to turn to another story that people are really talking about today.  It‘s a story of Pastor Marty Minto of the Turning Point Community Church in Pittsburgh, and a former radio talk show host.  He is former, because Pastor Minto has been fired by radio station WORD in the Steel City for questioning the beliefs and teachings of Pope John Paul II. 

Pastor Minto, I guess it is, thanks for being here.  What happened to you and your radio show? 

PASTOR MARTY MINTO, TURNING POINT CHURCH:  Thank you, Pat.  I appreciate the time that you have taken to interview me here today. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MINTO:  Well, it all began last week on a Monday when we decided to look back on the legacy of Pope John Paul II.

And my producer, who is a staunch Roman Catholic...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MINTO:  And I asked him the question of, looking back on his years of serving the Catholic Church, what he would remember the most about the pope.  And he told myself and my listeners that he would remember the fact that this pope was the most ecumenical pope probably in the history of the Catholic Church. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MINTO:  And from that, we began to talk, and we took phone calls.  And in the midst of all of it, people began to question whether or not I believed whether the pope really went to heaven. 

BUCHANAN:  What did you say? 

MINTO:  Well, I said, you know, the Bible, Jesus made it very plain and clear.  Unless a man is born again, he will never enter, nor see the kingdom of heaven.

So I said, bottom line is, salvation is a personal thing between an individual and his creator, who is his God. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me follow up on that, Marty Minto.  You are an evangelical Christian who believes you must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, correct? 

MINTO:  That‘s correct. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  And the Holy Father, you do not know whether or not he was born again, correct? 

MINTO:  That‘s correct. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Let me ask you, there are an awful lot of people in this world—let‘s take Chinese—who aren‘t open to the whole idea of Jesus or being born again, because they don‘t hear the word.  Do you think the heaven—the gates of heaven are closed to them? 

MINTO:  Well, I believe in the words of Jesus himself, because I believe Jesus was God revealed to us in the flesh. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

MINTO:  And Jesus said himself, unless...

BUCHANAN:  What do you say, then, in following what you believe—I understand your belief. 

MINTO:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  Do you think they could enter the kingdom of heaven? 

MINTO:  Unless they are born again, unless they have trusted Jesus as the only way to get to heaven, no, I do not believe they will enter... 


BUCHANAN:  All right.  Let me ask you, do you think Jews can get to heaven if they do not embrace Jesus Christ and are born again? 

MINTO:  No, I do not believe that Jews will get to heaven either. 

BUCHANAN:  I know this is a belief, because I know a number of evangelical Christians.  They are very sincere and true in this belief. 

MINTO:  Sure.

BUCHANAN:  And it‘s been very controversial. 

Where do you think, then—let‘s assume Pope John Paul II was not born again, as you would describe it.  Where do you think his soul is now? 

MINTO:  Well, the Bible says there‘s only two places, heaven and hell.  And to be with God is to be in that place called heaven, to be in his presence.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MINTO:  To be separated from him is that place called hell.  It‘s a place of torment and suffering forever and ever. 

BUCHANAN:  Do you think all Jews that have not been born again are in hell? 

MINTO:  I think every individual who does not trust Jesus Christ as lord and savior will be in hell. 

BUCHANAN:  And so that would include, them.  That would include—that would include an awful lot of people.  How about all the people born before Jesus Christ came down on Earth, including Moses? 

MINTO:  Well, the Bible tells us that the Gospel message started actually in the book of Genesis with the first creation of Adam and Eve, after they had sinned against God.  And God provided a way for them.

And the pro-evangelium, as we call it in Genesis Chapter 3...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MINTO:  We understand that the Gospel message has been ringing out and sounding forth ever since the beginning. 


Let me read you what—here‘s what the station‘s general managers had to say about the firing—quote—“WORD-FM needs to function in this city and support the entire church—that means everybody—and not focus on denominational issues.”

Is that too ecumenical for you, Marty Minto?  I guess it was.  Tell me a little bit, very quickly, about your station, WORD.  Is it an evangelical Christian station? 

MINTO:  Yes, it‘s an evangelical Christian station that is owned by our parent company, Salem Communications, out of Camarillo, California. 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  Oh, yes.

MINTO:  All of our programming on the station is teaching talk, which people like Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. of John MacArthur, etcetera, and I would believe any one of them would stand firm on the belief that I believe, that, unless a man is born again, he will never enter into heaven. 


Marty, I disagree with you on the issue, but I hope you get your show back.  I think you sound to me like very sincere in your beliefs.  I have met a lot of evangelical Christians.  And I think you talk straight.  And if your station is a straight-talking station, they should hear you, and I hope you get some good Roman Catholic dissenting callers. 

MINTO:  Well, I appreciate it, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Thanks very much. 




MINTO:  Thank you. 

BUCHANAN:  Straight ahead on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, does a pharmacist have the right to follow his own moral convictions?  The governor of Illinois doesn‘t think so.  We will debate that next. 



BUCHANAN:  Condoms, the pill, the morning after pill, and other contraceptives have become a blazing hot issue for pharmacists across America.  Many are taking a moral stand and refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control devices and drugs. 

Women in 12 states have reported encountering pharmacists who refuse to fill their prescription.  It‘s become so hot an issue that the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, issued an emergency decree that forces pharmacies to accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives. 

Joining me now from Illinois is Sheila Nix, senior adviser to the governor on this issue. 

Sheila, something like 45 states have these conscience clauses that exempt doctors from performing abortions on moral grounds. 



BUCHANAN:  Why can‘t pharmacists ask clients, look, I don‘t believe in that.  Go to another store to fill that particular prescription.  What is the matter with a pharmacist acting on his deep religious and moral beliefs in what he sells to customers? 

NIX:  Actually, our proposed new rule applies to pharmacies and not pharmacists.  So, if a woman goes to a pharmacy with a valid prescription for birth control from her doctor, the pharmacy has an obligation to fill it without delay.  So, the rules all apply to pharmacies, not to individual pharmacists.  And those are actually retail pharmacies, that class of pharmacies. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Well, suppose it‘s a one-man operation, basically.  He doesn‘t want to stock those kind of things. 

NIX:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  Just like—example—let me give you an example of some of the stores, veterinarians, these stores that don‘t stock meat or anything like that.  And they do it out of their deep beliefs.  What is wrong with that? 

NIX:  The rule as it applies to the pharmacies says, if you are in the business of carrying contraception, you have to fill the prescriptions without delay. 

However, if you are an individual pharmacist with your own store and you choose not to carry contraceptives at all, then this rule would not apply to them. 

BUCHANAN:  So, if you have a pharmacy and you carry it and the fellow running the pharmacy says it violates my moral beliefs, he can not carry any of it if he wants, but if he carries it, he has got to have somebody sell it? 

NIX:  Right.  Right. 

If you are in the business of providing those prescriptions, then you have to sell it.  If you choose for moral reasons not to be in that business or not to sell those products, then our law wouldn‘t affect you.  So, it applies to retail pharmacies that advertise and show themselves to be in the business of filling prescriptions for women and others. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Sheila Nix, thanks very much for joining me tonight. 

NIX:  No problem.  Thank you. 

BUCHANAN:  Joining us now is Dr. Martha Burk, the chair of the National Council of Women‘s Organizations, and Illinois State Representative Ron Stephens. 

Martha, why don‘t pharmacists have the right to conscientiously object to fill a prescription of selling something that goes against their beliefs? 

MARTHA BURK, CHAIR, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN‘S ORGANIZATIONS:  They just need to get into a different line of work.  Where does this end? 

Let‘s say a guy, let‘s say a guy like Pat comes in and he wants Viagra, and the pharmacist doesn‘t think a guy Pat‘s age ought to be having any sex.  Maybe he thinks he is too old to father a child or sex is only for fathering a child.  Where does it end?  You know, we all pay a price.

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me give you an example.

BURK:  We all pay a price for our beliefs, but they need to find another line of work.

BUCHANAN:  Well, let me suggest this.  A devout Christian, he‘s running a motel.  And he and his wife, and they go to church every day.  And a couple comes in, and they get a room. 

He says, sure, I‘ll fix it up for you.  He says, you folks married?  And they say, no, we are not married.  And another couple comes in, and it‘s two homosexuals.  And they say, we would also like a room.  They seem to be respectful.  Does that Christian couple have a right to say, no, we are not going to condone what you do because we think it‘s immoral; so, you get out of our motel and go somewhere else? 

BURK:  Well, I think if they are going to be in the motel business, and it‘s a public accommodation...

BUCHANAN:  They have no right to follow their...

BURK:  They are bound by law to accommodate the public.  So, I think you are wrong in that case. 

Now, Pat, if I‘m a vegetarian, I don‘t go to Colonel Sanders and ask him for a job and then refuse to sell chicken. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let‘s talk to our other guest. 

Ron, do you want to come on in?  What is your point on this?  What is your take? 

RON STEPHENS ®, ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE:  Well, you know, I don‘t think we need people in administrative positions, like the governor of Illinois, making decisions about what—how I want to practice my religious beliefs.

And the governor‘s position on this, isn‘t it kind of ridiculous to say that, well, the pharmacists, we are not telling them what to do; we‘re just telling the pharmacy?  And you have already alluded to the fact that, well, what about a one-woman or a one-man shop? 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  All right, hold it. 


STEPHENS:  The point is...

BURK:  Can I...

STEPHENS:  The only people who fill prescriptions are pharmacists. 

And, please...

BUCHANAN:  All right, but, Ron, let me ask you her—she had a good point, that she said, if you decide you don‘t want to carry any of this, based on your religious convictions, fine; you don‘t have to.

But if you do carry it and it‘s in your store, then you have got—and you are advertising things, then you have got to sell it.  I don‘t understand why a religious person, if this violated his deepest beliefs, would even have this in his store. 

STEPHENS:  Well, let‘s be practical, Pat.  First of all, most pharmacists work in stores that are owned by larger corporations, in Illinois, Walgreens, CVS, places like that. 

An individual pharmacist should never be told by the governor of his or her state that:  I don‘t care what your beliefs are.  If you work in that store, owned by someone else, someone asked you to break your moral beliefs, you have to do it.  That‘s ridiculous.  That‘s not the purpose of government. 

BUCHANAN:  I think it is, too.

BURK:  Well, now, Pat, suppose I work in a bar around here, around the corner, and the boss comes and tells me I need to pour drinks, and I say, no, I don‘t think people ought to drink.  You know what that boss would say to me?  He would say, go find a job somewhere else.  Our business is pouring drinks. 

Their business is filling lawfully prescribed medication. 


BURK:  It is filling lawfully prescribed medication. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, but everybody that goes into pharmaceutical work does not do it to sell condoms or after—or pills that are abortifacients. 

BURK:  But, now, I know you, Pat, and I know your politics, and you would be the last person to say an employer doesn‘t have the right to require certain things of his or her employees. 

BUCHANAN:  I would agree with that.  But the state doesn‘t. 

More of this debate when we come back.


BUCHANAN:  Got something to say about tonight‘s show?  Send an e-mail to Joe at MSNBC.com.  We‘ll be right back.


BUCHANAN:  Martha Burk, Ron Stephens, welcome back. 

Ron, let me go to you. 

What is the impact of the judge‘s ruling here—or, excuse me, the governor‘s ruling? 

STEPHENS:  Well, right now, the governor‘s ruling is in place.  It

will be challenged.  It‘s going to be challenged by the Joint Committee on

·         of Administrative Rule here in the legislature. 

It also is—as I understand it, at least three lawsuits filed.  Right now, what we are asking is that the governor reconsider this whole thing.  The fact of the matter is that his order is technically flawed, first of all.  I will just give you one example. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I don‘t think we can get example—go ahead. 


BUCHANAN:  I‘m afraid we must...


STEPHENS:  A pharmacy must dispense.  Well, pharmacies don‘t dispense. 

It‘s pharmacists.  This law—this ruling is about pharmacists.  And they keep ignoring that.  They want to just say, well, it‘s just the pharmacy.  But it‘s not.  These are men and women with moral convictions.  They have right of conscience.  And we have already addressed this in the legislature.  We have a Health Care Right of Consciousness Act—Right of Conscience Act.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

STEPHENS:  And we think that the legislature has spoken on it.

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

STEPHENS:  It‘s clear.  You can‘t have the governor of the state just telling me what my moral decisions are. 


Martha Burk, and don‘t give me the Hootie treatment. 


BURK:  Pharmacies are licensed by the state to provide legally prescribed medical care.  That‘s what they ought to be doing. 


BUCHANAN:  ... Pat Buchanan to Martha, look, why would you force someone to act against their religious beliefs, when somebody can go right down the street or go to somebody else?  Forcing people to do this...

BURK:  Pat, first of all, in a lot of little towns, they can‘t go right down the street.  But, secondly, we all have to pay a price for our moral beliefs.  And they can get another job. 

BURK:  And the price is freedom. 

Thank you, Martha Burk and Ron Stephens.

That‘s all for now.  I‘m Pat Buchanan.  Good night. 


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