- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

Conservatives inside and outside Congress are vowing a showdown with the federal judiciary over the Terri Schiavo case, as Republicans say courts at all levels have flouted congressional subpoenas and legislative intent that her feeding tube be reinserted pending a final decision in the case.

“They have defied federal law. And this confrontation now is the confrontation between the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, the will of the people and the judicial branch of government,” said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican. “Constitutional authority will either be imposed upon the judicial branch of government, or we might as well board up the Capitol and turn this country over to the whims of the judges.”

Mr. King said he is planning a legislative strategy that will involve offering amendments to appropriations bills designed to “put the courts back in their appropriate constitutional place,” but said it is too early to say exactly what he will pursue.

Members say state courts erred by ignoring a congressional subpoena and a request for attendance issued last week calling on the brain-damaged Mrs. Schiavo to appear before House and Senate committees.

Lawmakers also say the court ignored the bill Congress passed and President Bush signed into law Monday that, congressional leaders say, expressed “clear intent” that Mrs. Schiavo’s feeding tube be reinserted pending a final disposition of the federal case.

Members are likely to find support among key House Republicans. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, and Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, have expressed disappointment with the courts’ refusal to follow Congress’ wishes.

“When this tragic episode is resolved, the Supreme Court will have some serious questions to answer about its silence and arbitrary interpretation of federalism, but those questions will have to wait for now,” Mr. DeLay said last week after the court refused Mrs. Schiavo’s parents’ request to reinsert the tube.

Outside interest groups also see a confrontation coming.

“I think this is going to set the stage for an eventual showdown between the branches of government,” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council. “This tragic event just brings it to a climax.”

Democrats said Republicans appear to be trying to change the rules because they didn’t get the outcome they sought.

“They wanted to move this into the courts; now they’re not satisfied with how the courts have decided,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

Polls show the public overwhelmingly opposes congressional intervention in Mrs. Schiavo’s case, but several congressional offices said calls have been either split or mostly positive with respect to Congress’ move. One Senate office said the ratio was 4-to-1 in favor of last weekend’s action to pass the law.

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