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'They Thumbed Their Nose'

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," March 30, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: Joining me now from Houston Texas is House majority leader, Tom DeLay (search), who's been a central player in the political side of the Terri Schiavo (search) drama, and who was outspoken on the case today.

Congressman, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you, Brit.

HUME: You said today that, quote, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, not today." What did you mean by that?

DELAY: Well, there's a lot of questions that need to be answered. We need to look at this case. We need to look at the failure of the judiciary in Florida. We need to look at the failure of the judiciary on the federal level. The United States Congress, with the president's signing, sent a bill — made a law that gave the federal courts jurisdiction to look at this case all anew. And they didn't even follow procedures.

The normal procedure would be to reconnect the feeding tube so that they could hear this case all anew. The Congress, the people's representatives told the judiciary to do that. We need to look at all this.

HUME: Well, to be specific about it, basically what you had — what you did is to authorize the judiciary to look at the matter afresh. Which means presumably with an evidentiary hearing, if the court chose to do that. The courts did not choose to do that.

Is it absolutely clear to you, Congressman, that this was a violation of the law you passed? Or simply the court taking jurisdiction in the matter and deciding to uphold the lower courts?

DELAY: Well, the House of Representatives has taken on judiciary activism for the last two years. I mean we passed six bills limiting their jurisdiction. We've looked at the makeup of their courts. We're taking responsibility for being the checks and balances on an overactive, out-of- control judiciary.

And in this particular case, the judiciary was given an opportunity, the same opportunity that death row inmates have, to have one more court look at this. And rather than to look at process, look at all the evidence anew. They chose not to do that. They thumbed their nose at the Congress and at the Executive Branch. And we need to take a hard look at that

HUME: You said, "We will be looking at arrogant, out of control judiciary that thumbed their nose," as you indicated today. What can you imagine can be done, assuming this for the sake of discussion, that you're right about the judiciary. That it was acting in a way that it is arrogant and out of control, and unaccountable. What is it that you would propose to do?

DELAY: What I would propose to do is ask the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives to take a good, hard, objective look at this, and what occurred. And then make recommendations to the House as to how to proceed

HUME: Now, talk to me about your view on this case in particular. May I take it that your view is that Terri Schiavo should have been allowed to continue to live because she was not dying? Or what?

DELAY: Terri Schiavo was a living human being, an innocent living human being. Brain damaged, yes. Incapacitated, yes. Disabled, yes. But she was a living human being. She was not being sustained on any artificial means — by any artificial means. All she was being done — all that was being done was she was fed through a tube instead of her throat.

This system as failed as it is, this system allowed her to be starved to death. I just feel that that's very barbaric in our society.

HUME: Would you have felt differently about it, and do you think as a matter of law it would have been different had her wishes in this regard been explicit and unmistakable?

DELAY: Oh, it would have been totally different

HUME: So, in other words, if she had left in writing a statement to the effect that if I ever reach the point where I'm in a vegetative state, unable to think and act on my own, that I don't wish to continue to live. Pulling the feeding tube in that instance with you would have been acceptable?

DELAY: Well, no. Then you have to define what is a vegetative state. And that's one of the problems with this case. As the judge listening to different sides, listening to activists in the euthanasia movement, doctors that are activists in the euthanasia movement, decided on his own. One person decided that she was in a vegetative state, when others refuted that. So that is the question that needs to be answered.

HUME: They refuted it or disputed it?

DELAY: They disputed it

HUME: Right, understood.

DELAY: And that's why the Congress stepped in and said OK, let's have another person take a look at it as a federal judge, and take a look at al the evidence anew. And take a lot of question and new evidence that's been presented. Even if you have a living will, you have to make those kinds of determinations when the family is fighting amongst itself over wanting to take care of this living human being.

HUME: All right. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

DELAY: Thank you.

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