This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 6, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: a Florida court has struck down a state law that is keeping Terri Schiavo alive. "Terri's Law" was passed just days after Terri's husband Michael had the feeding tube removed. The law allowed Governor Jeb Bush to order doctors to reconnect the feeding tube despite the objections of her husband. But tonight Florida Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird says the law is unconstitutional. Joining us from Tampa is Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos, and here in Washington, the attorney for Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ken Connor.
Ken, I suppose because you're the one who lost this, I should go first to you, what are you going to do?
KEN CONNOR, GOV. JEB BUSH'S ATTY.: Well, we filed an immediate appeal and also filed anotice of automatic stay. That's designed to preserve the status quo, to preserve Terri's life during thependency (ph) of this litigation. The governor feels very strongly this law is constitutional, that it affords anextra layer of protection for handicapped people like Terri Schiavo. And he intends to defend the law vigorously.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, why did the judge say that this law, Terri's Law, is unconstitutional?
GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTY.: Greta, this decision issued by the court is a victory individual liberty. It was issued by the judge in the highest tradition of American jurisprudence. It basically said that the power of the state, the legislature and the governor can only go so far and it can't arbitrarily intrude into the private decision-making process of a citizen. The court also said that it violated the separation of powers because it effectively overruled a state court judgment, which permitted the removal of Terri's artificial life support.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ken...
CONNOR: Greta, I think it's important to understand that this decision did not come as a surprise.Before the governor had so much as even filed a response of pleading in the case, the judge had declaredpublicly that the law was unconstitutional without even having heard any...
VAN SUSTEREN: So you expected this.
CONNOR: ... arguments from the governor.
FELOS: Greta, that's...
CONNOR: And furthermore, that the ruling was precisely as the judge had indicated before thegovernor had a chance to file. That is why the governor filed a motion to accuse.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me get George, yes, I am very careful on this topic because it's --this one is a hot potato. So many people are involved, invest in this. George, you want to respond?
FELOS: Yes. The judge did note declare this law unconstitutional before, what he did say is thatthe law might impinge upon Terri's privacy and it was up to the state to show a compelling interest to do so.And in his judgment today he said the state utterly failed to show any compelling reason why they canarbitrarily overturn an individual's privacy right.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So this one goes up for another review whether the statute isunconstitutional to the next highest court. Let me ask about your clients. Ken, did you talk to the governor after we got the decision?
CONNOR: No. The governor was traveling today. I had talked with him just yesterday or the daybefore though about this very case. The governor takes his duties very, very seriously under this case. Heunderstands the importance of protecting and respecting the decisions of handicapped people. And the legislature, of course, was not at all satisfied with the existing regime we had in Florida, and so said, if you're going to order somebody's life to be extinguished through starvation and dehydration, you're going to have to afford them an extra measure of protection such as a guardian ad litem, which Terri didn't receive the benefit of before.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me let you respond to that, George, and then I want to knowwhat your clients said when you called him.
PELOS: There have been guardian ad litems in this case. But we have...
CONNOR: Not at the time the decision was made, George.
PELOS: Let me respond, let me respond, please. You've had...
CONNOR: Well, don't misrepresent to the public...
PELOS: You've had your chance. You've had your chance. We've had six years of due processafforded this question. And in 18 hours of non-deliberation, the legislature in a knee-jerk reaction passed this bill in response to political pressure. What is going to happen now is we are going to have anadditional due deliberation in the appellate process. We don't know whether the court of appeal will be the intermediate court or directly the Florida Supreme Court. But we are confident that any court, any reasonable judge that looks at the facts of this case and the law will conclude as Judge Baird did that it's unconstitutional.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me ask you one last question, Ken. Is this going to go to the ntermediary court of appeals or can you jump to the Florida Supreme Court?
CONNOR: Well, our appeal notice has been filed with the intermediate appellate court. Ultimately this case...
VAN SUSTEREN: Couldn't you jump to the supreme court?
CONNOR: Well, we couldn't jump without the court saying so. But in the final analysis, I am confident the Florida Supreme Court is going to decide the constitutionality or not of this statute.
VAN SUSTEREN: I've got five seconds left, George, give me your best estimate of when youthink the Florida Supreme Court will finally give a date, when do you think this will finally be over in theFlorida system, it may go to the Supreme Court, but Florida system?
FELOS: If it's bypassed, I think we could see a decision by the Florida Supreme Court in a matterof months. If it's not bypassed and we go through two appellate reviews, it could be longer than that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, gentlemen, thank you both very much. Obviously a very tough topic on both sides. Thank you, both.
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