This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," March 31, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Joining us from Pinellas Park, Florida, is the Schindler family attorney, David Gibbs. Welcome, David.
DAVID GIBBS, SCHINDLER FAMILY ATTORNEY: Greta, delighted to be with you tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: David, six times this went to the Supreme Court. That means 54 votes, and not once did the Supreme Court even give you a vote, let alone give you a win. How come?
GIBBS: Well, obviously, they were convinced that the decision of the Florida trial court in 2000, when he issued the original death order for Terri, that it was not going to be reversed by the state courts, it was not going to be reversed by the federal courts. And we had hoped that the Supreme Court would step in, but they declined to do so. And so the original trial judge in 2000, the judge that never saw Terri, the judge that never appointed a lawyer for Terri, his decision held firm, and Terri Schiavo’s life tragically ended today.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you critical of the United States Supreme Court for not doing anything?
GIBBS: Well, Greta, the United States Supreme Court is a discretionary court, and they don’t have to take cases. And generally, they tend to decline cases that impact just one person. But certainly, if we look at the federal courts, Congress passed a special law, and the federal courts were asked to do a trial de novo on Terri’s wishes and what she would have wanted. But unfortunately, the federal courts chose to ignore what Congress wanted and proceeded to just say, We are satisfied with what happened in the state courts, and so they left the death sentence, the starvation of Terri Schiavo in place.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know what’s sort of interesting about the federal litigation about which you speak, you got only one vote, and that was actually from a President Clinton appointment. And the vote that went so harshly against you was a President Bush 41 appointee.
GIBBS: Yes. I think this issue transcends politics and really goes to some core constitutional issues. But Greta, we felt that we were in court arguing for justice. Terri Schiavo was an innocent disabled woman. We couldn’t figure out why Michael Schiavo wouldn’t get on with his life and just let these parents that loved her so much take care of her. Unfortunately, in America, we don’t have justice, we just have a system of justice. And tragically, the system prevailed. But in our opinion, the true justice, saving Terri Schiavo’s life, was not accomplished.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything more Governor Jeb Bush could do? Because, I mean, I’ve been following this case for a long time, and it seems Governor Bush was looking on every single legal page, everything he could do to try to help. Is there anything else he could have done?
GIBBS: Well, I think a lot of people are going to look back and they’re going to say, what could Congress have done differently? What could the courts have done differently? What could elected officials have done differently? But I think Governor Bush and a number of other respected leaders in the Florida house and senate, they said, we believe in Terri Schiavo. We believe she should live. And I believe they put forward their best efforts. I know the legal team; we worked around the clock to exhaust all state appeals and all federal appeals. I know Bob and Mary Schindler and their family did everything they could.
And I think right now, we need to collectively say everybody did their very best to save Terri. But at this point, we have to accept it as God’s sovereign will that, indeed, Terri has stepped into eternity. And now, Greta, the real question is, What will be her legacy? How will she impact the law in the future? God had a purpose in all of this, and we believe Terri, indeed, has now set a standard and a direction where some things could be changed for other people to never face this same fate of death by dehydration and starvation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, David. Thank you very much for joining us.
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