On the April 10 edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume falsely claimed that "I don't think you can find a whole lot of daylight" between House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) remarks about judges involved in the Terri Schiavo case and remarks on the issue made by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Hume also misleadingly characterized DeLay's remarks, stating that "[w]hat he said was we need to look at them [judges]." In fact, DeLay has warned of retribution against judges for their rulings in the Schiavo case -- an idea both Bush and Cheney have explicitly refused to endorse.
The Associated Press reported DeLay's comments in a March 31 article following Schiavo's death:
"This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change," the Texas Republican said. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today."
Speaking with reporters later in Houston, DeLay said lawmakers "will look at an arrogant and out of control judiciary that thumbs its nose at Congress and the President."
Asked if that included the possibility of the House bringing impeachment charges against judges involved in the Schiavo case, DeLay said, "There's plenty of time to look into that."
But Cheney has made it clear that he would oppose any retaliation against judges in the Schiavo case or impeachment of judges based on individual decisions. As The Washington Post reported on April 4:
"I don't think that's appropriate," [Cheney] said. "I may disagree with decisions made by judges in any one particular case. But I don't think there would be much support for the proposition that because a judge hands down a decision we don't like, that somehow we ought to go out -- there's a reason why judges get lifetime appointments."
In addition, Bush has specifically refused to endorse DeLay's statement. The Associated Press reported on April 8: "President Bush on Friday said he supports 'an independent judiciary' and declined to endorse comments by House Majority Tom DeLay that were critical of judges. 'I believe in proper checks and balances,' Bush said."
From the April 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
HUME: The problem with the argument you're making, Juan [Williams, panelist], is this: that no one can dispute that Tom DeLay has stood athwart those he regarded as unaccountable judges for a long time. What he said was we need to look at them. I had him on Special Report the night he said that or the day after. And I said: What do you mean by that, "Look at them"? He said: Well, we'll hold a hearing.
Well, do we have so fragile a judiciary and such weak-kneed judges that if members of Congress and the Judiciary Committee, which has responsibility for oversight of the courts, holds hearings that that is somehow an attack on the independence of the judiciary? I don't think so.
And I don't think you can find a whole lot of daylight, really, between what Dick Cheney has been saying and what the president has been saying and what DeLay has been saying.