Frist Acknowledged Schiavo Bill Gave Courts Discretion

There has been a lot of carping by the right-wing that the federal courts, by not granting a stay of the state court order to remove Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, ignored the clear intent of Congress. For example, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) issued this statement yesterday:

Mrs. Schiavo will not receive a new and full review of her case as the legislation required. We strongly believe that the court erred in reaching its conclusion and that once again they have chosen to ignore the clear intent of Congress.

Actually, Congress clearly intended that the federal court would have the discretion to grant or deny the stay that Terri Schiavo’s parents requested. This is true even in the case the legislation’s biggest proponents, like Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). Check out this exchange between Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Frist:

Mr. LEVIN: The absence of any state[d] provision in the new bill simply means that Congress relies on current law. Under current law, a judge may decide whether or not a stay is appropriate.

Does the majority leader share my understanding of the bill?

Mr. FRIST. I share the understanding of the Senator from Michigan, as does the junior Senator from Florida who is the chief sponsor of this bill. Nothing in the current bill or its legislative history mandates a stay.