[JURIST] New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank R. Lautenberg took House Republican leader Tom DeLay to task Friday for making anti-judicial remarks in the aftermath of Terri Schiavo's death that appeared to threaten some kind of recrimination. Clearly angered by the event and by the inaction of what he called in a news conference "an arrogant, out of control, unaccountable judiciary", Delay had released a statement [official text] that read, in part:
Mrs. Schiavo’s death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today.
The US Supreme Court, a federal appeals court and a federal district court had all refused to intervene in the Schiavo case even after Congress had passed special legislation giving federal courts jurisdiction to review the case de novo. In his letter to DeLay, Lautenberg took exception
to the comments and suggested that the Majority Leader might have broken the law by threatening federal judges, raising a sensitive issue only a few weeks after a federal judge's relatives were murdered in Chicago and a Georgia state judge was shot in an Atlanta courthouse.