Republican leaders in Congress who thought they could illegally order federal judges to ignore the law and follow their wishes are pissed that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals “failed to adhere to the plain meaning” of the emergency legislation Congress passed over the weekend.

The legislation required that a new, independent evaluation of her case be made, according to papers filed for Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, Majority Leader Tom DeLay and others. They said it also required the courts to “ensure that desperately needed nutritional support” is provided to Schiavo while the review is conducted.

Legal scholars, however, say Congress doesn’t have such power and Republicans were dreaming when they thought they could order a specific action by the federal court.

“Congress does not have the authority to direct a decision by a federal court,” says Constitutional scholar John Battles. “The judicial branch of government does not answer to the legislative branch.”

Republican leaders also admit the Schiavo fight is more about them than the brain-damaged woman in Florida.

Republicans acted on what they perceive to be concerns of religious conservatives who helped the GOP win in November. DeLay, R-Texas, described the Schiavo case in a political context and said conservatives should not retreat because of attacks from the left.

“That’s not what Christ asked us to do and they understand that,” DeLay said. “It is a political maneuver and they are going to try to destroy the conservative movement and we have to fight back.” He made his remarks to the conservative Family Research Council; a recording was made available by a liberal group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.