U.S. Supreme Court Rejects "Terri's Law" Appeal
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 24, 2005
WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge by Florida Governor Jeb Bush regarding the constitutionality of the law that kept Terri Schiavo alive for over a year.
The move is seen as a setback for Terri's family which has been fighting to keep their daughter alive for several years while her husband has been trying to have her dehydrate and starve to death.
"It's judicial homicide. They want to murder her," Terri's father, Robert Schindler, said after the court's announcement, according to the Associated Press.
"I have no idea what the next step will be. We're going to fight for her as much as we can fight for her. She deserves a chance."
Bush took the case to the nation's highest court last month hoping it would decide whether the Florida Supreme Court violated Terri's federal rights by overturning "Terri's Law" earlier in the fall. Bush had pushed the Legislature to pass the law to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted on October 21, 2003 just six days after it had been removed under a separate court order. He championed the passage of the law after he and Florida lawmakers received tens of thousands of messages from right-to-life groups and disability rights advocates.
Terri's husband and guardian, Michael, immediately sued the governor claiming he violated Terri's privacy and overstepped his legal authority in signing the law. The Florida Supreme Court later sided with Mr. Schiavo on the constitutionality of the law ruling that it violated Florida's Constitution by giving the governor and Legislature illegal power over the judicial system.
After hearing the court's decision Monday, Bush said: "I will do whatever I can do within the powers that have been granted to me by law and by statute . . . I'm not going to do more than that."
Terri's parents currently have two court actions pending in Florida courts. A local judge has said that Terri's feeding tube would not be removed until all appeals are exhausted.
"While there are still legal options available in Florida, the Supreme Court's refusal to take the case makes it more difficult for those legal options to prevail," said Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel who represented the Schindlers at the Supreme Court.
Disability rights groups have been closely following Terri's situation for years. She collapsed from a heart attack in February 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. She breathes on her own, but because she cannot swallow, she receives food and water through the tube installed through the wall of her stomach.
In February 2000, Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George Greer agreed with Mr. Schiavo and several doctors that Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state" -- that her brain is damaged the point where she cannot interact with her environment, does not feel pain, and will not recover -- and that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means". Greer allowed Terri's feeding tube to be removed on October 15, 2003. It was reinstalled under "Terri's Law" six days later.
Terri's parents claim that she responds to them, smiles, follows movements with her eyes, and has even tried to stand up. They want Mr. Schiavo removed as her guardian, saying that he has a number of conflicts of interest regarding Terri's welfare, including the fact that he is engaged to another woman with whom he has fathered two children.
The Schindlers also contend that Terri, a Roman Catholic, would not want to violate a recent pronouncement by Pope John Paul II condemning the removal of feeding tubes.
"The reality is that in Florida, convicted capital felons receive more due process protection than Terri Schiavo has received in this case," said Ken Connor, an attorney who represented Bush at the high court.
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)