Governor Bush Asks to Delay Hearing in Terri’s Law Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 17, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Governor Bush Asks to Delay Hearing in Terri’s Law Case

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 17, 2003

Tallahassee, FL ( — Attorneys for Governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday asked for a delay in holding a hearing on the lawsuit filed by Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael against Terri’s Law. Michael is seeking to overturn the law that allowed Bush to save Terri’s life and remove her feeding tube for a third time.

Circuit Judge Douglas Baird had scheduled a hearing on Friday regarding Michael’s request for summary judgment.

However Ken Conner, a pro-life attorney who is Bush’s lead counsel, says he needs more time for discovery to be able to adequately represent the Florida governor.

Since the lawsuit against Terri’s Law was filed, George Felos, the assisted suicide advocate who is Michael’s attorney, has said he thought Bush was dragging his feet and purposefully delaying the lawsuit from moving forward. Felos is receiving legal help from the ACLU.

Whether Baird delays the hearing or not, both Governor Bush and Terri’s family hope Baird will call for a full trial rather than issue a summary judgment decision. Conner said Bush wants to determine whether Terri would have wanted lifesaving medical treatment.

"Because Terri’s life hangs in the balance, we hope the case will receive a full and impartial hearing," Pat Anderson, attorney for Terri’s parents, added.

Last week, a Florida state appeals court declined to remove Baird from overseeing the lawsuit, though Conner said Baird would likely be biased against the law.

Conner, the former president of both the Family Research Council and Florida Right to Life, said Baird had already made up his mind about it without a hearing or trial and before Bush could present his side of the case.

Baird had previously said Terri’s Law was "presumptively unconstitutional" and that it denied Terri’s "constitutional right to privacy."

Like Governor Bush, Anderson was worried that Baird would be too biased to adjudicate the case.

"We are hopeful that Judge Baird has not prejudged the issues, even though his written order … seems to say otherwise," Anderson said.

"The implications of this case reach beyond the life and death of the young woman in this heart wrenching tragedy," Bush said in a previous statement.

"The law ensures Floridians who cannot speak for themselves will have an independent, neutral representative to advocate for their interests and wishes. If we abandon the law, we accept a dangerous precedent with the power to erode the rights of self-determination of people with disabilities.”

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s family –