Terri Schiavo’s Parents Appeal Decision Denying Standing in Key Lawsuit
by Steven Ertelt
July 9, 2004
Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com) — The parents of Terri Schiavo have filed an appeal of a local judge’s decision denying them standing to participate in the lawsuit filed by Terri’s estranged husband Michael against Terri’s Law. That’s the measure that allowed Florida Governor Jeb Bush to prevent Michael from ending Terri’s life by removing the feeding tube helping her stay alive.
Although Terri’s parents can file an amicus brief for the court to consider, Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird prevented them from becoming a party in the lawsuit to help Bush’s attorneys defend it in court.
Baird said Bob and Mary Schindler did not demonstrate enough interest that they stand to lose anything as a result of the decision in the lawsuit, despite the law directly affecting whether Terri lives or dies.
Jay Sekulow, lead attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life law firm that is aiding the Schindler in the case, says his group has asked a Florida appeal court to review Baird’s decision.
"To deny the parents of Terri Schiavo an opportunity to be directly involved in defending the state law that is keeping her alive is not only wrong, but contrary to Florida law," Sekulow explained.
"The Schindlers have a constitutional due process right to be heard in these proceedings," the ACLJ motion reads.
On June 30, a three judge panel upheld another lower court decision preventing the Schindlers from joining the lawsuit. Sekulow’s firm filed a motion asking for the entire 12-judge appeals court to review the matter.
The motion asks the court to issue a written decision, something it did not do in June, if it decides to refuse the Schindlers’ request.
A written opinion will "provide a legitimate basis for the Schindlers to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court," if necessary, Sekulow’s motion states. The ACLJ contends that a written opinion denying intervention "would directly conflict" with Florida case law and "would provide a basis for discretionary review by the Florida Supreme Court."
George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is Michael’s attorney, filed the lawsuit to overturn Terri’s Law, passed by the state legislature last October to grant Governor Bush the ability to direct doctors to reinsert Terri’s feeding tube.
Michael wants to end Terri’s life and, without the gastric tube, Terri had only days to live.
Felos claimed the law is unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers by granting authority to Governor Bush that trumped the power of the courts.
Attorneys for Governor Bush filed their brief in the case earlier this week. Bush’s attorneys dispute Felos’ argument.
"Florida’s legislative, executive and judicial branches play co-equal roles in protecting the lives and health care choices of persons who, by disability, are especially vulnerable to the consequences of abuse, exploitation or mistake," the brief argues.
"The circuit court erred in ignoring this co-equal role and entering summary judgment declaring the Act unconstitutional without permitting the Governor discovery or a jury trial to determine disputed material facts," attorneys for Bush wrote.