Terri Schiavo’s Law Struck Down by Florida Supreme Court

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo’s Law Struck Down by Florida Supreme Court Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 23, 2004

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The Florida Supreme Court struck down Terri’s Law on Thursday, leaving the life of the disabled woman in jeopardy.

The state’s high court unanimously ruled that the law violated the separation of powers clause in the state constitution and essentially allowed the state legislature to authorize Governor Jeb Bush to overturn a lower court decision ending Terri’s life.

"It is without question an invasion of the authority of the judicial branch for the Legislature to pass a law that allows the executive branch to interfere with the final judicial determination in a case,” Chief Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the court.

If allowed to stand, according to the court, Terri’s Law would say that no legal judgment would ever be final and "vested rights could be stripped away based on popular clamor."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler in their battle to save her life, was disappointed by the ruling.

"The decision is very troubling and extremely disappointing," said Jay Sekulow, lead counsel for the pro-life law firm.

"The Florida Supreme Court has in effect issued a death sentence for Terri Schiavo – a flawed decision that ignores the constitutional authority given to the Governor and to the legislature in crafting and enacting this law," Sekulow explained.

Sekulow said his firm was "examining all remedies available to ensure that Terri’s life is not ended."

There was no word on whether attorneys for Governor Bush would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, the Florida Supreme Court left open the possibility that the case could be retried.

Earlier this month, Ken Conner, Bush’s lead attorney and former president of the Family Research Council, says the Florida governor would "explore all the options that are available to him."

"If the Florida Supreme Court construes it in such a way as to deprive the governor of his constitutionally protected rights of federal due process, then I expect the governor will consider seeking relief from the United States Supreme Court," Conner said.

But, attorneys for Michael say the ruling can’t be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court because it involves matters of state law.
Attorneys for Bush, however, could form their basis for an appeal on violation of federal due process rights — for both Terri and Governor Bush in defending the law.

After Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael won a lower court ruling allowing him to take her life by withholding her food and water, the state legislature passed Terri’s Law. Under the law, Bush could prevent Terri from undergoing the painful starvation death.

The main portion of the legal battle surrounding Terri began six years ago when Michael first requested permission to end her life via euthanasia by removing her feeding tube.

In the ensuing legal battle between Michael, who is engaged to and living with another woman, and Terri’s parents, the U.S. Supreme Court previously refused to take the case

Related web sites:
Florida Supreme Court Opinion –
Terri Schiavo’s parents – https://www.terrisfight.org
ACLJ – https://www.aclj.org