Supreme Court Will Decide This Week on Accepting Terri Schiavo Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 17, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Will Decide This Week on Accepting Terri Schiavo Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 17, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court will decide this week whether or not to accept an appeal of a lawsuit designed to overturn a Florida law passed to save Terri Schiavo’s life. The high court’s decision could determine whether the disabled woman lives or dies.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush is appealing the decision by the Florida Supreme Court striking down Terri’s Law, a measure passed by the state legislature allowing Governor Bush to prevent doctors from starving Terri to death.

While no one knows whether the Supreme Court will take the case, some legal scholars say it won’t.

Bruce Winick, of the University of Miami School of Law, told the Associated Press he thinks the Supreme Court will decide on Friday not to take the case because it has to do with the Florida constitution.

"The Florida Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what the Florida Constitution means and they have spoken," Winick said.

At issue is the contention by Terri’s estranged husband Michael that the law violated the separation of powers clause of the state constitution by improperly allowing Bush to intervene in the lawsuit and restore the feeding tube.

Though courts agreed with Michael’s claim, attorneys for Governor Bush said the refusal to allow oral hearings on the dispute violated Governor Bush’s due process rights.

Bush’s attorneys were hoping to gather evidence showing that Terri, a Catholic, would never have wanted to be denied food and water and starved to death in a painful week-long process.

Bush attorney Ken Connor, former head of the Family Research Council and a pro-life advocate, says the Supreme Court’s decision on whether to get involved in the case could have a huge nationwide impact.

Connor told the Tampa Bay Tribune newspaper that the Supreme Court’s decision could affect other people with "profound cognitive disabilities" like Terri.

In April 2001 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a separate legal battle seeking to stop Terri’s death because she did not have an independent guardian representing her.

If the Supreme Court refuses to take the case, little is left to stop Michael from removing the feeding tube a third, and perhaps final, time.

Terri’s parents are pursuing efforts to remove Michael as Terri’s legal guardian and say that killing Terri would violate her religious liberties, but Florida courts have not been sympathetic.

Barbara Weller, one of the attorneys for Bob and Mary Schindler, admitted to the Associated Press that the odds are not in Terri’s favor, but all involved are not ready to give up hope.

"It’s a long shot,” Weller said. "If we get a miracle from God, we’ll win, and that’s what we’re all praying for.”

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Terri Schiavo’s parents –