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Archive for Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Florida governor challenges ruling in case of brain-damaged woman

October 5, 2004

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— Gov. Jeb Bush will ask the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider its 7-0 ruling against a law designed to keep a brain-damaged woman alive, a spokesman said Monday.

Florida's high court ruled two weeks ago that Bush and state lawmakers overstepped their authority with the year-old law ordering that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube be reinserted six days after her husband had it removed so she could die.

A circuit judge had twice granted Michael Schiavo permission to withdraw his wife's feeding tube.

Since the judge had heard evidence in the case and ruled for the husband, the law violated the fundamental doctrine of separation of powers in the Florida Constitution, the Supreme Court ruled.

Bush said in statement Monday that he respected the "role and the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court" but that he feared the Schiavo ruling could limit the ability of state lawmakers to govern.

He also said that while the doctrine of separation of powers is critical to the state's system of government it shouldn't be used to undercut the due process rights of governors or lawmakers.

Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, are still trying to find a legal reason to keep their daughter alive. Terri Schiavo, 40, remains in a Clearwater nursing home.

She suffered severe brain damage when her heart stopped beating from a chemical imbalance physicians said was brought on by an eating disorder. She left no written directive but her husband has argued she would want the feeding tube removed, a point disputed by her parents.

Some doctors have testified she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery; her parents have countered with their own medical experts who believe she might have a chance at rehabilitation.

The motion brought a swift and sharp rebuke from Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, who said that the only impropriety was the governor's delaying tactics.

"This is just a rehash of what's already been briefed and argued before this court and, in that sense, this is really an improper motion," Felos said. "I think it's hard to view this motion as anything other than an attempt to delay the proceedings."

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