U.S. Supreme Court Refuses 'Terri's Law'; Ends Florida's 'Interference' in Woman's Case

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 25, 2005 | Go to article overview

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses 'Terri's Law'; Ends Florida's 'Interference' in Woman's Case


Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Florida's role in keeping alive a woman in a persistent vegetative state ended yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reinstate a Florida law, passed with Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's backing, to keep Terri Schiavo connected to a feeding tube.

Some other legal cases brought by Mrs. Schiavo's parents still are pending, and a stay currently in place would have to be dissolved before steps could be taken "to permit starving Terri to death," said Ken Connor, a Virginia-based lawyer who represented Mr. Bush in the case.

"If this decision is allowed to stand, Terri Schiavo will die from starvation and dehydration pursuant to the equivalent of a judicial death warrant," Mr. Connor said yesterday.

George J. Felos, a Florida lawyer who represented Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and guardian who wants the feeding tube removed, said that "this effectively ends the governor's interference in this case.

"It means that the decision by the Florida Supreme Court - that this law was unconstitutional - still stands," he said.

The case now goes back to state Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer, who already has ruled that Mr. Schiavo can remove his wife's feeding tube.

"Terri's Law," the 2003 statute that the high court yesterday refused to reactivate, was enacted by the state legislature and signed by Mr. Bush nearly a week after Judge Greer ruled that Mr. Schiavo can remove his wife's feeding tube.

Feeding resumed, but a unanimous decision last fall by the Florida Supreme Court found the new law unconstitutional.

Florida's highest court said that once any court has issued a decree regarding the care and treatment of an incompetent person, neither the legislative nor the executive branch can take independent steps on behalf of that person.

Mr. Bush appealed the Florida Supreme Court ruling in December, but the Supreme Court rejected him without comment yesterday.

"The case is at an end for the governor," Mr. Connor said. "Courts have long recognized states' compelling interest in protecting the handicapped . …

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