The Florida Supreme Court has decided 4-3 to take on the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo and the constitutionality of the law that saved her life last October.
“Terri’s Law,” passed in emergency session of the state legislature, ordered the re-insertion of a feeding tube, the only “life support” Terri needs, after her husband Michael had ordered it removed. Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, George Felos, has praised the Supreme Court decision, saying that it will mean the appeals process will be considerably shortened.
However, Governor Jeb Bush’s attorneys have been attempting to keep the case out of the Supreme Court for the time being. Significant issues of fact have yet to be addressed in previous decisions by Judge George Greer. Greer, who has consistently upheld the wishes of Michael Schiavo against those of Terri’s parents, wanted to skirt the appellate appeals phase.
Fr. Rob Johansen, a friend of the Schindler family, has written, “What George Felos and Judge George Greer want desperately is to prevent the re-examination of Greer’s rulings of fact in the case; for example, that Terri didn’t want to go on living if she became incapacitated, or that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state.” Johansen is a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Mich. and has written about Terri for Crisis magazine. He goes on to say that the bypassing of the appeals court is not a positive development for those who would save Terri from a starvation death.
“Governor Bush and the Schindlers are seeking to reopen these matters, and in order to head them off, Felos has sought to ‘fast track’ the case to the Florida Supreme Court, where only issues of law, not of fact, would be considered.”
On June 2, the appeal court moved to put the case on the fast track and send it straight to the Florida Supreme Court, agreeing with Felos that the ruling was a matter of “great public importance (that) has a great effect upon the proper administration of justice throughout the state” and deserved “immediate attention.” Bush and his attorneys are defending the constitutionality of the law. Said a spokesman, “Make no mistake, the governor believes very, very strongly that this statute is constitutional and there are a variety of compelling state interests here. The first is the protection of innocent life.”