Thursday, March 31, 2005 Posted: 3:06 AM EST (0806 GMT)
The Schindlers’ appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on Wednesday night.
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The U.S. Supreme Court again refuses to hear parents’ appeal.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) — The lead attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler says they apparently have exhausted their «last meaningful legal appeal» in their desperate battle to have their brain-damaged daughter’s feeding tube reinserted.
The U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday refused once again to hear an emergency appeal from the Schindlers, who are the parents of Terri Schiavo.
Their attorney, David Gibbs, received word of the high court’s rejection during a news conference outside the Pinellas Park, Florida, hospice where Schiavo is receiving care.
«It appears that that will be the last meaningful legal appeal unless something comes up, Gibbs said. «Fundamentally, the decision of the Florida courts will remain unchanged and the federal courts have declined to get involved.»
Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer in Clearwater, Florida, ordered the feeding tube removed March 18 at the request of Terri Schiavo’s husband, Michael, who says his wife wouldn’t have wanted to live in her condition — what Florida courts have deemed a «persistent vegetative state.»
The parents feel otherwise and have sought to take guardianship of their daughter from her husband. Their bitter series of court battles began in 1998.
«I don’t understand why Michael Schiavo at some point didn’t walk away,» Gibbs said.
«We were obviously hopeful … it looks like Terri will be with us through the night and through tomorrow,» the attorney said. Her fate is in the hands of God, he said. «We just continue to pray for her.»
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and could have ruled on the petition on his own, referred the appeal to the entire Supreme Court at 10:40 p.m. Wednesday.
There was no breakdown of the vote, and the high court issued no explanation for its decision. The petition had been filed earlier in the night.
It was the second time in a week the high court had refused to hear the case, and the sixth time since 2001.
The Schindlers «can know they have done everything possible under the law in letting government know that they wanted to fight for the life of their daughter,» Gibbs said.
In his Supreme Court filing, Gibbs and other lawyers for the parents wrote that removing the tube represented «an unconstitutional deprivation of Terri Schiavo’s constitutional right to life.»
The Supreme Court’s rejection came hours after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, rejected the parents’ petition 9-2. That court denied three similar requests from the parents last week.
In a concurring opinion of the Atlanta court’s latest ruling, Judge Stanley Birch said Congress «chose to overstep constitutional boundaries» by passing a law to force the Schiavo case into federal courts.
Judges Gerald Tjoflat and Charles Wilson dissented, with Tjoflat writing that the Schindlers deserved a hearing on the merits of their argument.
On March 21, three days after Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed, Congress passed a bill transferring jurisdiction of the case from Florida state court to a U.S. District Court, for a federal judge to review. President Bush signed it into law the next day. But federal courts refused to overturn the state courts’ decision.
Jesse Jackson, Jeb Bush meet
Earlier Wednesday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson met in Tallahassee with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and state Senate President Tom Lee to discuss the Schiavo case.
Last week, the Florida House, by a 78-37 vote, passed a bill meant to keep Schiavo alive. The measure would have prevented doctors from removing a feeding tube from patients who had not expressed their wishes in writing.
The measure failed in the Senate 21-18.
Lee said there was no sign that any of the 21 senators who voted against that bill were willing to reconsider.
«It seems at every turn that these legal doors are being closed,» Jackson told reporters after returning to Pinellas Park, where Schiavo lay in a hospice.
The civil rights leader visited the hospice on Tuesday but was not permitted to see Schiavo. He said the Schindlers had invited him.
Father: Schiavo looks ‘darn good’
Bob Schindler visited his daughter at the hospice Wednesday, telling reporters she looked «darn good,» despite nearly two weeks without her feeding tube.
«I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and encouraged that she’s still fighting,» Schindler said. «We’re still going to fight for her to save her, and it’s not too late.»
Brother Paul O’Donnell, a family spokesman, told reporters that though Schindler was trying to keep his spirits up for the sake of his family, «he feels helpless. And, like any loving father, he’s been moved to tears many times today.»
Police stepped up security around the hospice Wednesday afternoon. In response to multiple threats, officers inspected incoming cars and required drivers to open their trunks, said Capt. Stanfield Forseth, a Pinellas Park police spokesman. He disclosed no specifics.
Numerous protesters have surrounded the hospice, demanding that some authority take action to save her life. Nearly 50 have been arrested in attempts to enter the facility to bring Schiavo water.
Terri Schiavo collapsed in her home in 1990, suffering from heart failure that led to severe brain damage because of lack of oxygen.
Her husband has said she suffered from bulimia, an eating disorder, that resulted in a potassium deficiency that triggered the heart failure.
CNN’s Ninette Sosa, Bob Franken, Rich Phillips and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
Thursday, March 31, 2005 Posted: 3:06 AM EST (0806 GMT)