Terri Schiavo - Terri's Law and Other Government Delays

Terri's Law and Other Government Delays

On October 15, 2003, Schiavo's feeding tube was removed. Within a week, when the Schindlers' final appeal was exhausted, State Rep. Frank Attkisson and the Florida Legislature hastily passed "Terri's Law," giving Governor Jeb Bush the authority to intervene in the case. Governor Bush immediately ordered the feeding tube reinserted. Governor Bush sent the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to remove Schiavo from the hospice. She was taken to Morton Plant Rehabilitation Hospital in Clearwater, where her feeding tube was surgically reinserted. She was then returned to the hospice. Part of the legislation required the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), Dr. Jay Wolfson, to "deduce and represent the best wishes and best interests" of Schiavo, and report them to Governor Bush. Wolfson's report did not change Michael's role as her legal guardian and did not otherwise obstruct him legally.

Michael Schiavo opposed the Governor's intervention in Schiavo's case, and was represented, in part, by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). At the same time, Robert and Mary Schindler, her parents, attempted to intervene and participate in the "Terri's Law" case but were denied by Judge W. Douglas Baird, a Circuit Judge in the Florida Sixth Circuit, the same circuit as for Judge George W. Greer. They appealed, and, on February 13, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal (Second District Court of Appeals) reversed Baird's ruling, allowing them to participate. On March 17, Baird denied the Schindlers the right to intervene a second time, and the Schindlers, represented by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), appealed the right to participate in the "Terri's Law" case, with the court scheduling an oral argument date for June 14. The Schindlers' other attorney, Pat Anderson, was concurrently challenging Michael Schiavo's right to be her guardian, and, on June 16, she made a petition for writ of Quo Warranto.

On May 5, 2004, Baird found "Terri's Law" unconstitutional, and struck it down. Bush appealed this order to the Second District Court of Appeals, but, on May 12, they issued an "Order Relinquishing Case for Entry of Final Judgment and Order to Show Cause Why this Proceeding Should Not be Certified to the Supreme Court As Requiring Immediate Resolution." The Second District Court of Appeals, in sending it directly to the Florida's Supreme Court, invoked "pass through" jurisdiction.

The Florida Supreme Court then overturned the law as unconstitutional.

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