The Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of the Schindlers to get food and water restored to Terri Schiavo:
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to order Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted, rejecting a desperate appeal by her parents to keep their severely brain-damaged daughter alive.
The decision, announced in a terse one-page order, marked the end of a dramatic and disheartening four-day dash through the federal court system by Bob and Mary Schindler.
Justices did not explain their decision, which was at least the fifth time they have declined to get involved in the Schiavo case.
I’m not surprised by this action. I always felt that the only hope Terri had of getting relief was at the district court level. Once Judge Whittemore ignored Congress’ express desire for a de novo retrial, I knew the effort was doomed.
I’ll post more later. I hear that Jeb Bush wants to take physical custody of Terri, a move for which I have serious misgivings, but I don’t really have any reasoned arguments for it yet. I need more time to absorb this.
UPDATE: Judge George Greer quashed Bush’s motion for a custody transfer this afternoon:
A state judge refused Thursday to hear Gov. Jeb Bush’s arguments to take custody of Terri Schiavo, leaving the brain-damaged woman’s parents with only the slimmest hopes in their fight to keep her alive.
Bush’s request cited new allegations of neglect and challenges the diagnoses that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, but Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer wasn’t convinced.
Not much surprise there, either, since Greer has been the only finder of fact throughout this entire case. However, I doubt that any other Florida court would have granted this particular motion, certainly not as injunctive relief. Before taking custody of a disabled person under any conditions, the state would have to show a high threshold of proof that state confiscation of a person and the termination of custody rights were warranted. That means a trial, not just a hearing; otherwise, it’s a violation of habeas corpus, strictly speaking. Any lower threshold would enable the state (especially the executive) far too much leeway to confine people while the defendants suffered under the burden of proof.
I think this has been part of my misgiving about Jeb Bush’s notion of protective custody from the beginning, but also I think I have a deeply-rooted fear of an overpowerful executive regardless. The courts have appellate courts above them, although certainly in this case they’ve mostly taken the cowardly way out and refused to look at the facts as well as the procedures. Legislatures answer directly to voters and in most cases could face recalls if they abuse their power. The same might be true of executives, but notwithstanding California’s example, such a choke on power has proven exceedingly difficult to engineer. The executives have the agencies of law enforcement under their command, with their near-monopoly on legal lethal force. An out-of-control executive is a far greater danger than any of the other branches in the long run.
I’m still conflicted on it. However, practically speaking, it won’t happen anyway. We’ve sentenced a woman to die in a manner which we wouldn’t dream of ordering for a dangerous animal or a convicted terrorist, and now we have to watch as the people who supposedly should be protecting her force her to die horribly. I’m praying for Terri and the Schindlers, but I think that’s all that’s left.