After striking out three times in lower federal court decisons, Terri Schiavo’s parents made a desperation, long-shot appeal to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking justices to order resumption of nourishment for their severely brain-damaged daughter.
In the emergency filing, Bob and Mary Schindler say their 41-year-old daughter faces an unjust and imminent death based on a decision by her husband to remove a feeding tube without strong proof of her consent. They claim constitutional violations of due process and religious freedom.
The filing also argues Congress intended for Schiavo’s tube to be reinserted, at least temporarily, when it passed an extraordinary bill last weekend that gave federal courts authority to fully review her case.
Time is of the essence. Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed last Friday and doctors have said she likely would die within a week or two at a hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla.
The filing is seen as a long shot. The Supreme Court has declined other opportunities to get involved in the Schiavo case and legal experts say there is little reason to believe justices will intervene this time.
The Schindlers’ request goes first to Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who has staked a moderate position on social issues. He has the option to act on the petition alone or refer it to the entire court, which he did on the last emergency request involving Schiavo.
There was no immediate word when the Supreme Court might act on the petition.
The appeal came after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled the parents “failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims” that their daughter’s feeding tube should be reinserted immediately.
President Bush suggested Wednesday that it was up to the federal courts to prolong Schiavo’s life, saying he and Congress could do nothing more. The House Government Reform Committee, meanwhile, canceled a hearing for Friday that it had scheduled last week as a tactic to stop Schiavo’s tube from being removed.
Republican leaders refused to give up entirely. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he and other Republicans would file a legal brief when the Schiavo case reached the Supreme Court aimed at restoring her nourishment.