News of the Day ... in Perspective7/18/2004
Parents file brief saying disabled daughter has right to change her mind about dying.
Having been denied to right to intervene as a party in a lawsuit to overturn “Terri’s Law,” Terri Schindler Schiavo’s parents have filed an amicus brief in Jeb Bush v. Michael Schiavo before the Florida Supreme Court. The issues raised have much broader implications than the fate of disabled patients.
The Schindlers challenge the factual premise that withdrawing food and water is simply a matter of effectuating the patient’s wishes. “No one can argue that … a person’s past expression of wishes regarding medical treatment irrevocably binds that person to the implementation of those wishes. Indeed, the Florida living will statute itself provides that even written prior wishes only establish a `rebuttable presumption’ of a person’s wishes.”
The question of Terri’s wishes under the current circumstances is a question of fact, not of law. Giving the Governor the power to intervene to stay a court order to remove a feeding tube, based on his evaluation of the facts, is not an unconstitutional delegation of power.
If it is, then a whole host of Florida statutes is likewise unconstitutional–including the Emergency Powers act.
While court rulings may indeed be final, other branches of government have the power to nullify their effects. The Governor may pardon an offender, commute a sentence, or remit a fine. A legislature may amend a statute to repudiate a court’s contrary construction of its terms.
The Supreme Court's listing of filed documents can be found on