Thursday, March 24, 2005

Last Chance - UPDATED

2:14 PM State Judge Rules Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida's Social Services Agency Cannot Take Custody of Terri Schiavo.

Terri Schiavo's only chance now lies with Governor Bush.

Terri Schiavo's chances took what may be a final blow today.

The Supreme Court today turned down a request by Terri Schiavo's parents for an emergency order to restore the Florida woman's feeding tube.

In a one-sentence notice, the court said the matter had been presented to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and referred by him to the full court. But it offered no explanation as to why it was denied. The justices seldom elaborate when they turn down cases decided by lower courts.

There is one last legal skirmish where Judge George Greer of the Circuit Court in Piniellas-Pasco County, Florida (who originally ordered the feeding tube removed) is set to rule imminently on a move by Governor Jeb Bush to take custody of Terri Schiavo pending a review of the circumstances of the case based on the affidavit of a neurologist who believes Schiavo's impairment may be less than originally thought.

If that is denied Schiavo's last chance would be a direct intervention by Governor Bush in contravention of the judicial rulings as Bill Bennett and Brian Kennedy argue at the NRO today:

The "auxiliary precautions" of Florida government — in this case the Florida supreme court — have failed Terri Schiavo. It is time, therefore, for Governor Bush to execute the law and protect her rights, and, in turn, he should take responsibility for his actions. Using the state police powers, Governor Bush can order the feeding tube reinserted. His defense will be that he and a majority of the Florida legislature believe the Florida Constitution requires nothing less. Some will argue that Governor Bush will be violating the law. We think he will not be violating the law, but if he is judged to have done so, it will be in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., who answered to a higher law than a judge's opinion. In so doing, King showed respect for the man-made law by willingly going to jail (on a Good Friday); Governor Bush may have to face impeachment because of his decision.

In taking these extraordinary steps to save an innocent life, Governor Bush should be judged not by the opinion of the Florida supreme court, a co-equal branch of the Florida government, but by the opinions of his political superiors, the people of Florida. If they disagree with their governor, they are indeed free to act through their elected representatives and impeach him. Or they can vindicate him if they think he is right. But he should not be cowed into inaction — he should not allow an innocent woman to be starved to death — because of an opinion of a court he believes to be wrong and unconstitutional.

Governor Jeb Bush may find it difficult to protect Terri's rights without risking impeachment. But in the great American experiment in republican government, much is demanded of those who are charged with protecting the rights of the people. Governor Bush pledged to uphold the Florida constitution as he understands it, not as it is understood by some Florida judges. He is the rightful representative of the people of Florida and he is the chief executive, in whom the power is vested to execute the law and protect the rights of citizens. He should use that power to protect Terri's natural right to live, and he should do so now.

We may indeed see today the character of Governor Bush. I am not sure he would take the step that Bennett and Kennedy propose but if he is anything like his brother I wouldn't bet against it.

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