11th Circuit Grants Schiavo Review
Atlanta’s 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the Terri Schiavo case, despite having refused to do so twice in the last ten days.
In a rare legal victory for Terri Schiavo’s parents, a federal appeals court early Wednesday agreed to consider their request for a new hearing on whether to reconnect their severely brain-damaged daughter’s feeding tube. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled without comment and did not indicate when it would consider the motion. Last week, the same court twice ruled against Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who are trying to keep her alive.
But time was running out Bob Schindler described his daughter as “failing” on Tuesday, her 12th day without nourishment. “She still looks pretty darn good under the circumstances,” Schindler said. “You can see the impact of no food and water for 12 days. Her bodily functions are still working. We still have her.” Doctors have said Schiavo, 41, would probably die within a week or two of the tube being removed.
Wednesday’s ruling was a ray of hope for the Schindlers, who have lost a string of court battles over their daughter’s fate. The case has wound its way through six courts for seven years; the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene five times.
This is most bizarre. For one thing, if they were going to do this, they should have done it on the first pass, given that Terri Schiavo could well die at this point even if her feeding tube is reinsterted. Plus, if the NPR report on this is correct, they’re going to actually hear the case as a trier of fact rather than merely determining whether proper procedures were followed in the lower courts. That’s not the charge of the appelate courts.
Update (0829): An updated version of the AP story is much clearer:
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued a written order without comment late Tuesday allowing Bob and Mary Schindler to file the appeal, even though the court had set a March 26 deadline for doing so. In a one-sentence order, the court said: “The Appellant’s emergency motion for leave to file out of time is granted.”
The court didn’t say when it would decide whether to grant a hearing. Last week, it twice ruled against the Schindlers, who are trying to keep their daughter alive. In requesting a new hearing, the Schindlers argued that a federal judge in Tampa should have considered the entire state court record and not just the procedural history when he ruled against the parents.
So, this is just a technical ruling allowing them to actually file a request for another hearing. The question is whether they’ll grant the injunction to reinsert the feeding tube in the meantime. One would presume that they would.