Parents End Appeals in Schiavo Case
Terri Schiavo’s parents have resigned themselves to her fate and are ending their appeals in federal court. CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen believes they never had a case to begin with.
Federal Appeals End in Schiavo Case (VOA News)
The parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo have ended their appeals in the federal court system following another ruling against them by a three-judge panel in Atlanta, Georgia. The Florida Circuit Court Judge who ruled to disconnect their daughter’s feeding tube more than a week ago also ruled against another appeal from Terri Schiavo’s parents on Saturday.
Ms. Schiavo’s parents are making what they say is one last appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to have their daughters feeding tube re-attached, but they are given little chance of success.
Bob and Mary Schindler gave up their effort in Federal Court to re-attach their daughter’s feeding tube, after the 11th Circuit Court of appeals in Atlanta denied their third appeal. Last Sunday, the U.S. Congress passed an emergency bill allowing the Schindlers to appeal their case in Federal Courts. Days later, after a series of dramatic appeals through the Federal Court system, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to order Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube re-attached.
Terri Schiavo’s parents did not lose their federal case because they didn’t try hard enough. They didn’t lose their case because everyone conspired against them. They didn’t lose it because Congress ticked off the judiciary over the weekend with its over-the-top custom-made legislation. They didn’t lose it for lack of money or because they failed to file a court paper on time. They didn’t lose it because the laws are unfair or because bureaucrats sometimes can be arbitrary and capricious.
The Schindlers lost their case and their cause Ã¢€” and soon probably their daughter Ã¢€” because in the end they were making claims the legal system has never been able or willing to recognize. They lost because they long ago ran out of good arguments to make Ã¢€” those arguments having been reasonably rejected by state judge after judge Ã¢€” and thus were left with only lame ones. And they lost because in every case someone has to win and someone has to lose. That’s the way it works in our system of government. It isn’t pretty, and sometimes it’s unfair. But it’s reality.
It is no wonder that the federal appeals court refused to reverse Whittemore’s ruling. And it is no wonder that the conservative U.S. Supreme Court decided for a fourth time to stay out of the case. This harsh reality won’t make it any easier for the Schindlers, but government cannot run on passion or emotion or sympathy. As the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote: “There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. SchiavoÃ¢€¦. In the end, and no matter how much we wish Mrs. Schiavo had never suffered such a horrible accident, we are a nation of laws.”
I don’t blame the Schindlers and their lawyers for coming up with any and every argument they could think of. Grief expresses itself in many ways. By refusing to accept the Florida court decisions, Congress and the White House enabled this grief, falsely encouraged it and then used it, and the Schindlers, for political purposes. The federal courts, on the other hand, by refusing to change the Constitution for one family, acknowledged this grief and tried to deal with it as humanely as possible while still providing the finality that our legal system provides and that our society needs.
Of course, it would help if they could have done it without allowing it to drag on for over a decade. That the U.S. Supreme Court actually had to rule on this case four times is absurd. One round of appeals should be enough to resolve any case.