U.S. Supreme Court Denies Schiavo Parents’ Appeal

The legal wrangling over the fate of Terri Schiavo appears all but over, with the U.S. Supreme court declining, for the fifth time, to take her case.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Schiavo parents’ appeal (CNN)

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Thursday an appeal by the parents of Terri Schiavo to have their severely brain-damaged daughter’s feeding tube reinserted. The court, without comment, refused to intervene after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice Wednesday turned down a plea from the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.

The fate of Terri Schiavo is also in a waiting stage on another front — the Florida circuit court where the judicial wrangling began seven years ago.

Schiavo’s parents and her husband have been at odds over the woman’s care, and the battle has drawn in religious conservatives on the side of the Schindlers to fight Michael Schiavo’s efforts to let his wife die, as he says she wanted. Twenty court rulings have sided with Michael Schiavo, who as husband is also guardian. The courts have ruled that evidence shows Terri Schiavo expressed her wishes, although she did not have a written living will.

The Supreme Court petition was given to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has jurisdiction over emergency appeals in cases arising in the 11th U.S. Circuit, which includes Florida, where Terri Schiavo lives in a hospice. It was the fifth time the case has been presented to the Supreme Court, which has consistently refused to hear it. Most recently, on Friday, lawyers for the House of Representatives filed an appeal asking the justices to intervene in the case. The appeal was denied without comment.


On the Florida front, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer has said he will rule by noon Thursday on the latest effort by Florida officials to intervene in the case. Greer had ordered Schiavo’s tube removed last Friday, after seven years of court battles between the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo. The issue now before Greer involves allegations that Terri Schiavo may have been abused by her husband.

Given that Greer has already ruled these new allegations “incredible,” this case is over from a legal standpoint. Presuming that Jeb Bush doesn’t follow Rusty Shackleford’s advice on this one, a safe bet, it’s over from a political one as well.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. A Horton says:

    Living wills have been replaced by hearsay of a legal guardian. We are now a society willing to starve persons if legally requested. Yet we get outraged when persons are starved by legal guardians without legal permission. Food and water is not unusual medical care. WE CAN NOW QUIET OUR OUTRAGE ABOUT AUSCHWITZ. We are taking that path now: useless, expensive, hearsay not wanted to live like this. . . then kill.

  2. Nellie says:

    I have but one question? As a registered Republican and a taxpayer I would like to know
    why the Supreme Court Justices for one time
    in their lives can not listen to the people who
    pay their salaries and at least take one more look at the Terri Schiavo appeal. It seems to me that there
    are a lot of alledged “Christians” sitting in the
    court systems of this great country that need to
    go back and read their Bible and start walking their walk and stop just talking. Hey – she’s going to die anyway – can we not take a few of our precious minutes and give the lady a benefit of the doubt. Maybe her husband is not being actually truthful. Maybe she really doesn’t want to die. Someone in the court system really needs to look at her side and not take everything at face value. Also – once again – as professed Christians do we forget what God has written to us in the Ten Commands. “Thou shall not kill.” Or maybe we’re not really the Christians that we claim to be. I have an 11 year old dog at home who is blind. Maybe I need to just cut off his food and water and let him pass on to his heavenly reward. Wonder how the court system in North Carolina would feel about that.

  3. What has Jeb Bush essentially stated yesteday? Answer: Kidnapping may be made “legally” via any contrived “diagnosis;” he is above any law and is advocating anarchy and utter contempt for any judicial body, and finally he is because of this utter incompetence and above, must be removed immediately from any position of power since he has demonstrated utter irrational behavior and no capability of actual ability to lead in a responsible manner.

    Even his brother backed off of this thing, proving he isn’t quite as incompetent nor insane as brother Jeb. Close, though….

  4. Cliff Trapp says:

    The Courts have abused their power, and have become the absolute final dictatorship. This is wrong, and not intended by the framers of the Constitution. The judges must be deposed for abuse of their office. They should be beholden to the people. They are anti-democratic, and anti-life. The President and the Governor should intervene now and uphold the oaths of their offices.

  5. Chistine Freeman says:

    This is an outrage, how can this be happening in America? am I living in a nightmare or what, are we back in the nazi days. Since when do we have the right to murder someone and get away with it? Her husband is nothing less than a murder, lets let him go a week two weeks with out food or water and see if he survives! What is this world coming to. Let her parents have her back, you inconsiderate idiot. What can her so called husband gain from this. Is there not one judge that would grant him a divorce from Teri, so her parents can have her back and he can wash his hands of the situation? GOD have mercy on us all. Whats next, are we going to start euthenizing our citizens with disabilities? My prayers are with Teri and her family.

  6. Michael says:

    I would like to know why the Supreme Court Justices for one time in their lives can not listen to the people who pay their salaries and at least take one more look at the Terri Schiavo appeal.

    Because they are not required to listen to the people. They are there to enforce the law and the Constitution. In fact, the courts are in place partly to prevent the majority from becoming too powerful.

    Having said that, if they DID listen to the people, then this would be an open and shut case.

    Because Nellie, you are in the minority on this one.

  7. enlighten me says:

    I’m still trying to understand how people who call themselves Christians tend to just toss out Christian values when it comes to issues that they don’t agree with. What happened to the “sanctity of marriage” so touted? Whether you like it or not, the Schiavos were and are legally married and as such are each others guardians and helpmeets according to God. If you think that Michael Schiavo has something to gain by this, you are just fooling yourself. He has been offered money as recently as a month ago to walk away and he has not.

    What happened to “judge not, lest ye be judged”? I thought that meant that God has superior knowledge of the situation and you should work on your own sins. These people, all of them, will have to face their Creator and you all should keep your obnoxious noses out of their intensely personal business. If you think Congress and the Supreme Court should intervene, then try to think of how much you would like it if they told you how to live your life. That poor woman has paid penance for 15 years. In the past, she would not have survived that heart attack and would already have been with her Maker. The Schindlers have condemned her to the prison of her body through their own selfish desires to keep her around. It helps them, not her. They are unappreciative of the fact that they had all those years to make their peace with her. That’s a lot more than many other people who have had their loved ones die suddenly ever have. Instead of acknowledging that and spending what time is left with her, they turn an entire country upside down with their outrageous arguments and accusations.

  8. Dave Dallas says:

    Twenty rulings have gone against the parents. No one knows the case as well as the judges, and most people feel the Republicans, fueled by the religous right, are posturing for political advantage. What this issue boils down to is whether a detailed analysis of the evidence in the case, including but not limited to testimony of the parents and husband, shows that Terri would want to die. Of course Terri’s relatives don’t want her to die, but they do not own this issue just because they are related to her, just like my parents do not own this issue if I were in the same situation as Terri. Only my wishes count. The courts should always seek to do the best they can to carry out the wishes of the person whose opinion matters – that’s Terri. Don’t punish her for not thinking ahead and putting her wishes into writing.

    Let Terri go to her God. It’s the only morally and legally right thing to do.

  9. Fersboo says:

    enlighten me wrote:
    “What happened to the “sanctity of marriage” so touted? Whether you like it or not, the Schiavos were and are legally married and as such are each others guardians and helpmeets according to God.”

    I guess us “Christians” don’t like the fact that Michael Schiavo has an ongoing adulterous affair with another and said affair has resulted in offspring.

    enlighten me wrote:
    “What happened to “judge not, lest ye be judged”? ”

    “Christians” also believe that they are not perfect and that their journey through life is to continually strive to emulate the only perfect person to have walked on the face of the earth, Jesus the Son of God.

  10. enlighten me says:

    To Cliff Trapp: Before you wildly accuse anyone of an abuse of power, try looking at our wonderful Congress who’s unconstitutional law enacted this weekend is something I’m sure you applauded. The reasons we have three bodies of power is for checks and balances. The Congress is not allowed to make a law specific to one person. It hails back to the days when the English tried to prosecute John Adams for crimes against the throne. But making an unconstitutional law has never stopped a Congress from trying, as we can see from Florida’s failed Terri’s Law.

    It’s so typical of people on both sides of the fence to see things entirely from their skewed vision. Where was Governor George Bush erring on the side of life when he failed to review questionable death penalty cases in Texas? I guess fetuses and people who are a hair from death’s door are the only ones that rate the President’s heroic measures. The reason President Bush has backed off, I suspect, is that he could see that this could be generalized to other right to life issues he’s not so fond of, like abolishing the death penalty, good health care for everyone so people don’t have to die unnecessarily, making businesses clean up their toxic messes so people don’t get cancer and little things like that. I’m sure he also took a look at his constituency (the majority of people in this country) who said that politicians shouldn’t meddle in private affairs.

    You can keep repeating that stupid rhetoric of the courts abusing their power till you’re blue in the face, but our founding fathers got the balance just fine and we’re chugging along with a system that’s the envy of many around the world. If you don’t like our brand of democracy, I guess you can move to Iraq where we’re exporting it and help them to develop a society that’s more to your liking. Perhaps you can advise them to put the judges under the thumbs of some all-knowing person such as yourself so they can get all the laws interpreted correctly.

    Remember that those same courts you accuse also protect your right to run your mouth (and mine too!) here without any fear of reprisals. So, step back, jack, and let the courts do their part of the balancing act and work on your own family, not the Schiavos.

  11. clovene says:

    can’t believe we have raised hopes over judges helping, realizing they are only just attorneys

  12. henry hall says:

    Are we on Mars.? Who are these nuts.

    They protest Legal Living Wills that let people go to their maker in Peace.

    They Protest Abortion yet say or do nothing abour our Infant mortality rate being one of the World’s highest.

    They ignore gun controil and keep guns in their closet!!

    They love The Shock and Awe of the war that killed 100,000 Iraquis and 1500 of our own troops.

    They love war.

    They disrespect our courts.

    Who are these nuts?? Are they all Bush supporters?

    Let me outa here.. Help!!!

  13. enlighten me says:

    To Fersboo: Trying to emulate Christ is exactly what I think Christians should be doing — unfortunately I don’t see it a lot. I certainly can’t go toe-to-toe with you about all the teaching of the Bible, but I seem to remember Christ’s teachings leaning much more heavily on compassion then on judging. Isn’t his teaching “he who is without sin cast the first stone”? Then, even though he himself was without sin, he dropped the stone, and said to the woman “go and sin no more”. Do I have that story approximately right? Christians and all others are responsible for their own sins. If they can truly step in and stop someone else from sinning, such as that woman who stopped the Georgia shooting rampage by reading to that man, then by all means you should. But, if someone still goes along their “sinful” path, it’s time for you to invest your time in something else and just pray to God to forgive that sinner. As far as Michael Shiavo living in sin with another woman and having kids through that relationship, that’s for him and his Maker to decide. If his wife’s soul has truly gone, and all that was left was a shell, then he hasn’t committed any adultery. If he divorced her while she was incapacitated or abandoned her to live his own life, you would consider him a scoundrel. If her feeding tube was not removed, she would probably have existed another 40 years — was he supposed to put on sackcloth and ashes? Should he not try to have children and raise them, which is also God’s law? Because his wife had a heart attack and was unfortunate enough to be saved for a sad life, does that mean he shouldn’t try to find some solace? As a caretaker, I can tell you that extra responsibility is very draining. Besides, are all Christians 100% faithful, so that he is such an aberration?

    I’m sorry that you chose only to address two little bits in my previous posting and so shortly. I’m not being a wiseacre in trying to understand why I see Christians who have such passion with no COMPASSION. That seems to be the most un-Christ-like.

  14. Dave Dallas says:

    To Clovene:

    I do not have “raised hopes.” Most of the people you support in the legislature are “only attorneys.” Do you know anything about the education most attorneys get? And what are you? Only a doctor? Only a business man? Only a priest? Only a car salesman? Only a teacher? The fact is, YOU don’t know the entire body of evidence in that file, so you know nothing. Would you be able to analyze the evidence any better? I think not. If the judge ruled as you would like him to, then you wouldn’t be denigrating the entire profession, a profession you probably know very little about.

    I’ll trust a fair minded attorney’s opinion over some religous zealot any day. I’m not even a liberal, but I’ll be damned if I’ll support the actions of the religous right trying to bully politicians.

  15. jimimosey says:

    I have an issue with the media regarding Terri Schiavo’s unfortunate situation. I have noted since this case was brought to the natinoal attention that, with the exception of the interview in 2003 with Michael on Larry King Live, every news article, web story and television report consistently played or showed the video taken by Ms. Schiavo’s parents (without the permission of the husband) that gave the impression that Terri was able to interact with her parents by smiling and blinking. I wish the editors would have given equal time to the 4 plus hours of film (Michael Schiavo’s estimate) that showed Ms. Schiavo in her true condition, unmoving, staring into space and quiet. It does not take a genius to see that advertising sales drive these issues. The more often the illegally photographed brain-damaged woman was shown to be “reacting,” the more viewers were given the impression that this young woman was being mistreated and “murdered,” consequently bringing in more viewers to weigh in on the issue. I am surprised that the public is not able to see through these blatant attempts to sell news. Even more disturbing is the overreaction by the Senate and Congress ignoring the wishes (remember, more than just the husband have testified that Ms. Schiavo indicated her end of life instructions) of Ms. Schiavo. The hypocritical nature of right-wing activists showed through, on the one hand touting the rights of families to make these end of life decisions, but not trusting Ms. Shiavo’s family (in this case Michael) to make those decisions. And because the court rulings did not go their way, the Schindlers enlisted the religious right to assist in their efforts to “save” their daughter. This is a scary and troublesome outcome in that the pressure brought to bear on those senators and congressmen was so intense as to drive the legislature to write and pass a “law” which attempted to overturn years of court rulings. It is my fervent hope that the dog and pony show is now over and that Ms. Schiavo will be allowed her wishes, but I must admit that I would very much like the right-wing legislators to try to bring Judge Gilmore up on charges that he disregarded the law by refusing to kow-tow to a quite possibly unconstitutional law drawn to “protect” one citizen. Now that would be worth watching!