A US federal appeals court raised a flicker of hope for the parents of brain dead Terri Schiavo, but snuffed it out by firmly declining to intervene in the gruelling legal battle.
“Any further action by our court or the district court would be improper,” wrote Judge Stanley Birch, one of the members of the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
“While the members of her family and the members of Congress have acted in a way that is both fervent and sincere, the time has come for dispassionate discharge of duty.”
The judge went on to deliver a scathing attack on politicians who got involved in the case, saying the White House and lawmakers “have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people – our Constitution”.
The ruling yesterday came as Schiavo, 41, began her 13th day without food and water. The brain-damaged woman was expected to survive one to two weeks after her feeding tube was removed by court order March 18. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, insists he is carrying out her wishes by having the tube pulled.
Schiavo’s parents said their daughter still looked ”surprisingly good” and pleaded with supporters to keep up efforts to reconnect her feeding tube before it is too late.
“Under the circumstances, she looks darn good, surprisingly good,” Bob Schindler said after visiting his daughter yesterday afternoon. “I’m asking that nobody throw in the towel as long as she’s fighting, to keep fighting with her,” he said.
The Schindlers’ spokesman, Randall Terry, said their attorneys were preparing an appeal to the US Supreme Court.
The court raised the Schindlers’ hopes late on Tuesday when it agreed to consider their emergency bid for a new hearing in the case. But 15 hours later, the court ruled against granting a hearing – the fourth time since last week that it ruled against the Schindlers.
Federal courts were given jurisdiction to review Schiavo’s case after Republicans in Congress pushed through unprecedented emergency legislation aimed at prolonging her life.
But federal courts at three levels have rebuffed her parents, and Birch said the court had no jurisdiction in the case because the law was at odds with the Constitutional principles of separation of powers.