Florida Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Terri Schiavo's Case

( [email protected] ) Jun 25, 2004 05:42 PM EDT

The Florida Supreme Court agreed on June 16 to decide on the constitutionality of "Terri's Law," the legislature-approved statute which authorized Gov. Jeb Bush to reinsert Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube six days after it was removed by her husband Michael Schiavo.

Oral arguments have been set for August 31.

Since the High Court agreed to take the case from the Second District Court of Appeal, the appeal process could be shortened by as much as 10 months, according to Schiavo's attorney George Felos.

Gov. Jeb Bush signed the law in October but it was ruled unconstitutional in May. The tube will remain in place while Bush appeals.

Jacob DiPietre, a spokesman for the governor, commented, "We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court as to why the Legislature and the governor should partner with the courts in protecting our most vulnerable citizens."

Terri Schiavo, 40, has been surviving on a feeding tube after she collapsed at the age of 26 under mysterious circumstances in 1991. Oxygen was deprived from her brain for several minutes leaving her brain disabled.

Some doctors have Terri's condition a "persistent vegetative state".

Her estranged husband has been fighting to remove her feeding tube, claiming that Terri told him before her collapse that she would never want to be kept alive "through artificial means." Michael Schiavo, has insisted her feeding tube to be removed so that she could "die with dignity."

Schiavo, who is now living with his girlfriend for 10 years and their two children, said the law is unconstitutional because it violates his wife's right to privacy and the separation of powers between branches of government.

Both Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler and her priest disagree with Schiavo's claims and say that Terri would have wanted to be kept alive. The couple says that their daughter's condition is improving and she is now able to recognize them.

On Wednesday, the Schlinders charged Schiavo for denying his wife with proper care and are seeking a ruling on whether Michael Schiavo is entitled to act on his wife's behalf. Circuit Court Judge George Greer did not immediately rule.

Bush’s attorneys have attempted to keep the case out of the Supreme Court since there were disputed questions that first needed resolution. In a separate motion, they have asked the appeal court to place a stay on the case until it's determined if Schiavo should continue as Terri's guardian.

The date set for the court hearing could possibly be significant considering Florida's timely county and district judicial elections, in which Judge George Greer will be included in the polls.