Those hoping Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will step forward to save Terri Schiavo from imminent, court-ordered starvation death are likely to be disappointed, based on his comments to a group of reporters following Circuit Court Judge George Greer’s ruling against the state’s effort to take custody of the brain-injured woman at the center of worldwide controversy.
While Bush reiterated his motivation to save Schiavo, based on new evidence that she is not in a persistent vegetative state and is, to some degree, conscious of her surroundings, the governor said “it isn’t possible to remove her” from the hospice.
Earlier in the week, there were hints from the Bush administration that the Department of Children and Families might use force, if necessary, to stabilize Terri Schiavo and remove her from the facility.
“The judge is so focused on carrying out whatever decision he made years ago, that I guess the additional information he just rejected out of hand, and rejected the ability of the department to go in and stabilize her,” he said. “It isn’t possible right now to remove her. … Given the fact that she’s being starved to death it would be difficult to move her.”
Bush downplayed the earlier reports about the possibility of action by the DCF.
“We never said that unilaterally we would do something that’s against the court,” he said. “I’ve been asked to do it by a lot of people – a lot of the advice I’m getting over the Internet and over television and the like. I know that there were lots of rumors of things that aren’t accurate. I have a duty to uphold the law and I have been very consistent about that. It seemed like a big story that never was confirmed because it wasn’t true. If we had that ability to do it, if there wasn’t an injunction, we would do it right now. We would stabilize her by giving her hydration. We couldn’t put a feeding tube in. There was already a court order in place. The opportunity we had was appealing his decision.”
Meanwhile, legal experts have offered their opinions to the governor. The Thomas More Law Center’s analysis of the Florida constitution and statutes finds Bush “has the authority to direct thje Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate violations of the criminal laws” and states that authority includes the power “to bear arms, make arrests and apply for, serve, and execute search warrants [and] arrest warrants.”
Citing numerous allegations of abuse and neglect on the part of Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband, Michael Schiavo, the lawyers with the center conclude: “There is probable cause in this case to believe that Ms. Schiavo is a victim of one or more violations of Florida criminal law.”
A prominent evangelical Christian leader yesterday urged Bush to disobey the judge’s order barring the Florida governor from intervening to save the life of Terri Schiavo. In a statement shortly after Judge George Greer’s decision, Rev. D. James Kennedy pointed to Bush “as the only legal authority who can save the life of Terri Schiavo.”
Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries, said Bush “must act and he must act immediately on her behalf.”
“He must disregard the order of Judge Greer,” Kennedy said. “He has both the authority and the duty to do so under the state constitution.”
Greer rejected Bush’s request to grant the governor protective custody. On Wednesday he barred the Department of Children & Families from taking custody. Also yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from Terri Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, for an emergency order allowing her feeding tube to be reinserted.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Bush appeared to be clearing the way for the possibility unilateral action when he appeared at a news conference Wednesday to confirm the DCF, under his authority, has the legal right to remove Terri Schiavo, by force if necessary, from the hospice where she has lived the past five years.
Bush said new information had come to light warranting intervention, including a review of Terri Schiavo’s condition by neurologist Dr. William Cheshire, who claims she may have been misdiagnosed. Cheshire believes Schiavo to be in a “minimally conscious state,” not a “persistent vegetative state” as Greer has determined.
“It is imperative that she be stabilized so the DCF team can fulfill their statute to review the facts surrounding the case,” Bush said.
Kennedy said Bush should be commended for his efforts over the past two years – which include the state legislature’s passage of “Terri’s Law” – but he noted those efforts “thus far has proven fruitless.” The law later was declared unconstitutional.
“Neither the state legislature nor the courts, state or federal, have been willing to act on behalf of this helpless woman who is now within hours of death,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy points out the Florida Constitution states in Article I, Section 2, that “[a]ll natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law, and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life … .” According to the Constitution, “no person shall be deprived of any right [including the right to enjoy life] because of … physical disability.”
Similar arguments were brought to Florida’s capital this morning by former Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes. Keyes wrote a column published yesterday by WorldNetDaily, arguing for Bush to step in and save Schiavo amid judicial abuse of the separation of powers.
“I have talked to a whole lot of people that I respect, not just now but the first time when Terri’s law was passed, to make the determination of what my powers are and they are not as expansive as people would want them to be,” Bush said yesterday. “And I understand, they’re acting on their heart and I fully appreciate their sentiments and the emotions that go with this, but …. I’ve consistently said that I can’t go beyond what my powers are and I’m not going to do it. There are 90,000 abortions that take place in this state every year. That troubles me more than I can ever describe, but that doesn’t mean that I have some secret powers to stop that. There are a lot of things that go on in society that trouble me and this is certainly one of them. To have someone starve to death troubles me greatly and we have done everything we can and we will continue to do so within the powers that I have.”
For background on the case, read “The whole Terri Schiavo story.”
Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002 – far longer than most other national news organizations – and exposing the many troubling, scandalous, and possibly criminal, aspects of the case that to this day rarely surface in news reports. Read WorldNetDaily’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of the life-and-death fight over Terri Schiavo, including over 150 original stories and columns.