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High court rejects latest appeal by Schiavo’s parents

Mitch Stacy Associated Press

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. – The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case for the sixth time late Wednesday, taking less than two hours to reject her parents’ request that the feeding tube for their brain-damaged daughter be reinserted.

The one-sentence ruling came hours after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals resoundingly declined to intervene in the case. Justices did not explain their decision, and there was no indication how they voted.

The Supreme Court’s decision, on Schiavo’s 13th day without food or water, was the latest in a string of losses in state and federal courts for her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and the second time in a week the high court rejected the parents’ claims.

“We’re watching a black mark in American history,” said David Gibbs III, who represents the Schindlers. “Let’s just hope and pray something happens that will keep her alive.”

Schiavo’s husband, Michael, insists he is carrying out his wife’s wishes by having the tube pulled. It was removed March 18 after a yearslong legal battle, and Terri Schiavo, 41, was expected to survive one to two weeks without it.

The woman’s parents maintained that while Schiavo was weak, her organs were functioning Wednesday, and she was responsive. They urged 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 Wednesday afternoon. “I’m asking that nobody throw in the towel as long as she’s fighting, to keep fighting with her,” he said.

George Felos, the attorney for Schiavo’s husband, declined to comment.

The appeals court had raised the Schindlers’ hopes late 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.

“Any further action by our court or the district court would be improper,” wrote Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr., one of the members of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit. “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 Schindlers had asked the 11th Circuit and the Supreme Court to order the reinsertion of their daughter’s feeding tube so a federal district court can review the case from its beginning, including whether there was enough “clear and convincing” evidence that she would have chosen to die in her current condition.

The parents asked that the feeding tube be reinserted immediately “in light of the magnitude of what is at stake and the urgency of the action required.”

The Schindlers’ motion included arguments that the 11th Circuit in its earlier rulings did not consider whether there was enough evidence that Terri Schiavo would have chosen to die.

To be granted, the parents’ request would have needed the support of seven of the appeals court’s 12 judges. The court did not disclose the vote breakdown.

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