It didn't seem possible that the case could come out any other way, but at least it's now official. On Wednesday, Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird of the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County declared
that the hastily enacted Terri's Law (chapt. 2003-418
), which authorized Gov. Jeb Bush to issue an executive order
directing that artificial nutrition and hydration be restarted in Terri Schiavo, unconstitutional under a variety of provisions of the Florida Constitution:
- First, the court held that the law effects an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the governor, in violation of Art. II, sec. 3, of the Florida Constitution and separation-of-powers principles. The gist of this holding is that the legislature provided Gov. Bush with virtually no standards to guide his exercise of discretion as to whether to order the reinstatement of life-sustaining measures and for how long.
- Second, the court held that statute violates Terri Schiavo's right of privacy, a right that was added to the Florida Constitution in 1980 (Art. I, sec. 23). Section 23 provides: "Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public's right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law. "
- The court also found that the law was retroactive legislation and an unconstitutional intrusion into the judicial function.
The governor's office filed an immediate appeal, but by relying exclusively upon the Florida constitution, the trial judge has effectively immunized this case from review in the Supreme Court of the United States, so -- despite the seemingly inexhaustible willingness of Terri Schiavo's parents and Jeb Bush to litigate -- the end of this legal saga is in sight.