Their options dwindling after losing two consecutive appeals in federal court, Terri Schiavo's parents vowed today to take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court as their brain-damaged daughter began her fifth full day without a feeding tube.
In a 2-1 ruling early this morning, a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said the parents, who have battled with their son-in-law for years over the woman's fate, "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims" that Terri's feeding tube should be reinserted immediately.
"There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo," the ruling by Judges Ed Carnes and Frank Hull said. "We all have our own family, our own loved ones and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law."
Today's ruling was the latest legal blow for Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. Doctors have said that their daughter, now 41, could survive one to two weeks without water and nutrients.
In his dissent, Judge Charles Wilson said Schiavo's "imminent" death would end the case before it could be fully considered. "In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube," he wrote.
An appeal was still pending in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on whether Schiavo's right to due process was violated.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Tampa, Fla., also rejected the parents' emergency request.
Rex Sparklin, an attorney with the law firm representing the parents, said today that the couple will appeal to the Supreme Court. "The Schindlers will be filing an appropriate appeal to save their daughter's life," he said.
An emergency filing to the high court would go first to Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who has staked a moderate position on social issues.
Kennedy would have the option to act on the petition alone, although on previous emergency requests involving Schiavo he has referred the matter to the full nine-member court.