TAMPA, Fla. – An attorney for Gov. Jeb Bush (search) asked an appeals court Monday to throw out a lawsuit that contends Bush overstepped constitutional bounds when he ordered a feeding tube reinserted in a severely brain-damaged woman.
Meanwhile, Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd defended in court papers the hastily passed law that allowed Bush to act in the case of Terri Schiavo (search), whose husband wants to allow her to die.
State courts have repeatedly affirmed the right of Michael Schiavo to remove his wife's feeding tube (search) because he is her legal guardian. She had gone without water and nutrition for six days when the Legislature and Bush intervened last month. Michael Schiavo contends she would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially.
Byrd filed a brief before Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird in Clearwater that argues the Legislature has the legal authority to change laws, even if it alters decisions made by the courts.
"The Legislature's role in establishing public policy is paramount and its role in regulating the actions of the other branches is significant," his brief said.
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, has filed the lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of what some have termed "Terri's Law."
Last week, Baird denied a motion by Bush's attorney, Kenneth L. Connor, to throw out Felos' suit. Connor contended that it was invalid because Bush had not been personally served and because it was not filed in Tallahassee where the governor is based.
Connor then appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland on Monday, asking that the case be dismissed on the same grounds.
Felos has characterized the filings as delay tactics.
"It's obvious to anyone looking at this that the governor is trying any legal tactic to delay this case being decided on its merits, and you have to wonder why," Felos said. "The obvious reason is that he thinks he's going to lose."
Connor's office referred questions to the governor's office Monday. Bush spokesman, Jacob DiPietre, denied that the governor was the source of the delays.
"There is a procedure and process in place that every litigant has a right to," DiPietre said.
Some doctors and a judge have ruled that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery. She suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when her heart temporarily stopped, cutting off oxygen to her brain.
Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, say their daughter had no end-of-life wishes and believe she can be rehabilitated. They also dispute that she is in a vegetative state and believe she responds to them.