Schiavo Case a Study in Judicial Review

Did Schiavo Get Due Process?

In many ways, the Schiavo case has become a civics lesson on judicial review. The way the American legal system is structured is such that the trial is when the facts of the case are argued. It's the only shot each side has at arguing the facts in the case. Once the jury or a judge makes a decision on the facts, those findings are generally not relitigated absent extraordinary circumstances.

In the appeals process that follows, the judges decide only whether or not what happened in the previous court was correct under the law -- that the interested parties have received due process under the law. While several courts have determined that Terri's case did receive due process, the Schindlers this week are asking for emergency injunction -- in essence a chance to buy some more time -- to make their arguments again. The judicial test for an injunction is that the requesting party prove that they have a substantial claim, explains Goldblatt.

In this case, Whittemore decided the process by which the case was decided was fair and the Schindlers appealed to the 11th Circuit Court Appeals.

The three judge panel on the appeals court in Atlanta, in its 2-1 ruling, found that Terri's parents "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims" and made mention of the personal appeals versus the law in the ruling issued early Wednesday morning.

"There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo," the two majority judges wrote. "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. In the end, and no matter how much we wish Mrs. Schiavo had never suffered such a horrible accident, we are a nation of laws."

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