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Bush v. Schiavo


    Citation. Bush v. Schiavo, 885 So. 2d 321, 2004 Fla. LEXIS 1539, 29 Fla. L. Weekly S 515 (Fla. Sept. 23, 2004)

    Brief Fact Summary. Theresa Schiavo lived in a vegetative state for over ten years due to a cardiac arrest. After about eight years, her husband, the respondent, Michael Schiavo, petitioned the guardianship court to authorize the termination of the life-prolonging procedures.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a final judgment is issued in a court of law, and all post-judgment procedures are followed, the Legislature does not have the authority to pass a law that allows the executive branch to interfere with a final judicial determination in a case. Furthermore, a statute may not delegate legislative power to the Governor.

    Facts. Schiavo lived in a vegetative state for over ten years due to a cardiac arrest. After about eight years, her husband, the respondent, Michael Schiavo petitioned the court to authorize the termination of life-prolonging procedures. The court granted his request and the nutrition and hydration tube that had been prolonging Shiva’s life was removed. Six days later, the Florida legislature enacted a statute enabling the Governor to issue a one-time stay to prevent the withholding of nutrition and hydration from a patient if the patient had no advance directive, the court the patient to be in a persistent vegetative state, the patient has had nutrition and hydration withheld, and a member of that patient’s family has challenged the withholding of nutrition and hydration.

    Issue. Whether a statute granting the governor of a State the power to issue a one time stay to prevent the withholding of nutrition and hydration from a patient is unconstitutional?

    Held. Yes. The Legislature enacted the law giving the Governor the power to reinsert a feeding tube which a court had given another person the power to remove. This act is a violation of the separation of the powers of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. Furthermore, the statute delegates legislative power to the Governor because it does not set forth criteria for lifting the stay, it does not say how long the stay should be issued, and it gives the Governor absolute discretion to decide when to issue the stay and went to lift it.

    Discussion. The Legislature may not pass a law that overrides a decision of a court and it may not delegate to persons in an executive position lawmaking ability.


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