Monday, November 11, 2013

Bush v. Schiavo case brief

Bush v. Schiavo case brief summary
885 So. 2d 321 (2004)

The Circuit Court of Pinellas County (Florida) held that 2003 Fla. Laws ch. 418, which prompted appellant governor to issue an executive order, was unconstitutional as a violation of the separation of powers doctrine, a person's right to privacy, and as retroactive legislation. The Second District Court of Appeal certified the case as one of great public importance requiring immediate resolution.


  • The governor's executive order effectively reversed a properly rendered final judgment and amounted to an unconstitutional encroachment on the power reserved for the judiciary. 
  • Further, it inappropriately delegated legislative power to the governor. 
  • In all, 2003 Fla. Laws ch. 418 contained no guidelines or standards to limit the governor from exercising completely unrestricted discretion in applying the law. 
  • Further, the legislature failed to provide any criteria for lifting the stay. 
  • This absolute, unfettered discretion to decide whether to issue and then when to lift a stay made the governor's decision virtually unreviewable. 
  • Second, the legislation did not provide an additional layer of due process protection to those who were unable to communicate their wishes regarding end-of-life decisions. 
  • The law did not even require the governor to consider a patient's wishes, but instead allowed a unilateral decision by the governor to stay the withholding of life-prolonging procedures without any procedural process to the patient. 
  • Finally, the legislature's grant of authority to issue the stay under 2003 Fla. Laws ch. 418 was not a valid exercise of the state's parens patriae power.


The circuit court's judgment was affirmed.

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