Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Schiavo Case
Spencer Platt  /  Getty Images
Supporters of Terri Schiavo's parents stand in front of the Woodside Hospice where Schiavo is being cared for Thursday in Pinellas Park, Fla.
By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/24/2005 12:28:03 PM ET 2005-03-24T17:28:03

As the Supreme Court again refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube,  the crowd holding vigil outside of her hospice continued to swell on Thursday.

NBC News’ Mark Potter describes the scene in Pinellas, Fla.

What was the reaction among the crowd to the Supreme Court decison against Terri Schiavo’s parents?
The reaction form the crowd here at the hospice was one of anger, disappointment, and sadness.

They say they expected this ruling from the Supreme Court, they are not surprised, but they are still quite upset that the family has lost.

Most importantly, several people in the crowd, including some of the protest leaders, now say that everything focuses on Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. They are urging him to take action, to use the Florida Department of Children and Families to take custody of Terri Schiavo and they are somewhat critical of him for not doing that — even though a court has strictly forbidden the state from taking control of Terri Schiavo.

So, with no hope in the courts, they are turning at the 11th hour to Governor Jeb Bush, urging him to take action, under what they say is his right under state law, to take custody of Terri Schiavo and protect her.

Some have been very critical of the governor for making statements about the power that he and the state has to take control of the situation and not doing it in the end.

Can you describe the scene of the vigil outside the hospice?
Well there are people waiting outside the hospice facility — most of them in support of Terri Schiavo’s parents and most in support of keeping her alive. Most are from the area, but some have traveled in from other places.

Most of them are conservative Christians. They spend most of their time just standing by —holding signs, debating, sometimes praying, chanting, and singing. But, mostly, they are just standing by, as we all are, for word from the various courts and political bodies that have been involved in this. They have been hoping for some word, something to have hope for Terri’s survival, but they’ve gotten nothing but bad news all along the way.

Who are the protesters? Men, women, their ages?
The protesters represent all ages — men, women, and children. Many of them are older. These are people who have the time to come out and stand outside the hospice.

The crowd does swell in the evening. In part because they want to get on the primetime television cable shows — to be in the background — but, also because some of them are just coming from work. There are a few people here who are handicapped, who are in wheelchairs. It’s a wide range. We saw yesterday an act of civil disobedience in which three adults were arrested, along with three children. So, it runs the gamut.

Are the protesters Catholics, evangelical Christians?  
It’s a range. There are Evangelicals, there are people here with the Christian Coalition, there are Catholics. There is one person holding up a sign indicating that she is Jewish. It is really hard to pin down the crowd in terms of its religious make-up, except to say broadly that most of them seem to be conservative Christians. 

Is there a great deal of drama with each twist & turn of the story?
Word spreads very quickly. The media encampment and the protesters are right next to each other. We are separated by a road and often the reporters and protesters mingle among the protesters shooting pictures, doing interviews, or just talking to them. So, the word usually comes from the media first, the protesters hear it right away, and they react.

I can tell you that for the last couple of days, they’ve been pretty much shell-shocked because every report they get is negative for them. They are here fighting to keep Terri alive and the courts have ruled consistently against them and against Terri Schiavo’s parents, so they don’t have a lot of hope for the system. Yet, they are still here waiting.

When the final word comes that there is no hope, the expectation is that they will be here in a vigil, waiting for some word on Terri’s fate, praying for some miracle. But, they certainly haven’t seen it yet.   

Are there any opponents to re-inserting Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube there?
There are just a few people here, in the crowd, who are here in support of Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband. They are urging that the feeding tube not be re-inserted.

One sign indicated that 20 judges have heard the case, and it’s time for the court’s will to be done.

They stand quietly, a little bit away from the others. There doesn’t seem to be any problem between them, their views are respected. But, they are certainly not part of the mainstream here.

At what point does it comes to an end?
With both the Supreme Court and Judge Greer ruling against the parents — that is probably it, in terms of legal action.

Some people are urging Governor Jeb Bush to take custody of Terri Schiavo under the rules of the Department of Children and Family - as they might take custody of an abused child. But, yesterday, they were expressly forbidden by Judge Greer to do that. In fact, Judge Greer said that he was notifying all of the sheriffs in the area to make sure that didn’t happen.

So, now if Governor Bush were to order that Terri Schiavo be taken into custody, he would be in direct violation of a judicial order. So, given that, if the Supreme Court and the Circuit Court rule against the parents of Terri Schiavo, that probably will be it. Also, because the U.S. Congress and the Florida legislature will not be in session, so they will not be able to intervene either.

Mark Potter is an NBC News correspondent on assignment in Pinellas Park, Florida. To see more of his reports on the Terri Schiavo case watch MSNBC cable and NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams tonight.


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