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Schiavo parents back in federal court

Supreme Court, state judge deny appeals to resume feeding

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney speaks to supporters after the Supreme Court decision to refuse the case.
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Michael Schiavo remembers happier times with his wife.

Michael Schiavo's attorney speaks about the case.

Passions are running high in the Terri Schiavo case.
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Terri Schiavo

(CNN) -- Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected pleas to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo on Thursday, her parents again asked a federal judge in Florida to order the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube restored.

A hearing before U.S. District Judge James Whittemore in Tampa ended after nearly four hours Thursday night with no decision announced. Earlier this week, Whittemore turned down a request for an injunction to keep Schiavo alive.

Anti-abortion-rights activist Randall Terry, who is acting as a spokesman for Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said the new motion raises "evidentiary issues that were ignored in the first crack at federal court."

After the Supreme Court rejection, a Florida judge denied three other legal requests from Schiavo's parents.

Schiavo has been without food or water since Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer ordered her feeding tube removed March 18 -- last Friday.

On Thursday, Greer denied a petition of the state Department of Children and Families and Gov. Jeb Bush to take Schiavo into state custody. (Full story)

He also denied a petition from the DCF to investigate allegations that Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, abused her. Such allegations have been considered and dismissed several times in the past, most recently last week in the Florida Supreme Court.

Greer also rejected an affidavit, submitted by Florida authorities, from a Florida doctor who argued that the brain-damaged woman was not in a persistent vegetative state.

On Thursday evening, the state Supreme Court rejected an appeal of Greer's rulings.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice turned down a plea from the parents that would have allowed for a feeding tube to be reinserted Wednesday.

Referring to the high court decision, George Felos, an attorney for Michael Schiavo, said: "All of us are very grateful for the order of the United States Supreme Court this morning. We hope that that order will effectively end the litigation effort in this case.

"We believe it's time for that to stop ... and that Mrs. Schiavo be able to die in peace."

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is responsible for emergency appeals from the 11th Circuit, signed the Supreme Court ruling.

The 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, Georgia, includes Florida, where Terri Schiavo lives in a hospice in Pinellas Park. Protesters have gathered outside the hospice for days.

It was the fifth time the case has been presented to the Supreme Court, which has consistently refused to hear it.

Parents' hope 'dimming'

Thursday afternoon, the Schindlers visited their daughter at her hospice. Terry said Mary Schindler became "physically ill" during the visit and had to leave the hospital room.

Terry warned Republicans there would be "hell to pay" if Schiavo dies.

"It appears every legal option has just been exhausted," the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, spokesman for the Schindlers, said after Thursday's Supreme Court decision. "Governor Bush is now the only practical hope here for Terri Schiavo. We plead with Governor Bush."

He told CNN: "If it results in a constitutional crisis for the state, then so be it."

But the governor told Florida's Capitol News Service that he "cannot go beyond what my powers are."

"It is still my hope that we will have a chance to provide hydration for Terri Schiavo," he said. "But if there is an injunction by the courts in this case, that does not make it possible."

Paul O'Donnell, a spiritual adviser for the Schindlers, said their "hope is dimming."

"They're very disappointed," he said. "They're in shock. They can't believe this is happening. They hope the governor is going to do something, but this is a severe blow when Terri's life hangs in the balance."

In Texas, President Bush was described by aides as disappointed Thursday at the Supreme Court's decision.

Aides in Washington said there are no plans to consider any additional federal intervention in the case.

Schiavo's parents and her husband have been at odds over the woman's care, and the battle has drawn in religious conservatives on the side of the Schindlers to fight Michael Schiavo's efforts to let his wife die, as he says she wanted.

More than 20 state and federal court rulings have sided with Michael Schiavo. The courts have ruled that evidence shows Terri Schiavo expressed her wishes, although she did not have a written living will.

"It saddens me that we have to run to court and get court orders to protect Terri Schiavo from the abuse of the state of Florida," Felos said Thursday. "The conduct of the executive branch of the state of Florida has been reprehensible."

Legal maneuvers

Early Monday, President Bush signed a bill passed by Congress moving the Schiavo case from state to federal courts. (Full story)

A day later, Whittemore refused to grant a temporary restraining order that would have allowed reinsertion of the woman's feeding tube. (Full story)

Thursday night, law enforcement officials were investigating a suspicious knapsack found leaning against the federal courthouse in Tampa. They cleared about a two-block perimeter as a precaution.

Terri Schiavo suffered profound brain damage in 1990, when her heart stopped temporarily, perhaps because of an eating disorder. Since then, she has received around-the-clock care.

In 1998, her husband petitioned to have her feeding tube removed. After court rulings, the tube was removed for two days in 2001 and six days in 2003.

In 2003, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that allowed Jeb Bush to order doctors to restore Schiavo's feeding tube six days after it had been removed. The law was later declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.

Since last Friday, Michael Schiavo has been at Terri Schiavo's bedside, Felos has said.

CNN's Ted Barrett, Bob Franken, Joe Johns, Bill Mears and John Zarrella contributed to this report.

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