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MikeyCarson
01-17-2006, 10:51 PM
The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the Bush administration's attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die, protecting Oregon's one-of-a-kind assisted-suicide law.

It was the first loss for Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the court's most conservative members Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a long but restrained dissent.

The administration improperly tried to use a federal drug law to pursue Oregon doctors who prescribe lethal doses of prescription medicines, the court said in a rebuke to former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The 6-3 ruling could encourage other states to consider copying Oregon's law, used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people in that state. The decision, one of the biggest expected from the court this year, also could set the stage for Congress to attempt to outlaw assisted suicide.

"Congress did not have this far-reaching intent to alter the federal-state balance," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority himself, retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.

With this decision Kennedy showed signs of becoming a more influential swing voter after O'Connor departs. He is a moderate conservative who sometimes joins more liberal members on cases involving such things as gay rights and capital punishment.

In some ways, the decision was an anticlimactic end to the court's latest clash over assisted suicide.

The case was argued in October on Roberts' second day on the bench, and he strongly hinted that he would back the Bush administration. Some court watchers had expected O'Connor to be the decisive vote, which could have delayed the case until her successor was on the court. The Senate is set to vote soon on nominee Samuel Alito.

Justices have dealt with end-of-life cases before, most recently in 1997 when the court unanimously ruled that people have no constitutional right to die. That decision, by then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, left room for states to set their own rules.

The Tuesday ruling, and dissents, were tinged with an understanding about the delicate nature of the subject. The court itself is aging and the death of Rehnquist this past September after a yearlong fight with cancer was emotional for the justices.

Scalia said in his dissent that the court's ruling "is perhaps driven by a feeling that the subject of assisted suicide is none of the federal government's business. It is easy to sympathize with that position."

At the same time, Scalia said federal officials have the power to regulate doctors in prescribing addictive drugs and "if the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death."

He was joined in the dissent by Thomas and Roberts. Roberts did not write separately to explain his vote. Thomas also wrote his own dissent.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "The president remains fully committed to building a culture of life, a culture of life that is built on valuing life at all stages."

The court majority dealt harshly with Ashcroft, who in 2001 declared that Oregon doctors who helped people die would be violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. Lower courts prevented any punishment while Ashcroft's authority was contested by the state of Oregon, a physician, pharmacist and terminally ill patients.

Kennedy said the "authority claimed by the attorney general is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."

Oregon's law, which was passed by voters, covers only extremely sick people those with incurable diseases and who are of sound mind. At least two doctors must agree the ill have six months or less to live before they can use the law.



"For Oregon's physicians and pharmacists, as well as patients and their families, today's ruling confirms that Oregon's law is valid and that they can act under it without fear of federal sanctions," said state Solicitor General Mary Williams.

The ruling backed a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said Ashcroft's "unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide."

The court's ruling was not a final say on federal authority to override state doctor-assisted suicide laws only a declaration that the current federal scheme did not permit that. However, it still could have ramifications outside of Oregon.

"This is a disappointing decision that is likely to result in a troubling movement by states to pass their own assisted suicide laws," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which backed the administration. The case is Gonzales v. Oregon, 04-623.

Rob
01-18-2006, 12:09 AM
I changed the title of this thread because I thought it was unecessarily sarcastic.

r

purplejulied
01-18-2006, 01:58 AM
I think this is so awesome. I think every state should have a law like this--If we have true freedom.

onesuiteworld
01-18-2006, 04:07 PM
i think this is a wonderful piece of legislation. it really can help people in circumstances like this. score one for radicals!

p.s. what was the original title of the thread?

wired
01-18-2006, 05:11 PM
i'm very glad to see this decision. <huge sigh of relief> thanks for posting this - i haven't been able to keep up with the news lately and missed this.

cubbies14
01-18-2006, 07:36 PM
I am originally from Eugene...this law is Oregon's claim to fame....(plus we don't pump our own gas)

dmdbmb
01-18-2006, 07:42 PM
....(plus we don't pump our own gas) neither does Jersey...

onesuiteworld
01-18-2006, 07:43 PM
state assisted suicide to pumping gas. oh, how we digress

MikeyCarson
01-18-2006, 08:13 PM
I changed the title of this thread because I thought it was unecessarily sarcastic.

r

Is there such a thing?!?!?! :somedevil


p.s. what was the original title of the thread?

I believe I titled it: Killing Yourself Just Got EASIER in Oregon

onesuiteworld
01-18-2006, 08:15 PM
Is there such a thing?!?!?! :somedevil

what was it?!?!?!

MikeyCarson
01-18-2006, 08:17 PM
See above edit!

onesuiteworld
01-18-2006, 08:20 PM
Killing Yourself Just Got EASIER in Oregon

ahahahahhahahaha wonderful!

Shannon
01-18-2006, 09:54 PM
I definitely agree with this. Terminally ill patients should be allowed to end their suffering. Suicide is one thing when it's an escape from reality, and those problems can usually be fixed. In that case, it's pointless. But when someone is completely senile and can't even remember who they are or are bedridden or, worse, both, it's time. I hate going to nursing homes, and seeing these people sitting there, dazed and in some far off land because they don't even know what life is. It's sad to think these people were once kids screwing around like the rest of us.

So if someone's health is so awful, why suffer?

onesuiteworld
01-19-2006, 05:12 PM
well saidhttp://weeklydavespeak.com/forums/images/smilies/thumbs_up.gif

one of the dumbest laws i can think of is that suicide is illegal. you cant prosecute the dead, and attempted suiciders (word?) dont need to be thrown in jail after what just happened

MikeyCarson
01-19-2006, 07:46 PM
But when someone is completely senile and can't even remember who they are or are bedridden or, worse, both, it's time. I hate going to nursing homes, and seeing these people sitting there, dazed and in some far off land because they don't even know what life is. It's sad to think these people were once kids screwing around like the rest of us.
So if someone's health is so awful, why suffer?

With that said...how is that person in any way capable of making a decision such as this? I agree with the Court's decision also...but in some cases this walks a VERY fine line. If a person is in the shape Shannon describes can their power of attorney make such a choice...could it be murder?!?! I think in order to make this type of decision one must at least be of "resonable" mind.

cubbies14
01-19-2006, 07:51 PM
Are we going to get back on the Terry Shiavo argument??

wired
01-19-2006, 08:08 PM
Oregon's law, which was passed by voters, covers only extremely sick people — those with incurable diseases and who are of sound mind. At least two doctors must agree the ill have six months or less to live before they can use the law.

this is much different than the shiavo case, which dealt with the question of prolonging a life using artificial means as opposed to actively ending a still-viable life as in assisted suicide. death is a personal matter and should never be regulated by the government. period. if we don't have the right to choose the way we die, then we truly cannot call ourselves a free country. the government has no place in legislating this.