HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SCOTUS Disallows DEA Action Against Oregon Physicians

The Supreme Court this morning handed down a 6-3 decision in Gonzales v. Ashcroft (No. 04-623), the closely followed case that considered whether DOJ and DEA could penalize Oregon physicians who prescribe drugs under the Death With Dignity Act to patients who have stated their intent to commit suicide.  The Justices concluded that the "Ashcroft Memo" rested upon ""authority claimed by the attorney general [that] is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."  Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas joined the dissenting opinion of Justice Scalia, who wrote, "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death."

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