HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Upcoming Supreme Court Assisted Suicide Case

The Cornell Legal Information Institute is a terrific source for a wide variety of legal issues including background information on upcoming Supreme Court cases.  Two weeks from today, on October 5th, the Court (presumably with the new Chief Justice Roberts presiding) will be addressing the issue of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act in the Gonzales v. Oregon.  The Cornell LII has a brief and extremely helpful overview of the case and the many complex issues that is raises.  It concludes that Oregon will probably be seeing a change in its law (and this without the C.J. Roberts factor considered explicity):

On its face, Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Oregon v. Ashcroft), 368 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2004), cert. granted, 125 S. Ct. 1299 (2005), is an intriguing case because it presents a clash of federal and state spheres of influence. On the one hand, the Attorney General has taken the position that Oregon's decision to permit physicians to distribute controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide is contrary to federal law. On the other hand, Oregon argues that the Attorney General has misinterpreted the CSA to invalidate state law that represents the democratic choice of the people of Oregon in the medical arena. These views present two different perspectives of the concept of federalism, while also implicating serious moral and policy concerns. Given framing of the central issues, the Court will not likely address this question on policy or moral grounds. The plain language of the CSA, Congressional intent and administrative law will all inform the Court's decision. The Court will likely avoid such slippery slope issues if favor of uniformity in the implementation of the CSA, perhaps a more preferable outcome to variable multi-state regulation. The safe route to resolving this case with the minimal amount of controversy suggests that change may be on the horizon for the Oregon Act.

Thanks to TalkLeft for this website and update.  [bm]

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