Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SCOTUS Upholds Oregon Assisted Suicide Law.

As reported over at How Appealing, AP is reporting that SCOTUS has upheld Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law.

According to the AP story:

Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said that federal authority to regulate doctors does not override the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people. New Chief Justice John Roberts backed the Bush administration, dissenting for the first time.

The administration improperly tried to use a drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses, the court majority said.

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

The case arose from a 2001 directive from then attorney general Aschroft ordering a halt to the use of controlled substances by Oregon physicians in assisting patient death. The federal government argued that the Oregon Act was a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The opinion is available: HERE.

Background materials:
SCOTUS Blog post after oral arguments in the case (October 2005).
Oregon Death with Dignity Act (text of the Act).
Duke Law Backgrounder on the case.