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Just Leave me Alone!
Hearings on Robert's first case as Chief Justice began Tuesday on the right of the State to make laws allowing assisted suicide. Case overview.

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Gonzales v. Oregon

At issue: Whether federal authority trumps state law allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to help terminally ill patients end their lives.

The case: The Death with Dignity Act was passed by Oregon voters in 1994 and went into effect three years later. The Bush administration wants the court to overturn the referendum, saying it led to more than 200 suicides. Most victims had life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer.

The arguments: The Justice Department says federal law -- the Controlled Substances Act -- gives it the power over states when it comes to doctors prescribing lethal doses of pain-killing drugs. The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in May ruled the government exceeded its authority and said doctors could not be prosecuted or sanctioned when prescribing the deadly drugs. In its appeal the Bush administration said physician-assisted suicide lacks "legitimate medical purpose" and is not a "treatment" under legal standards.


There is some discussion that O'Connor could be a swing vote on this case, but that her vote would not count if Meirs is confirmed before the ruling(at which point Meirs would be the swing vote).

Questions for Debate: Is assisted suicide an improper use of medication? Does the fact that Oregon voters voted this in directly through referendum as opposed to just being passed by the legislature strengthen Oregon's case? Will this case be successfully used as a tool by the religious right to try and get Meirs confirmed for her possible opinion on this one single case? How will the Supreme Court rule on Gonzalez vs Oregon?
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Blackstone
I was unable to vote, because none of the options fully encapsulate what my view is. As far as I'm concerned, the federal government has no business attempting to regulate the purely intrastate use of narcotic or other medicinal substances - that should be a state issue entirely. However, given that Congress has in fact done so, and given that the Supreme Court is not about to block them from doing that, I can see no justification in allowing state law to carve exceptions out of federal law. Either strike down the federal law as being in excess of Congress's powers, or uphold it, in which case it trumps state law. But don't Mickey-Mouse around like this. That just makes the law that much more of a mess, and opens up way more opportunities for unneccessary judicial meddling in how our laws are set up.

Now, as for the debate questions:

Is assisted suicide an improper use of medication?

There can be no denying that it violates the Hippocratic Oath, which says to do no harm. Furthermore, it opens up the Mother of All Slippery Slopes. Once we go down that road, we could seriously start to regret it. So I'd have to answer yes.

Does the fact that Oregon voters voted this in directly through referendum as opposed to just being passed by the legislature strengthen Oregon's case?

As a legal constitutional matter, a referendum has absolutely no more weight than an act of legislature. It's still a state law, and state laws have to give way to federal law. So either way, the only question is the validity of the federal law.

Will this case be successfully used as a tool by the religious right to try and get Meirs confirmed for her possible opinion on this one single case?

I think I can confidently say that many people on the right are divided on this case. There's nowhere near as much unity of opinion there as there is on cases like Roe v Wade or Lawrence v Texas. So I'd have to conclude that they probably won't be making quite as big a deal over it.

(I should also mention that the "religious right", depending on how one defines the term, isn't exactly unanimously behind Miers)

How will the Supreme Court rule on Gonzalez vs Oregon?

My best guess is that they'll follow the general precedent they laid down in the medical marijuana case that came out of California, in which they sided against the medical marijuana advocates. Granted, this case is a little different in certain material ways, but I'm guessing they won't depart from the general model, i.e., they'll rule against Oregon.
Just Leave me Alone!
Is assisted suicide an improper use of medication?
Tough one. If the person of sound mind is asking for the relief, then can we really consider the doctor's administering of the medication as "harm"? I personally feel that there is more harm being done to person while they are alive in pain. Otherwise, they wouldn't choose to die.

Does the fact that Oregon voters voted this in directly through referendum as opposed to just being passed by the legislature strengthen Oregon's case?
Not in terms of law it doesn't. But since when have many members of the Supreme Court cared what the law says anyway? So I think in actuality, the fact that the voters put this in place twice will help the case for Oregon.

Will this case be successfully used as a tool by the religious right to try and get Meirs confirmed for her possible opinion on this one single case?
I hope not. It certainly shouldn't have any bearing on her confirmation but nothing surprises me anyone.

How will the Supreme Court rule on Gonzalez vs Oregon?
The California case involved intrastate commerce but the point is the same. Federal law can tamper with whatever they want it seems. The dissenting views on that case were Thomas, Rehnquist, and O'Connor. Roberts seems to side with Gonzalez so that is 7-2. O'Connor's vote may not even count so that's 7-1 with Meirs possibly making it 8-1 against Oregon using the California case as a basis.

Is it really apples to apples though? The case will boil down to if the Congress has the right to regulate the administration of FDA approved medicine in a single state? The 5 liberal members may not side with Gonzalez just because it's Big Government. Scalia and Roberts (plus Meirs) will side with Gonzalez because it's morally sound in their eyes and will read into the framers 'intentions' despite the obvious hypocrisy of it. Poor Thomas will be all alone now it seems without O'Connor. sad.gif I'm putting faith in the liberal wing and predicting 5-3 in favor of Oregon. Dissenters Roberts, Scalia, and Breyer.
ConservPat
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Is assisted suicide an improper use of medication?

To put it simply, medicine is supposed to "make you better", if you think that dead is better, then good luck to you.

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Does the fact that Oregon voters voted this in directly through referendum as opposed to just being passed by the legislature strengthen Oregon's case?

Yes, the people have spoken, and the federal government has no authority to overrule the people's decision in this case. That's not to say that they probably won't, but, they don't have any authority.

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Will this case be successfully used as a tool by the religious right to try and get Meirs confirmed for her possible opinion on this one single case?

I have no idea. The religious right is composed of a lot of people who I do not understand.

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How will the Supreme Court rule on Gonzalez vs Oregon?

They'll rule in favor of Gonzalez because they don't care about the Constitution. They're reasoning will be that there is no "right to die" in the Constitution and they'll ignore the fact that there is no federal authority to prevent someone from taking his/her own life there either. Our new Chief Justice would impress me by finding in favor of Oregon, but I won't hold by breath.

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Victoria Silverwolf
1. There are some situations when ending the life of a terminally ill patient is morally acceptable. Of course, this is true only if the patient is enduring extreme suffering which cannot be treated in any other way. I have had to make the decision to end the life of an animal who would otherwise die slowly in extreme pain. I would not wish to deny this basic act of mercy to a human being.

2. I have to agree that the fact that this was a direct referendum rather than a law created by the state legislature is not relevant.

3. I also don't think that the nomination of Miers is relevant here. If this was a major abortion case, there would probably be an outcry from both sides about her.

4. I can see some arguments on both sides of this issue. On one hand, the federal government has a great deal of control over the ways in which drugs can and cannot be used. The ban on the medical use of marijuana, even if approved by a state, seems to have been upheld by the courts. On the other hand, there seems to be a big difference between the federal government completely banning a particular drug from being used at all, and dictating the ways in which an otherwise legal drug can be used.

I think that the court will avoid the question of whether or not there is a "right to die" and will decide this case strictly on the degree of control which the federal government and state governments are allowed to have on the use of legal medications. I can see this case going either way. I think it will be a close decision -- probably another 5 to 4. I'll take a wild guess that the power of the federal government to have the final say on the use of legal medications will be confirmed. (Which is the opposite of how I would decide.)



blingice
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Oct 21 2005, 10:17 AM)
Questions for Debate:  Is assisted suicide an improper use of medication?  Does the fact that Oregon voters voted this in directly through referendum as opposed to just being passed by the legislature strengthen Oregon's case?  Will this case be successfully used as a tool by the religious right to try and get Meirs confirmed for her possible opinion on this one single case?  How will the Supreme Court rule on Gonzalez vs Oregon?
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NO! Another good question sequence that is ended by questions of prophetic statements. sad.gif

I voted for Oregon on this poll. I didn't consider before I voted, though, about the other person aspect of the suicide. I approve of people's decisions to end their life for a REAL purpose, and not an imagined purpose, like depression. The government should not stop people from killing themselves, by drugs, seatbelts, staying in hurricane areas, etc. I don't think you can legalize someone killing someone else. I am very leery of the other person part. I really don't know how I feel about this, but I think that that huge difference should be pointed out. It needs to be shown how murder is different when the victim wants it. The disease could cause mental desperation, leading to a sort of imagined problem inflation. I think it would be easily questioned as to what a reaction to someone walking to an ER and just wanting to be killed, illness or no.
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