Wednesday, October 05, 2005

To Kill or Not to Kill

In the case before the Court today Oregon seeks to keep its assisted suicide law from the axe of the SCOTUS.  The government rests its argument on the fact that the Controlled Substance Act has entrusted the Attorney General with the power to determine what the scope “legitimate medical purpose.”  Oregon contends that it is up to the state to decide and regulate the practice of medicine.  I think that the government has stated the issue correctly by asking, “Who gets to decide?” This again boils down to rights and authority of the various States.  Whatever will Scalia do?  Forced to decide between his consistently championed issue and maybe a morality issue.  Actually, I would think (dare I presume) that he would follow the statute.  It seems clear, as the government has pointed out, that assisting suicide is not a “legitimate medical purpose.”  Notwithstanding the fact that the statute (CSA) really doesn’t define that phrase, ordinary meanings of the words show a meaning of promoting health, life and recovery.
     Oregon’s very premise that the state should decide the regulation of the practice of medicine would reach the same conclusion or so I would argue.  Fine, regulate the practice of medicine.  But the practice of medicine is the art and science of healing.  This ordinary meaning argument is laid out in the government’s brief and I tend to agree.  Assisted suicide is nothing about healing.  
I usually am all for State’s rights, and would like to minimize the intrusion of the federal government into business that is best handled by a State government.  This, I believe is not one of those times.  Yes, if it were me suffering and in constant pain waiting just to die, I might want to “hasten death” (as the respondent so eloquently phrases it).  But then that really isn’t the issue here.

Note: Petitioner’s brief.  Respondent’s Brief.


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