Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Supremes and Suicide Law

In yet another instance of the Rehnquist-Roberts Supreme Court being impossible to pigeonhole, it today upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law and rejected a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

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

New Chief Justice John Roberts backed the Bush administration, dissenting for the first time. He was joined by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.