Terminally ill patients, tortured with persistent nausea and excruciating pain, are afforded the right to die by an Oregonian law. But the self-appointed guardians of morality and spokespersons of the Almighty in the Bush administration fought to void the law, insisting that Federal authority knows no bounds. In an obvious bout of dementia, the Supreme Court ruled today–despite the obvious fact that FedGov does indeed possess the legal authority to withhold the medical marijuana that may to begin with — that conditional assisted suicide laws, passed by state governments are beyond the reach of centralized state authority.
The Supreme Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts dissenting, upheld Oregon’s one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.
Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people trumped federal authority to regulate doctors.
That means the administration improperly tried to use a federal drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed to do that in 2001, saying that doctor-assisted suicide is not a “legitimate medical purpose.”
While it is a startling piece of news that the Supreme Court opposed an unconstitutional action by the current administration, the real story is that six of the high court’s justices have, if not actually read, at least heard of the Tenth Amendment. It seems there may be a rumor stirring on capital hill that the powers of the federal government may have some sort of ill-defined ceiling. This will surely be as controversial as ID.
Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented.
Scalia, writing the dissent, said that federal officials have the power to regulate the doling out of medicine.
“If the term `legitimate medical purpose’ has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death,” he wrote.
Perhaps, but the Constitution I searched does not delegate the definition of medical terms to the federal legislature or judiciary.
The ruling backed a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said Ashcroft’s “unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide.”
It still amazes me that jurists who truly feel that every aspect of human existance is the domain of the federal government are constantly refered to as “strict constructionsists.” More on this later.
The government could easily have won this case had they illustrated that assisted suicide is clearly a matter of interstate commerce.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: Radley Balko apparently got calling Thomas’s dissent a bitchslap:
Seems that once he knew the margin for upholding the law was secure, Thomas decided to dissent for the sole reason of upbraiding (I believe some of you chose the term “bitch slap,” or, alternately, “pimp slap”) the majority for its baldly inconsistent holding in this case versus its holding in Raich.