They're Dying in Oregon

They're Dying in Oregon
Posted by CN Staff on October 05, 2005 at 15:27:25 PT
By Emily Bazelon
Source: Slate
Oregon -- Some Supreme Court cases have odd or long-winded names that have nothing to do with what they're remembered for. The case heard this morning, however, is satisfyingly direct. It's called Gonzales v. Oregon, and it pits a state's power to let doctors help terminally ill patients die against the attorney general's power to stop them. It's all life and death—no fun, no games—in the first major case for the term and for Chief Justice John Roberts.In 1994 and then again in 1997, Oregon voters passed the Death With Dignity Act, which allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of legal but regulated drugs to dying Oregonians who ask for them.
John Ashcroft, who was then a senator, asked Janet Reno, who was then Clinton's attorney general, to stop the Oregon doctors. Reno declined. In 1998 and 1999, Ashcroft introduced two bills in Congress that would have explicitly scuttled Death With Dignity. Both bills failed. Then Ashcroft became President Bush's attorney general. In 2001, he announced that the federal Controlled Substances Act—passed by Congress in 1970 to "conquer drug abuse" and control the trafficking of legal and illegal drugs—gave him the power to revoke the licenses of doctors who assisted suicide with a prescription drug. The doctors could also be criminally prosecuted. When Ashcroft made his move, Oregon squawked its way to court. (That's why the name of today's case could be improved on a bit—it should really be called Ashcroft v. Oregon.) At oral argument this morning, the justices start off nervous about this abundance of AG power. What about "some very different attorney general who had a very different view of the death penalty" and decided to prosecute a doctor who prescribed a lethal injection at a state or federal execution, Sandra Day O'Connor asks. What would stop him? Solicitor General Paul Clement tries to reassure her that Congress ratified the use of lethal injections for execution in 1994. But O'Connor can't be appeased. "But isn't the reasoning the same?" she presses. David Souter and later Stephen Breyer join in. The full-court press backs Clement into a mistake. He says that doctors aren't directly involved with lethal injections. It's the first of several such off-balance moments for Clement—not because he's not his brilliant self, but because he's got a tough set of facts and precedents to negotiate. A minute or two later, Ginsburg reminds him of the Justice Department's position in Washington v. Glucksberg, the 1997 case in which the court found in the Constitution no right to die. "The government said then," Ginsburg points out, that there is "every reason to believe that the state legislatures will address this issue in a fair and legitimate way." It sounds like she is directly quoting. "You are rejecting that position," she concludes, taking pains not to sound triumphant. Clement has to disagree. The problem is where that takes him. A breath after standing by Glucksberg, he seems to be saying that doctors in Oregon can zap all the patients they want to as long as they don't do it with federally regulated drugs. His poster boy is none other than Jack Kevorkian. Doctor Death "had no federal substances license for six years before his conviction," Clements notes cheerfully.Has the Bush administration really just invoked Dr. Kevorkian as a model of medical practice?Clement reaches for a lifeboat. Even if the drugs that non-Kevorkian doctors can prescribe to assist suicide (barbiturates classified as Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act) are the most effective means to that end, he continues, that wouldn't make them OK. After all, if a state wanted to allow doctors to prescribe illegal drugs (Schedule I drugs like cocaine), it wouldn't be able to. Clement is paddling toward Ashcroft v. Raich. In that case last term, the court ruled that the federal government could prosecute sick Californians who were smoking pot with the blessing of their state's medical marijuana law.Then Ginsburg snatches the lifeboat away. "But Congress said when it made a drug Schedule I, 'No. Never,' " she says. "With Schedule II, it's OK with a doctor's prescription." Marijuana is definitely Schedule I. If Clement loses, this exchange will probably be why. The drugs that doctors prescribe to assist suicide are legal. Marijuana is illegal. The attorney general who is trying to nab Oregon doctors with a law that says nothing about assisted suicide is one executive appointee. Congress that passed a law explicitly criminalizing pot is the whole elected legislature. But when Oregon's lawyer, Robert Atkinson, takes his turn, he gets addled, too. What if a state wanted to, say, let doctors prescribe morphine for recreational use, Stephen Breyer asks. The attorney general would be able to do something about that, wouldn't he?The correct answer is clearly yes. Atkinson says no. The federal government should trust the states to regulate drugs responsibly and leave them alone, he argues. This is too much for Breyer, and for the rest of his team, too. "Far be it from me to suggest an argument," Breyer says after Atkinson fails repeatedly to bail himself out. Breyer and Souter team up to propose that it's one thing for a state to "gut" the Controlled Substances Act—by letting doctors be drug pushers—and another for that state to make provisions for physician-assisted suicide, a scenario that Congress didn't envision when it passed the CSA."I don't have any argument with that," Atkinson says, relieved. "Yes you do!" Scalia interrupts. Atkinson's case, Scalia assures him, hinges on the argument that the boundaries of accepted medical practice are determined state by state. Atkinson agrees—falling into a trap that Scalia laid earlier. Congress chooses to regulate gambling and to set a national drinking age. These things "are none of the federal government's business either," Scalia says. But no one's questioning Congress' authority to take on gambling or drinking—or, generally, speaking, the prescription of drugs. And if that's the case, and the Controlled Substances Act gives the attorney general broad power—as Scalia thinks it does—why shouldn't Ashcroft and Gonzales string up any doctor they want?Maybe this is federalism—the debate over how to balance federal and state power—come full circle. Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and John Paul Stevens often advocate for accommodating federal authority. But they're with Oregon in this case, because they're far more comfortable expanding Congressional power than they are enhancing the power of the attorney general. Scalia, revealed as federalism's fair-weather friend last year when he joined the pro-Congress majority in Raich, is on the federal government's side again. More power for the attorney general appears to be fine with him. John Roberts seems unhappy about the prospect of Oregon letting doctors dole out morphine to make patients happy. Anthony Kennedy seems unhappy generally. O'Connor, the court's staunchest states' rights advocate (William Rehnquist RIP), appears to be firmly on the side of Oregon. But her vote only counts if she's still on the court when the ruling is handed down. Count heads, and you figure out that this case could come down to O'Connor. And since the court is unlikely to decide any cases with O'Connor as the deciding vote, Clement and Atkinson may be back for a second round—with a new ninth justice. This, then, is what all the fuss over Harriet Miers' confirmation is about.Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor. Complete Title: They're Dying in Oregon: Should The Supreme Court Save Them?Source: Slate (US Web)Author: Emily BazelonPublished: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005Copyright: 2005 Microsoft CorporationContact: letters slate.comWebsite: Justice Archives
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on October 10, 2005 at 20:03:37 PT
I agree with you. 
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Comment #22 posted by whig on October 10, 2005 at 19:49:06 PT
Re: Self-worth, I could write at more length but I think the problem comes largely from inflated valuation of self as compared with that of others. We are all part of one another, I am part of you and you are part of me, so how can we despise one another? I think that as we come to recognize ourselves in this way, we cannot act in violence against one another unless we despise ourselves, and that is where it is important to have a genuine sense that we are, each of us, worthy of love, that we may love ourselves and so one another. And in that sense, self-worth is very important, I think.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on October 10, 2005 at 07:43:55 PT
I read your comment yesterday and I wanted to say something but forgot too. I am not into politics and I don't believe that politics will change the laws surrounding Cannabis. Any person who is in politics has a strong feeling of self worth and I really find that offensive but people like Timothy Leary did bring so much to light many years ago. I believe in people as a group but not in politics as a solution. Power to the people!
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Comment #20 posted by whig on October 09, 2005 at 15:26:06 PT
Voting: I'm opposed to it. I think that participation in the system legitimates its purported usurpatious authority over your sovereign rights. This is not to say that voting in all circumstances must be wrong, but when the system is usurpatious, to concede the point is to authorize their actions. Furthermore the doctrine of agency comes into play, inasmuch as you are delegating your own authority to those who use it to act in ways that can be reasonably expected to do harm.With that having been said, others come to different conclusions, and act according to their understanding. If your intentions are honorable and true, then any error that you may commit should be forgiven, as I hope that my own errors past, present and future will not be deemed blameworthy unless made knowingly and maliciously. I do not intend harm.On the immediate case, John Roberts is presumed to be supporting the AG against Oregon, based on his close questioning, but this is not to be concluded from the argument. A careful jurist may indeed want to know all the weaknesses of a position he might in fact be inclined to support, in order to make certain that his opinion is well insulated against opposition from the same quarters.Finally, an observation that has bothered me since the Raich case last came up, and continues to be a thorn in our side in the case at bar. The CSA continues to be challenged on an as-applied basis, presuming the constitutionality of the underlying enactment. I think this is a mistake, the litigants (including Raich if her case remains live after the preliminary injunction was overturned) ought to be making a *facial* challenge to the statute. Nothing in the constitution gave such federal regulatory authority under the commerce clause jurisprudence before alcohol prohibition, an amendment was considered necessary. The method of cannabis prohibition immediately after that was through the marihuana tax act, a statute that Timothy Leary successfully fought to have overturned (facially!) before the CSA was put in place to replace it in 1970.Place the issue squarely at bar, does the commerce clause grant prohibitory powers to the federal government at all?
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Comment #19 posted by global_warming on October 07, 2005 at 17:17:33 PT
Passing Through Time
Comment #8 posted by Storm Crow on October 05, 2005 at 22:30:42 PT
Are we less than animals?
The first child abuse case won, if I remember rightly, was argued in the courts by representing the child, at it's very least, as an animal. Apparently, it was not illegal to beat your child (short of actually killing him or her), but it was illegal to abuse an animal. Going from that same premise, if I allowed an animal to suffer in unbearable pain, I could rightly be prosecuted for it. If I am in unbearable pain, shouldn't I have the same rights as an animal, to be able to end my pain? I even have the ability to ask, unlike the animal. Why is it morally wrong for a dying person to end their pain, when we are required by law and morality to end the pain of our animals? Are we less than animals? My Mother used a gun to end her pain. I wish she could have had access to a gentler death.The animal dozed, its head on its forepaws. 'Saint Julien is a very decent wine,' the
dog heard sleepily, 'but there's none of it to be had any more.'Even the Rabbi is silent, from the Blood on that Cross, we must break for a commercial,Make sure to register so that you can VOTE,That is, if you can read words, and you live, in this world.My dogs cannot read, yet, they share my space,They look at me, and I Wonder,How can I, bring them answersFood, Heat and ComfortLike these dogs, animals,We are passing through this Time,Can we come togetherTo accept our Light
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Comment #18 posted by global_warming on October 06, 2005 at 16:06:12 PT
This group of postings are filled with what is resonating in my soul.Thanks for sharing your grief, and allowing us to be a "witness", so that our souls may become better able to hold that Eternal Light, that illuminates our
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Comment #17 posted by Richard Zuckerman on October 06, 2005 at 10:38:12 PT:
The feds are at it again? They are intruding in the affairs of the States by way of drug laws. The feds should have no say in State drug laws. The article's author's last name, BAZELON, reminds me of the late David L. Bazelon, who wrote the book entitled QUESTIONING AUTHORITY, c. 1990, New York University Press: "The way to protect our values is to respect and practice the American penchant for questioning authority." Judge Bazelon's book has an article critical of forensic psychiatry and criminal defense attorneys appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants. Yesterday, I attended The Petrocollapse Conference, in New York City. Mike Ruppert, of, announced that after every oil spike there is a recession, that within the next six months this country will experience a serious permanent petrocollapse, that the people do not even have a clue about it, that the newspapers are not reporting it, that there is no viable energy alternative to fossil fuel, including Hemp and other biomass [saying it only absorbs a small amount of the sun's energy], that wind and sun energy would only be 2% of the energy supplied by fossil fuel. They showed a slide presentation photograph of an experimental VW which would allow up to 300 miles per gallon. The speakers suggested bicycles, EcoVillages, growing food in gardens, pay all of your debts as soon as possible. Mr. Kunstler [NO relation to any of the civil rights attorneys with the same last name!!] said he is a "registered Democrat", suggested building up railroads, reminding me of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who is on the Transportation Committee and who is big on giving federal money towards the building of railroads. I left that conference with tears in my eyes, scared, and knees shaking. I wonder if I have enough time to prosecute my appeal against liar Highland Park New Jersey policemen? I want to move to a farm (or Kibbutz in Israel). I am scared. About two hours ago, I sent the Environmental Protection Agency an email, a-and-r-docket, asking them to reject their proposal to allow 350 Millirem [equivalent to 58 full chest x-rays] per year radiation leakage in any site, including Yucca Mountain. I asked them to go back to the International Standard of 15 Millirem per year from all pathways and 4 Millirem per year from drinking water, for the full regulatory period at Yucca Mountain. I am 47 years young. I may not live long after Petrocollapse. Our future generations must live with the criminality by the Corporations and U.S. Government. I'm afraid my letters to Congress and votes at Elections have been to little avail. I hope God loves me!Richard Paul Zuckerman, Box 159, Metuchen, N.J., 08840-0159, richardzuckerman2002 
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Comment #16 posted by kaptinemo on October 06, 2005 at 08:07:01 PT:
Siege, look up the word 'iatrogenic'
From·at·ro·gen·ic  ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-tr-jnk)
Induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy. Used especially of an infection or other complication of treatment.In a nutshell, what killed my Mother and God knows how many others. I don't care if a doctor wears Gucci shoes; like all of us, they have feet of clay inside them. They make mistakes, big ones. And sometimes people die as a result.
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Comment #15 posted by siege on October 06, 2005 at 07:53:40 PT
twentieth Century
At the turn of the twentieth Century, international drug companies, along with the allopathic medical profession, the only medical group that promoted synthetic and patentable drugs, laid out a sophisticated campaign to control the medical profession and wipe their competition off the face of the Earth. With some exceptions, largely due to citizen outrage that forced legislatures to pass health freedom laws of one sort or another, we now live in a largely monopolistic medical system that manages to kill at least 784,000 per year.While there have been plenty of dirty names thrown around to describe natural healing arts, and fear-mongering headlines scream that using dietary supplements, herbs, homeopathic products and the like is dangerous, the bottom line is that the modern medical system is failing. Killing 784,000 people doesn’t even cover those who suffer chronic, sometimes lifelong illnesses that destroy all chances to lead a full, productive life from the litany of failed toxic drugs, surgeries gone wrong, mistakes in hospitals, misdiagnoses and all manner of problems that have arisen from a system awash in cash and political connections to keep it afloat.Meanwhile, there is NO documented evidence anywhere on this planet that suggests, much less provides proof, that natural healing arts cause harm, much less stack bodies in the street from its use.
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Comment #14 posted by Zandor on October 06, 2005 at 07:45:08 PT
Worship THC?
This may be our last hope, I hope not but I guess you should take a victory if you get one anyway you can.
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Comment #13 posted by siege on October 06, 2005 at 07:29:07 PT
Summary of The Herbalist Charter of King Henry VII
  It is well known that the Surgeons who are organized under their own trade guild and recognized by law, have done nothing but tend to their own lavish financial enrichment, have done nothing to ease the distressed patient, but have spent an enormous amount of time suing and harassing honest persons who have the knowledge of nature and how to use this knowledge, however obtained, and generously minister to the sick.  It is also well known that Surgeons will not provide services to the sick unless they receive great sums of money and even then, often cause harm to their patients.
  For this reason, from this time and forevermore it shall be lawful for every person who lives in any part of the Realm of England or any of its dominions, and who has knowledge and experience of the healing nature of herbs, roots and waters, or the operation of same, to be free to treat the sick without “suit, vexation, trouble, penalty or loss of their goods.”
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Comment #12 posted by kaptinemo on October 06, 2005 at 06:37:49 PT:
Bid Daddy (or Mommy) Gub'mint
Overweening paternalism. Plain and simple. The idea that people, no matter how adult, are in actuality children, and need to have 'baby's hands kept away from the fire' by self-appointed 'older and wiser heads'...who in the final analysis are usually no better or wiser those they claim to be superior to.And to 'take care' of you, if they kill you in the process, well, then that's the price *you* have to pay. (They usually pay *none*; how many police are languishing in prison for killing innocent people in oops-wrong-house drug raids?)But let you end your life on your own terms after suffering terribly? Without their 'heroic efforts' to keep you from checking out without their seal of approval? Naaaaaw, we can't have that, now can we?The late great social critic Philip Wylie had the syndrome pegged decades ago; he called it "Momism". The idea that you would be perpetually tied down with apron strings by a government of smothering maternalism dead set against anything that might upset 'domestic tranquility'. Such as an exercise of freedoms we once took for granted but have been steadily, gently pulled from our hands and replaced with a baby bottle nipple. Disgusting. The fight over euthanasia, over drug prohibition, over dozens of other issues indicative of the erosion of indivdual rights in favor of a bloated and unaccountable government busily meddling in our lives, is the end result of such a philosophy. 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on October 05, 2005 at 22:43:57 PT
I saw that amazing show on Holland. It sure wasn't the way we protected New Orleans.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on October 05, 2005 at 22:41:05 PT
Storm Crow
I'm sorry to read that about your Mother.
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on October 05, 2005 at 22:31:05 PT
Look to Holland, again
Holland, of course, has legal euthanasia. I was watching yet another history channel show, this time it was on the dike systems in Holland. The show commented on how Hollland's protection systems are generally built to fail with storms that occur every 5000-10000 years; America's flood protections systems are designed to fail with storms that occur every 30 to 50 years.The war on marijuana seems to be but one symptom of the larger, overall incompetence of government on this side of the pond. I'm starting to think acceptance of shoddy government is a defining characteristic of our culture; we've been able to get away with it for 250+ years because of abundant natural resources and big oceans for protection.England couldn't afford a bumbling government during WWI and WWII. Europe can't afford shoddy anti-terrorism intelligence, the Islamic terrorists are too close. Obviously our government thought we were far enough away until the WTC bombing.
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Comment #8 posted by Storm Crow on October 05, 2005 at 22:30:42 PT
Are we less than animals?
The first child abuse case won, if I remember rightly, was argued in the courts by representing the child, at it's very least, as an animal. Apparently, it was not illegal to beat your child (short of actually killing him or her), but it was illegal to abuse an animal. Going from that same premise, if I allowed an animal to suffer in unbearable pain, I could rightly be prosecuted for it. If I am in unbearable pain, shouldn't I have the same rights as an animal, to be able to end my pain? I even have the ability to ask, unlike the animal. Why is it morally wrong for a dying person to end their pain, when we are required by law and morality to end the pain of our animals? Are we less than animals? My Mother used a gun to end her pain. I wish she could have had access to a gentler death.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on October 05, 2005 at 21:17:41 PT
Relief from Excruciating Pain
So many things bother me about this case. I believe most people know or have known someone who had a terminal disease. Where are the rights of an individual who is terminal and is terrified of dying in excruciating pain? Something is really wrong that our legal system can't see the issue without cluttering it with other issues. Justice is blind.I believe most people will not take their own life but just want to know that they have control over what life they have left.
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Comment #6 posted by Taylor121 on October 05, 2005 at 20:55:11 PT
Very Disappointing
It is very disappointing that Roberts is already so supportative of Federal authority over state. I keep looking at Thomas, and we may not agree on what should be state law, but we certainly agree on what the authority of the United States should be over the states themselves. Go Thomas, I hope he makes the right choice!
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 05, 2005 at 18:29:56 PT
Related Article from The Associated Press
High Court Clashes Over Assisted SuicideBy Gina Holland Wednesday, October 05, 2005 
WASHINGTON - New Chief Justice John Roberts stepped forward Wednesday as an aggressive defender of federal authority to block doctor-assisted suicide, as the Supreme Court clashed over an Oregon law that lets doctors help terminally ill patients end their lives.The justices will decide if the federal government, not states, has the final say on the life-or-death issue.It was a wrenching debate for a court touched personally by illness. Roberts replaced William H. Rehnquist, who died a month ago after battling cancer for nearly a year. Three justices have had cancer and a fourth has a spouse who counsels children with untreatable cancer.The outcome is hard to predict, in part because of the uncertain status of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who seemed ready to support Oregon's law. Her replacement may be confirmed before the ruling is handed down, possibly months from now.Roberts repeatedly raised concerns that a single exception for Oregon would allow other states to create a patchwork of rules."If one state can say it's legal for doctors to prescribe morphine to make people feel better, or to prescribe steroids for bodybuilding, doesn't that undermine the uniformity of the federal law and make enforcement impossible?" he asked.The Supreme Court eight years ago concluded that the dying have no constitutional right to doctor-assisted suicide. O'Connor provided a key fifth vote in that decision, which left room for state-by-state experimentation.The new case is a turf battle of sorts, started by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a favorite among the president's conservative religious supporters. Hastening someone's death is an improper use of medication and violates federal drug laws, Ashcroft reasoned in 2001, an opposite conclusion from the one reached by Attorney General Janet Reno in the Clinton administration.Oregon won a lawsuit in a lower court over its voter-approved law, which took effect in 1997 and has been used by 208 people.The Supreme Court appeared sharply divided in hearing the Bush administration's appeal.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has had colon cancer, talked about medicines that make a sick person's final moments more comfortable. David Souter, in an emotional moment, said that it's one thing for the government to ban date rape drugs and harmful products but "that seems to me worlds away from what we're talking about here."On the other side, Roberts and Antonin Scalia appeared skeptical of Oregon's claims that states have the sole authority to regulate the practice of medicine.Roberts, 50, was presiding over his first major oral argument and thrust himself in the middle of the debate. Over and over he raised concerns that states could undermine federal regulation of addictive drugs. He interrupted Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General Robert Atkinson in his first minute, then asked more than a dozen more tough questions.Roberts said the federal government has the authority to determine what is a legitimate medical purpose and "it suggests that the attorney general has the authority to interpret that phrase" to declare that assisted suicide is not legitimate. Roberts asked three questions of the Bush administration lawyer, noting that Congress passed one drug law only after "lax state treatment of opium.""I was wondering if the new chief would hold back and wouldn't ruffle other people's feathers. It appears clear he's not waiting for anything or anyone," said Neil Siegel, a law professor at Duke University and a former Supreme Court clerk.The two justices who seemed most conflicted were Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer. Breyer's wife counsels young cancer patients. Besides Ginsburg, the justices who have had cancer are O'Connor and John Paul Stevens."For me, the case turns on the statute. And it's a hard case," Kennedy told the Bush administration's lawyer, and later he asked about the "serious consequences" of curbing federal government authority in regulating drugs.Solicitor General Paul Clement said, "If this court makes clear that state law can overtake the federal regime, I think it at least creates the potential for there to be a lot of holes in the regime."Justice Clarence Thomas, as is his usual practice, asked no questions. He could be sympathetic to Oregon. He was one of three justices who said in a summer decision that the federal government should not interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The other two were O'Connor and Rehnquist.If O'Connor is the deciding vote in the case, the court would probably delay the decision and schedule a new argument session after the arrival of the new justice. On Monday Bush named White House lawyer Harriet Miers to replace O'Connor.Dozens of spectators gathered outside the court, waving signs supporting and opposing the Oregon law. "My Life, My Death, My Choice," read one sign. "Oregon Law Protects Doctors _ Not Patients," said another.Oregon is the only state with an assisted suicide law, but other states may pass their own if the court rules in the state's favor.The case is Gonzales v. Oregon, 04-623.Associated Press Writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.On the Net:Supreme Court: service of the Associated Press(AP)
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on October 05, 2005 at 17:47:46 PT:
Stupid (unprintables dripping fire) b*****ds
I've seen the inside of too many cancer wards and treatment centers to ever be persuaded that euthanasia doesn't have a damn good reason, sometimes. My own mother's last moments of life were spent screaming in agony. I know unequivocally that she wouldn't have cursed me for ending it had I had the means; her living will stipulated no 'heroic measures'. As it was, it was quick, thank God.But for those for whom it isn't? I'd happily fill two syringes, one for them, and another for the SADISTIC M***********RS WHO'D DENY THE DYING SOME MOMENTS OF DIGNITY AND PEACE AT THE END. And I'd ram it into one of their eyes, so they could see it coming. Faux moralistic *arsenlochen!*
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Comment #3 posted by paulpeterson on October 05, 2005 at 16:09:59 PT:
Religious Freedom Case is the big one now
This term will see the upholding of another congtressional law: The RFRA, being appealed from positive holdings in NM, 10th Circuit & enbanc ruling (8 to 5).A week before the Raich decision, the supremes upheld the related zoning and prisoner rights law. Just before Christmas, 2004, they refused to block the preliminary injunction the church gained earlier.It would appear that since "Religious Freedoms" are still supported by the religious majority (that block that Bush beats constantly), even losing a few votes won't kill the law's chances.The RFRA gives belief systems super powers against the feds. In effect, the feds would have to prove marijuana usage is harmful in order to allow federal control of sacramental usage. That totally reverses the flow in federal court, don't it?The RFRA has been deemed good law in the 7th Circuit also. The first cases to support it as giving rights to Rastas came from the 9th Circuit (1997 & 2001).The court will likely place some barriers to new belief systems that might spring up after the ruling comes out next spring. My advice is to start making a case right now that you have these beliefs and start to make the beliefs known-to start to speak later about it may be too late (self-serving only at that point).
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Comment #2 posted by BGreen on October 05, 2005 at 15:56:38 PT
Maybe doctors can send the patient to the hardware store to buy a short piece of rope with which they can choke themselves to death.At least they won't be using "drugs."Why is euthanasia the "humane" thing to do for your pet but murder when it's grandma who is suffering horribly?The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on October 05, 2005 at 15:49:07 PT
no suspense whatsoever for me
Gee, I wonder what's going to happen here? Is there anyone question at all about what the SC is going to do? By the time they're done ruling, doctors will be forced to keep patients alive until they get a death permission slip from the feds.  They'll be forced to keep your body alive until John Ashcroft says it's OK to die. (Don't worry, they'll bring him out of retirement).
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