Legal Briefs

Raich v. Gonzales

In 2005, the Supreme Court decided Gonzales v. Raich, a case that pitted two sick women, who use medical cannabis, against the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department asserted that the Commerce Clause gives federal prosecutors and drug police the power to throw these women in jail, even though their medical choices have nothing to do with interstate commerce. In a defeat for federalism, the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, joined by Justices Kennedy and Scalia, agreed with the feds. Now, the Raich case is back before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, ably litigated once again by Cato senior fellow Randy Barnett. Randy argues that the federal government is intruding on these women’s fundamental right to control their own medical decisions, a right protected by the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. Cato’s friend-of-the-court brief, filed in support of Randy’s clients and joined by the Reason Foundation, shows that the history surrounding the adoption of the Bill of Rights strongly supports Randy’s arguments.

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