Supreme Court Backs Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act”

Says DOJ's assisted suicide policy beyond federal power

January 17, 2006 • News Releases

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On Tuesday, in a 6–3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal drug laws do not give the Bush administration power to squelch Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act.” Twice endorsed by Oregon voters, the Act allows local doctors to prescribe medication that ends the suffering of terminally ill patients.

Mark Moller, editor of the Cato Supreme Court Review and co‐​author of Cato’s amicus brief in the case of Gonzales v. Oregon, praised the decision:

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome win for defenders of limited government. The Court not only strikes down federal efforts to squash Oregon’s experiment with assisted dying, but calls the federal policy inconsistent with the ‘principles of our federal system.’ Last summer, the Court upheld sweeping federal power to regulate local medical decisions in Gonzales v. Raich. Court‐​watchers called Raich a disaster for the ‘federalism revolution’ (the Court’s effort to revive constitutional limits on federal power.) As Justice Thomas notes, today’s decision marks a ‘hasty retreat’ from Raich and signals that the federalism revolution isn’t yet over.”

Mark Moller and Roger Pilon, Cato’s vice president for legal affairs, are available for interviews.