Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Supreme Court Upholds Assisted Suicide Law

The Supreme Court still lacks a "Culture of Life" majority. Today's 6-3 decision upholding Oregon's assisted suicide law is prime evidence of that. Even if Alito were already occupying O'Connor's seat and he had voted along with Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, the decision would still have been 5-4. The bottom line is, for all the bluster about Alito being the one to tip the balance of the court, it is the next nominee (barring the vacancy being Roberts, Scalia, Thomas or Alito) who will have the potential to make the difference on "Culture of Life" issues if he or she is nominated by President Bush or some other conservative Republican president.


At 1/17/2006 02:28:00 PM, Blogger James E. Martin said...

There have been 193 5-4 decisions where Sandra Day has been the deciding vote.

At 1/17/2006 02:31:00 PM, Blogger Riley, Not O'Reilly said...

But none on issues of life. Look at Casey and other decisions like that. And how many of those 5-4 decisions were joined by Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist and Kennedy? Probably quite a few.

At 1/17/2006 03:16:00 PM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...

From the Washington Post:

"Saying that the court's decision "is perhaps driven by a feeling that the subject of assisted suicide is none of the Federal Government's business," Scalia wrote that "it is easy to sympathize with that position." However, the government has long been able to use its powers "for the purpose of protecting public morality," he said."

So much for Republican values! What ever happened to allowing the States the ability to govern its own people based on their wishes? The very thought that the Federal government should be permitted to invade our private lives and force morality on us, but at the same time should remain small and impotent when it comes to taxation and regulation, is the height of hypocrisy.

Great decision by the Supremes. I only wish that the dissenters would kindly stop sniffing my chair.

At 1/17/2006 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

ND - If you have a 5-4 vote, how do you know which of the 5 was the "deciding " one?

At 1/17/2006 03:44:00 PM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...

One problem Mitch. The constitution talks about the right to life as a protected right at the federal level. Therefore it is the responsibility of the federal government to protect that foundational right, especially when some would lower doctors to the point of being executioners possibly even paid under some government medical plan.

Last time I checked we have yet to be "taxed or regulated" to death (although we might be close), so as far as I'm concerned there is a federal interest here.

If someone wants to kill themself, I'm not going to stop them, nor is anyone in the conservative movement. After all we oppose gun control. Someone in that situation can easily take advantage of the "gun show loophole" as some are fond of saying and take matters into their own hands. However, when you go to the point of making Doctors advise on the option to kill, that to me is going too far.

At 1/17/2006 03:54:00 PM, Blogger Riley, Not O'Reilly said...

Mitch, I focus more on this quote from Scalia:

"If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death."

At 1/17/2006 04:16:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

So, mitch, the feds shouldn't regulate morality about racism? The simple fact here is that this decision demonstrates the continuing tension in the GOP between libertarians and pro-lifers. So before you read Justice Scalia out of "Republican values," you might want to remember that. Moreover, as I understand the case, it was one regulating the ability of medical professionals to assist, not whether an individual could take such a decision into his or her own hands. rtwng extrmst is completely correct on this. I would agree that you probably have the right to kill yourself. I don't agree that you have the right to enlist someone else's assistance --- particularly a profession regulated by the State --- to do so in defiance of federal statute. The case was not about the right to kill one's self; it appears to have been about whether the federal government could --- given its power under the Food and Drug Act --- limit the term "legitimate medical purpose" to exclude use for assisted suicides.

And sniffing your chair is an image too horrifying to contemplate.

At 1/17/2006 05:13:00 PM, Anonymous NOVA Scout said...

I have to read the decision. I assume that much of the discussion is whether the Fod and Drug Act has preemptive application to this kind of state action. I'm hoping when I read it, I find that the decisional fulcrum of the decision is the scope of the FDA and its preceise language, rather than some sort of general green light for euthanasia. This may be a case of conervative federalism principles colliding with conservative pro-life principles.

At 1/17/2006 06:19:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

The feds shouldn't regulate any morality of any kind. They should be concentrating on promoting equality for everyone.

Regulating morality is a step away from a theocracy. We're very, very close. Maybe we're already there.

At 1/17/2006 07:05:00 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said...

I think comparing this to abortion is a big mistake.
I am against abortion b/c the unborn child cannot make the decision if they want to live or die. It is the government's job to protect those people. It is not the job of the gov't to protect someone from killing theirself. As long as the patient makes a final act to committ suicide, I really don't see where that is any reason for the gov't to step in.
As to 5-4, Kennedy is the swing vote on alot of issues. He or one of the other 4 (Stevens, Breyer, Souter, Ginsberg) will need to be replaced in order to right the ship of the Supreme Court.

At 1/17/2006 07:32:00 PM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...

Jim (Young):

You're absolutely right about the divide between Libertarians and Social Conservatives. I've never really considered myself a Libertarian, mostly because I can't completely reconcile their views on the role of government and think their views on foreign policy are just plain stupid. Having said that, I can certainly see where my views on social issues could be referred to as "libertarian." Atl east you didn't say "liberal."

And as far as your not wanting to sniff my chair, that's gotta be a good thing, regardless of one's politcal persuasion.

At 1/18/2006 11:43:00 AM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...


You have absolutley no understanding of our current system of laws. All laws have at some basis in a "morality" in their existence. The real point is WHAT KIND of morality do we want legislated in this land? If we did as you say and did not regulate anything based on a moral position we would have only anarchy, tyrrany, and the most repressive form of human environment.


I actually have a disagreement with you on this one, albeit minor in a practical sense. I am of the belief that some of our rights are "inalienable" and the right to life is one of them as it says in the Declaration. By this I mean it is not right for anyone, including myself to take away that right without cause. My position on this is also a matter of faith, but I believe that is also why the founders wrote it that way. Of course the issue here becomes one of practicality. While I believe that suicide is not a right (assisted or otherwise), if successfully implemented by the "victim" (for lack of a better term), there is no-one to prosecute. Unfortunately I think anyone undertaking this path would have a very difficult time explaining their actions to the ultimate Judge.


The problem with this "assisted suicide" idea is who is the final arbiter of whether or not a person really is making a sane and informed decision? Also who is to say that a person might not change their mind at the very last minute? Not to mention the possible abuse of such a system. This is all very disconcerting to me. In the end, I stand by my earlier post as the only way to address this. If someone wants to die and is willing to take the action themselves, you can't stop that, but don't continue down the path of making our society one which further denigrates human life.

At 1/18/2006 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

rtwng: laws should, at their core, have social order as their main directive and purpose. So no, anarchy wouldn't be the result. The vast majority of our laws have no moral basis to them. Or can you explain to me how running a red light is immoral??

Legislating morality is, as I said earlier, a step away from legislating a particular religious viewpoint. I don't doubt that you, rtwng, would like to live in a Christian theocracy. I don't, although we seem to be moving in that direction lately.

At 1/18/2006 09:25:00 PM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...


Theocracy conspriact theories aside, all law is indeed based in morality. Social order in itself is a moral stance. After all what is the benefit of social order? Why does it have value aside from a moral basis? As for your red light question, clearly we have traffic lights to protect the lives and well-being of drivers and passengers. This has its roots in the "moral" value of human life. I suggest you take a basic course in philosophy. Without a moral base, there is no law.

At 1/18/2006 10:48:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

That is ridiculous.

The benefit to social order is, of course, the ability to have a well functioning society. Morality has nothing to do with it. Our laws keep our society from degenerating into anarchy. We make those laws that are necessary.

You can try to inject morality into everything, but you will sound ridiculous.

Claiming that running a red light is an immoral act is undoubtedly ridiculous. It's against the law, sure, but it's not immoral.

At 1/19/2006 10:15:00 AM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...


Sorry, I usually do not stoop to invective in my posts, but since you opened the door, I'm afraid I have to close it by saying your last post is completely ridiculous.

You say: "The benefit to social order is, of course, the ability to have a well functioning society"

Which of course is a morally-based statement in itself. Without morality there is no basis for laws other than raw power. Without morality there is no basis for saying it is either good or bad to have a "well functioning society" because without morality there is no "good" and no "bad".

Perhaps you are just confusing the difference between "morality" and "religion", but as I said earlier, a basic course in philosophy should help you out there.

From dictionary.com:

"mo·ral·i·ty ( P ) Pronunciation Key (m-rl-t, mô-)
n. pl. mo·ral·i·ties
The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality.
Virtuous conduct.
A rule or lesson in moral conduct."

As I said before the question is not whether we should "legislate morality", as alll laws are based in some kind of moral code. The real question is WHO's morality should we reflect in our laws?

The answer to me is the same Judeo-Christian moral code that our laws have been based on since at least the Magna Carta and by the way that have led to the most free and egalitarian society in human history.

At 1/19/2006 12:44:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

rtwng extrmst --- As my degree is in law, not theology, I leave the theological implications of suicide to others. I merely address the legal and constitutional implications as I perceive them, and as the Founders were, above all else, practical men, it is doubtful that suicide HAS constitutional implications. And you correctly identify the practical impediments to a law against it, though I suppose one could address that issue in the laws governing inheritance, if one wanted to take a strong stand against it.

And if I read your comment correctly as opposing the death penalty, I would dissent, as it is quite clear constitutionally that there can be a death penalty of the guilty, with due process of law.

At 1/19/2006 02:21:00 PM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...


I definitely agree with you on capital punishment. In that sense I believe certain crimes are most definitely cause for the state to take away someone's right to life. In fact the case where I find this most applicable is where the criminal has unjustly taken that right from another.

At 1/19/2006 06:33:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

So, explain to me how, say, jaywalking, is immoral.

At 1/20/2006 10:54:00 AM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...


How many times do you want me to take you to the woodshed on this?

Jaywalking is a crime (although rarely enforced) in order to protect the lives of walkers from being hit by cars when they would otherwise randomly walk across busy streets outside of well posted locations to cross. This protects the life of the walker, as well as the welfare of the driver who might otherwise be convicted of manslaughter. All of this of course based on the moral value of the sanctity of human life.

At 1/21/2006 09:54:00 AM, Blogger Willis said...

Ok. Why is it illegal to copulate with a partner orally in many states??

At 1/22/2006 01:09:00 AM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...

Wathutalkin'bout Willis? I have no idea why some laws are made. I only espouse that all laws have their basis in some moral code. Even those that you purport above. Who's morality made those laws, I am not certain, but it was clearly someone.


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