Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Court Tackles Oregon Suicide Law

The US Supreme Court is taking on its first controversial case today, hearing arguments regarding the state of Oregon’s assisted suicide law. (BBC: Euthanasia test for Supreme Court).

The real issue that should be addressed by the court is not a right to die issue. Rather, it has to do with whether or not the federal government has any jurisdiction at all over the entire issue. The case before the Supreme Court is a state’s rights issue more than anything else.

This issue may well be the first real test for new Chief Justice Roberts – a conservative that will be torn between a state’s rights ruling and his personal beliefs on euthanasia. The issue also has significant implications in subsequent rulings on Roe versus Wade. A Supreme Court ruling that the federal government has no jurisdiction over the Oregon right to die law would also need to rule that the federal government has no jurisdiction over a state’s right to life law – the very heart of the Roe versus Wade ruling.
Indeed, the constitution does not grant the federal government jurisdiction in either case. Under the 10th amendment, both are therefore reserved solely for the states. It will be most interesting to see how this court rules as it may have far reaching implications for future cases. At the very least, we will see how this court will handle the question of state’s rights.


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