Oregon assisted suicide law upheld
by Crazy Vaclav, Tue Jan 17, 2006 at 08:27:43 AM EST
The Supreme Court has upheld Oregon's assisted suicide law 6-3, in the case of Gonzales v. Oregon
. The majority opinion was written by Kennedy
, joined by O'Connor, Souter, Stevens, Breyer, and Ginsburg. Scalia
dissented, joined by Roberts and Thomas. Thomas
also dissented separately.
My observations on this case:
- Roberts kind of telegraphed his vote with his questioning during the hearing of this case, but it's become clear he isn't an O'Connor style moderate; he's now revealed himself to be a conservative tool who will throw states' rights out the window when it's in the conservative movement's best interest.
- Kennedy is definitely flexing his swing-vote muscle, and assuming Alito winds up on the court, Kennedy becomes the person to watch as to how social-issues cases get decided.
3) As much as this case shows the conservatives being unprincipled and philosophically inconsistent (promoting federal power over the states in this one particular area), you could probably say the same thing about the moderates, who usually tend to err on the side of federal authority (which sometimes leads to undesirable results, as with Kelo
). Along those lines, I was halfway expecting this case to be another one of those bass-ackwards cases like Kelo
where the moderates supported a restrictive federal policy in order to more generally protect the government's ability to regulate, and the conservatives endorsed a more "progressive" result with the philosophical goal of reducing the federal government's regulatory reach.
But that didn't happen here... and the rationale, apparently, is that both sides treated this case as a boringly narrow statutory interpretation question (i.e. the Controlled Substances Act) and the AG's administrative rule-making authority, rather than a broad constitutional Commerce Act question. So, that allowed them all to vote their consciences without worrying about giving the other side a precedential building block.