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October 7, 2005

Assisted Suicide and Judicial Preference

Topics: Judicial Activism, Life Issues

assisted_suicide.jpgThe United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in Gonzales v. Oregon, a case which tests whether the federal government can be forced to facilitate assisted suicide through the use of federally controlled drugs whenever a state no longer prevents assisting suicide as a matter of state law.

Wesley J. Smith comments on the assisted suicide case currently before the Supreme Court:

Assisted suicide is a policy of privilege. Contemporary proponents are relatively few, but very committed.

I believe under the law, the U.S. Government should win this case. But assisted suicide litigation has always been steeped in the politics of privilege, leading to some overtly political results. So, I am taking no bets.

While Smith is confident that the correct ruling by the court is to strike down the Oregon law that has allowed over 200 patients to be killed by their physicians, the overtly political nature of the issue has made the future decision quite unpredictable.

Underscoring this point is the constant referral by the press to the gut wrenching debate precipitated by illness in the lives of the Justices:

It was a wrenching debate for a court touched personally by illness. Roberts replaced William H. Rehnquist, who died a month ago after battling cancer for nearly a year. Three justices have had cancer and a fourth has a spouse who counsels children with untreatable cancer.
The same article refers sympathetically to the experiences of Justices Ginsburg and Souter:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has had colon cancer, talked about medicines that make a sick person's final moments more comfortable. David Souter, in an emotional moment, said that it's one thing for the government to ban date rape drugs and harmful products but "that seems to me worlds away from what we're talking about here."
The expectation that the Justices will be biased by their personal experience is, of course, contrary to the rule of law. The rule of law demands "that judges adhere to legal rules that are set forth by others, that the job of the judge is to interpret and apply the law, not to promote personal visions of good law. The whole structure of our legal system -- from life tenure to the nature of the briefing and decision process to the requirement of written decisions explaining the judges' views -- is designed to insulate judges from external pressures and to assure their fidelity to the law.

Yet, our courts are filled with judicial tyrants that live a life of privilege and wield their power according to personal preference built upon experience and pragmatism. I certainly hope the newly re-constituted Supreme Court will rise above the tide of suicidal secularism and stand with the framers of our Constitution against the grotesque practice of physician administered death.

Cross-posted: BlogsforTerri

Posted by tim at October 7, 2005 12:06 AM

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