Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

AG Can't Punish "Death with Dignity" Docs

So the Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 in favor of Oregon in Gonzales v. Oregon, with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion and Justices Scalia and Thomas, and Chief Justice Robets, in dissent. I haven't yet read the opinions, but from what I've seen in the media it appears that the decision turned on an issue of statutory interpretation - that the Attorney General was claiming powers under the Controlled Substances Act that the Act simply didn't give him. If that is indeed the basis of the judgment, then I think the majority is probably correct, and I'm heartened to see they resisted the temptation to make implausible claims about federalism or substantive due process.

Relatedly, I find it amusing/appalling/not-at-all-surprising the extent to which this case is being misreported in the mainstream press. CNN's headline: "Oregon assisted suicide law upheld". Which is in some sense correct, but in a more complete sense, it's completely ass-backward. The constitutionality of Oregon's (Orwellian-sounding) "Death with Dignity Act" was not in question in this litigation. Rather, it was the constitutionality of efforts to frustrate the execution of the DWDA that were under review. The Supreme Court did not invalidate Oregon's assisted suicide law, for the trivially true reason that nobody was asking them too.

(cross-posted at Originalisms)