Gonzales v. Oregon: Euthanasia The Supreme Court has had to deal with a variety of cases from the choice to remain silent to the choice to birth a new life. One issue not commonly talked of is the legal choice to end a life. The choice to end a life is not a light issue, but neither is being terminally ill which is when the question of ending one’s life becomes a common topic to ponder. Those who become terminally ill have requested to be “put down” before the illness gets worse. In order to fulfill this request a physician would be need to assist them. Physician assisted suicide was incorporated into an Oregon state act called the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) in ___. Years later in ___ this act was accused of being in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA proteins to the use of illicit drug in the medical field and not general state medical practices meaning it has no reason to restrict the DWDA. The Supreme Court saw the lack of correlation between the two regulations and accurately ruled in favor of Oregon’s new act saying that the interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act does not conflict with DWDA and Oregon may continue practicing under the DWDA. The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally-ill patients to seek help from physicians by allowing lethal medication to be prescribed for the patient who can then choose to end their life. All cases of this are required to be well documented and published in a annual report which then serves as an important reference point to both sides. The Death With Dignity Act allows a lethal dose of drugs to be prescribed only to patients who have incurable diseases with a six month life expectancy. In order for physicians to prescribe these, the patient must voluntarily request it and be informed about the act, and be examined be a second physician (specifics). The Death with Dignity Act was passed twice in Oregon. The first election was held in November 1994 and won by 2%. This decision was then put on hold until October 1997 when voters retained the Act with another election. This Oregon act was voted on twice and passed both times. There have been issues in the past concerning patient death with the aid of a physician. One well known case was Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) where the supreme court decided states are in charge of limiting physician assisted suicide as it is not protected by the Due Process law. Glucksberg sued Washington for their state law which put a ban on assisted suicide. Glucksberg claimed it violated the fourteenth Amendment which gives liberty and extends to a person’s choice of life or death. The district court agreed, but the Circuit ___ did not. The Supreme Court heard the case in ___ and agreed with the Circuit court ruling that ___. This set the precedent that the due process clause of the fourteenth? does not extend to life or death patient choices. However, this ruling did leave the door open for states to create their own regulations concerning euthanasia in the medical field.Origins (opinions) In 2001 attorney general John D. Ashcroft tried to use a federal drug law against doctors who followed the Death with Dignity Act which was approved by voters twice and the lower courts upheld it. Ashcroft wanted to take away the medical licenses of those who practiced the Death with Dignity Act claiming it violate the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). This case was brought to the court in November 2004 by Ashcroft and was later passed onto Alberto R. Gonzales. They argued that the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which fought drug abuse and trafficking, gave him the right to stop doctors from prescribing drugs used to end a patients life. The attorney argued that the Oregon law allowing physician-assisted suicide should not be allowed. Oregon took the opposing side (defendant) and argued that the DWDA was not violating any existing drug laws.(Public) Attorney General John Ashcroft passed the case onto Alberto R. Gonzales who was the petitioner. Oregon was the defendant.Core Issues: “The role of federalism in formulating and enforcing public health policy and the role of courts in interpreting the reach of public agency powers.” This case has resurfaced the Congressional power over medical and health practices in the states as well as establishing Congress’ desire to keep the state and federal relationship at hand and respect the state’s power to regulate medical and health standards.Path to Court: The case of the 1994 Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) first went to the United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft threatened to take away the medical licenses of those who practiced the Act since it violate the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). In turn, Oregon sued Ashcroft and went to a federal district court and then the Ninth Circuit. Both agreed with Oregon in saying that the Death with Dignity Act did not violate the CSA which means Ashcroft has no authority over the physicians involvement in the DWDA. This type of medical decision is usually left to the states. The dissent for the lower cases are not published online and little is reported on it.The majority opinion lead by Anthony M. Kennedy (6-3) decided that the CSA does not create standards for the states and their medical practices, and is relevant to drug dealing by doctors. As a result, Ashcroft was not allowed to his statement to legitimately stand (LCH). The CSA states that it does not intend to interfere with State law unless there is a direct conflict between the state law and the CSA. This provision is the “conflict preemption”. If the laws do conflict the Attorney General is allowed to control prescribing practices as well as a physician’s DEA registration. This is allowed when the public interest is not aligned with the physician and if the prescriptions are not being “issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his professional practice.” (SPecifics)Justice Scalia and Thomas felt that the federal rights of doctors allows drugs to be prescribed for “legitimate medical purposes” (stated in the CSA), and those purposes do not include death inducing drugs. The term “legitimate medical purposes” is a vague and open ended phrase which can be interpreted in many ways depending on one’s views. Public response: (public): This case not only deal with the interpretation of the CSA and therefore the federal government’s reach of power over state controlled medical practices, but it also extends to moral and ethical implications of the public beyond states rights. The public was already on board before with a 70% agreement that patients should be allowed to die sometimes. Some medical and most religious groups disapprove of the method used as they view suicide as a tragedy not a choice.Compassion and Choices- “‘This is a watershed decision for freedom and democracy in the U.S.,’ says Barbara Coombs Lee, Co-CEO and president of Compassion & Choices. ‘It reaffirms the liberty, dignity and privacy Americans cherish at the end of life.” (specifics)Ashcroft and Gonzales held the opinion of the Bush Administration which was against using dangerous national drugs to aid in killing patients. Those against the court ruling felt that the federal rights of doctors allows drugs to be prescribed for “legitimate medical purposes” (stated in the CSA), purposes of which do not include death inducing drugs. In most cases, the court allows the interpretation of the law …. But congress decided that this was specifically directed towards drug abuse and could not be stretched further. However, the court did not continue to agree with Oregon when it suggested the states determine which drugs practices are legitimate.(specific) Many other states have adopted similar physician assisted suicide acts such as Vermont, Washington, and California and the CSA is usually brought up to argue it.Conclusion: The Supreme Court’s ruling allowing oregon to continue practice with their DWDA give states their right to regulate medical practices. The interpretation of the CSA and what is legitimate is left to the states as it should be since the CSA mainly focuses on illicit drug use which does not include physician assisted suicide prescriptions.