In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld Oregon's physician-assisted suicide — the only law of its kind in the nation. The law has been before Oregon voters twice. It allows a terminally ill patient to take an overdose of drugs under two conditions: two doctors agree the patient is terminally ill and they believe the patient is of sound mind.
for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy rebuffed efforts by the nation's top law enforcement official, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to criminally charge doctors who helped people end their lives. According to Gonzales, federal drug laws did not permit or condone doctor-assisted suicide.
Dissenting: Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and new Chief Justice John Roberts, the three most conservative members of the court.
Reuters reports: "Kennedy, joined by another moderate conservative, retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and the court's four most liberal members, said the authority claimed by Ashcroft was 'both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design.'"
The White House expressed disappointment: "We are disappointed at the decision. The president remains fully committed to building a culture of life ... that is built on valuing life at all stages."
Should Samuel Alito have been confirmed, one can only speculate as to his decision. However, in general, analysts align him more closely with the dissenters than the majority.
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