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Encyclopedia > Gonzales v. Oregon
Gonzales v. Oregon
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued October 5, 2005
Decided January 17, 2006
Full case name: Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General, et al., v. Oregon, et al.
Docket #: 04-623
Citations: 546 U.S. 243; 126 S.Ct. 94, 2006 U.S. LEXIS 767, 74 USLW 4068, 06 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 433, 2006 Daily Journal D.A.R. 608, 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 49
Prior history: Summary judgment granted to plaintiffs in part, Oregon v. Ashcroft, 192 F. Supp.2d 1077 (D. Ore. 2002); affirmed, 368 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2003); cert. granted, sub. nom. Gonzales v. Oregon, 125 S.Ct. 1299 (2005)
Holding
The Controlled Substances Act does not empower the Attorney General of the United States to prohibit doctors from prescribing regulated drugs for use in physician-assisted suicide under state law permitting the procedure. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
Court membership
Chief Justice: John Roberts
Associate Justices: John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer
Case opinions
Majority by: Kennedy
Joined by: Stevens, O'Connor, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer
Dissent by: Scalia
Joined by: Roberts, Thomas
Dissent by: Thomas
Laws applied
Ore. Rev. Stat. § 127.800 et seq. (2003) (Oregon Death With Dignity Act)
21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. (Controlled Substances Act)
66 Fed. Reg. § 56608 (2001)

Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case which ruled that the United States Attorney General could not enforce the Controlled Substances Act against physicians prescribing drugs for the assisted suicide of the terminally ill as permitted by an Oregon law. It was the first major case heard under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. Image File history File links Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  US Government Portal      The Supreme Court of the United States (sometimes colloquially referred to by the... The United States District Court for the District of Oregon is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is comprised of the state of Oregon. ... The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts: District of Alaska District of Arizona Central District of California Eastern District of California Northern District of California Southern District of California District of Hawaii... Certiorari (pronunciation: sÉ™r-sh(Ä“-)É™-ˈrer-Ä“, -ˈrär-Ä“, -ˈra-rÄ“) is a legal term in Roman, English and American law referring to a type of writ seeking judicial review. ... This article is about the Chief Justice of the United States. ... John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is currently the most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. ... Sandra Day OConnor (born March 26, 1930) is an American jurist who served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. ... Antonin Gregory Scalia (born March 11, 1936[1]) is an American jurist and the second most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. ... This article is about the Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. ... David Hackett Souter (born September 17, 1939) has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1990. ... Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist and has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. ... Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15, 1933, Brooklyn, New York) is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. ... Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15, 1938) is an American attorney, political figure, and jurist. ... Measure 16 of 1994 established Oregons Death with Dignity Act (ORS 127. ... The United States Code (U.S.C.) is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal law of the United States. ... The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted into law by the Congress of the United States as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. ... The Federal Register contains most routine publications and public notices of United States government agencies. ... // The United States Reports, the official reporter of the Supreme Court of the United States Case citation is the system used in common law countries such as the United States, England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia and India to uniquely identify the location of past court... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  US Government Portal      The Supreme Court of the United States (sometimes colloquially referred to by the... Seal of the United States Department of Justice The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice (see 28 U.S.C. Â§ 503) concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. ... The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted into law by the Congress of the United States as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. ... Official language(s) (none)[1] Capital Salem Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 9th  - Total 98,466 sq mi (255,026 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 2. ... John G. Roberts Jr. ...

Contents

Background of the case

In 1994, voters in the state of Oregon approved Measure 16, a ballot initiative that established the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, by a margin of 31,962 votes, or 51.3%. The Act legalized physician-assisted dying. A 1997 referral by the Oregon Legislative Assembly aimed to repeal the Death with Dignity Act, but was defeated by a 60% margin, with 220,445 votes cast against it. The law permits physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a patient agreed by two doctors to be within six months of dying from an incurable condition. As of 2006, 292 individuals had ended their lives under the law.[2] Measure 16 of 1994 established Oregons Death with Dignity Act, which legalizes physician-assisted suicide with certain restrictions, making Oregon the first U.S. state and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to officially do so. ... In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizens initiative) provides a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. ... Measure 16 of 1994 established Oregons Death with Dignity Act, which legalizes physician-assisted suicide with certain restrictions, making Oregon the first U.S. state and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to officially do so. ... Euthanasia (Greek, good death) is the practice of killing a person or animal, in a painless or minimally painful way, for merciful reasons, usually to end their suffering. ... The Oregon Legislative Assembly is the legislature for the U.S. state of Oregon. ...


On November 9, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft issued an Interpretive Rule that assisted-physician suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose, and that any physician administering federally controlled drugs for that purpose would be in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The State of Oregon, joined by a physician, a pharmacist, and some terminally ill patients, all from Oregon, filed a challenge to the Attorney General's rule in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.[3] The court ruled for Oregon and issued a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the Interpretive Rule. The ruling was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. is the 313th day of the year (314th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. ... John David Ashcroft (born May 9, 1942) is an American politician who was the 79th United States Attorney General. ... The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted into law by the Congress of the United States as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. ... The United States District Court for the District of Oregon is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is comprised of the state of Oregon. ... Look up Injunction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts: District of Alaska District of Arizona Central District of California Eastern District of California Northern District of California Southern District of California District of Hawaii...


The Court's decision

In a 6-3 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy,[4] the Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit's judgment, but employed different reasoning. The majority opinion did not dispute the power of the federal government to regulate drugs, but disagreed that the statute in place empowered the U.S. Attorney General to overrule state laws determining what constituted the appropriate use of medications that were not themselves prohibited. The court cited Linder v. United States to limit federal power to regulate medical practice. The court found that it was inappropriate to apply Chevron deference toward the Attorney General's "interpretive rule" that controlled substances could not medically be used for the purpose of euthanasia. This article is about the Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. ... Holding The Harrison Act cannot be used to prosecute doctors who proscribe narcotics to addicts. ... Holding Courts must defer to administrative agency interpretations of the authority granted to them by Congress (1) where the grant of authority was ambiguous, and (2) where the interpretation was reasonable or permissible. ... For mercy killings not performed on humans, see animal euthanasia. ...


Scalia's dissent

Justice Scalia, in a dissent joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas, argued that under the Supreme Court precedent deference was due to the Attorney General's interpretation of the statute. He wrote that "[i]f the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death".


Thomas's dissent

In addition to joining Justice Scalia's dissent, Justice Thomas also filed a brief dissent in which he argued that the court's majority opinion was inconsistent with the reasoning in Gonzales v. Raich. Thomas also dissented in that decision, in which five of the six justices in the majority in Oregon found broad federal authority under the Controlled Substances Act for Congress to forbid the growth of medical marijuana. Thomas had argued for a more limited congressional power under the Commerce Clause in Raich, which focused on intra-state vs. inter-state commerce. In Oregon, by contrast, the case was instead a matter of the validity of an executive interpretation of that statute. Holding Congress may ban the use of marijuana even where states approve its use for medicinal purposes. ...


See also

This is a list of all the United States Supreme Court cases from volume 546 of the United States Reports: Dye v. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Full text of the Supreme Court's decision
  2. ^ This statistic may be found at http://www.ohd.hr.state.or.us/chs/pas/ar-smmry.cfm.
  3. ^ The case was initially filed as Oregon v. Ashcroft, with John Ashcroft, then Attorney General, as a nominal defendant by virtue of his status as the head of the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Alberto Gonzales was substituted for Ashcroft following his appointment to that position.
  4. ^ Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was in the majority, though she had announced her retirement on July 1, 2005, pending confirmation of a successor. She remained on the Court when oral argument was heard and when the case was considered, though her vote would not have counted if her successor was seated before the Court formally announced its decision. Samuel Alito was still pending confirmation by the Senate to replace O'Connor when the ruling was handed down.

John David Ashcroft (born May 9, 1942) is an American politician who was the 79th United States Attorney General. ... Alberto Gonzales (born August 4, 1955), is the 80th and current Attorney General of the United States. ... Sandra Day OConnor (born March 26, 1930) is an American jurist who served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. ... Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. ...

External links

  • Full text (HTML with links to precedents, statutes, and U.S. Constitution)
  • Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Suicide Law, Washington Post, January 17, 2006.
  • Legal analysis of the case
  • Transcript of oral arguments

 
 

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