Federal rights via Assisted Suicide

Here’s a biggie. Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Oregon v. Ashcroft)
To sum things up;

“Congress enacted the Controlled Substance Act (”CSA”) in 1970 as part of a comprehensive federal scheme to regulate and control certain drugs and other substances. A 1984 Amendment to the Act authorized the Attorney General to prohibit medical practitioners’ use of a controlled substance if that use was “inconsistent with the public interest.” In 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft determined that Oregon physicians’ use of a federally registered controlled substance to facilitate physician-assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose, despite an Oregon statute which authorized such use.
In Oregon’s suit, brought to enjoin Ashcroft from giving any legal effect to his directive, the District Court ruled for Oregon and issued a permanent injunction, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Oregon argues that since states traditionally regulate medical practices, Gonzales (the new Attorney General, replacing Ashcroft) must show that Congress expressly intended to authorize the Attorney General to make such a determination. Gonzales argues that the Attorney General’s reasonable interpretation of a federal regulation is entitled to deference, even without a clear statement of legislative intent, and that Ashcroft’s interpretation of the CSA is reasonable.
In the alternative, Gonzales argues that Ashcroft’s interpretation is consistent with Congress’s intent in passing the CSA and the 1984 Amendment. This case will decide the fate the Oregon statute by either expanding or limiting the federal government’s authority over traditionally state-regulated medical practices. This case also has far-reaching moral and ethical implications that go beyond the scope of states’ rights.”

The whole issue of Assisted Suicide is a personal right. The Constitution upholds personal rights throughout, and especially in the ninth amendment. But this particular issue relates to states rights vs federal rights. As I see this issue, the federal government does not have the right, under the constitution [tenth amendment], to regulate how the states manage medical practice. drugrevenue.com

With that said above, here I diverge into my own internalization of the ensuing debate.

The contrary argument could be waged based on the power-grab congress has been performing, under section 8 of the constitution (citing “Regulation of inter-state trade”). Some would say that any practice that has an effect on the trade between states, allows congress to regulate that practice. Given that interpretation of the constitution, congress indeed would be allowed to to regulate the medical practice by way of drug sales across state lines.
(Example: Wickard v. Filburn. Where a farmer was found out of compliance of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (an act to regulate the amount of wheat sold across state boundries) for growing more wheat than allowed. The expressed reason for the wheat was for feeding this person’s farm animals, and none for use outside of his own property.)

But I invite you to look at the wording of Article 1, section 8 again.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

(my emphasis)

This section has been interpreted to mean that congress can regulate the industries that produce goods that travel between the states (i.e. Interstate Trade). And then interpreted again to mean that congress can regulate those goods that impact the industries that produce the goods that travel between the states (such as what happened in the above Wickard v. Filburn.)

I say that Article 1 does not allow congress to regulate the industries or the goods that cross the borders. Only that they can regulate how the individual states handle the trade between themselves. To relate again to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, Congress was right (In theory, at least. I have not studied the Act, so I can’t vouch for the practice.) to attempt to regulate the amount of wheat travelling between state borders for the purpose of preventing shortages. But Congress did not have the power (under article 1 of the constitution) to regulate what happened within the state’s borders. Let alone what happened within the farmer’s property borders.

This over-reaching interpretation of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 by the supreme court has helped pave the way for the kinds of attitudes of congress that allow them to think they can regulate the way doctors treat their own patients.


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