MY NOTES: Business Organizations | Constitutional Law I | Copyright Law | Evidence | Wills and Trusts

Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997) p.52supp


right to die


A Washington state statute enacted in 1975 provided that a person was guilty of the felony of promoting a suicide attempt when the person knowingly caused or aided another person to attempt suicide.


The District Court, granting motions for summary judgment by the physicians and the individuals, ruled that the statute was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on the exercise of the asserted liberty interest. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, ultimately affirming en banc, expressed the view that (1) the Constitution encompassed a due process liberty interest in controlling the time and manner of one's death; and (2) the Washington statute was unconstitutional as applied to terminally ill, competent adults who wished to hasten their deaths with medication prescribed by their physicians. On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court reversed.


Whether the Washington statute is unconstitutional.


States may enact statutes that prohibit suicide.


In an opinion by Rehnquist, Ch. J., joined by O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., it was held that the Washington statute did not violate the due process clause--either on the statute's face or as the statute was applied to competent, terminally ill adults who wished to hasten their deaths by obtaining medication prescribed by their physicians.


because (1) pursuant to careful formulation of the interest at stake, the question was whether the liberty specially protected by the due process clause included a right to commit suicide which itself included a right to assistance in doing so; (2) an examination of the nation's history, legal traditions, and practices revealed that the asserted right to assistance in committing suicide was not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the due process clause; (3) the asserted right to assistance in committing suicide was not consistent with the Supreme Court's substantive due process line of cases; and (4) the state's assisted suicide ban was at least reasonably related to the promotion and protection of a number of Washington's important and legitimate interests.


how to die is a very personal decision - might be able to use Casey privacy issues.

Created on: Monday, November 15, 1999 at 16:57:14 (PST)

Copyright © Thompson Resources, 1999, all rights reserved.