In Gonzales v. Oregon, the Supreme Court is being asked to determine whether federal laws regulating drug use trump
It is unlikely that the dispute will be settled on the basis of whether or not assisted suicide is a legitimate medical practice and more likely that the matter will revolve around the rights of states to legislate practices, such as medicine, within their own state. However, the arguments in this case will help set the stage for further public debate about assisted suicide. And given that three of the justices have themselves battled cancer and that the court just lost Justice Rehnquist to cancer, it is impossible for this issue not to engage the justices on a personal level.
Although the hearing began today in Washington and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor participated in the questioning, it is not clear that she will be voting on this issue. If she leaves before the court rules and the remaining justices are split 4-4, arguments will be held over until O'Connor's replacement joins the bench.
Regardless of who votes or what the outcome is, this is destined to be a landmark decision in the history of the assisted suicide movement.