Quarter Lifer

Quarter Lifer: Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death


Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death

Being a law junkie I love knowing every time the Supreme Court takes a shit. I do happen to be avoiding all the hoopla around Bush's latest nomination Alito. I guess my feeling on that is if Bush picked him, I don't want him on the court. However, today the Court handed down a ruling on something I do find worthy of discussion: The physician assisted suicide law in Oregon.

My Opinion:
The right to die issue is something I get very passionate about. I recall in my college biomedical ethics class going over case after case of life being medically sustained for no other reason than to generate revenue. It honestly turned my stomach. Terry Schiavo is probably the most recent case in everyone's mind, but there are tons of these cases out there. People such as Nancy Cruzan & Karen Ann Quinlan were kept alive in much the same way Schiavo was only in their cases the parents did not object to stopping life sustaining measures. It was the State, the fucking government, who felt they knew better what the person would have wanted. I'd love it if every person over the age of 18 had a living will, but they don't. In the event a tragedy strikes I would much rather have my family & friends determine my fate not some bureaucracy.

I really think life should be about quality not quantity. We all have an expiration date, it's part of the mortality deal. If you were confronted with a long, painful & terminal illness wouldn't you at least want the option to decide for yourself how long you want to suffer? I have watched both of my grandparents die from cancer as well as other people I considered family. It isn't pretty & it can be terribly slow. Everyday seems like forever. A hellishly long time while you wait for a call you know is coming. I can't imagine it being any better when you are on the dying end of that wait.

For anyone troubled by my opinions thus far I offer some irony: I know that in cases of cancer a lot of people are actually being assisted into death. It may not be called physician assisted suicide in the Jack Kevorkian sense, but really it is. Most terminal cancer patients are treated with morphine for the pain. Basically the morphine dose is increased until the person dies. Notably, I don't know of any right to life group that has a problem with easing pain even if it speeds up death. Just something to think about.

Sidebar Rant:
In a somewhat disturbing turn of events while looking for the actual decision in this case (yes, I'm lame & read case decisions) I came across an article stating most Americans can't name the Supreme Court Justices. My skin crawled at the notion. I'm not shocked by the survey's results, but a bit disgusted to see it in print.
The SC is the last word on law in this country. The least corrupt & probably most intelligent branch of the government and people fail to take notice of them. These people are not elected, they don't campaign & finagle their way into the position. Right or not, the SC is also the least checked branch of government. Have you ever heard of a Court decision being overturned by another branch? No, because it doesn't happen. For those of you who panic every time a Senator gets a blowjob I say wake the fuck up. The end of the line for the Constitution in this country does NOT lie with the politicians or the president, it lies within the Supreme Court. If you actually care about your rights you really should pay more attention to the Court. At least be able to name half of the Justices for chrissake.
End Rant.

The Ramifications from a Legal Perspective:
Back to the point...I am happy as well as concerned about how this decision came out. The decision was 6-3, a relatively strong decision. However, I could have named the dissenters before I read any further. The dissenters were Scalia, Thomas (who chronically votes the way Scalia does, he is so Scalia's bitch as well as being an appointment of Bush Sr) & the first vote from Bush's foot soldier, Roberts.

If Alito is confirmed I am positive these are the Justices with whom he will side. The Court will be down one O'conner & plus one scary ass republican. Welcome to the Nazi Court. I can only hope the rest of the Justices hold on until Dubya is out of office.

One of the things I appreciated about the Rehnquist Court was it didn't favor Federal control over State's rights. I can tolerate the red states existing with their intelligent design, anti-abortion, gay hating, god & gun loving mentality as long as I can stay safely in my blue state where logic reigns supreme. Since I can't change the ideals of every right winger on the planet I should at least be able to avoid them.

Obviously I am thrilled with the decision itself. I will never find undue torture preferable to physician assisted suicide. I'm glad to know that if worse comes to worse I can move to Oregon to die. I never want to end up a Nancy Cruzan or Terry Schiavo (I wonder if my blog can be used in court to prove that?). Hell, I don't even think I'd want to end up a Christopher Reeve or Stephen Hawking. Just like there are reasons to live, there are reasons to die (Now I have 'Turn, turn, turn' in my head). Either way I think the choice should be left up to the individual. The argument isn't all that different than the ones I'd put forth for abortion rights or the decriminalization of prostitution & drugs. At some point adults have to be allowed to make their own decisions about their own lives. There is no one law with the ability to cover all people in all situations. I am an individual with my own mind. I do not need the government reducing my life down to a least common denominator.

I know this is not the end of the debate by any means. I'm not a great legal mind, but I do think using the controlled substances act as a reason to declare the law unconstitutional was a weak choice. In the future I'm sure the right to life people will find another way to bring the issue before the Court. Hopefully Gonzales v. Oregon will set a precedent for the Court to fall back on the next time.


I cannot agree more with your main point.

Sadly, I would have a hard time naming all of the Supreme Court justices... let's see. 6.. that's all I've got. I guess I better get my learn on.

10:47 PM  

Great post. As for the SC justices, you identified the very reason why most people don't know, and don't care, about the individuals on the high bench: "These people are not elected, they don't campaign & finagle their way into the position." No media attention in the US means no attention.

And remember, they wear very similar robes. Talk about a fashion no-no--that sure won't get them on the cover of People.

-- david

5:03 AM  

I concur with your adulation of the Supreme Beings' striking of the Oregon ruling. I particularly liked the majority opinion's note that in the scenario envisioned by the Administration, *one* person (The A.G., yo!) would have complete and sole jurisdiction to decide what is and what is not a legitimate use of a controlled substance. Now let's get on the move USING this decision to get the DEA the hell out of the California Cannabis Clubs, among other things (for the record, the FDA considers neither cannabis, nor nicotine, "drugs.")

6:31 AM  

Tell me what you think of Justice Breyer. I mention him because he gave a fantastic interview on Fresh Air (NPR). While he has a Mr. Rogers voice, he appeared very thoughtful and earnest.

2:35 AM  

You OK? Haven't seen you in a while ... let us know you are well!

-- david

7:29 PM  



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