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False Federalism

In Gonzales v. Raich, it’s the state that’s violating federalist principles. National Review

Does Oregon have the constitutional right to force the United States government to permit state doctors to assist patient suicides with federally controlled substances (narcotics)? Or is the federal government entitled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to prevent these federally regulated drugs from being prescribed for lethal use regardless of state law? The Supreme Court will tell us soon in Gonzales v. Oregon, a case that will not only influence the course of the euthanasia and assisted-suicide debate, but will also profoundly impact the delicate balance of power between “states rights” and the overarching sovereignty of the federal government.

So far, court decisions have favored Oregon. Most recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Oregon’s right to regulate medical practice within its borders prevents the federal government from punishing state doctors who prescribe federally controlled substances to end their terminally ill patients’ lives. Under this view, the federal government can punish doctors who prescribe lethal doses of controlled substances for use in assisted suicide in states where the act is illegal. But punishing Oregon doctors would violate the principle of federalism because assisted suicide has been explicitly made a proper medical practice under Oregon law.

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