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SCOTUS Nominee Gorsuch Opposes Physician-Assisted Suicide Laws


Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, left, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, left, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Tuesday night, President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is an outspoken opponent of physician-assisted suicide laws, like Oregon’s.

In his 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” Gorsuch argued against both practices.

“The intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong,” the nominee wrote.

Jim Oleske is an associate professor at Lewis and Clark Law School. Oleske said in Washington v. Glucksberg, the court ruled patients do not have the constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. But individual states can still allow the practice, and today, six do.

“I don’t think there is a high degree of likelihood that that kind of case would come back in the court any time soon,” Oleske said. “In large part, because we expect Judge Gorsuch to have a similar approach as Justice Scalia, so that you wouldn’t expect that vote to change. ”

In Gonzales v. Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the U.S. Attorney General could not prevent doctors from prescribing life-ending drugs in states allowing physician-assisted suicide.

Oleske says it’s possible that if Congress passed new laws relating to physician-assisted suicide, they could go in front of the high court. 

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