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Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
Washington v. Glucksberg
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- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
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- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
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- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
The Respondents, physicians who treat terminally ill patients, along with three terminally ill patients who have since died and a non profit organization who counsels terminally ill patients regarding physician assisted suicide (Respondents), sued the Petitioner, the State of Washington (Petitioner), seeking to have a statue that forbids the aiding or causing of suicide declared unconstitutional per the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The Respondents asserted the existence of a liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, which extended to a personal choice by a mentally competent, terminally ill adult to commit physician-assisted suicide. The Respondents argued that the statute in question placed an undue burden on the exercise of that constitutionally protected liberty interest. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Respondents argument and declared there was a constitutionally protected right in controlling the manner of one’s death and the Washington statute banning physician assisted suicide in the case of the terminally ill was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) in analyzing this due process case first looked to the Nation’s history regarding suicide and assisting suicide. The Supreme Court determined that the Nations’ laws and history have consistently condemned and continue to prohibit assisted suicide. The right to die by physician assisted suicide is not so rooted in the traditions and conscience of the Nation to be ranked as fundamental. The Supreme Court disregarded the Respondent’s reliance on Cruzan because in Cruzan the fundamental right to refuse unwanted medical treatment was rooted in Nations history and legal traditions. Respondents reliance on Casey also was determined not to be sound, as Casey does not suggest that the personal liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and the Due Process clause warrants that any and all important personal, intimate and personal decisions are so constitutionally protected. The Petitioner has an unqualified interest in the preservation of human life and in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession. The Petitioner also has an interest in protecting vulnerable groups, including the poor, the elderly and terminally ill.
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