The Roberts Court (2005–present)


CourtSpeak: Gonzales v. Oregon Assisted Suicide Case (2006)

Justice Anthony Kennedy (majority): “The Government, in the end, maintains that the prescription requirement delegates to a single Executive officer the power to effect a radical shift of authority from the States to the Federal Government to define general standards of medical practice in every locality. The text and structure of the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] show that Congress did not have this far-reaching intent to alter the federal-state balance and the congressional role in maintaining it.”

Justice Antonin Scalia (dissenting): “Even if the Directive were entitled to no deference whatever, the most reasonable interpretation of the Regulation and of the statute would produce the same result. Virtually every relevant source of authoritative meaning confirms that the phrase ‘legitimate medical purpose’ does not include intentionally assisting suicide.”

Justice Clarence Thomas (dissenting): “In other words, in stark contrast to Raichs broad conclusions about the scope of the CSA as it pertains to the medicinal use of controlled substances, today this Court concludes that the CSA is merely concerned with fighting ‘drug abuse’ and only insofar as that abuse leads to ‘addiction or abnormal effects on the nervous system.’ The majority’s newfound understanding of the CSA as a statute of limited reach is all the more puzzling because it rests upon constitutional principles that the majority of the Court rejected in Raich.”


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