Backers of Oregon's one-of-a-kind assisted-suicide law cheered a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling upholding the law as a significant victory for the state and for terminally ill people who want the choice of when to end their lives. The Oregon attorney general's office said the ruling removed any doubts about the legality of physician aid-in-dying, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) vowed he would fight any future attempt in Congress to overturn the state law. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said federal authority to regulate doctors did not override the 1997 Oregon law. In addition, the Bush administration improperly tried to use a drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribed overdoses to help terminally ill patients die, Kennedy wrote.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the dissenting opinion, said federal officials have the power to regulate the doling out of medicine. "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death," Scalia wrote. Oregon's law covers only extremely sick people -- those with incurable diseases, whom at least two doctors agree have six months or less to live and are of sound mind. -- by the Associated Press