The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

By Neil M. Gorsuch | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Glucksberg and Quill:
The Judiciary's (Non)Resolution
of the Assisted Suicide Debate


IN 1994 a group of Washington State physicians and patients, along with an assisted suicide advocacy organization, filed suit in federal district court seeking a declaratory judgment that the state statute forbidding the assistance of another person in committing suicide1 was unconstitutional under substantive due process doctrine. The case was assigned to District Judge Barbara Rothstein, who became the first judge to hold assisted suicide to be a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Under the familiar language of the Fourteenth Amendment, no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”2 Despite the procedural tone of the amendment's language, and arguments by commentators as diverse as John Hart Ely and Robert Bork,3 the Supreme Court has for many years held in case after case that due process contains a “substantive” component—one that imposes a nearly absolute bar on certain governmental actions “regardless of the fairness of the procedures used to implement them.”4 Judge Rothstein observed that many of these substantive rights adduced by the courts pertain to “marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, childrearing, and education.”5

For guidance on whether assisted suicide might qualify as a new addition to this list, Judge Rothstein turned to the then most recent major exposition of substantive due process jurisprudence, Planned Parenthood v. Casey,6 in

which the Court reaffirmed the right to abortion. Judge Rothstein observed that, while discussing abortion, the three-justice plurality in Casey suggested that matters

involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a life-
time, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the lib
erty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of the liberty is the


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 313

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?