criminal justice-GONZALES VS. OREGON






The United States congress formulated the controlled substance act in 1970 in order for the state to control certain drugs in the country. There was an amendment of that law. The amendment the attorney general to decide which drugs could be used. This depended on the response of the people. If the drug was not in the best interests of the people then the attorney general had the power to illegalize the particular drug. The attorney general of Oregon in the year 2001 decided that assisted medical suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose and illegalized the act. This was despite the fact the state law allowed it. At this time, the attorney general was John Ashcroft. In order for the drug practitioners to give this drug to terminally ill patients, they had to get authorization from the attorney general CITATION Chi05 l 1033 (Chicago Kent College of Law, 2005).

During the case, the state of Oregon argued that Gonzales, who was the new attorney general after Ashcroft resigned, had to prove that the congress allowed him to overturn the law. Gonzales argued that the state allowed him as the attorney general to interpret the law in any way that it deemed fit as long as it was reasonable in accordance to that law. The controlled substance act has gone through many amendments since it was formed. In 1984, the amendment was made to allow the attorney general to refuse to grant permission or suspend any practitioner’s license to issue the prescribed drugs if the said drugs were not in the public’s interest. The state of Oregon formulated the death with dignity act in accordance to the 1984 amendment. The act of Oregon has a procedure that a doctor may prescribe the drugs to a terminally ill patient. The patient may have the timeline of six months or less to live CITATION Gal05 l 1033 (Galit Avitan, 2005).

In 1997, some members of the congress advised the administrator of the drug enforcement agency that the medically assisted suicide was illegal. They suggested an interpretation of the controlled substance act that would make medically assisted suicide illegal. In response to the advice that he was given, the administrator declared that medically assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose and therefore had the powers to prosecute the doctors or physicians who gave prescriptions aiding suicide. After that, the US attorney general declared that the controlled substance act did not any way allow the drug enforcement agency to prosecute any physician who acted in accordance to the death with dignity act. When John Ashcroft was appointed in 2001 as the attorney general of Oregon, he issued the Ashcroft directive. The directive stated that medically assisted suicide was illegal. The plaintiff, the state of Oregon appealed this law on November 7, 2001. This was to stop the attorney general from giving any advice to the state regarding this matter temporarily CITATION Pew06 l 1033 (Pew Research Institute, 2006).

The case was heard in March 2002 and district court concluded that the attorney general did not have the powers to issue such a directive and that he did not have the authority to decide what exactly was a legitimate medical practice. Ashcroft appealed this ruling to the Ninth Circuit which upheld the judgment of the district court. The matter was presented to the Supreme Court which upheld that Ashcroft had exceeded his powers and did not have the authority to issue such a directive. The Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 6-3 that the attorney general did not have powers to prosecute the physicians who acted in line with the death with dignity act. In my opinion, this was the right choice because ultimately, it is the decision of a terminally ill patient together with their own doctors to decide when and why to end life. This ought to be done without any interference from the law or courts. As long as it is done within the law, then the attorney general should not have any powers to decide on the matter CITATION Gal05 l 1033 (Galit Avitan, 2005).

Works cited

BIBLIOGRAPHY Chicago Kent College of Law. (2005, May 5). US Supreme Court Media. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from Chicago Kent College Of Law:

Galit Avitan, N. W. (2005, October 5). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from Cornell University Law School:

Pew Research Institute. (2006, February 1). Supreme Court’s Decision in Gonzales v. Oregon: High Court Rejects Federal Regulation of Physician-Assisted Suicide. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from Pew Research, Religion and Public Life Project: