SUPREME COURT ARGUMENT AVOIDS REAL ISSUE IN ASSISTED
SUICIDE CASE HEARING
WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (EIRNS)--The two hours of oral argument before the U.S.
Supreme Court on January 8, devoted to the issue of whether the laws of
Washington State and New York State which ban physician-assisted suicide, are,
or are not, unconstitutional, avoided the fundamental issue in this matter. At
stake is whether the U.S.'s highest legal body is going to permit the official
imposition of Nazi euthanasia, crimes for which Nazi doctors were condemned to
death at the postwar Nuremberg Tribunal.
The Schiller Institute, a thinktank led by Helga Zepp LaRouche, had raised
the Nuremberg standard in its amicus curiae brief, which was accepted by the
court. The brief charges that a ruling permitting physician-assisted suicide,
would make the perpetrators liable for prosecution by a new Nuremberg Tribunal,
as physicians and the institutions for which they work would be consigning a
category of people considered ``not worthy of life" to wrongful deaths.
The issue of the Nazi precedent for "physician-assisted suicide"--also
known as murder, or euthanasia--was only raised tangentially in the argument
before the court. Asked by Justice David Souter about the risks involved in
legalizing the practice, William L. Williams, senior assistant attorney general
of the state of Washington, noted the experience of the Netherlands (in recent
years) and "Germany in the 1930s, of course." The Justices did not
pursue this issue.
Also speaking strongly to the question of how legalizing assisted suicide
would lead to wrongful deaths, was U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger.
"States have long had laws that affirm the value of life by prohibiting
anyone from promoting or assisting a suicide and I believe that no one disputes
the constitutionality of those laws as a general matter. The actual question
before the court is whether the constitution compels an exception to those laws
here. In our view it does not... While the individual stories are
heartrending,... it's important for this court to recognize that, if you were to
affirm the judgments below [i.e., declare bans on assisted suicide
unconstitutional], lethal medication could be proposed as a treatment, not just
to those in severe pain, but to every competent terminally ill person in the
Later on, he made the point more broadly, indicating how dangerous the
decision would be in the context of medical cost-cutting:
"The reality of existing medical practice in doctors' offices and
hospitals cannot generally meet these expectations... The systemic dangers are
dramatic. The least costly treatment for any illness is lethal medication. And
the medical profession tells you in briefs... that we have a system in which we
are struggling to try to provide proper treatment for pain and for depression.
Someone who is not treated for pain is not in a position to make the kind of
decision they need to be forced to make here."
The Solicitor General also attacked the idea of using "the cheap and
easy expedient of lethal medication rather than the more expensive pain
The only other hint of the sweeping danger of the restoration of Nazi
policy, and overturning of the highest principles of U.S. Constitutional law,
that was given in the proceedings, was given outside. There, the anti-euthanasia
group Not Dead Yet rallied with signs saying "Hitler would
The Schiller Institute will continue to campaign against the revival of Nazi
euthanasia, as well as its de facto implementation through budget cuts.
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