High court debates assisted suicide law

Oregon law at stake
Epitomizing what is at stake in the battle over a replacement for retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a skeptical Supreme Court heard arguments early last month in a case involving Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.

The justices are considering whether the U.S. attorney general can use federal drug-control laws to punish physicians who prescribe death-hastening drugs to patients.

Gonzales v. Oregon represented the first contentious social issue before the new Court—only two days after newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts took the helm October 3. And the case was heard the same day President Bush announced that White House counsel Harriet Miers is his choice to replace retiring O’Connor, often a moderate swing vote on the bench. O’Connor has agreed to stay on until her successor is confirmed and sworn in. That could happen as early as this month.


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