The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's law on physician-assisted suicide yesterday, ruling that the Justice Department may not punish doctors who help terminally ill patients end their lives.
By a vote of 6 to 3, the court ruled that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft exceeded his legal authority in 2001 when he threatened to prohibit doctors from prescribing federally controlled drugs if they authorized lethal doses of the medications under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.
The ruling struck down one of the administration's signature policies regarding what President Bush calls the "culture of life" and lifts the last legal cloud over the state's law, which is unique in the nation. It also frees other states to follow in Oregon's footsteps, unless Congress acts to the contrary.
However, it's not until the tenth paragraph that the truth of what the case was really about comes out:
Although frequently described as a "right to die" case, Gonzales v. Oregon , No. 04-623, was not, strictly speaking, about the constitutional right to end one's own life. The court has already ruled, in 1997, that there is no such right and did not revisit that holding yesterday.
Instead, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy noted in the majority opinion that the question was whether Ashcroft acted in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act when he issued an "interpretive rule" in 2001, declaring that assisting suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" for which federally regulated drugs may lawfully be prescribed. Ashcroft's successor, Alberto R. Gonzales, has continued the policy.
The Post is engaging in reporting that is at the very least misleading. It's also another prine example of "agenda journalism" where stories are used to push an agenda regardless of whether the actual news supports the agenda which in this case is bashing President Bush. Is it any wonder that people don't trust big media anymore?