Controlled Substance Act & Physician Suicide Discussion

Controlled Substance Act & Physician Suicide Discussion

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In 1994, the state of Oregon approved a doctor’s assisted suicide law. However, in 2001, the United States Attorney General provided a rule which stated that this law violated the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. According to this Act, those doctors who will be found using lethal drugs to assist their patients in committing suicide they will have their licenses revoked. Oregon took this matter to court challenging the Attorney General’s ruling. Both the District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal held this case. The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions made.

The Ruling in the Case and How Did the Commerce Clause Impact the Case

The ruling in the case was that the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) does not give the Attorney General power to forbid doctors from using regulated medicines according to a State’s assisted-suicide law. The court concurred with Oregon that controlled substances are allowed to be utilized in helping with suicides. Also, the Attorney General possesses no authority to overrule the states ruling of letting doctors authorize the controlled drugs used in aiding suicides. The Commerce clause impacted the case since the court argued that Congress never allowed the Attorney General to overrule the ruling (Cole, 2018). Therefore, the order was illegal under the court’s decision as well as later during the Ninth Circuit. The court pointed out that to control what makes up a proper medical exercise has traditionally remained with a person’s condition. The Controlled Substance Act (CSA), United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were all never approved to start a national medical exercise. The court held on to that Congress meant the Controlled Substance Act was to evade physicians from involving themselves in the illegal drug business and not to set common standards in the medical use.

Do You Agree With The Court’s Ruling? Why or Why Not?

I concur with the Supreme Court’s ruling due to the reliance on an individual’s condition. Since an individual’s health has the acceptable reasons to control medical exercise within their given situation. The federal government would not be to interfere with this decision. It is neither right for it to overrule the state’s laws, even if it involves aided suicide. Also, the court found the ruling to be inaccurate after examining it using three diverse bases. These principles were Skidmore persuasiveness, Auer, and Chevron deference (Stoker, 2017). According to Skidmore persuasiveness, a company’s interpretation is allowed to honor, depending on how convincing the argument is. In this case, the Attorney General’s Rule is not compelling enough. It is vivid sufficient that the Controlled Substance Act was not only meant to control the exercise of medicine. It was a power set aside for the states.

According to Auer deference, an agency order clarifying its ambivalent directive may be given considerable respect. The Attorney General argument rephrases the Controlled Substance Act, and hence it does not earn such deference. It is due to this reason that the Interpretive Rule does not dare to lead any unique skill on the Attorney General’s side. Lastly, under the Chevron deference, a company order clarifying its ambivalent regulation that this company is head of making sure that deference is given (Stoker, 2017). This Rule does not also earn this kind of deference. The Controlled Substance Act gives the Attorney General minimum power. For instance, the Attorney General can only revoke the license of only one doctor due to illegal dealing in narcotics. The Act does not give the Attorney General full power to outlaw the physicians who abide by Nation law.

Does This Ruling Close The Door To Federal Regulation Of Physician Suicide? Should We Have Such Regulation?

The ruling does not close the door to federal regulation of doctor’s assisted-suicide. The right to assisted suicide is a crucial subject that covers individuals all over the United States. There is a disagreement on whether a patient who is dying should die with the help of a doctor or not. Several people are not for it as it is against their moral and religious beliefs (Rosenbaum, 2015). Others are for it because of a patient’s state. Such regulations should be there; however, it is difficult to control them. It is so because people worry that whatever laws are set, they will not stop patients from being pressured to choose between dying while they will only live for a few more days.

Most of the judgment is that the Attorney General has no authority to overrule national laws. The Attorney General was not given the power to deliver an order by the Commerce clause, which states that controlled substances used in assisted suicide are not legal and that doctors are engaging in criminal activities. If it were not for the state of Oregon, taking this issue to the Supreme Court, many doctors would be held accountable for helping their patients with suicide as it would be considered illegal. However, having a regulation on the doctor’s assisted- suicide is essential.


Cole, D. (2018). On Writs of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Nos. 08-1298, 09-89 (US Nov. 16, 2009).

Rosenbaum, S. (2015). Gonzales v. Raich: Implications for public health policy. Public Health Reports120(6), 680.

Stoker, B. J. (2017). Was Gonzalez v. Raich the Death Knell of Federalism-Assessing Meaningful Limits on Federal Intrastate Regulation in Light of US Nascimento. BYU J. Pub. L.23, 317.