Bench Memos

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Victory for Culture of Death in Montana?


In the new Weekly Standard (subscribers only so far), Wesley J. Smith reports on a December 5 decision by a Montana judge that the state’s constitution protects a right to assisted suicide as essential to “human dignity.”  She based her ruling in part on the infamous “mystery” passage from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

As Smith notes, the Supreme Court declined in 1997 to rely on this language and create a federal suicide right.  But there was no good reason for not doing so, if such metaphysical musings are not repudiated by the justices.  So long as “reasoning” such as this remains part of the body of American constitutional law, lower court judges will turn to it to justify their own judicial creativity.

Montana judge Dorothy McCarter’s ruling is being appealed by the state.  I hope the appellate courts of the state overturn it, and with a fitting rebuke to Judge McCarter.  But Wesley Smith is right to worry that this is just another skirmish in the judicial left’s “steady drive to topple the social order rooted in Judeo-Christian/humanistic moral philosophy.”  As always with Smith, the whole article is worth reading.

UPDATE: Smith’s article is now online to all readers here.


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