Oregon was in the forefront of what could be a very relevant exception. In Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s “right-to-die” law, approved twice by Oregon voters. The U.S. Attorney General argued that federal law pre-empted the state law. The Supreme Court disagreed and found that states generally have wide discretion in regulating health and safety, including medical standards. Finding that the Bush administration’s reading of the federal statute would mark “a radical shift of authority from the States to the Federal Government to define general standards of medical practice in every locality,” the Court ruled that Oregon could protect the rights of its citizens, at least in this specific instance.
The case was decided on a 6 to 3 margin. The three dissenters were “conservatives” Scalia, Roberts and Thomas. But, now that it is precedent, we can hope that those judges will join some “liberals” and apply its logic against ObamaCare.
In the current case before the Court, Oregon’s Attorney General is arguing that the federal government can override the wishes of the 26 states that oppose ObamaCare. Let’s hope that those 26 states prevail and every American is protected against an overreaching federal government that seeks to force us to purchase a product (in this case health insurance) against our will.
As Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. puts it, “Whether you are a man or a woman, pro-choice or pro-life, you lose freedom and privacy under this law.”
Three Amicus Briefs in the current ObamaCare case that use Gonzales v. Oregon as an argument against the law:
American Legislative Exchange Council, pages 10 and 15.
Goldwater Institute, pages 24, 29, 31
State of Virginia, page 24.
Here is a Brief supporting states rights in the original Gonzales v. Oregon case:
Cato Institute Amicus Brief in defense of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Law in the Gonzales v. Oregon case.
Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst and founder at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.