Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vacco v. Quill case brief

Vacco v. Quill case brief summary
521 U.S. 793 (1997)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioners sought review of the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit determining that New York's prohibition on assisting suicide, N.Y. Penal Law § 125.15, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

CASE FACTS

At issue on appeal was whether New York's prohibition on assisting suicide violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Respondent physicians asserted that although it would be consistent with the standards of their medical practices to prescribe lethal medication for mentally competent, terminally ill patients who were suffering great pain and desired a doctor's help in taking their own lives, they were deterred from doing so by New York's ban on assisting suicide, N.Y. Penal Law § 125.15.

DISCUSSION


  • The Court held that New York's statute outlawing assisted suicide neither infringed upon fundamental rights nor involved suspect classifications; thus, it was entitled to a strong presumption of validity. 
  • The Court went on to hold that the distinction between assisting suicide and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment had a rational basis.

CONCLUSION
The judgment of the appellate court declaring New York's statute prohibiting assisted suicide unconstitutional was reversed because the Court held that it was consistent with the U.S. Constitution for New York to treat assisted suicide and the refusal of lifesaving treatment differently.

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