Friday, November 15, 2013

Washington v. Glucksberg case brief

Washington v. Glucksberg case brief summary
521 U.S. 702 (1997)

Petitioners challenged the judgment of the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit which ruled that the State of Washington's ban on assisted suicide, as articulated in Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.26.060(1) (1994), was violative of the U.S. Constitutional amendment XIV.

Respondents brought a suit seeking a declaration that Washington state's ban on physician-assisted suicide, Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.36.060(1) (1994), was unconstitutional on its face.

  • On review, the United States Supreme Court held that history, legal traditions, and practice support criminalizing assisted suicide. 
  • The Court held that the assisted-suicide ban was rationally related to a legitimate government interest because Washington sought to preserve human life and also uphold the integrity and ethics of the medical profession. 
  • Additionally, Washington's statute sought to protect vulnerable groups, such as the poor, elderly, and disabled from abuse, neglect, and mistakes. 
  • Finally, the Court held that Washington's ban on assisted-suicide effectively prevented a broader license to voluntary or involuntary euthanasia. 
  • Thus, the Court reversed judgment in favor of petitioners.


The Court reversed judgment in favor of petitioners because Washington's ban on assisted suicide was rationally related to a legitimate government interest and did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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