In case you missed it, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld* Oregon's execrable suicide law today, by a vote of 6 to 3. In his first high-profile decision, Chief Justice Roberts voted with Scalia and Thomas to support the U.S. Attorney General's interpretation of federal law, allowing him to prevent the use of prescription drugs in assisting suicide.
(Correction: the Supreme Court did not "uphold" the law. The law itself was not at issue, but rather, at issue was an administrative action by U.S. government, that would have prevented doctors from using federally regulated drugs in assisting suicides.)
Here again, I confess to mixed feelings. On the one hand, there is the obvious immorality--and worse, corruption--of physicians assisting people in killing themselves, and creating a bureaucratic system to enable this.
On the other hand, I don't want the U.S. government regulating everything, not even everything that ought to be regulated; I do believe in the authority, and legitimate autonomy, of the several states.
I am not sanguine about federal drug laws, and their enforcement. There are disturbing accounts of doctors holding back from giving patients sufficient pain medication, because they fear the feds coming down on them. If true, this is a serious matter, not only because it means people being denied pain medication they should have if they need it, but also, this problem of patient pain is one of the very arguments made for euthanasia!
To cite a related, but less weighty issue: the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. I have no idea whether it's true that marijuana can help someone who is sick; I have to say, if the patient says he feels better, then it works! (Isn't that how most cold "treatments" work?) I can see very little justification for denying a dying person a joint if it really helps; yet the Supreme Court upheld the federal government on that one.
I suppose the argument can be made that the people have recourse to elections, to seek change in such federal laws; however, when does the Supreme Court protect minorities from the wrong-headedness, or simply indifference, of electoral majorities?
Also, it does matter what the federal law in question actually said, doesn't it? As much as I want to stop that abominable business in Oregon, it may be that the majority of the court is right, that the existing federal law couldn't justify what then-AG Ashcroft did.