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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

That government is best which governs least - Anthony Kennedy. No it isn't - Antonin Scalia. 

It's useful to again review the difference between conservatives and neo-conservatives. Conservatives believe in small government, limited powers, and state's rights. Neo-conservatives hold no such beliefs:

The Bush administration overstepped its authority when it barred doctors from helping terminally ill patients die in the only state that allows physician-assisted suicide, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

In a stinging defeat for the administration, the high court ruled on a 6-3 vote that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft impermissibly interpreted federal law in 2001 to bar distribution of controlled drugs to assist suicides, regardless of the Oregon law authorizing it.

"We conclude (the federal law's) prescription requirement does not authorize the attorney general to bar dispensing controlled substances for assisted suicide in the face of a state medical regime permitting such conduct," Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the majority.

The Oregon law, called the Death with Dignity Act, was twice approved by the state's voters. The only state law in the nation allowing doctor-assisted suicide, it has been used by more than 200 people since it took effect in 1997....

Ashcroft's directive declared that assisting suicide was not "a legitimate medical purpose" under the Controlled Substances Act and that prescribing federally controlled drugs for that purpose therefore was against the federal law....

The court's most conservative members -- Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and new Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush -- dissented.

Supporters of the state law, such as Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, praised the ruling. He vowed to fight any congressional attempts to overturn the decision.

"The court's decision has stopped, for now, the administration's attempts to wrest control of decisions rightfully left to the states and individuals," Wyden said....

The closely watched case pitted the federal government's power to interpret and enforce the nation's drug laws versus the traditional authority of a state to regulate doctors and the practice of medicine....

Kennedy said the authority claimed by Ashcroft was "both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."

He said in the 28-page opinion that the federal law regulated medical practice only to bar doctors from using their prescription-writing powers as a way to engage in illicit drug dealing and trafficking.

Scalia said in his dissent that he would uphold the administration's position. "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death," he said.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

The court's most conservative members -- Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and new Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush -- dissented.

Yeah, it's interesting that the article calls Scalia, Thomas and Roberts the "most conservative" justices. That may be true in terms of moral -- or religious -- conservatism. (One blogger on atrios today called them "the Opus Dei chapter of the Federalist Society".)

But they're not "conservative" in any sense that Barry Goldwater, putative author of "The Conscience of a Conservative," would have recognized. They support the federal government's regulatory authority as trumping states' rights. They hold an expansive view of the commerce clause. They want to impose a religious moral standard on citizens instead of honoring personal freedoms.

That's not conservative. I'm not ever sure it's neoconservative. It's Puritanical and Orwellian, which isn't conservative at all!

Thersites from The NeoProgBlog
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