The Background of Washington v. Glucksberg
Washington v. Glucksberg was a legal matter in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the right to assistance in committing suicide is not protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Dr. Harold Glucksberg, along with four other doctors, a non-profit organization and three terminally ill patients challenged Washington State’s ruling against assisted suicide through the passing of the natural Death Act of 1979. The group of physicians, terminally ill patients and the Compassion in Dying organization claimed that the act of assisting one’s suicide was a liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution through the Due Process Clause.
Washington v. Glucksberg Decision:
The Supreme Court Case of Washington v. Glucksberg reversed a previous ruling administered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who claimed that a ban on physician assisted suicide embodied in the state’s Natural Death Act of 1979 was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The court claimed that because an assisted suicide is not a fundamental liberty, it is not protected under the 14th Amendment.
The case was eventually heard in the United States Supreme Court, where Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated that the ban was rational because it furthered various compelling state interests, primarily the preservation of human life and protecting the mentally ill or disabled from medical malpractice and coercion. The ban, according to Washington v. Glucksberg, stated that if the court system declared physician-assisted suicide a constitutional right, the nation would start down the path to voluntary and perhaps involuntary assisted suicide.
The Case Profile of Washington v. Glucksberg:
The following is a case profile of the legal trial eponymously titled ‘Washington v. Glucksberg’:
Date of the Trial: January 8, 1997
Legal Classification: Constitutional Law
Date of the Delivery of the Verdict: June 26, 1997
Legal Venue of Washington v. Glucksberg: United States Supreme Court by way of the United Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Judicial Officer Responsible for Ruling: Chief Justice William Rhenquist
Verdict Delivered: The United States Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment did not protect the right to commit assisted suicide