The Slippery Slope of Suicide: A New Approach to the Adjudication of Physician Assisted Suicide Through the Philosophy of John Locke




Volk, Emily

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In 1997, the topic of physician assisted suicide entered into the spotlight with the Supreme Court case of Washington v. Glucksberg. Analyzing the constitutionality of a Washington state prohibition of the act, the Court ultimately decided that the law was admissible and did not violate the Constitution. However, subsequent rulings by the Court have ignored this decision. Additionally, Glucksberg was largely based on the principle of substantive due process, a form of judicial balancing with a controversial history of judicial activism. Because of these problems with the Court’s previous approach, I propose that the Court instead look to the guidance of the philosophy of John Locke. This approach provides two distinct benefits – it provides an explanation of why the Court’s decision in Glucksberg has not become acknowledged precedent and removes the potential for judicial activism in suicide cases by presenting the Court instead with a firm binary decision between political ends and morality as well as a strict ban on assistance in the act.



Assisted Suicide, John Locke, Substantive Due Process