Wyden Informs Senate Leadership He Will Block Legislation Overturning "Death with Dignity"
Senator moves to preserve yesterday's Supreme Court ruling
Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today informed U.S. Senate leadership that he will block any Federal legislative efforts that would impact Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld yesterday. In a statement submitted to the Congressional Record and in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Wyden stated his intention "to use every legislative and procedural tool at my disposal as a United States Senator to block any attempt to overturn, invalidate or otherwise affect Oregon's law in any way."
In 2000, Wyden used his ability to filibuster to block legislative efforts in the U.S. Senate that would have invalidated Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which has been approved twice by the state's voters. In July 2005, Wyden, along with U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.) and David Wu (D-Ore.) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court opposing efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to overturn the Oregon law, first enacted by the state in 1997. In that brief they maintained that former Attorney General John Ashcroft used the Controlled Substances Act incorrectly to bring the Justice Department's case and threaten Oregon physicians who follow the Oregon law. The Supreme Court upheld the Oregon law yesterday in a 6-3 decision.
As a matter of policy, Wyden publicly announces any formal objection he lodges with regard to the nominees or legislation, and does so with a formal statement in the Congressional Record. The text of Wyden's statement and letter to Senator Reid can be found on the following pages.
For the Congressional Record
Statement by United States Senator Ron Wyden
January 18, 2006
M. President, consistent with my practice of announcing publicly my intent to object to unanimous consent requests, I am asking unanimous consent to print this statement and the attached letter in the Congressional Record. It explains that I will use every legislative and procedural tool at my disposal as a United States Senator to block any attempt to affect in any way Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which the Supreme Court upheld yesterday.
Text of Letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
January 18, 2006
The Honorable Harry Reid
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Leader Reid:
I am writing to inform you of my intent to object to any unanimous consent request to consider any measure or matter that might affect end of life care generally and Oregon's Death with Dignity Act in particular.
As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday upheld Oregon=s unique Death with Dignity Act, and I intend to use every legislative and procedural tool at my disposal as a United States Senator to block any attempt to overturn, invalidate or otherwise affect Oregon's law in any way.
Consistent with my practice of publicly announcing my intent to place a "hold" on a measure or matter, I will ask that this letter be printed in the Congressional Record. If your staff has any questions, please feel free to contact my Legislative and Policy Director, Carole Grunberg, or my Senior Health Policy Advisor, Stephanie Kennan at 202-224-5244.