May 26, 2004

Wyden praises 9th Circuit decision to maintain Oregon's Death with Dignity law

Portland, OR U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today praised the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's ruling upholding Oregon's Death with Dignity law. Today's ruling thwarts U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's appeal of an April 2002 U.S. District Court ruling that also upheld Oregon's law, which has faced serious opposition since being approved by Oregon voters in 1994 and again in 1997.Wyden has twice defeated Congressional efforts to overturn Oregon's physician assisted suicide law and has strongly criticized Ashcroft's attempts to use the Drug Enforcement Agency to pursue physicians working under the law. In November 2002, Wyden and U.S. Reps. Darlene Hooley, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and David Wu filed an amicus brief in the case in opposition to efforts by Ashcroft to overturn the state law.In response to the ruling, Wyden said:"With today's ruling, the Executive branch has now been told once by Congress and twice by the courts that it has no role and no authority to overturn Oregon's twice-chosen course. Because the Senate refused to pass the Hyde-Nickles legislation, the 9th Circuit has now confirmed that Congress never waived Oregon's right to allow physicians to aid terminally ill patients. Attorney General Ashcroft needs to finally accept no' for an answer and attend to the many more pressing challenges confronting the Department of Justice."Congress should also accept the court's ruling and remain focused on improving the economy and the dangerous situation in Iraq. Should Senator Nickles and others view this ruling as an invitation to once again attempt to overturn Oregon's law, I intend to once again defeat their efforts."I am proud of the job done by Attorney General Myers and his staff, and congratulate them on their outstanding efforts."