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Michigan V Jack Kevorkian

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Michigan v Jack Kevorkian

Case number: 221758

Court of Appeals of Michigan

FACTS: Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of 2nd degree murder of Thomas Youk by a trial court in September of 1998. The court sentenced him to prison for 10 to 25 years for the murder and seven years for the controlled substance. The cause of Thomas Youk's death was ruled a homicide and the cause of death as poisoning by intravenous injection of substances. Kevorkian argues two constitutional arguments: the 9th amendment including a patient's right to be free from unbearable pain and suffering and the 14th amendment; including the right by proscribing state deprivation of liberty or "that a person should not be forced to suffer unbearably." Kevorkian then appealed his case.

ISSUE: 1. Do people have the reserved right to euthanasia under the 9th Amendment?

2. Whether the 14th amendment protects a person's right to be free from suffering?

RULE: 9th Amendment. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

14th Amendment, Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

ANALYSIS: The court found that the assumed right to the assist someone in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the due process law of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court determined that the state is more interested in preserving life, preventing suicide, protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession, protecting vulnerable groups from abuse, neglect, and mistakes that may happen to people.

Justice Souter emphasized, that the risk that acknowledging a right to assisted suicide would lead to legalized euthanasia. He viewed euthanasia as having a dangerous intent and it bordered a very fine line between assisted suicide and euthanasia. It could become murky as to be it assisted voluntary suicide or was it an involuntary homicide. Justice Souter saw euthanasia as pure darkness. The Court of Appeals saw that by expanding the right of privacy to include a right to commit euthanasia in order to end intolerable and irremediable suffering it would inevitably involve the jury in a very tough decision by deciding issues and questions that are just too hard to answer. There is no man or court that can



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