New Jersey has a ew law legalizing doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. The law took effect August 1, 2019. The new law was challenged by a lawsuit brought by Dr. Yosef Glassman, an Orthodox Jewish doctor. Glassman lost his first round, which sought a suspension of the law until his legal challenge proceeded in the courts. The NJ Star-Ledger defended the law and condemned Glassman's challenge.
For once, I agree with the Star-Ledger. But what’s interesting is the Star-Ledger’s reasoning, which was based primarily in principle. I love hoisting statists on their own petard, and the Star-Ledger offered a particularly delicious opportunity to do just that. In For the dying, relief from the NJ courts, the Star-Ledger wrote:
The new state law that allows horribly sick patients in New Jersey to end their lives peacefully, under the care of a doctor, was drafted with great respect for those who object on moral or religious grounds.
No doctor is forced to prescribe the lethal medication that’s needed. No pharmacist is required to mix the deadly cocktail. The bill affects only those who choose to walk this path.
It’s the opponents of this law who have repeatedly sought to impose their views on the rest of us by using the full weight of the government, including the threat of prison, to force terminally ill patients to fight until the bitter end, with no exceptions, even for patients in constant agony.
So, it comes as tremendous relief that the state court of appeals firmly rejected the first legal challenge to the law, which came from an Orthodox Jewish doctor in Bergen County, Dr. Yosef Glassman. He cited the Torah in his complaint and managed to win a lower court decision two weeks ago that briefly blocked the law’s implementation while his challenge is heard.
The moral of this story comes from Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, the law’s sponsor: “I have my beliefs, you have your beliefs, but don’t use the machinery of government to impose them on others,” he says. [sic]
The emphasis. Is mine. I posted these comments:
The great principles identified here should be applied to all laws. They are the theoretical basis of American law, which is to secure and protect individual rights under the law, equally for all. For example, let’s apply these principles to another issue, paraphrasing from the editorial’s own words:
“The new state law that allows same sex couples to marry was drafted with great respect for those who object on moral or religious grounds.
“No private merchant is forced to provide gay wedding services. No baker is forced to provide their wedding cake. No banquet hall is required to host their reception. The bill affects only those who choose to walk this path.
“It’s the proponents of this law who have repeatedly sought to impose their views on the rest of us by using the full weight of the government, including the threat of prison and fines, and force bakers and banquet halls to fight until the bitter end for their right to refuse, with no exceptions, even though they conscientiously object.
“The moral of this story comes from Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, the law’s sponsor: ‘I have my beliefs, you have your beliefs, but don’t use the machinery of government to impose them on others,’ he says.”
A properly limited government constitutionally forbids any person or faction from using the government's full weight to force their values on unwilling others. A dying patient, pharmacist, doctor, a gay couple, et al, are not violating anyone’s rights. Neither is any private individual refusing to sanction gay marriage or right-to-die. Each should be free to act on their own moral judgement.
Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten these basic principles. Thanks to the S-L for reminding us of what America actually stands for.
Needless to say the Star-Ledger fully supports anti-descrimination laws targeting private relationships. And obviously, no law mandating non-descrimination is (or logically can be) “drafted with great respect for those who object on moral or religious grounds.'' By definition, such laws necessarily allow some to impose their beliefs on others. So it was very satisfying to apply their own principles to rebut one of their own sacred positions. In fact, their principles can be devastatingly applied to their entire precious regulatory welfare state.