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ABA Journal


judicial conduct, Antonin Scalia, Scalia, assisted suicide, First Amendment


With two assisted suicide cases scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court this term, Justice Antonin Scalia already has publicly staked out his position on the issue. While sentiments he expressed in 1990 in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, 497 U.S. 261, are well-known, Scalia told an audience at Catholic University late last year that it is "absolutely plain there is no [constitutional] right to die." Is it proper for sitting judges to make such statements? While no one would deny Scalia his First Amendment right to say what he pleases, that hardly quells concerns about the advisability of making such statements. Vincent Martin Bonventre, a professor at Albany Law School in New York state, contends that Scalia crossed a line, robbing the public of its confidence in justices' open-mindedness and willingness to consider each case on its own merits. For Lloyd B. Snyder, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall Law School, not only is Scalia well within the boundaries of propriety, but he has done lawyers and potential litigants a favor by speaking so openly.