Not Dead Yet and Five Other National Disability Groups File Friend of the Court Brief in New Mexico Supreme Court in Assisted Suicide Case
On September 30, 2015, Not Dead Yet and five other national disability rights organizations filed a friend-of-the-court in the New Mexico Supreme Court in support of the State Attorney General’s request that the state’s high court uphold a Court of Appeals ruling that physician assisted suicide is not a right under the state constitution. Joining in the Not Dead Yet brief are ADAPT, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the National Council on Independent Living and United Spinal, collectively referred to as the “Disability Amici.”
The case is Morris v. Brandenburg (S. Ct. No. 35,478) and the disability brief supports the Court of Appeals ruling, which was issued August 11, 2015 (Court of Appeals Case No. 33,630), and the State Attorney General, who is seeking to uphold the appellate ruling.
According to the brief filed in the New Mexico Supreme Court, “State-sanctioned assisted suicide degrades the value and worth of people with disabilities and violates the antidiscrimination rights, protections and mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.”
“Our basic position is that when some people get suicide prevention while other people get suicide assistance, and the difference is the person’s age, disability or health status, that’s a problem,” said Not Dead Yet’s president and CEO, Diane Coleman.
The dissent in the Court of Appeals decision that is the subject of the appeal to the state Supreme Court noted that the State Attorney General did not call witnesses or submit evidence of alleged any abuses in Oregon and Washington state where assisted suicide is legal. In their Supreme Court brief, the Disability Amici urge that, if the Court is not prepared to simply uphold the Court of Appeals at this stage, the Court should remand the case and allow one or more of the disability groups to assist the Attorney General or intervene as defendants in the case to ensure a full hearing of facts that were allegedly omitted in the original trial court.
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