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January 18, 2006 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-18

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Court upholds
assisted suicide
law i n Oregon

Bush administration
tried to use federal drug
law to stop Oregon doctors
Supreme Court yesterday blocked
the Bush administration's attempt to
punish doctors who help terminally
ill patients die, protecting Oregon's
one-of-a-kind assisted-suicide law.
It was the first loss for Chief Justice
John Roberts, who joined the court's
most conservative members - Anto-

clash over assisted suicide.
The case was argued in October on
Roberts' second day on the bench, and
he strongly hinted that he would back
the Bush administration. Some court
watchers had expected O'Connor to
be the decisive vote, which could
have delayed the case until her suc-
cessor was on the court. The Senate
is set to vote soon on nominee Sam-
uel Alito.
Justices have dealt with end-of-
life cases before, most recently in
1997 when the court unanimously

nin Scalia and
Clarence Thom-
as - in a long
but < restrained
The adminis-
tration. improp-
erly tried to use
a federal drug
law to pursue
Oregon doctors
who prescribe
lethal doses of
medicines, the
court said in a
rebuke to former
Attorney Genera.

"The president remains
fully committed to
building a culture of
life, a culture of life
that is built on valuing
life at all stages.
- Scott McClellan
White House press secretary

ruled that
people haveno
right to die.
That decision,
by then-Chief
Justice William
Rehnquist, left
room for states
to set their own
ruling, and
dissents, were
tinged with an
ing about the

Mission to Pluto
stalled because of
inclement weather

Lawsuits seek to ban eavesdropping
President Bush has exceeded the powers of his office by allowing eavesdropping
on conversations of Americans, including lawyers and journalists, according to fed-
eral lawsuits seeking to ban the practice.
"No president I've ever seen or read about has ever claimed so much power
for himself;' Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Bill Goodman said
Tuesday after his organization sued in Manhattan to stop the practice and require
judicial oversight.
The center must assume that conversations its lawyers had with hundreds of people
were subject to the secret government program to intercept phone calls and Internet
communications, the lawsuit says.
"We now have to go back and audit, as much as we can, every communication over
the past four or five years and determine whether anything was disclosed that might
undermine our representation of our clients," said Goodman, whose group has repre-
sented hundreds of men held as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"I'm personally outraged that my confidential communication with my clients may
have been listened to by the U.S. government," said plaintiff Rachel Meeropol, an
attorney at the center.
Hlastert aims to restrict gifts from lobbyists
House Speaker Dennis Hastert urged new restrictions on gifts from lobbyists yes-
terday, responding to a scandal that already has claimed two Republican leaders and
raised GOP fears about this year's elections.
Hastert, confronting a political crisis spawned by the Jack Abramoff scandal,
promoted legislation that would end the practices of lobbyists footing the bill
for lunches or arranging lavish "fact-finding" trips for members of Congress to
warm-weather resorts.
Lawmakers-turned-lobbyists would be banned from the House gym and from
access to the House floor, where they have been known to make deals in hopes of
changing votes.
, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.), who is spearheading
the lobbying overhaul effort for Hastert, said the goal was to pass legislation by the
end of February.
He said it would include the forfeiture of congressional pensions for mem-
bers convicted of a felony related to official duties.
Olmert wants to resume talks with Palestinians
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday he wants to resume final peace
talks with the Palestinians and take harsh action against Israeli squatters in the West
Bank - a sign the election front-runner is ready for bold steps to end the conflict.
The new leader's first policy statement carries special weight because of a wide-
spread assumption among Israelis that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered
a devastating stroke Jan. 4, will never return to power and that Olmert will replace
him. Hospital officials reported no change yesterday in Sharon's condition: critical,
stable and comatose.
Olmert, a 60-year-old former mayor of Jerusalem and the vice premier under Sharon.
has a commanding lead in the polls for the March 28 election, putting him in a strong
position to begin carrying out Sharon's vision of delineating Israel's final borders.
But Sharon's way was unilateral - he pulled Israel out of Gaza last summer
with minimal coordination with the Palestinians, whom he viewed as unreliable
negotiating partners.
Europe, U.S. increase pressure on Iran
Pressure on Iran intensified yesterday, with key European countries and the United
States moving ahead with plans to refer Tehran to the U.N. Security Council and Israel
vowing not to let the Iranians develop nuclear weapons.
But Russia and China - Iran's past backers - urged negotiations instead of con-
frontation, casting doubt on whether next month's International Atomic Energy Agency
meeting will demonstrate a unified political will.
A meeting Monday in London produced no agreement among the United States,
France, Britain and Germany and Moscow and Beijing on whether to refer the dispute
over Iranian nuclear enrichment to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions.




John Ashcroft.

The 6-3 ruling could encourage
other states to consider copying
Oregon's law, used to end the lives
of more than 200 seriously ill peo-
ple in that state. The decision, one of
the biggest expected from the court
this year, also could set the stage for
Congress to attempt to outlaw assist-
ed suicide.
"Congress did not have this far-
reaching intent to alter the feder-
al-state balance," Justice Anthony
Kennedy wrote for the majority -
himself, retiring Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor and Justices John Paul Ste-
vens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Gins-
burg and Stephen Breyer.
With this decision ,Kennedy showed
signs of becoming a more influential
swing voter after O'Connor departs.
He is a moderate conservative who
sometimes joins more liberal mem-
bers on cases involving such things
as gay rights and capital punishment.
In some ways, the decision was an
anticlimactic end to the court's latest

delicate nature of the subject. The
court itself is aging and the death of
Rehnquist this past September after a
yearlong fight with cancer was emo-
tional for the justices.
Scalia said in his dissent that the
court's ruling "is perhaps driven by
a feeling that the subject of assisted
suicide is none of the federal govern-
ment's business. It is easy to sympa-
thize with that position."
At the same time, Scalia said fed-
eral officials have the power to regu-
late doctors in prescribing addictive
drugs and "if the term 'legitimate
medical purpose' has any meaning,
it surely excludes the prescription of
drugs to produce death."
He was joined in the dissent by
Thomas and Roberts. Roberts did not
write separately to explain his vote.
Thomas also wrote his own dissent.
White House press secretary Scott
McClellan said, "The president
remains fully committed to building
a culture of life, a culture of life that
is built on valuing life at all stages."

Unmanned journey
would complete NASAs
exploration of the planets
- High winds forced NASA to scrub
the launch yesterday of an unmanned
spacecraft on a mission to Pluto, the
solar system's last unexplored planet.
NASA planned to try again today
to launch the New Horizons probe,
although the forecast held a 40
percent chance of thunderstorms,
clouds and gusty winds that could
prevent a launch.
A successful journey to Pluto would
complete an exploration of the planets
started by NASA in the early 1960s
with unmanned missions to observe
Mars, Mercury and Venus.
"What we know about Pluto today
could fit on the back of a postage
stamp," Colleen Hartman, a deputy
associate administrator at NASA, said
earlier. "The textbooks will be rewrit-
ten after this mission is completed."
The launch also drew attention from
opponents of nuclear power because
the spacecraft is powered by 24 pounds

of plutonium, whose natural radioac-
tive decay will generate electricity for
the probe's instruments.
Pluto is the only planet discovered by
a U.S. citizen, though some astronomers
dispute Pluto's right to be called a plan-
et. It is an oddball icy dwarf unlike the
rocky planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth
and Mars and the gaseous planets of
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
"My dad would be absolutely thrilled
to see this," said Annette Tombaugh-
Sitze, whose father, astronomer Clyde
Tombaugh, discovered Pluto in 1930.
Pluto is the brightest body in a zone
of the solar system known as the Kuiper
Belt, made up of thousands of icy, rocky
objects, including tiny planets whose
development was stunted by unknown
causes. Scientists believe studying those
"planetary embryos" can help them
understand how planets were formed.
"Something, and we don't under-
stand what ... stopped that process of
growth and left us with this fantastic
relic, this forensic evidence of planets
that were arrested in the midstage of
growth," said Alan Stern, the $700-
million mission's principal investiga-



- Compiled from Daily wire reports

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