As the law developed in the states, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its 1990 opinion in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, determined that there exists a right to terminate life-sustaining medical treatment under the United States Constitution. As a result of the decision, new uncertainties have been infused into the state legislative and judicial responses to the issue. After examining the Cruzan decision below, I probe the constitutional legitimacy and the prudence of the Supreme Court's role in decisions relating to the termination of life-sustaining medical treatment. I conclude that the Court in Cruzan, though exercising some self-restraint, has improperly usurped powers relegated to the states and has thereby perilously interfered with the development of sensitive state law.
Terrance A. Kline, Suicide, Liberty and Our Imperfect Constitution: An Analysis of the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court's Entanglement in Decisions to Terminate Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment, 14 Campbell L. Rev. 69 (1991).