Gonzales v. Oregon

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Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), was a 6-3 decision limiting the power of the federal government to interfere with local medical issues. Specifically, that case concerned a rule by the United States Attorney General John Ashcroft to prohibit doctors from prescribing regulated drugs for use in physician-assisted suicide, despite an Oregon law allowing this.

The decision established that states, not the federal government, regulate the practice of medicine:[1]

The Government, in the end, maintains that the prescription requirement delegates to a single Executive officer the power to effect a radical shift of authority from the States to the Federal Government to define general standards of medical practice in every locality. The text and structure of the [federal law] show that Congress did not have this far-reaching intent to alter the federal-state balance and the congressional role in maintaining it.

Subsequent Decisions Relying on Gonzales v. Oregon

  • Walker v. Eggleston, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60958 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 29, 2006)
  • Bonds v. Tandy, 457 F.3d 409, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 18121 (5th Cir. Miss. 2006)
  • Toomer v. City Cab, 443 F.3d 1191, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8079, 12 Accom. Disabilities Dec. (CCH) P12-124, 17 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 1360 (10th Cir. Utah 2006)
  • Sierra Club v. United States Army Corps of Eng'rs, 464 F. Supp. 2d 1171, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85132, 20 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D 319, 36 Envtl. L. Rep. 20236 (M.D. Fla. 2006)


  1. Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. at 275