We live in a world in which courts crucially shape public policy through constitutional adjudication. This is a book written for that world. It brings together a group of distinguished scholars from many disciplines to examine the Supreme Court's recent decision that statutes prohibiting doctors from helping their patients commit suicide may be constitutional. It offers a guide to that decision and to the larger issues it raises for citizens and scholars alike. It asks everyone's first question: What does the decision mean for today and tomorrow? It asks the lawyer's question: Is the Supreme Court's reasoning clear and convincing? It asks the doctor's question: How will the decision affect the decisions physicians make with their patients? It asks the ethicist's question: Will the decision conduce to wise and just decisions at the end of life? It asks the historian's question: How are we to understand the Court's work in light of our disturbing national experience with euthanasia? Ultimately, it asks the questions citizens need to ask in our new world: Is constitutional adjudication a good way to make public policy? Are courts well equipped--with experience, with doctrine, with wisdom--to make good policy? What role should courts have in making policy in a democracy? Has the Supreme Court made good public policy? What is the right policy for law at the end of life?
Carl Schneider is Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School.