In People v. Kevorkian, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of Michigan's statute, 1992 Public Act 270, which imposed criminal penalties on a person who assists another in suicide. After the enactment of the statute, Dr. Jack Kevorkian allegedly assisted a terminally ill person in committing suicide. Charges were filed against Dr. Kevorkian in the Circuit Court of Wayne County alleging that Dr. Kevorkian violated the assisted suicide statute. Dr. Kevorkian moved to dismiss the charges In finding that the statute violated the United States Constitution, the circuit court held that a person has a due process right to commit suicide, and the assisted suicide statute unduly burdens that right. The prosecution appealed. Another action was brought in the Circuit Court of Wayne County after the enactment of the Michigan statute; Teresa Hobbins, a terminally ill person, and a group of other plaintiffs, sought a declaration that the assisted suicide statute was unconstitutional. The circuit court found a due process right to commit suicide, but did not make a determination as to whether the statute places an undue burden on the right to commit suicide. The court invalidated the statute by holding that it violated the Michigan Constitution. The attorney general filed an appeal. On appeal, the case of Hobbins was consolidated with the Kevorkian appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the assisted suicide statute violated the Michigan Constitution and was, therefore, unenforceable. The court also found that there is no constitutional right to commit suicide, and held that a state may make assisted suicide a criminal offense. The prosecuting authorities filed an appeal contending that the assisted suicide statute does not violate the Michigan Constitution, and Dr. Kevorkian filed an appeal alleging that the statute violates the United States Constitution. The Michigan Supreme Court held that the assisted suicide statute does not violate the Michigan Constitution and that the United States Constitution does not prohibit a state from imposing criminal penalties on one who assists another in suicide.
"People v. Kevorkian: Michigan's Supreme Court Leads the Way in Declaring No Fundamental Right to Assist Another in Suicide,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 47:
4, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol47/iss4/11