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NMLR Current Issue

Winter Vol. 48, No. 2 (Special Issue)

Front Matter

Alison K. Goodwin & Kyle P. Duffy


Morris v. Brandenburg: Departing from Federal Precedent to Declare Physician Assisted Suicide a Fundamental Right Under New Mexico’s Constitution
Paola V. Jaime Saenz

New Mexico statute Section 30-2-4 makes assisted suicide a fourth degree felony. In Morris v. Brandenburg, Dr. Katherine Morris, Dr. Aroop Mangalik and cancer patient Aja Riggs challenged the statute in court, alleging that the statute (i) does not apply to physician-assisted suicide due to its specific language and, (ii) if it does, it is unconstitutional under two provisions of New Mexico’s Constitution. On January 31, 2014, the district court held physician-assisted suicide to be a fundamental liberty interest, and the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed on August 11, 2015. The New Mexico Supreme Court decided on June 30, 2016, that there is no right to physician-assisted suicide under New Mexico’s Constitution.

This Article explores whether there is support for a finding of a right to physician-assisted suicide under New Mexico’s Constitution, which is arguably more expansive in its coverage of due process rights and liberties than the Constitution of the United States. In 1997 in Washington v. Glucksberg, the United States Supreme Court held that there is no right to physician-assisted suicide under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, New Mexico courts are not definitively bound by federal precedent. Under an interstitial approach, federal case law can be instructive, but New Mexico courts may depart from federal precedent under specific circumstances.

State Constitutions as the Future for Civil Rights
Erwin Chemerinsky

This article is a transcription of the keynote address delivered by Erwin Chemerinsky, renowned constitutional law scholar and Dean of Berkeley Law at the University of California. Dean Chemerinsky’s keynote address artfully brings together both themes of the Symposium: physician aid in dying and state constitutions.

Legal History of Medical Aid in Dying: Physician Assisted Death in U.S. Courts and Legislatures
Thaddeus Mason Pope

State Constitutional Litigation in New Mexico: All Shield and No Sword
The Honorable Linda M. Vanzi, Andrew G. Schultz, and Melanie B. Stambaugh

A Nadir of State Constitutional Jurisprudence: Failing to Protect Terminally Ill Patients’ Choice for a More Peaceful Death in New Mexico
Kathryn L. Tucker

The Decisions We Are (or Are Not) Free to Make, for Now
Laura Schauer Ives