Chancellor McCoy, Tennessee, and the Way of Wisdom

“If you can keep your head when all about you, Are losing theirs and blaming it on you . . .” (“If” by Rudyard Kipling) Yesterday’s decision in the case of John Jay Hooker, et al v. Tennessee, handed down by Chancellor Carol L. McCoy, is remarkable for its soundness and its clarity. The case was argued on 10 July in Chancery Court, with Hooker’s team seeking the right to have his physicians provide him with a lethal prescription, and not face charges for assisting a suicide. His legal team even used the term, “aid-in-dying” a now-favored euphemism employed by Compassion and Choices, the group once known as “The Hemlock Society.” Thankfully, Chancellor McCoy saw this assault on the state’s ban on assisted suicide for what it was. According to the decision (pp 19-20), the State identified six interests promoted by Tennessee’s Assisted Suicide Act, which are as follows: 1) preserving life 2) preventing suicide 3) avoiding the involvement of third parties and the abuse of arbitrary, unfair or undue influence over physically, emotionally, mentally, or medically-impaired individuals 4) protecting family members and loved ones 5) protecting the integrity of the medical profession 6) avoiding future movement toward euthanasia and other abuses It was the Defendant’s position that “the State is not required to devalue one’s life upon that person receiving a diagnosis of a terminal illness.” (p. 19) The Chancellor agreed, writing that the “Tennessee Supreme Court has held that there is a compelling State interest in protecting the life and promoting the health of its citizens.” (p. 20) The Plaintiffs (Hooker’s legal team) claimed that “the terminally...