Law: A Limited Right to Die

The court affirms the principle, but not for Nancy Cruzan

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wanted to make it clear that he sympathized. There was "no doubt," he said, that Joe and Joyce Cruzan "are loving and caring parents." So if the state of Missouri had to let anyone decide to end medical treatment of their daughter Nancy, who has lain in an irreversible coma ever since a car crash seven years ago, "the Cruzans would surely qualify." Despite all this sympathy, however, Rehnquist spoke last week for a 5-to-4 Supreme Court majority in regretfully rejecting the Cruzans' plea to have their daughter "set free."

This was the court's long-awaited first...