Supreme Court Releases Written Decision In Cassandra C. Case

On January 8, 2015, the Supreme Court heard expedited oral arguments in In re: Cassandra C, the case involving a 17-year-old adolescent who claimed the right to refuse life-saving chemotherapy for her Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Only minutes after the oral argument concluded, the court issued a brief oral ruling from the bench in which the justices unanimously rejected Cassandra C.’s argument that the court should adopt the so-called “mature minor” doctrine.  The court said that a formal written opinion would follow.  Today, the court issued its written opinion.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice Rogers summed up the court’s opinion as follows:

In sum, we conclude that the question of Cassandra’s competence to make medical decisions was squarely before Judge Quinn and that her finding that Cassandra was not a mature minor was not clearly erroneous. We further conclude that, because the evidence does not support a finding that Cassandra was a mature minor under any standard, this is not a proper case in which to decide whether to adopt the mature minor doctrine. Finally, because the respondents have not established the factual predicate for their due process claims—that they were deprived of a hearing at which to determine Cassandra’s competence to refuse medical treatment—we reject that claim.

I’ll have more later, after I’ve had the opportunity to read and fully digest the opinion.

Update: Footnote 15 of the opinion contains the following interesting statement:

We emphasize that we do not suggest that the refusal of lifesaving medical treatment is unreasonable, per se. Such a decision may well be justified by, for example, deeply held religious convictions, advanced age, a small chance of long-term survival or the significant likelihood of a poor quality of life. The respondents in the present case, however, have presented no plausible justification for Cassandra’s refusal to be treated. They have merely made the bare assertion that it is her ‘‘right’’ to refuse treatment, for any reason or for no reason.


4 Comments on “Supreme Court Releases Written Decision In Cassandra C. Case”

  1. Briar Boy says:

    But a 13 year old kid that kills someone is old enough and mature enough to be tried as an adult.

  2. Silver Fang says:

    Why does she need a reason? It’s her body and her life.

  3. Francine says:

    Why is chemo considered lifesaving, and who determines standard of care, when the treatment is forever evolving so it can also be deemed experimental at all times. So when we are encouraged to be involved in our treatment and are encouraged to do our own research and get second opinions. That is a given. The patient’s bill of rights is posted up in most hospitals and doctors offices. The first line on the bill states the patient has the right to refuse treatment. Unless you live in corrupt CT. That throws all patients and parental civil rights out the window. The doctor in this case was self serving, and egotistical and also dead wrong. Cancer is a devestating illness, before toxic treatments a second opinion is warranted because of the severe side effects of treatment which in and of itself can be life threatening. You must have absolute trust in the doctor. This idiot failed to earn the trust, and forced himself and his toxic aggression on a young woman who only sought above standard care, she wanted more progressive, not aggressive treatment. Again the doctor failed and is still failing. He deserves a charge, prosecution and jail sentence of his own to think about how to respect women’s rights to choose. He violated a young woman and the court condones it by agreeing to his claim of life saving treatment, a lie. The truth is he did something wrong, and called his pals to bail him out and help him cover up his crime.


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