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05/17/2018

Court Strikes California End of Life Options Act as Unconstitutional – Summary

Here is a summary of this week’s Riverside County Superior Court order that strikes the California End of Life Options Act as unconstitutional. I discussed this case with NPR here and built a page of resources here.


First, the order has nothing to do with the content of the EOLOA act. It pertains only to the manner in which it was enacted. The EOLOA was enacted during a “special” session of the California Legislature. The California Constitution requires that special session legislation relate to the subject of Governor’s Proclamation that called the special session.


Here, the Governor’s Proclamation mentioned both healthcare finance and healthcare generally. Therefore, pursuant to state supreme court precedent that interprets the special session clause of the constitution, the legislature had the power to enact “any” healthcare related legislation during the special session. It strains credulity to suggest that the EOLOA, which focuses on regulating physician-patient interactions, does not relate to healthcare.  


One might explain it this way using a dart board analogy: 
(1) The Proclamation calling the special session was primarily focused on healthcare finance. That is the center of the target. 
(2) Supreme court cases establish that a special session legislature may enact statutes at all related to the Proclamation. That is the rest of the target. 
(3) The EOLOA fits at least “somewhere” on the target. That is all Cal. Const Art. IV sec. 3(b) requires.


In short, the Superior Court’s order will likely be stayed pending appeal. Once the appeal is briefed the appeals court will likely reverse the Superior Court. So, the EOLOA will remain in force – at least until its designed sunset in 2026.

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD. Bookmark the permalink.

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