Wed, 18 Jun 2003 05:09:36 GMT

Supreme Court Upholds Right to Refuse Mind-Altering Drugs

The protection of our cognitive liberty was upheld today in no small part to CCLE‘s Amicus Brief which argues that forced medication infringes fundamental liberty. 

The United States Supreme Court upheld the right to refuse unwanted psychotropic medication in its landmark decision in Sell v. United States. Ruling in favor of a St. Louis dentist who resisted government attempts to force medicate him with antipsychotic drugs, the Court held that while involuntary medication solely for trial competence purposes may be appropriate in some instances, those instances would likely be Ň??rare.Ň?ō

Glen Boire, who wrote the amicus brief said, “They made a good ruling, but they missed a major opportunity to recognize that thought is, at least partly, rooted in brain chemistry and that giving the government broad powers to directly manipulate the brain chemistry of a non-violent citizen would go against our nationŇ??s most cherished values.”

He continued, Ň??Emerging neurotechnology from pharmaceuticals to brain scanners are making consciousness more accessible and manipulable than ever before,Ň?ō said Boire, Ň??the court had a chance to update legal thinking about cognition in a way could have been very relevant now and in the coming decades,Ň?ō said Boire.

[Corante: Brain Waves]

This may be a very important verdict. The ability to protect oneself from coercive administration of neurotropic drugs should be an important right. I expect that sometime soon we will see calmative drugs used to restrain crowds. would similar reasoning apply here? Do we have a fundamental right to be protected from being doped into a stupor by the government? Time will tell.