At its heart, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14thrnAmendment demands that states act reasonably when theyrnwant to treat one group of their citizens differently from another.rnThus, though it is fine for the state to allow only nonfelonsrnto purchase guns, the Equal Protection Clause would not allowrna state to prevent the sale of firearms to women. Outside of thernrelatively narrow areas of fundamental rights and specially protectedrngroups, a state classification will survive an Equal Protectionrnchallenge if it is “rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.”rnThis is a lax standard that allows a state to justify itselfrnon almost any grounds, even those invented after the fact. Thisrnextraordinary level of deference exists because the SupremernCourt believes that the political process itself provides adequaternprotection in areas not involving fundamental rights.rnJudge Miner and his Second Circuit panel, however, were notrnso confident in our ability to govern ourselves.rnJudge Miner began by recognizing that the distinctionrndrawn by the New York statute between the terminally ill on lifernsupport and the terminally ill not on life support implicated nornfundamental right or class deserving of special protection. Yetrnhe nonetheless invalidated the statute. In a textbook examplernof the unprincipled use of raw judicial power. Judge Miner concludedrnthat he could use the most relaxed standard in all ofrnconstitutional law to strike down a statute endorsed by the peoplernof New York, citing as his only support a tiny line of casesrnwhere the Supreme Court has used the Equal ProtectionrnClause to protect the mentally retarded and the children ofrnillegal aliens. Any applicability of these cases to the facts presentedrnin Quill depends for its vitality on an analogy betweenrnthe historic plight of the mentally retarded and the children ofrnillegal aliens on the one hand, and the terminally ill who wish torncommit suicide on the other. Such an analogy is obviously impossiblernto draw, and Judge Miner did not even bother to try.rnHe simply cited a few cases as examples of a rational relationshiprnreview that struck down state laws, and then proceeded torndo the same with the New York assisted suicide statute.rnAnd what of the interest of the people of New York? Thernstate contended that its “principal interest is in preserving thernlife of all its citizens at all times and under all conditions.” Insteadrnof addressing this interest, Judge Miner ridiculed it:rn”What business is it of the state to require the continuation ofrnagony when the result is imminent and inevitable? What concernrnprompts the state to interfere with a mentally competentrnpatient’s right to define [his] own conception of existence, ofrnmeaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human lifern.. .?” But Judge Miner should not have been so quick to dismissrnthe state’s interest in the preservation of life, especially givenrnthe Supreme Court’s resounding declaration on this point inrnits only “right to die” case, Cruzan: a state may choose to relyrn”on its interest in the protection and preservation of human life,rnand there can be no gainsaying this interest…. The majority ofrnStates in the country have laws imposing criminal penalties onrnone who assists another to commit suicide. We do not thinkrnthat the State is required to remain neutral in the face of an informedrnand voluntary decision by a physically able adult tornstarve to death.”rnSo, from the thin gruel of Casey, Judge Reinhardt applied allrnof his talent in “working the precedent” and cooked up anrnimaginary four-course meal. Meanwhile, on the other side ofrnthe country. Judge Miner concocted his own version of thernslop. When the Supreme Court gets a taste of this meal, however,rnit should be able to discern its real ingredients: a bit ofrnbroth and a lot of hard work by some talented confidencernmen. The right to decide whether we want our doctors tornact as our executioners in the waning days of our lives is partrnof that residue of power left with the states, and there it shouldrnremain.rnDeliveryrnby Katherine McAlpinernA doe, entrapped in the electric fencernshe’d wandered into, panicked and went crazed,rninjuring herself fatally. The man dispatchedrnto end her suffering did it with one clean shotrnbut noticed that within her heavy belly,rnlife still moved. Quickly he took his knife,rncut her warm body open, pulled from itrntwo barely breathing fawns. He pressed his mouthrnto each in turn, laboring with his breath,rnhis human breath, to urge them into life.rnOne of them died but one of them was saved.rnHolding the small survivor in his arms,rncovered with blood, his rough face streaked with tears,rnhe roared in a wild ecstasy of triumphrnto those who’d watched, standing in silent awe:rn”Congratulate me, people—I’m a father!”rn26/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn