Amicus: Filed April 2, 2021
Dr. Yosef Glassman filed a complaint in August of 2019 calling to overturn New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act barely a week after it took effect. Alleging the law violated his free exercise rights, even though physician participation in medical aid in dying is voluntary, he was joined by two other plaintiffs who opposed the law on religious and personal grounds.
As a result, on the first day terminally ill patients who qualified under the act would have been able to obtain a prescription, a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking patients from accessing medical aid in dying in New Jersey. This order was overturned in a decision issued shortly after, which held that the lower court “abused its discretion” when it suspended the law.
Following a motion by State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, all claims were dismissed with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs may not refile the same claims again in that court. The Superior Court held that plaintiffs lacked standing because the act did not harm or affect them in any cognizable way and further recognized that “the State has a legitimate interest, perhaps even a compelling interest, in establishing a safe and effective procedure for qualified terminally ill patients to experience a humane and dignified death.” After the case was dismissed, opponents submitted a motion for reconsideration. The motion was denied, but the plaintiffs filed an appeal two months later.
Compassion & Choices along with Lynne Lieberman, a terminally ill New Jersey resident; and Dr. Paul Bryman, a hospice and palliative care physician practicing in New Jersey, submitted an amicus brief on April 2, 2021, urging the Court of Appeal to affirm the lower court’s dismissal of the case. We were accepted as amicus by the court, but sadly, Lieberman died while the appeal was pending. On May 2, 2022, Compassion & Choices argued in defense of the law before the New Jersey Appellate Court. Despite filing the appeal, plaintiffs did not show up for oral argument.
The New Jersey Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, but on August 15, 2022, plaintiffs filed a petition and requested a time extension until November 23, 2022, indicating they plan to appeal the Appellate Court’s decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court.