Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 18,400+ case briefs...

Vacco v. Quill

United States Supreme Court
521 U.S. 793 (1997)



Quill, two other physicians, and three gravely ill patients (plaintiffs) sued Vacco (defendant), the New York Attorney General in federal court alleging that the state’s assisted-suicide ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Quill argued that, even though the results are the same, the state allows a competent person to lawfully refuse life-sustaining medical treatment but makes it unlawful for a competent person to obtain physician-assisted suicide. The district court disagreed with Quill but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that New York’s law does not treat all competent persons equally in the final stages of a terminal illness. The court noted that terminally ill patients on life-support systems are allowed to remove such support, thereby hastening death, but those not on life-support systems are not allowed to self-administer drugs that would similarly result in death. This unfair treatment under the law violates the Equal Protection Clause. Additionally, the state statutes banning such actions were not rationally related to any legitimate state interest. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Concurrence (Souter, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 496,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 496,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 18,400 briefs, keyed to 985 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial