John Jay Hooker goes to court asking assisted suicide

Attorneys for John Jay Hooker and three doctors appeared in court Friday, asking a judge to allow the physicians to help the 84-year-old lawyer and frequent political candidate end his life.

Hooker, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, joined the doctors in filing a Chancery Court lawsuit in May. Earlier, Hooker urged the Legislature to change current state law that prohibits doctors from prescribing lethal drugs to assist a suicide. The Legislature did not.

From The Tennessean report:

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy is considering two issues argued during a two-hour hearing in the case Friday morning.

Hooker’s attorneys, Hal Hardin and Cynthia Chapell, want an injunction to allow Hooker’s doctors to prescribe him life-ending medication without criminal repercussions. The state, defending the law, says McCoy should dismiss the case and leave it up to the legislature.

“I’m hopeful she’s going to decide on our side,” said Hooker, who appeared to become emotional when speaking to reporters after the hearing. “This is just so morally right. I’ve got hope in my heart.”

Steven Hart, special counsel in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, argued assisted suicide is not a constitutionally protected right. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that assisted suicide is not protected by the Constitution.

“This is a matter for the General Assembly to consider and debate and not for the court to decide,” Hart said.

He said 45 states prohibit assisted suicide, which is sometimes called aid in dying or death with dignity. To allow it, he said, would start a “slippery slope toward perhaps even euthanasia.”

…McCoy did not set a time frame for her ruling. Before leaving the courtroom, she acknowledged Hooker’s work.

“Mr. Hooker, my sincere condolences on your health,” she said. “You have been a very well known and active citizen exercising all of your rights. I wish you well.”