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Thích Nhất Thở v. Ares Air, Inc.

by Owen G. Tabard

Justice Tran, delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court of Mars, in which Justices Alvarez, Chen, Jones, Khan, Mittelberg, Schull, and Zhang joined. Chief Justice De La Paz filed a separate opinion dissenting from the judgment of the Court.

Justice Tran, writing for the Court:

This case comes to us on review of an order by the Circuit Court of Monte Pavo granting summary dismissal of an action for damages due to wrongful death brought by appellant, the estate of Thích Nhất Thở, against Ares Air, Inc., a Mars Corporation, appellee.

The following facts of the case are not in dispute:

Thích Nhất Thở was a monk at the Plum Blossom Buddhist Center located in the downtown dome of Monte Pavo. Thích had subscribed to an oxygen policy with Ares Air, Inc., upon emigrating to Mars on October 1st, 2325. The subscription was on a month-to-month basis.

On March 1st, 2337, Thích missed his monthly oxygen payment, due at the first of the month with a contractual five-day grace period. After the five-day grace period had elapsed, Thích was emailed a notice of late payment, automatically generated by Ares Air. On April 1st, 2337, Thích missed his second payment, and on April 6th, 2337 received his second automated notice. On April 7th Thích was contacted in person at the Plum Blossom Buddhist Center by Millicent Royle, a representative of Ares Air. During this conversation Thích communicated to Ares Air his unwillingness to cure the arrearages.

At this point the facts as alleged by the parties diverge. According to the testimony of Ms. Royle, during the April 7th meeting, Thích represented that he had made alternative arrangements for oxygen and would no longer need the services of Ares Air. Appellant, however, maintains that during the April 7th meeting Thich made clear to Ms. Royle that he had made no alternative arrangements and asserted that he was entitled to oxygen “by human right.” There is no recorded evidence of the substance of the April 7th conversation between Thích and Ms. Royle. It is undisputed that Ares Air took no steps to confirm that alternate arrangements for oxygen had been made, and that Thích had not, in fact, made any such arrangements. At 12:01 AM on April 8th, 2037, Ares Air’s administrative AI ordered the shutoff of oxygen service to Thích, and at 12:07 AM on April 8th, 2037, Thích expired. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation resulting from oxygen shutoff.

We see no need to resolve the factual dispute as to the substance of the conversation between Thích and Royle. The question of whether or not Ares Air knew or should have known of Thích’s arrangements for sustenance upon termination of his oxygen subscription does not bear on the legal merits of the case.

The question before the court is whether Ares Air has, through its termination of oxygen services, breached its duty of care to Thích. We find that it did not.

In order to sustain an action for negligent wrongful death, the plaintiff must demonstrate that a duty of care existed toward the plaintiff. This case is distinguishable from Carol v. Peacock Mountain Oxygen and Atmosphere, Inc., where “an oxygen provider that fails in [its] duty and causes the asphyxiation of a lapsed policyholder will be liable for damages due to wrongful death.” In the Peacock Mountain case, the termination of service was accidental, the result of an improperly processed payment. Here, the nonpayment (and the resultant termination of service) were intentional acts, and we hold that the doctrine of double-effect applies.

The doctrine of double-effect states that an action may have one intended outcome, traditionally relieving suffering, while at the same time an unintended outcome, death. The double-effects of alleviating suffering and death are not intended equally; the primary intention of euthanasia is therapeutic, the death of the patient only obliquely intended. The doctrine serves the very significant public policy of promoting therapeutic euthanasia, and is the mechanism that relieves the attending physician of liability. (See: Ellsberg v. People of Monte Pavo, 89 Mars Reporter 2nd 128). In terminating service upon the second missed payment, the primary intention of Ares Air was to uphold its contract; death of Thích Nhất Thở was only the oblique intention, secondary and subordinate to a lawful termination of oxygen.

We hereby AFFIRM the lower court’s dismissal.

#

Chief Justice De La Paz, dissenting:

What my esteemed colleague refers to as a “factual dispute” of the knowledge of Ares Air regarding the lapse in Thích Nhất Thở’s oxygen policy is anything but. Indeed, one would have had to be scrupulously avoiding the newsfeed in early 2337 to be unfamiliar with the oxygen boycott planned by the Plum Blossom Buddhist Center. That Millicent Royle may or may not have had actual knowledge on April 7th is immaterial. As Appellant has demonstrated, knowledge can be imputed to Ares Air by the sheer volume of publicly available information to that effect. Ares Air either knew or should have known about the plans of one or more monks at the Plum Blossom Buddhist Center to allow a voluntary lapse of their oxygen policy.

The court takes a breathtaking step in expanding the doctrine of double-effect beyond the limited instances of euthanasia and assisted suicide. There is nothing to be found in the law of Mars or Earth to warrant the expansion of the doctrine from its limited scope in end of life care to the far different arena of consumer oxygen subscriptions.

While Appellant’s argument for “oxygen rights” under natural law is specious and quite radical, there is nevertheless a duty on the part of the oxygen provider never to allow a lapse in oxygen. The proper legal recourse against an oxygen debtor is in the civil courts, not through termination of the debtor’s oxygen supply. For this reason I respectfully DISSENT.

~

Bio:

Owen G. Tabard is a life-long fan of speculative fiction and also has long had an interest in speculative philosophy. He lives with his family in South Florida. His blog may be found at http://owengtabard.blogspot.com

Philosophy Note:

One of the problems of human rights we face today is the extension of rights into the realm of necessities of life, a problem which pits economic considerations against the more fundamental concerns of human dignity, and which would likely present itself all the more acutely in the context of a human settlement on a planet inherently hostile to life. For a good discussion of an analogous subject, see: Adams, Kristen David (2009) “Do We Need a Right to Housing?,” Nevada Law Journal: Vol. 9 : Iss. 2, Article 3. Available at: https://scholars.law.unlv.edu/nlj/vol9/iss2/3

The Update

by E. E. King

Mary looked down on her body draped like a wrung-out towel across the bed. So, this was it. She’d been right. The inevitable ending was followed by a new beginning. Birth, death, and now the next step in the eternal circle, heaven.  Not that she had ever doubted… still.

A knock on the door almost startled Mary back into her body. The sound radiating through both the physical and ethereal plain. Some Pavlovian urge drew her towards the doorknob. She extended her hand. It passed through the knob. The door vanished leaving instead of her familiar hallway, only a cool grey mist that might be concealing a wall, or a hole, or the entryway to paradise. Because there was no doubt that that was where Mary was headed.

Seventy years ago, Mary had founded The Order of the Compassionate Sisters of Continual Exertion. She’d started non-profit orphanages in all corners and some fringes of the world. She had stopped two wars and won three Nobel Peace Prizes. The cloudy corners of her ghostly mouth curled upwards in a smoky smile at the memory of a life well-lived.

An elegant stranger emerged from the mist, or maybe the mist congealed into an elegant stranger, it was difficult to say. He was tall, thin, and dressed in a well-tailored black satin suit. His nose was fine, his eyes were darkly fringed, deep smoky, swirling tunnels into eternity. His teeth were perfect, white, and slightly pointy.

“Welcome.” The stranger extended a perfectly manicured, pale hand to Mary. She took it, though this man was not what she’d expected God or any of his angels to resemble.

As soon as the lucent tips of her fingers touched his, fire shot through her. Her body may have been dead, but her pain centers appeared to be just fine. She screamed and dropped his hand, or tried to, but her ghostly fingertips had melted into his. Flames opened up around them.

“But- but – but” protested Mary. “I have lived a good life. I have selflessly given to others asking no reward…”

Good,” said the stranger. “Because you aren’t going to be given any.”

“But if there’s a hell,” Mary began.

“There’s a heaven,” finished the stranger.

“And if there’s a heaven surely I…”  Mary thought back to the time she’d joined with a group of girls in seventh grade to mock Sara Shelley. They had circled Sara, hitting their hands together and chanting, “Smelly Shelley, Smelly Shelly,” until she’d cried. Mary felt terrible but afraid. She’d wanted to be accepted. The girls might turn on her if she defied them. Then there was the time she’d slapped her baby brother because he wouldn’t stop crying. Mary had been two. Surely The Lord wouldn’t judge so harshly? Surely He wouldn’t sentence her to eternal damnation for some childhood peccadillos?

“Your life has, as you say, been exemplary,” said the stranger. “If that was all there was to consider, you would most certainly qualify.”

So there was more to consider. Maybe there was the truth of the heart? Maybe every time she’d inwardly rolled her eyes, or considered someone inferior, she had earned a demerit in the book of judgment. When she’d basked in praise or forgotten to recognize an assistant’s assistance. When she’d thought herself superior …? But if God was so harsh, who would be allowed in?

“Do you remember this?” The stranger reached down for the cellphone lying on Mary’s bedside table.

“What?” gasped Mary, whose hand was still burning.

“When you updated your phone, you agreed to abide by our bargain.” The stranger scrolled through pages of minute print.

“Is this your checkmark?”

“Yes, but…”

“Look,” the stranger expanded a paragraph buried in the middle of page six.

By installing update Hades2 on my phone I agree to sell my soul to the devil.

“But,” cried Mary. “That’s not fair. No one reads those!”

“And no one,” said the stranger as the floor dropped down into a circle of all-consuming flame, “is going to heaven.”

~

Bio:

E.E. King is a painter, performer, writer, and biologist. She’ll do anything that won’t pay the bills, especially if it involves animals. Check out paintings, writing, musings and books at: www.elizabetheveking.com and amazon.com/author/eeking

Should Murder Be Legalized?

by Carlton Herzog

INTELLIGENCE SQUARED DEBATE, August 21, 2064

QUESTION: SHOULD MURDER BE LEGALIZED?

Arguing for the motion, Carlton Herzog, Professor Emeritus, Miskatonic Institute for Social Philosophy.

Arguing against the motion, Cardinal Clarence Dowd, Vatican Institute for Social Justice.

Moderator: “Gentlemen, please proceed with your opening statements.”

Professor Herzog: “Black’s Law Dictionary defines murder as the unlawful killing of one person by another. One must infer from such a definition that prohibitions against killing are situational rather than absolute. Voltaire famously said, ‘all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.’”  

“Voltaire implied that humans have been hardwired to embrace mass killing. To confirm that truth, one need only follow the Darwinian vapor trails streaming behind the brutal blood-soaked killing fields of modern warfare to the penumbral days of our ruthless, often cannibalistic, ancestors.”

Cardinal Dowd: “All life is God given and therefore sacred. To deny that truth is to condemn mankind to a life of butchery and madness.”

Professor Herzog: “The prohibition against murder rests on the legal fiction that killing is wrong. That fiction does not enjoy the same inviolable status as physical constants, such as the force of gravity and the speed of light.”

“We live in a nation where the national pastime is mass murder. Does my venerable adversary forget that the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, firebombed Dresden, and carpet-bombed North Vietnamese civilians? If life be sacred, then how does he explain half a million souls dying in the American Civil War, fifteen million in World War I, and another fifty million in World War II. Let us not forget the Rwandan and Serbian genocides, the two Iraq wars, and the Syrian civil war.  Killing is as American as apple pie whether it be by school shooters, gang members, abortion clinics, or Kevorkians. Killing is baked into American DNA.”

Cardinal Dowd: “Our debate tonight focuses on the legalization of murder by private citizens, and not the justifications or lack thereof for armed conflict. To grant all your citizens the right to use deadly force for good reason or no reason flies in the face of common sense. Look no further than Chicago’s inner city with its poverty and gang violence to see the fruits of unrestrained lethal behavior. The area has fragmented into warring tribes trapped in a never-ending cycle of retribution.”

Professor Herzog: “Then what of MAD, or mutually assured destruction, employed by nuclear states. The fear of an equally devastating retaliation from the target has kept the nuclear peace for 75 years. The desire to kill one’s enemies is balanced by the fear of being killed in kind. Therefore, the practical benefit of a homicidal society would be a massive reduction in military spending. Only a nation of suicidal fools would dare attack America.”

Cardinal Dowd: “Legalized murder cheapens human life, reduces people to things, and insults God.”

Professor Herzog: “When potential victims can sidestep a police investigation and a lengthy legal process to mete out speedy justice, potential criminals have a powerful incentive not to offend. Further, the assertion that God is offended by killing is palpably absurd.  The Abrahamic God was more than willing to eradicate all of humanity with the Flood, the righteous and the wicked alike, including children. In Revelations, He promises to do the same with fire. In between those two divine apocalypses, lies the rampages of God’s genocidal bagmen Joshua and Moses. Their conversion methodology relied heavily on the mass extermination of entire populations including their domesticated animals. It is that same hideous morality that informed the butchery of the Islamic conquest, the Mongol Invasion, the Mayan death cult, and ultimately the Soviet gulags.”

Cardinal Dowd: “I commend the Professor on his artful logic. But it is insensitive to the essential dignity of man as a creature fashioned in the image of a loving God. To be sure, the fragile clay of human nature lends itself to perversions of the most heinous kind. Yet, it also produces, if not murdered in its sleep, the most beautiful and profound things.  It is as, the great Abraham Lincoln once said, we must cultivate “the angels of our better nature” and not be led astray by our inner devils.”

Professor Herzog: “when I look in the mirror, or at another man, I do not see the angelic. Instead, I see the stamp of an irrevocable expiration date. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Macbeth, life is an exercise in futility, a tale of sound and fury told by an idiot who struts and frets upon the stage and is seen and heard no more.” 

“If that nihilistic arc seems extreme and inhumane, then it would be well to consider that at bottom man is 90% water and two dollars-worth of drug store chemicals. Those chemicals combine to produce cells, 90% of which belong to non-human organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Indeed, when the ontological drill bores deeper, it finds that human existence is a haphazard temporary organization of molecules. In the grand scheme of things, one human killing another is merely the shifting of electrons from a coherent phase state to one more chaotic and open-ended. To borrow from Empedocles, ‘Already have [we] been a boy and a girl. A bush and a bird, and a silent fish in the sea.’”

“Let us give Darwin his due. Genetically, our closest common ancestor is the murderous, sometimes cannibalistic chimpanzee. That we are not a consistently reasoning animal, that our heads contain dark animal impulses, and that our brains are imperfect instruments should come as no surprise. The shadow of our checkered evolutionary past often falls and elongates over our so-called civilized lives. For despite our trousers and phones, we remain beasts of the dark woods and caves.  The hairy and elongated canines may have shrunk, the screeches and ululations may have given over to language, and ballistic fecal matter may be a thing of the past, but we remain intimately tied by our very chromosomes to those voiceless souls we cage and medically exploit.  We treat them as meaningless nobodies. What then is the great truth that elevates our worth over theirs other than the strong dominate and exploit the weak?”

Cardinal Dowd: “I cannot share your dim view of life as an exercise in futility.  Even if one accepts the rather demoralizing truth of evolution, one can marvel at how far we have come from the simple single-celled organisms that floated in the primordial sea. We became fish, and those fish grew legs and walked on land, and later evolved into primates going on all fours. Then we walked upright and looked to the horizon of our possibilities. Now we have walked on the moon and Mars. I submit that those are far from nothing. They are everything.”

Professor Herzog: “At the most fundamental level, killing is the driver of evolution, helping to eliminate suspect adaptations from the gene pool. With the advent of agricultural abundance and medical technology, humans in the more advanced nations have grown soft. The civilized demographic is addicted to passive entertainment. We have become nations of lookers, watchers, gawkers, and spectators whose life experiences are vicarious thrills obtained through digital feeds. Compounding the matter is the infantilizing effects of intrusive paternalistic governments that insist on protecting the citizenry from itself.”

“Lacking any real existential challenges, our so-called civilized man is devolving into a bipedal jellyfish, lacking the grit and spine of his hardier ancestors. In short, civilized man has no skin in the game of his own existence. He has become a vain decadent thing with an undeserved sense of entitlement. It is that lack of any real humility and perspective that accounts for his wanton disregard for the environment and contempt for nature.”

“Legalizing murder vaccinates the public against the disease of apathy and self-satisfaction. Man’s greatest achievements have occurred when the risks were greatest, and the outcomes were uncertain. To legalize murder is repurpose lethal killing into a focused driver of human evolution and enduring achievement. Survival is that much sweeter when it is earned by dint of our evolved cunning and intelligence, rather than a guaranteed government hand-out.”

Cardinal Dowd: “I am sad that you have such little regard for your own kind. It must truly horrible to be a self-loathing human. I must wonder what childhood trauma caused such a twist in your personality.”

Professor Herzog: “Ad hominem attacks on me, couched in pseudo psychology cannot hide the truth that legalizing murder would be an economic boon.  First, it would relieve the overburdened criminal justice system of investigating capitol cases and housing offenders for life while their appeals drag on for decades. Second, a state licensed and taxed murder for hire industry would contribute enormously to government coffers. Third, the legalization of murder would spawn any number of new businesses:  murder insurance, corpse disposal, murder protection academies, and deadly arts academies. Finally, the dagger, explosives, gun and poison industries would enjoy a long-awaited rebirth.”

Cardinal Dowd: “Your argument makes as much sense as sawing the portion of tree limb between where you are sitting and the trunk.  What do you suppose will happen when corporate heads, doctors, and lawyers wind up at the end of a loaded gun barrel? The day-to-day operation of society would ground to a halt without their coordinating and essential influences. What is to stop a would-be murderer from strolling into an operating room and executing the entire team during an operation?  Or a disgruntled air traveler from stabbing a pilot, an irate felon from strangling a judge?  If murder be legal, then it makes little sense to outlaw any lesser offense.  The nominal benefits flowing from the increased commercial traffic would be more than offset by the rampant chaos. You seem to forget that group cohesion. and other eusocial behaviors are the driving force behind the rise of civilization. If man had opted for killing members of his group, there would have been no one to hunt or gather food, or care for children. Cooperation, the very glue of civilization, would cease to hold things together.”

“I cannot accept the premise that no natural constraints on lethal conduct exist outside man made law. Most mammals operate in groups, from wolves to whales, elephants to chimpanzees.  Rarely, if ever do members of the same animal group murder one another, however ferocious their interpersonal combat for dominance make take. Foraging and hunting are a collaborative effort. If we accept as true your premise that we live in coldly indifferent and random universe, then carving out a modicum of certainty in human affairs is paramount to our personal and collective sanity. If individuals can only feel secure when they sleep with one eye open, pistol in hand, then paranoia and schizophrenia will be the hallmarks of the human condition.”

Professor Herzog: “In an ideal world, there would be no need to legalize murder. But man is still very much a prisoner of his aggressive animality. Until his emotional architecture attains equilibrium with his intellect, he must find a way to redirect his inescapable lethal impulses along more constructive lines. In his Civilization and its Discontents, Doctor Freud observed that laws forbidding man’s primitive desire to kill give rise to discontent and mental illness. Though shackled, such desires do not evaporate but manifest in the more accepted practice of war. To legalize murder is to offer society an alternative to global conflict and eventual extinction.”

“The Cardinal wrongly assumes this is a moral issue in an amoral world.  Rather it is the application of Trolley Problem Logic where priority is given to the needs of the many over the needs of the one or the few. It is the same social arithmetic that decides who gets in the lifeboat first, who goes to war and who stays behind.”

Moderator: “That concludes our debate. Those who want murder legalized should press one on their pads, those who do not press two.”

~

Bio:

Carlton Herzog served as a flight dispatcher in the USAF. He later graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University. He also graduated from Rutgers Law School, where he served as the Rutgers Law Review Articles Editor. He currently works for the federal government. This is his fourth appearance in Sci Phi Journal.

Killing Death

by Carlton Herzog

The ability to defy aging and death has become a reality in our time. Now we no longer fear a hideous decay and decrepitude. Nor do we picture a pointless afterlife of singing Hosannas to a god of dubious virtue.

But even as the universe giveth, it taketh away. Where it extends the lives of the aged, it must surely deprive the unborn generations of theirs. The question then becomes how long should the young let the aged live before forcing them to their graves?

In Nekros v. U.S. the high court was asked to address that very question through the prism of the First Amendment. That Amendment both prohibits Congress from promoting one religion over another (Establishment Clause) and restricting an individual’s religious practices (Free Expression Clause).

BACKGROUND

On March 25, 2035, Google perfected Project Calico, which had a mandate to kill death and stop aging. It did so with pico-electric nanites injected into the subject’s blood stream. The nanites cured illness, stopped aging, and extended life indefinitely for anyone so treated. Death by natural causes ceased to exist for those who could afford it.

To ease the financial burden on nanite candidates, western governments stepped in with subsidies. That was a necessary step since the initial injection and annual follow-ups were beyond the means of most people.

Unfortunately, life extension did more harm than good. First, the number of global births began to exceed the number of deaths. With more mouths than food to go around, global food shortages became the norm. Second, the elderly clung to their jobs leaving younger people unemployed, and therefore, an added societal burden. Third, the cost of government subsidized life extension crushed economic growth in the developed nations. Fourth, the collection of retirement benefits far beyond what was once a normal lifespan wreaked havoc on corporations. Finally, there was an uptick in crime and other deviant behavior associated with the amortal demographic. Psychologists attributed it to an overweening sense of invincibility coupled with an inexplicable decline in impulse control.

Social philosophers and economists wrestled with the question of how long is long enough?  Politicians asked the same question. On May 25, 2050, both Houses of Congress passed the Mandatory Euthanasia Act which capped life spans at 150 years old. Regardless of a person’s overall physical and mental health, once a person had passed the chronological red line, they were ordered to report via the Selective Euthanasia Service to a Federal Termination Unit for painless and otherwise humane liquidation.

Many pundits believed that the impact of ageless living on the world’s religions, particularly those with pie-in the sky visions of an afterlife, would be terminal. To the contrary, religions of all dominations experienced explosive growth directly correlated with the enactment of the MEA.

The reason for such a radical sea change lay in the Constitution. Many religionists believed that the First Amendment protected their right to practice their religion in perpetuity on earth. The lower courts disagreed on the ground that the religious doctrines in question did not mandate earthly life in perpetuity. Instead, it stressed that all the doctrines in question characterized earthly life of secondary importance relative to the greater heavenly reality to follow.

To circumvent that obstacle, K.C. Braddock formed the Church of the Everlasting Earthly Flame. Its central tenet was that God promised eternal earthly life to any and all who sought it.

Harlan Nekros, age 149, joined the congregation that year fully expecting to receive First Amendment Protection of his religious freedom to remain alive indefinitely. 

On his 150th birthday, Nekros received his order to report within one year to a termination facility in fulfillment of his societal obligation. He subsequently obtained a temporary restraining order in Federal District Court to stay the process pending a hearing. 

At the hearing, Pepper’s lawyers argued that Nekros’s rights would be violated by the Court’s enforcement of the MEA. As a congregant of Everlasting Flame, Nekros was entitled to preserve his life by whatever means were available. To order his termination, the State would be committing a crime against his person and his constitutionally protected right to free exercise of religion.

Nekros’ lawyers stressed that “the State’s law is just another example of a callous and godless government running roughshod over human life and the religious rights of believers. Drunk with power, the State argues unconvincingly that forced suicide is a curative to modern medical paternalism.”

For its part, the United States Attorney argued that, “the net effect of Project Calico’s so-called success is that federal, state and local governments have been handed the crushing economic burden of medical treatments and retirement benefits extended into perpetuity for a growing population of geriatrics. Climate change, and the concomitant scarcity of food and water, have made those burdens exponentially greater.”

“Such extreme hardships call for extreme measures if our republic is to hold together. As in war, some members of society must be sacrificed so that the greater whole may survive. It is disingenuous for opposing counsel to argue that the State lacks an adequate moral foundation for the law and is simply acting in arbitrary and capricious manner in derogation of the petitioner’s liberty and religious interests.”

The Federal Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that MEA violated the petitioner’s free exercise of religion. It ordered the suppression of the State’s termination order pending an appeal.

NEKROS v. U.S.

The United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to determine the constitutionality of the Federal Life-Time Limits set forth in the MEA statute. The major points of that opinion follow:       

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Nekros’ strongest line of attack lies in the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom. We reject that argument. The State does not deny appellant’s right to believe whatever doctrine he chooses. Indeed, the State’s motivation in enforcing the MEA is a secular one and does not make any religious practice unlawful. The State is not acting as the thought police, nor the guardian of any one religion. The appellant remains the master of his own mind and soul and is therefore free to pursue whatever religious truth he sees fit to follow.

ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE

If we were to grant exemptions to Eternal Flame congregants, we would be violating the Establishment Clause by giving preferences to those who believe they are entitled to an eternal earthly life at the expense of other religions that do not so believe.

DUE PROCESS

The due process clauses of the constitution act against the arbitrary denial of life, liberty or property outside the sanction of law. There is nothing arbitrary or unsanctioned about the MEA. It is based on the need to reduce domestic population in order to conserve financial and material resources in both the private and public sector. It was enacted with the unanimous consent of both Houses of Congress and ratified by the President. We find therefore that the MEA does not offend the due process clauses.

EQUAL PROTECTION

Nekros argued that irrespective of any due process considerations, the MEA violates the Equal Protection Clause which holds that ‘No state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ Nekros asserts that persons over the age of 150 years old are being singled out for disfavored treatment relative to the rest of the public. We find this challenge to be without merit. At first blush, senicide, or selective eradication based on age, would seem to offend the right to equal protection under the law. But since all citizens fall within the sweep of the statute, we can find no basis for a claim of differential treatment under the law.

RIGHT OF PRIVACY

Nekros also argues that penumbra of the constitution creates a fundamental right to privacy, and by implication a right of self-determination. To support that argument, Nekros has provided a laundry list of case law bearing on a woman’s right to abortion, assisted suicide for the terminally ill patients, and fulfillment of DNR orders in living wills. Nekros would have us extend that right of self-determination so that he may lead an ageless existence in perpetuity irrespective of the law of the land. We find such case law distinguishable from the one at hand because there was no countervailing state interest in regulating population control. In these difficult times, we must all make hard choices. As the District court noted, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one or the few.  

DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTERS

We take judicial notice of the State’s statistical data regarding the well-documented criminality and malicious deviance of the ageless. To date, there have been more deaths from their wanton and reckless geriatric behavior than from all other domestic causes combined.  

That precipitous decline in personal and societal risk assessment, as reflected in those jarring statistics, stems from an unforeseen limitation of nanation. Although the nanation process may preserve cognitive and bodily function, it cannot preserve emotional intelligence. To the contrary, the effect of an extremely long and healthy life imbues the individual with a sense of invincibility, while simultaneously degrading impulse control. The medical community describes this effect as Toxic Centenarian Deviancy Syndrome. To date, there is neither a treatment nor a cure.

We hold therefore that Nekros’ constitutional challenges are without merit. We order that Nekros be remanded back to federal custody for termination within the next six months, pursuant to the original liquidation order.

JUSTICE WILBUR BAKER, DISSENTING

I am disgusted by the social arithmetic used by the majority. I do not believe that such an algorithm is good for society. Indeed, the notion that the State has the unfettered right to murder its citizens for no other reason than they have escaped death by old age is palpably absurd. Indeed, it reeks of both Hitler’s death camps where Jews were exterminated because they were characterized as morally flawed and Stalin’s pogroms against his own troops because they had been contaminated by exposure to western values at the front.

Not surprisingly, Hitler’s views on genocide — for what is the systematic extermination of an outcast group if not that — took their inspiration from our sterilization laws so popular in the 1920’s. Those laws aimed to eradicate the unfit and the degenerate: criminals, prostitutes, alcoholics, epileptics and the mentally ill. 

I find it disingenuous for the majority to assert that a person is free to believe whatever they like up until the moment the state lops off his or her head. It reminds one of the turkey’s fate on Thanksgiving Day following a few years of placid existence on the farm.

What the state, with the imprimatur of the courts has done, is criminalize long life but without the procedural and substantive protections afforded any accused criminal. It follows in the vein of other authoritarian regimes that have criminalized such things as reading, writing, and transporting books as well as composing and playing music. I must ask what comes next.

Given the State’s willingness to commit legally sanctioned murder, and its propensity to expand its reach, I should not be surprised if it concocts another law that violates both the spirit and letter of our sacred constitution. Thus, do we slouch toward tyranny and the genocides necessary to sustain it with a wink and a nod to the Founding Fathers.

I therefore respectfully dissent from the majority opinion.

~

Bio:

Carlton Herzog served as a flight dispatcher in the USAF. He later graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University. He also graduated from Rutgers Law School, where he served as the Rutgers Law Review Articles Editor. He currently works for the federal government.