First Advisor

Richard Clucas

Term of Graduation

Spring 2006

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




Abortion -- United States, Assisted suicide -- United States, Federal-state controversies -- United States, Assisted suicide, Federal-state controversies, United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, iv, 63 pages)


Access to assisted suicide has been the center of a federal standoff between Congress and the state of Oregon since 1998, but few academic papers on American federalism acknowledge this development. Through the initiative and referendum process, Oregonians gave themselves the right to assisted suicide in 1998. Congress reacted immediately, attempting to overturn the Oregon law with national legislation. By historical and constitutional precedent states control issues related to events of daily life such as birth, death, marriage, and healthcare issues. In reality, Congress has entered the arena of moral policymaking and protection under the Tenth Amendment is unreliable. The emergence of certain types of policy, like assisted suicide, shows that the principles of American federalism have changed: it no longer acts as a safeguard against domination by the national government. If the national government is successful in criminalizing assisted suicide in the states, it may mean that the constitutional and historical principles of federalism are compromised.

The purpose of this paper was to illustrate that analyses of federalism do not acknowledge that social regulatory policies occur at the congressional level, and that this omission affects the models and theories. The works of prominent federal scholars were selected and briefly reviewed to show first that no accounting of social regulatory policy existed, and second, how its absence impacted the work.

Congressional Quarterly's Key Votes from the years 1945-2003 were used to code policies and demonstrate that social regulatory policies do occur at the congressional level. Theodore Lowi's four-point policy model was used in the coding process, with the addition of social regulatory policy. The policy study is consistent with the claim that social regulatory policies are a recent addition to congressional policymaking. The literature review reveals little or no treatment of social regulatory policies.


© 2006 Kimberly Janet Russell

In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier