Argues Freedom of Thought in Landmark US Supreme Court Case
The image of a government agent, with a syringe filled with mind-altering
drugs in hand, advancing on an unwilling and helpless citizen is one of
the darker motifs in modern science fiction. But this very issue is facing
the US Supreme Court in a current case (Sell v. U.S., No.
by the parties today.
the Sell case, which some have called the “Roe v. Wade of the
mind,” the CCLE field an amicus curiae
today, arguing that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of thought and
should be read to protect St. Louis dentist, Dr. Charles Thomas Sell, a
man the government is seeking to forcibly drug with antipsychotic
medication in order to make him competent to stand trial.
to Richard Glen Boire, legal counsel for the Center for Cognitive Liberty &
Ethics (CCLE), "what's
happening to Dr. Sell is unconscionable. He is under no obligation to
think the way the government wants him to think, and the government should
not be permitted to drug him against his will."
CCLE argues that the freedom of thought at stake in this case is
comparable to the reproductive freedom granted to women by the Roe v.
Wade decision. “Where Roe v. Wade established fundamental
rights with regard to the body," notes Boire, “this case will decide what
protections a person has over his or her own mind and thought
Boire notes that this is also a case of "cognitive
"The First Amendment," Boire says,
" not only protects speech, it also protects the underlying thoughts
that lead to speech. What good is free speech without free thought?"
Boire also notes that the government's
insistence that Dr. Sell can be forcibly administered mind-altering drugs,
is diametrically opposed to the government's "just say no"
policy with respect to other mind-altering drugs.
the one hand the government is bent on creating a "Drug Free
America," while on the other hand it forces a citizen to take
mind-altering drugs despite his repeated objection," said Mr. Boire.
"The only thing consistent here is the government's astonishingly
arrogant assertion that it has the power to determine which types of
thinking are allowed and which it can prohibit or coerce."
Oral argument is expected to occur in
February or March 2003.
CCLE’s Supreme Court legal brief and other materials concerning Dr.
Sell’s case (including this news release), are available online at: http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/DLL/sell_index.htm
Lypps Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
is nonprofit law and policy center working in the public interest to
foster cognitive liberty—the right of each individual to think
independently, and to use the full spectrum of his or her mind. The CCLE
encourages social policies that respect and protect the full potential and
autonomy of the human intellect. For more information on
our organization and the issues we investigate, visit the CCLE’s Web
site at www.cognitiveliberty.org
the CCLE's amicus brief to the Supreme Court.
further materials concerning the Dr. Sell case.
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