MN Supreme Court rules aiding suicide statute unconstitutional

Published On: 19th March 2014

In March of 2011, William Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in Rice County District Court of two felony counts of aiding suicide in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.215.

It is alleged Mr. Melchert-Dinkel responded to posts on suicide websites of two individuals located outside of the United States, and encouraged the two to commit suicide. The district court found Melchert-Dinkel “intentionally advised and encouraged” the two individuals to take their own lives. The district court also ruled that the speech fell outside First Amendment protections.

Today, in reversing the convictions, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the law against advising and encouraging suicide is unconstitutional. The Court severed the language “advises” and “encourages” from the statute reasoning that such language is not narrowly drawn and does not serve a compelling government interest. However, the language in the law prohibiting assisting in a suicide remains in effect.

You can read the entire opinion and legal analysis here.


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MN Supreme Court rules aiding suicide statute unconstitutional