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Judge who wrote key physician-assisted suicide ruling dies

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court judge who wrote a key ruling on doctor-assisted suicide has died.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Senior Judge John T. Noonan died on Monday at the age of 90. Noonan – an appointee of President Ronald Reagan – joined the San Francisco-based court in 1985 and authored nearly 1,100 opinions over a 31-year career.

Among Noonan’s noteworthy cases was a 1995 appeal in the first federal litigation related to physician-assisted suicide by terminally ill patients. A lower court ruled that a Washington state law prohibiting physician-assisted suicide was unconstitutional. In a 2-1 ruling authored by Noonan, the 9th Circuit overturned that decision.

Noonan’s opinion was eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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