Washington Law Review


Seeley v. State, concerning the medical use of marijuana, underscored yet again the fundamental tensions and flaws in federal substantive due process analysis. The U.S. Supreme Court has increasingly restricted the definition of fundamental rights, leaving many important interests exposed to the highly deferential rational relationship standard for state regulation. Under the bifurcated federal substantive due process test, the initial classification of an individual interest as fundamental or non-fundamental is highly outcome determinative, leading to contorted definitions of individual rights before the test for the validity of a regulation is even applied. Washington has generally followed federal constitutional law when analyzing due process issues. This Note argues that Seeley v. State presented the Supreme Court of Washington with an opportunity to depart finally from the flawed federal analysis and adopt a substantive due process test that is better gauged to the importance of the individual interest at stake. In conclusion, the Note proposes a definitional balancing test that accords varying levels of protection to different rights depending upon the importance of the individual interest.

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