U.S. Supreme Court Set to Hear
Oral Argument in Forced Drugging Case
on Monday March 3
On Monday March 3rd,
the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the
groundbreaking case of Dr. Charles Sell, a St. Louis dentist ordered to
submit to involuntary medication with anti-psychotic drugs (Sell v.
United States, No. 02-5664). Charged with Medicaid fraud in 1997, Sell
was found incompetent to stand trial due to mental illness. Since that
time, he has been fighting the federal government’s efforts to forcibly
inject him with drugs they claim will render him competent to stand trial.
The Center for Cognitive
Liberty & Ethics, a nonprofit civil rights organization, filed a
friend-of-the-court brief in
support of Dr. Sell arguing that the forced medication would violate his
First Amendment right to freedom of thought. “The fundamental right to
control one’s own thought processes is protected by the First Amendment and
will be seriously compromised if the government, with the approval of our
courts, is allowed to chemically manipulate the thought processes of
non-dangerous citizens,” argues Richard Glen Boire, legal counsel for the
Solicitor general Ted Olsen,
who represents the United States in the case, is expected to argue that the
government’s interest in bringing accused people to trial outweighs Dr.
Sell’s First Amendment interest in remaining free from the potentially
The case is unique in that it
will present the U.S. Supreme Court with the critical opportunity to update
longstanding protections for freedom of thought. As we enter the 21st
Century emerging advances in the field of pharmacology and other
technologies make the direct manipulation of thought increasingly possible.
“The Supreme Court has an
opportunity in this case to update longstanding legal protections for
freedom of thought,” says Boire, adding, “it's essential that the Court
recognize that freedom of thought necessarily entails cognitive liberty. If
you don't have sovereignty over you own mental processes, what freedom
including the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, the American Psychological
Association, and Drug Policy Alliance have also filed briefs opposing the
forced drugging of Dr. Sell.
Read the CCLE Brief in the US Supreme
View other resources in the Sell case.
For more information contact:
Richard Glen Boire, J.D. or Julie Ruiz-Sierra, J.D.
at the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
Tel./Fax (530) 750-7912
(Attorney Richard Glen Boire is available for interviews on the day of oral
argument (March 3rd) in Washington D.C. and via telephone
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
The CCLE 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