His Appointment Stanley v. Georgia (1969) Dandridge v. Williams (1970) Roe v. Wade (1971)
Milliken v. Bradley (1974) Regents of the Univ. of CA v. Bakke (1978) Cruzan v. Director MO Dept. of Health (1989) Perry v. Louisiana (1990)

Cruzan by Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1989)

    In 1989, near the end of his term on the Supreme Court, Marshall and his fellow Justices dealt with an issue never before presented before the court - whether the family of a person still alive solely because of life support has the right, under the grants of privacy and personal autonomy, to shut off life support systems for their family member. In this case, 25 year-old Nancy Cruzan had been in a terrible car accident and was left brain-dead, never to wake from her comatose state. The accident occurred in 1983, and in 1987 her parents, claiming their right to privacy in this difficult decision, requested that she be taken off life support . A state court gave permission to this in 1988, but the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the decision, maintaining that Nancy Cruzan would have had to indicate before her accident that she would have wished to be allowed to die in the case that this type of accident would occur. The Cruzan's brought the case to the Supreme Court. The question before the Court was whether the doctor, the family, or the state of an incompetent patient would determine whether the patient could be taken off life support. The Court upheld the Missouri Supreme Court decision in a 5 to 4 vote. Eventually, in a probate case, the family’s petition was granted and in 1990, Nancy Cruzan died.

    Marshall was a strong advocate for privacy and this case was a setback in his battle. He agreed with an opinion written by Brennan, in which he asserted that the family, who knew the patient before she became comatose, would be better able than the state to decide if the patient would have wanted to die a natural death.