In a ruling that re-energizes the debate over federalism and the right to die, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the federal Controlled Substances Act does not give the Bush administration the authority to thwart Oregon’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide.

“Congress did not have this far-reaching intent to alter the federal-state balance and the congressional role in maintaining it,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 6-3 majority in Gonzales v. Oregon.