Stump v. Sparkman (1978)
On March 28, 1978, in Stump v. Sparkman, hereafter Stump, the United States Supreme Court held, in a five-to-three decision, that judges have absolute immunity from lawsuits involving any harm their judicial decisions cause. Linda Sparkman, who was unknowingly sterilized when she was fifteen years old in 1971, sued Harold Stump, the county circuit court judge who signed the petition to allow Sparkman’s mother to have her sterilized. Sparkman’s mother stated to Stump that she wanted her daughter sterilized because of Sparkman’s alleged mental deficiencies and sexual promiscuity. Sparkman argued that Stump violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process because nobody informed her about the nature of the procedure and because Stump did not perform typical court proceedings. Stump argued that, because he was acting within his role as a judge, the doctrine of judicial immunity prevented his liability from lawsuit. Stump strengthened the impunity with which judges can act, including acts found to be unconstitutional, regardless of any rights upon which such actions may infringe.