Buck v. Bell (1927)
AuthorAntonios, Nathalie; Raup, Christina
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In 1927, the US Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell set the legal precedent that states may sterilize inmates of public institutions because the court argued that imbecility, epilepsy, and feeblemindedness are hereditary, and that the inmates should be prevented from passing these defects to the next generation. On 2 May 1927, in an eight to one decision, the US Supreme Court ordered that Carrie Buck, feebleminded daughter of a feebleminded mother and herself the mother of a feebleminded child, be sterilized under the 1924 Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act. Buck v. Bell determined that compulsory sterilization laws did not violate due process awarded by the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. It also bolstered the American eugenics movement and established legal authority for sterilizing more than 60,000 US citizens in over thirty states, until most of the practices ended in the 1970s.