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Buck V Bell

In: Historical Events

Submitted By JSteve2013
Words 482
Pages 2
A Sterilizing Decision

Jordan Stevenson
5/17/13
Period 4
Supreme Court Cases
Mr. Packer

Buck v. Bell was the worst Supreme Court decision made in the 20th century. The whole court case was about eugenics. It all took place in 1924 in Virginia. Virginia just got done passing a law authorizing compulsory sterilization of the mentally handicapped. If you were an alcoholic, a petty criminal, or an epileptic you were considered in the “feeble minded” category. If you fell in this category you would have two different outcomes. The first one was sterilize the person for the betterment of society. The second option was you would be left alone and have your rights entitled to you as an American citizen. The whole case dealt around with the idea of the right to reproduce. People thought that the feeble minded were unfit to reproduce and therefore, not have the right to do so. Carrie Buck, who was 18 years old, lost her inalienable rights even though she couldn’t control it. Buck v. Bell is looked at as a landmark case because it violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. It also violated the 5th amendment stating that Carrie Buck’s right of due process of law. The final decision that they came up with was in favor of the defendant. Justice Holmes, the man who gave the verdict, said that it was just to sterilize the feeble minded for the good of society. After the decision was made more than 30 states made their own sterilization laws. As a matter of fact, Germany made their own eugenics laws that were almost similar to Virginia’s. Back in the 1970’s is when the last of any eugenics laws were terminated. Having made this decision, it should’ve been the other way around.

Personally, the Buck v. Bell case was overlooked in my opinion. To say that it is ok to sterilize the feeble minded is completely outrageous. Everyone in this country has the same rights as the next person in line, being feeble minded shouldn’t change that. People who do have a family background of having eugenic disorders shouldn’t be looked at as somebody who should be treated so harsh like Carrie Buck and her mother was. Sterilizing someone who has a disorder is wrong and shouldn’t have happened. Simple tests to see if they can ever handle themselves is ok in my opinion but sterilizing someone who probably doesn’t know why this is happening to them is just plain wrong. In closing, Buck v. Bell and the decision that came out of it was a mistake. They should’ve gone in the favor of Carrie Buck not just because of her being feeble minded but because it has been happening to everyone who was feeble minded. That many people who were sterilized is appalling and something completely different should’ve been decided in this court case.

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