On This Date in Legal History

In 1924 the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded facility sought to forcibly sterilize Carrie Buck under the state’s eugenics sterilization law. She and her mother, Emma, were under the state’s care, and Carrie allegedly had a child who was, similarly, deemed feeble-minded. A state trial court and the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia granted the Colony’s petition, so Carrie appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Sadly, on May 2, 1927, the Taft Court upheld the Virginia law.


Justice Holmes, who delivered the Court’s opinion, wrote– “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. [Citation removed.] Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”  You can listen to an interesting discussion about this (quite shocking) decision at http://goo.gl/B9AEZN.  

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
This entry was posted in Civics, Constitutional Law, History, History/Social Studies Common Core Curriculum, Lawsuit, Legislation/Laws, On This Date, Social Studies, United States Supreme Court and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.