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.