81 years ago today
On May 2, 1927, the US Supreme Court ruled in Buck v. Bell that a Virgnia statute allowing the compulsory sterilization of the so-called feeble minded did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The effect of Buck v. Bell was to legitimize eugenic sterilization laws in the United States as a whole, leading to the forcible sterilization of more than 50,000 people. Buck v. Bell was never overturned by the Supreme Court, but, in 1942 (in the aftermath of WWII), the Supreme Court ruled in Skinner v. Oklahoma that compulsory sterilization could not be sentenced as a punishment for a crime and the practice gradually fell out of use. You can read the whole sad story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell.