Buck v. Bell (Law Brief 1)

By Keith Murfee-DeConcini

DSAB 626: Disability Law and Policy, Fall 2014


Case Name: Buck v. Bell


Citation: 274 U.S. 200 (1927)


Facts: State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded ordered to perform sterilization operation on Carrie Buck

Carrie Buck is a feeble-minded white woman housed in above state colony mentioned, along with her mother who is also feeble-minded.

Carrie Buck is the mother of a feeble-minded child

Buck was 18 at time of trial, in late 1924


Issue: Did forced sterilization violate Carrie Buck’s Fourteenth Amendment rights (due process under equal protection)?


Holding: No, the court found that Carrie Buck’s rights had not been violated


Rationale: Protection of the health of the state. Finding that “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.”