Buck v. Bell

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Buck v. Bell
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided May 2, 1927
Overturned by
Skinner v. Oklahoma


Carrie Buck had been raped by a relative and given birth to an illegitimate child. She was not employed, had no spouse, and lacked the means to support her child or additional children. Buck had been formally classified as mentally impaired and institutionalized for her cognitive deficits.

Buck received tubal ligation.


Buck's defense argued that involuntary sterilization of Carrie Buck violated her due process rights.


Carrie Buck is "feeble-minded...promiscuous." It is in the best interest of the state to sterilize her.


Oliver Wendell Holmes reasoned that the state's interest in preserving the public welfare outweighed Carrie Buck's interest in bodily integrity.