Court cases - Court cases Skinner v. Oklahoma- (1942)...

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Court cases Skinner v. Oklahoma- (1942) Oklahoma depreives certain individuals of a right to have offspring Oklahoma’s Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act o “habitual criminal”- a person who having been convicted two or more times for crimes “amounting to felonies involving moral turpitude Such person shall be rendered sexually sterile o If the court or jury finds that the defendant is an “habitual criminal” then the court “shall render judgement to the effect that said defendant be rendered sexually sterile Offenses arising out of the violation of the prohibitory laws, revenue acts, embezzlement, or political offenses, shall not come or be considered within the terms of this Act Petitioner was convicted of stealing chickens, and robbery with firearms twice and was sentenced to the penitentiary o He was confined there in 1935 when the Act was passed o The Attorney General wanted him to get sterilized too and Petitioner challenged the Act as unconstitutional by reson of the 14 th amendment o The court instructed the jury that the crimes which pertioner had been convicted were felonies involving moral turpitude and that the only question for the jury was whether the operation of vasectomy could be performed The jury found that it could be The defendant is given no opportunity to be heard on the issues as to whether he is the probably potential parent of socially undesirable offspring It is suggested that the Act is severe in character and that the sterilization provided for its cruel and unusual punishment and violative of the 14 th amendment Buck v. Bell- the claim that state legislation violates the equal protection clause of the 14 th amendment is “the unusual last resort of constitutional arguments” o “The law does all that is needed when it does all that it can” Under our constitutional system the States in determining particular legistlation need not provide “abstract symmetry” The power to sterilize if exercised may have subtle far reaching and devastating effects o It can cause races or types which are inimical to the dominant group to wither and disappear
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The problem with this Act was that it discriminated between criminals o People who embezzled didn’t count but people who stole did It remains the only Supreme Court precedent to consider the postitive right to procreate Every other high court involves the right to avoid procreation- either through the use of contraceptives or abortion Equal protection v. Due Process- Justice Douglas declared the Oklahoma Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act unconstitutional as violating equal protection because it discriminated among people in their ability to exercise a fundamental liberty- the right to procreate Skinner is unique in its reliance on equal protection to protect a fundamental right related to person autonomy Buck v. Bell (1927) Carrie Buck is a feeble-minded white woman o Daughter of a feeble-minded mother in the same institution and mother of an illegitimate
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This note was uploaded on 12/24/2009 for the course UGS 303 taught by Professor Foster during the Fall '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Court cases - Court cases Skinner v. Oklahoma- (1942)...

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