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Skinner v. Oklahoma

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Chemerinsky

Citation. 316 U.S. 535, 62 S. Ct. 1110, 86 L. Ed. 1655, 1942 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Skinner (Petitioner), was sentenced to involuntary sterilization under Oklahoma’s Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act (the Act) and now alleges that the Act deprives him of equal protection under the laws.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The right to have offspring is a fundamental right, requiring a compelling state interest to interfere with it.

Facts. Oklahoma defined a “habitual criminal” as a person who, “having been convicted two or more times for crimes ”˜amounting to felonies involving moral turpitude’ either in Oklahoma or another State, is thereafter convicted of such a felony in Oklahoma and is sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a Oklahoma penal institution.” Such habitual criminals could be subject to forced sterilization. The Petitioner had been twice arrested for theft offenses before being arrested and confined for armed robbery. During his third incarceration, the Act was passed and proceedings were instituted against him.

Issue. May the State sterilize an individual against his will for being convicted of three felonies involving moral turpitude?

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