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Buck v. Bell

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Brief Fact Summary.

A Virginia law provided for the forced sterilization of mentally disabled people.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Laws providing for the sterilization of mentally disabled people do not violate the Due Process Clause.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

But, it is said, however it might be if this reasoning were applied generally, it fails when it is confined to the small number who are in the institutions named and is not applied to the multitudes outside.

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Facts.

A Virginia law provided for the forced sterilization of mentally disabled people in a state institution for the purpose of preventing them from having mentally disabled biological children. Carrie Buck was a mentally ill woman.

Issue.

Did a statute providing for the compulsory sterilization of individuals with mental disabilities violate the Due Process Clause?

Held.

No, a statute providing for the compulsory sterilization of individuals with mental disabilities did not violate the Due Process Clause.

Discussion.

The Supreme Court characterized the plaintiff’s arguement as based “upon the substantive law” of the Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court concludes that the mandatory sterilization law did not violate the Due Process Clause becaue the state legislature found that sterilizing mentally disabled people served the public interest.


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