The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck

Book - 2016
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"Describes a dark moment in American history, when the Supreme Court agreed, in 1927, to support eugenic sterilization for 'undesirables,' including epileptics and the 'feebleminded,' resulting in the sterilization of seventy thousand Americans" --Publisher's description.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2016
ISBN: 9781594204180
Branch Call Number: 344.048 Co
Description: 402 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Apr 14, 2017

As a history, Imbeciles deals primarily with the men who shaped Carrie’s fate, rather than with the woman herself. No doubt these prestigious and well-educated men left a larger record than a woman who had to leave school after the fifth grade, and who did not speak publicly about her situation until the 1980s. Cohen profiles the four men who played the largest roles in forming and deciding Carrie’s case: Dr. Albert Priddy, Harry Laughlin, Aubrey Strode, and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Each man merits two chapters, a structure that bogs down the narrative and creates repetition as Cohen retreads portions of the timeline with each new figure.

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Oct 04, 2016

Cohen's book, for the most part, covers ground already well broken by Paul A. Lombardo's 2008 "Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck V. Bell". I did, however, find Cohen's two chapters on Justice Holmes interesting, especially Holmes' strong ties to four important Zionist figures of his day--Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Walter Lippman, and Harold Laski. Though Cohen, understandably, makes no mention of Zionism and you'll have to turn elsewhere for that.

Apr 04, 2016

This is a supreme book in the realm of // Why we must ALWAYS question Authority - - and who the heck makes these people The Authority? \\. On CNN today, some news clown prattled on about why Trump's [whom I am no fan of, other than he's not on the Koch brothers payroll, ditto for Bernie] program to erase the national debt wouldn't work, yet she failed to mention that over $12 trillion is unaccounted for in DoD funds [from Clinton to Bush to Obama] and that makes up a large portion of the existing national debt [$19 trillion]. Massive exclusion of the facts, of the data, is the norm with all these so-called experts, who frequently are simply crony hires, crony appointments, and crony failures!
The imbeciles, of course, were those people sitting on the Supreme Court bench!
[An outstanding book also covering this topic is called: Three Generations, No Imbeciles, by Paul A. Lombardo.]


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Apr 14, 2017

In 1907, Indiana passed the first law authorizing a state to engage in eugenic sterilization, which permitted medical operations that cut off the reproductive abilities of those who were deemed “unfit” to procreate for a variety of reasons. However, it would take twenty years for the constitutionality of such laws to be sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and that case would come from Virginia, a relatively late adopter of eugenic sterilization. At the centre of that case was Carrie Buck, a girl of nineteen who had already borne one illegitimate child, and who was the daughter of a woman who had also been deemed “feebleminded.” In a nearly unanimous decision that has never been overturned, the Supreme Court ruled on Buck v. Bell in 1927, upholding eugenics laws broadly, and Carrie’s sterilization specifically. In Imbeciles, Adam Cohen investigates this miscarriage of justice, chronicling the rise of the eugenics movement in America, and how Carrie Buck was actively misrepresented for the sake of this cause.


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Apr 14, 2017

Whitehead’s representation of Carrie at the trial and on appeal was an extraordinary case of malfeasance. Not only did he violate well-established ethical rules about the duty of loyalty to a client…but his entire representation of Carrie, in a case of enormous importance to her, was a fraud.


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