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Alternative title:

Buck v. Bell. Eugenics in the United States’ Supreme Court

Subject and Keywords:

eugenics   Supreme Court of the United States   Buck versus Bell


Kontynuacją tytułu są: Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis. Studia nad Autorytaryzmem i Totalitaryzmem ; t. 34- ; ISSN 2300-7249


The article concerns one of the most infamous decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States Buck versus Bell. The verdict was based on the principles of eugenics and affirmed the constitutionality of the sterilization of “feeble-minded” persons. The rationale for this decision was the right of the society to demand certain sacrifices from its members in the name of common good. According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, who authored the verdict, the state has a right to stop “imbeciles” from reproducing in order to prevent the danger of the society’s slide into the “swamp of incompetence”. Individual autonomy and liberty, enshrined in the Constitution, does not include the right to produce “degenerate offspring”. The decision was deeply rooted in pseudoscientific eugenic theories concerning the genetic transmitability of “feeble-mindedness”. Today Holmes’ verdict raises a fully deserved moral outrage and is universally condemned as ethically odious.

Place of publishing:



Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Date issued:


Date copyrighted:



ISSN 0239-6661   ISSN 0137-1126


PAd P 101182 II


ger   eng   pol


Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis, ISSN 0239-6661, No 3154. Studia nad Faszyzmem i Zbrodniami Hitlerowskimi, ISSN 0137-1126. 2009, 31, s. 421-427

Is version of:

Czasopisma Naukowe w Sieci (CNS)

Rights holder:

Copyright by Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego Sp. z o.o.

Autor opisu:

WR U/PAdbg