Buck v. Bell Case Brief

Facts of the case

Carrie Buck was a feeble minded womanwho was committed to a state mental institution. Her condition had been present in her family for the last three generations. A Virginia law allowed for the sexual sterilization of inmates of institutions to promote the health of the patient and the welfare of society.Before the procedure could be performed, however, a hearing was required to determine whether or not the operation was a wise thing to do.


According to Virginia’s state law, the permission on involuntary sterilization of a person who is ill is not a violation of a person’s substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held that the state could properly sterilize those determined to be feeble minded to prevent the birth of feeble minded children who might lead lives of crime or indigency. The fact that the sterilization order procedure only applied to inmates in state facilities and not to the general public did not deprive the inmates of equal protection.

  • Advocates: –
  • Petitioner: Buck
  • Respondent: Bell
  • DECIDED BY:Taft Court
  • Location: –
Citation: 274 US 200 (1927)
Argued: Apr 22, 1927
Decided: May 2, 1927
Buck v. Bell Case Brief