By Jasmine E. Harris
In 1927, Buck v. Bell upheld Virginia’s Eugenical Sterilization Act, authorizing the state of Virginia to forcibly sterilize Carrie Buck, a young, poor white woman the state determined to be unfit to procreate.
In less than 1,000 words, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing for all but one of the Justices of the Court, breathed new life into an otherwise fading public eugenics movement.
More than 70,000 people (predominantly women of color) were forcibly sterilized in the twentieth century.
Buck is most often cited for its shock value and repeatedly, for what is, perhaps, its most famous six words: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” While this may be the most provocative language in the opinion, it is not the most noteworthy.