Skinner v. Oklahoma
SCOTUS - 1942
- OK's Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act says that the state can sterilize people who are convicted 3 times of felonies involving moral turpitude.
- D was convicted of stealing chickens once and robbery with firearms twice. The state wanted to sterilize him.
- D obviously objected.
- Trial court found D could be sterilized.
- Supreme Court of OK affirmed.
- SCOTUS reversed, found law unconstitutional.
- May a state sterilize a person for repeated criminal offenses?
- A state may not sterilize a person for repeated criminal offenses.
- Marriage and procreation are fundamental civil rights.
- The power to sterilize may have subtle, far-reaching, and devastating effects.
- In evil or reckless hands, it could cause races or types of people not in the majority to disappear.
- This law fails equal protection.
- The law sterilizes people who commit grand larceny three times yet leaves embezzlers alone.
- There is no basis for inferring that the line between these two has any significance in eugenics or in the inheritability of genes regarding these two offenses.
- Thus, these lines are artificial and unfair; the EPC would be empty words if such a distinction were allowed to stand.
- Stone (concurring)
- We should not decide this based on the EPC.
- The wholesale condemnation of a certain class in this way is such an invasion of personal liberty that it is a violation of the DPC.