Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Introduction and Prologue
Paul A. Lombardo, THREE GENERATIONS, NO IMBECILES: EUGENICS, THE SUPREME COURT, AND BUCK V. BELL, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008
13 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2008
Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court and Buck v. Bell (Johns Hopkins University Press) tells the story of the 1927 U. S. Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, which approved laws allowing states to perform surgery in order to prevent "feebleminded and socially inadequate" people from having children. In the Buck case the Supreme Court endorsed involuntary sterilization as a tool of government eugenic policy, setting the stage for similar laws in the majority of states. The case is most often remembered by the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., opinion, which ended in the rhetorical climax: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." Paul Lombardo sets out in this book to challenge the accuracy of the Holmes opinion, and recount in detail the events that brought Buck to the Supreme Court.
The Introduction to the book retraces the author's path in discovering the major documents and records that revealed the story of the Buck case, and sets forth a summary of the book's thesis and direction. The Prologue provides a brief description of the trial of Carrie Buck, and the role of Arthur Estabrook as expert eugenic witness.
Keywords: eugenics, legal history, sterilization, involuntary sterilization, Carrie Buck, Arthur Estabrook, Buck v. Bell, legal history
JEL Classification: I18, K00, K30, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation