‘Stumped,’ by Debora Threedy: A Legal and Historical Context
11 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018
Date Written: September 23, 2013
This paper appeared as part of a published symposium consisting of a play and three articles that, together, tell the story of Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). The case has entered the legal canon as the leading decision on judicial immunity, but the litigation arose from the involuntary sterilization of a minor. Linda Sparkman was sterilized at age fifteen pursuant to a court order that her mother had obtained from a state judge without any notice to her, appointment of a guardian ad litem, presentation of evidence, or opportunity to appeal. As an adult, she learned of what happened to her and sued the judge. The Supreme Court declared that judges are absolutely immune from liability for their official judicial acts, even if such acts are done maliciously or flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors. Law professor Debora Threedy's play, "Stumped," addresses the injustices of the Stump decision. This paper, presented and the 14th annual conference of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities and published alongside Threedy's play in a symposium issue of the UMKC Law Review, provides a summary of the historical, social, and legal context for the litigation that inspired the play.
Keywords: reproductive justice, law, culture, and the humanities
JEL Classification: K36, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation