Adam Cohen on “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck”

Listen 00:48:44

Guests:  Adam Cohen

Eugenics had powerful sway in 1920s America, in politics, academics, medicine and the law – even in the highest court in the land. In the 1927 case Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court upheld the state of Virginia’s right to forcibly sterilization a young women named Carrie Buck who was diagnosed, erroneously, as an “imbecile.” Guided by the pseudoscience of eugenics, Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote in the 8-1 decision, “three generation of imbeciles are enough.” This ruling paved the way for states across the country to involuntarily sterilize almost 70,000 people from 1927-1979. Writer ADAM COHEN recounts this troubling and shameful period in our history in his new book, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. He comes in to talk to Marty about it.

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