Primary Resource

Judgment Against Carrie Buck (April 13, 1925)

In the case of Buck v. Priddy, Amherst County Circuit Court judge Bennett T. Gordon upholds the order to sterilize Carrie Buck, an inmate at the Virginia State Colony of Epileptics and Feeble-Minded. The case was appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1927 also upheld the order.

Transcription from Original

In Circuit Court of Amherst County
[Title omitted]
Judgment—April 13, 1925

This day came J. H. Bell, Superintendent of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, the successor in office of A. S. Priddy, Superintendent, deceased, and moved the Court that this suit proceed against him and in his name in the place and stead of the said A. S. Priddy, Superintendent, who has departed this life, and it appearing to the Court that the said J. H. Bell, Superintendent as aforesaid, is the successor in office of the said A. S. Priddy, Superintendent, and no sufficient cause having been shown against it, on said motion and by consent of the parties by counsel it is ordered that the said suit proceed against the said J. H. Bell, Superintendent of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded as aforesaid.

And thereupon this day came the parties by their attorneys and the Court having on a previous day, to-wit, on the 18th day of November, 1924, duly heard the evidence offered by the parties, the said Carrie Buck with her guardian, Robert G. Shelton, having been in personal attendance at the said hearing, and the Court having heard also the argument of counsel and being now advised of the judgment that it should render, the Court is of opinion that the Act of the General Assembly of Virginia entitled An Act to provide for the sexual sterilization of inmates of State Institutions in certain cases, approved March 29, 1924, is a valid and constitutional enactment and not obnoxious to the objections urged against it as contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the State of Virginia and of the United States, and doth so decide.

[fol. 12] And it further appearing to the Court and the Court finding as facts established by the evidence that the said Carrie Buck is feeble-minded as defined by the statutes of Virginia for such cases made and provided, that she is a duly committed inmate and patient of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded; that Emma Buck, the mother of the said Carrie Buck, is also feeble-minded and an inmate of the said institution; that the said Carrie Buck is the mother of an apparently feeble-minded infant; that

— page 4 —

the said Carrie Buck is afflicted with a hereditary form of feeble-mindedness; that the said Carrie Buck was duly proceeded against by the said A. S. Priddy, Superintendent, before the Special Board of Directors of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, in strict accordance with all the requirements and provisions of the said Act approved March 29, 1924; and the Court having further found as facts upon the evidence adduced that the said Carrie Buck is feeble-minded and by the laws of heredity is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring, likewise afflicted, that she may be sexually sterilized without detriment to her general health and that her welfare and that of society will be promoted by her sterilization, it is considered and ordered by the Court that the order of the said Special Board of Directors of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded appealed from and entered on, to-wit: September 10, appearing in the record of the said appeal ordering the said A. S. Priddy, Superintendent, to perform or to have performed by Dr. J. H. Bell, a competent and capable physician, the operation of salpingectomy up the said Carrie Buck, be and the said order is hereby affirmed. And the said Dr. J. Bell, Superintendent, a competent and capable physician, is hereby ordered to perform, after not less than 90 days from the date of this order, the operation of salpingectomy upon the said Carrie Buck.

The said Robert G. Shelton, guardian and next friend of the said Carrie Buck, having excepted to this order and expressed the purpose to apply for and appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court of Appeals, it is further ordered that the execution of this order be suspended for a period of four months from the entry hereof, and the Clerk of this Court is directed to certify a copy of this order to the Special Board of Directors of the said State Colony for Epileptic and Feeble-Minded.