Publication Date



The Superintendent of the SCEFM, Dr. Albert S. Priddy, believed Carrie Buck to be feeble-minded. And, as required by law for sexual sterilization of inmates, he filed a petition to the Board of Directors of the SCEFM for the sterilization of Carrie Buck. The petition was granted by the Board on September lOth, 1924 and the performance of a salpingectomy on Carrie Buck was so ordered. The Virginia Sterilization Act also had a provision stipulating that the decision of the special board could be appealed by either party to the Circuit Court of jurisdiction. Action was brought against Dr. Priddy by RG. Shelton. Mr. Shelton was, at the time, named guardian and next friend of Carrie Buck. On October 3, 1924 Carrie Buck appealed the decision of the Board of the SCEFM to the Circuit Court of Amherst County. However, before the litigation was heard in the Circuit Court Dr. Priddy died and Dr. James Hendren Bell, the new Superintendent of the SCEFM, was substituted for Dr. Priddy as the defendant in the case. In a depth study of Buck v. Bell I first will trace the case through the Amherst County Circuit Court and the Supreme Court of Virginia. Then I will offer an explanation of the United States Supreme Court Decision. Lastly I will discuss the legal, social, and political implications of Buck v. Bell.