Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Derek Warden, Ex Tenebris Lux: Buck v. Bell and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 51 Univ. Tol. L. Rev. 57 (2019):
Justice Holmes's opinion in Buck v. Bell allowed thousands of people with disabilities to be forcibly sterilized. Holmes's opinion was of such a nature that it was used to support the Nazis' use of sterilization at the Nuremburg Trials. Thankfully, our nation and world began viewing people with disabilities in a different light. One such change in views became manifest in the Americans with Disabilities Act. That law, as shown above, allows plaintiffs at risk of sterilization or who are victims of such a practice, to sue public entities directly either for injunctive relief or damages regardless of any claims of sovereign immunity. Thus, the ADA stands as a blockade to one of Justice Holmes's worst opinions. As such, the ADA echoes back in time to say, "ten generations of Buck v. Bell are enough."