The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy

Announcing the Carrie Buck Distinguished Fellowship

Carrie Buck Distinguished Fellowship

In 1927, the US Supreme Court issued its infamous decision in the Buck v. Bell case, concerning the involuntary sterilization of Carrie Buck, a woman asserted to be "feeble minded." The majority opinion, which endorsed the involuntary sterilization of disabled people, was signed by Justice Louis Brandeis, after whom Brandeis University is named. "Three generations of imbeciles are enough," the decision pronounced. Over the past seventy years, researchers and advocates at Brandeis University have worked strenuously to combat discrimination against people with disabilities. Yet, despite these efforts, we as a university have not directly addressed the legacy of Buck v. Bell in our work.

Carrie and Emma Buck at the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded taken by A.H. Estabrook the day before the Buck v. Bell trial in VirginiaCarrie and Emma Buck at the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded taken by A.H. Estabrook the day before the Buck v. Bell trial in Virginia. Credit: Arthur Estabrook Papers, M.E. Grenander Special Collections & Archives, University at Albany, SUNY.

To honor Carrie Buck's memory and to take steps to rectify the injustice to which she and thousands of other people in the United States have been subjected, the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy has established the Carrie Buck Distinguished Fellowship. The fellowship, funded by the Ford Foundation, is intended for activists, scholars, and community organizers with disabilities whose work draws national attention to systemic ableism in reproductive health policy.

During the residency, the Carrie Buck Distinguished Fellow will work with community members, researchers, and advocates to illuminate ways to eliminate ableist bias and create a healthcare system that meets the needs of all. The residency will culminate in a public lecture hosted by the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy.

Helpful Resources

Lombardo, P. A. (2008). Three generations, no imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell.

Powell, R. M. (2021). From Carrie Buck to Britney Spears: Strategies for disrupting the ongoing reproductive oppression of disabled people. Virginia Law Review Online, 107, 246–271. https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3902743