Skinner V. Oklahoma Case Study

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The case of Skinner v. Oklahoma was argued on May 6th, 1942 and decided on June 1st, 1942. The Oklahoma Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act provided sterilization for a man or woman crimes involving “moral turpitude.” Oklahoma defined a "habitual offender" as someone who had been convicted two or more times which amounted to felonies involving moral turpitude and in result was sentenced to imprisonment.
In this case, Jack T. Skinner had been convicted of three crimes, one for stealing a chicken and the other two for armed robbery. While serving his third conviction, The Oklahoma Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act passed and the state of Oklahoma planned to carry out sterilization on Skinner. The state of Oklahoma claimed that Skinner’s crimes involved moral turpitude but Skinner challenged this by stating that this act was unconstitutional. At Skinner’s jury trial, the jury was told by the court to only consider whether the vasectomy would be harmful to his health. The jury answered negatively to this and it resulted in a verdict for sterilization. The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
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Justice William Douglas stated that the sterilization of habitual offenders had no defined correlation to them procreating offenders. In addition, Justice Douglas argued that this act was also a form of discrimination that targeted minority groups unlawfully. In an argument concurrently with Justice Douglas, Justice Stone argued that the act was in violation of due process because it didn’t have a hearing on merely the basis of whether criminal traits are inheritable, specifically in Skinner’s

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