A Brief History
On March 28, 1978, the US Supreme Court rendered a decision that many would think defied reason!
An Indiana mom went before a local court to request the judge issue an order that her teenage daughter be sterilized!
The mom claimed her daughter was “somewhat retarded” (a description the daughter would later be justified in using about the judge!) and was hanging around with older boys, and the mom was thus in fear that her daughter would get pregnant.
Without any representation or advocate for the daughter, without any evidence that the girl was retarded or otherwise mentally deficient, without any medical evidence, and without even the knowledge of the girl the judge granted the request and ordered the girl be surgically sterilized!
Accordingly, the young lady was tricked into going to a hospital for an “appendectomy” and was sterilized in 1971. A couple years later the girl got married and commenced to try to start a family. After two years of failure to conceive, the young bride sought medical help and was given the devastating news that she had been sterilized secretly and against her will!
Not surprisingly, the girl and her husband sued the parties involved in her sterilization, including her mother, the judge, the hospital and the doctors. The district court dismissed the suit, but an appeals court reinstated it. The case went to the US Supreme Court and the ruling came down against the husband and wife that could bear no children!
The layman’s explanation of the decision was that judges are immune from lawsuits about their decisions, even if those decisions are absolutely wrong, full of procedural errors, and even done maliciously! The court ruled that the only reason a judge could be sued would be on grounds that he did not have jurisdiction over the case. The court had ruled 5-2 against the couple, and the logic that if the judge cannot be held liable then the others involved could not be, either!
Ruling that judges have “absolute immunity” does not just sound cracked to laymen, but also to many other judges (at least not those in the dystopian future as seen below…) who recoil against the incredible fundamental errors and disregard for a person’s rights displayed in this case.
This shocking decision is certainly not the only court decision that assaults common sense. Question for students (and subscribers): Share with us other decisions you think deserve mention on the cracked court list in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Ely Jr., James W. and Kermit Hall. The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions. Oxford University Press, 2009.