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Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck
In 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American history. In Imbeciles, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court’s decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman it wrongly thought to be "feebleminded" and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirable citizens for the greater good of the country. The 8–1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American law - including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former U.S. president; and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, including the court’s famous declaration "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. A gripping courtroom drama, it pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being "swamped with incompetence." At the center was Carrie Buck, who was born into a poor family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taken in by a foster family, until she became pregnant out of wedlock. She was then declared "feebleminded" and shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded.Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups charged with being genetically inferior. Cohen shows how Buck arrived at the colony at just the wrong time, when influential scientists and politicians were looking for a "test case" to determine whether Virginia’s new eugenic sterilization law could withstand a legal challenge. A cabal of powerful men lined up against her, and no one stood up for her - not even her lawyer, who, it is now clear, was in collusion with the men who wanted her sterilized.In the end, Buck’s case was heard by the Supreme Court, the institution established by the founders to ensure that justice would prevail. The court could have seen through the false claim that Buck was a threat to the gene pool, or it could have found that forced sterilization was a violation of her rights. Instead, Holmes, a scion of several prominent Boston Brahmin families, who was raised to believe in the superiority of his own bloodlines, wrote a vicious, haunting decision upholding Buck’s sterilization and imploring the nation to sterilize many more.Holmes got his wish, and before the madness ended some sixty to seventy thousand Americans were sterilized. Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With the intellectual force of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress, as well as a triumph of American legal and social history.
Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed
From the national legal director of the ACLU, an essential guidebook on standing up for fundamental civil liberties and resisting executive overreach -- named one of Washington Post's Notable Nonfiction Books of the Year.What role do American citizens have in safeguarding our Constitution and defending liberty? Must we rely on the federal courts, and the Supreme Court above all, to protect our rights? In Engines of Liberty, the esteemed legal scholar David Cole argues that we all have a part to play in the grand civic dramas of our era -- and proposes specific tactics for fighting Donald Trump's policies.Examining the most successful rights movements of the last thirty years, Cole reveals how groups of ordinary Americans confronting long odds have managed, time and time again, to convince the courts to grant new rights and protect existing ones. Engines of Liberty is a fundamentally new explanation of how our Constitution works and the part citizens play in it.
Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck
One of America's great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court's infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of "undesirable" citizens the law of the land New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen tells the story in Imbeciles of one of the darkest moments in the American legal tradition: the Supreme Court's decision to champion eugenic sterilization for the greater good of the country. In 1927, when the nation was caught up in eugenic fervor, the justices allowed Virginia to sterilize Carrie Buck, a perfectly normal young woman, for being an "imbecile." It is a story with many villains, from the superintendent of the Dickensian Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded who chose Carrie for sterilization to the former Missouri agriculture professor and Nazi sympathizer who was the nation's leading advocate for eugenic sterilization. But the most troubling actors of all were the eight Supreme Court justices who were in the majority - including William Howard Taft, the former president; Louis Brandeis, the legendary progressive; and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., America's most esteemed justice, who wrote the decision urging the nation to embark on a program of mass eugenic sterilization. Exposing this tremendous injustice--which led to the sterilization of 70,000 Americans--Imbeciles overturns cherished myths and reappraises heroic figures in its relentless pursuit of the truth. With the precision of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposÃ©, Cohen's Imbeciles is an unquestionable triumph of American legal and social history, an ardent accusation against these acclaimed men and our own optimistic faith in progress.
Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment
From one of the most influential journalists of the last half century, an essential explanation and defense of a foundational American idea: free speech.More than any other people on earth, we Americans are free to say and write what we think. The press can air the secrets of government, the corporate boardroom, or the bedroom with little fear of punishment or penalty. This extraordinary freedom results not from America's culture of tolerance, but from fourteen words in the constitution: the free expression clauses of the First Amendment.In Freedom for the Thought That We Hate, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Lewis describes how our free-speech rights were created in five distinct areas: political speech, artistic expression, libel, commercial speech, and unusual forms of expression such as T-shirts and campaign spending. It is a story of hard choices, heroic judges, and the fascinating and eccentric defendants who forced the legal system to come face to face with one of America's great founding ideas.
The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump
One of America’s most celebrated lawyers and a Democrat explains why impeachment proceedings would be a bad idea for America - and only intensify the larger problem with our democracy. In the 2018 New York Times bestseller The Case Against Impeaching Trump, Alan Dershowitz lamented how American political discourse has devolved into hypocrisy and the criminalization of political differences in the rush to impeach President Donald Trump. Arguments to impeach Trump failed Dershowitz’s “shoe on the other foot test,” or his political golden rule: Democrats must do unto Republicans what they would have Republicans do unto them, and vice versa. Since then, we’ve only become more divided - and the impeachment power wielded by the new Democratic majority in the House of Representative threatens to further polarize the country. The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump includes and expands upon Dershowitz’s 2018 book. It puts recent political events - including the hyper-partisan Kavanaugh hearings, the unrestrained power of the Mueller investigation, and the generally intolerant current political discourse - into context. American democracy, Dershowitz argues, is suffering from political hypocrisy. And two years of impeachment proceedings brought by the House - and the media circus that would undoubtedly surround them - is clearly not the answer. This book is Alan Dershowitz’s plea for honest dialogue - for arguments that would be made even if the shoe was on the other foot.
The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens
Harcourt, Bernard E.
A distinguished political theorist sounds the alarm about the counterinsurgency strategies used to govern Americans.Militarized police officers with tanks and drones. Pervasive government surveillance and profiling. Social media that distract and track us. All of these, contends Bernard E. Harcourt, are facets of a new and radical governing paradigm in the United States--one rooted in the modes of warfare originally developed to suppress anticolonial revolutions and, more recently, to prosecute the war on terror.The Counterrevolution is a penetrating and disturbing account of the rise of counterinsurgency, first as a military strategy but increasingly as a way of ruling ordinary Americans. Harcourt shows how counterinsurgency's principles--bulk intelligence collection, ruthless targeting of minorities, pacifying propaganda--have taken hold domestically despite the absence of any radical uprising. This counterrevolution against phantom enemies, he argues, is the tyranny of our age. Seeing it clearly is the first step to resisting it effectively.
The Poisoning of an American High School
If it can happen in Beverly Hills, it can happen anywhere The Poisoning of an American High School is a feat of investigative reportage and the product of four years of research by award-winning journalist Joy Horowitz. Making lucid the tangled issues of public health, regulation, and the political power of industry, it tells a riveting tale ripped from newspaper headlines - a cancer cluster affecting graduates of one of America's most affluent schools, Beverly Hills High. The Poisoning of an American High School presents the behind-the-scenes saga of the 2003 landmark toxic tort suit, in which more than one thousand plaintiffs, with the sensational Erin Brockovich as their champion, claimed their illnesses could be traced to exposure to the oil derricks just yards from school grounds.
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