Summary of Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson (1942)
Relevant Facts: OK law allowed state to sterilize a person if convicted of three or more times for crime amounting to felonies involving moral turpitude. PL was convicted of robbery twice and once for stealing chickens.
Issue: Under Constitutional law, does this law violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment?
Holding: Yes. Procreation is fundamental rights and any encroachment in it must be met with strict scrutiny. Furthermore, the law unequally applied to pretty similar crimes.
Court's Rationale/Reasoning: The court found this to be “abstract symmetry” of making law. As making such a decision is usually a “last resort” for the Court, the combination of an overly arbitrary system for qualifying victims for sterilization and the sterilization itself being a deprivation of a fundamental right were factors in the Court's application of strict scrutiny here.
Discriminating class: felons of moral turpitude
Non-discriminated: non-felons, felons of certain crimes not of moral turpitude
Reason: not compelling as police power; no way to tell if sterilee would be parent to a potentially dangerous criminal
Reason 2: no due process to be heard otherwise
Rule: A law which deprives a person of their constitutional and procedural due process is applied strict scrutiny.
Important Dicta: Court passes on the cruel and excessive punishment portion of the PL's argument.