Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson
316 U.S. 535 (1942)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535 (1942)

Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson

No. 782

Argued May 6, 1942

Decided June 1, 1942

316 U.S. 535

Syllabus

1. A statute of Oklahoma provides for the sterilization, by vasectomy or salpingectomy, of "habitual criminals" -- an habitual criminal being defined therein as any person who, having been convicted two or more times, in Oklahoma or in any other State, of "felonies involving moral turpitude," is thereafter convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in Oklahoma for such a crime. Expressly excepted from the terms of the statute are certain offenses, including embezzlement. As applied to one who was convicted once of stealing chickens and twice of robbery, held that the statute violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 316 U. S. 537.

2. The State Supreme Court having sustained the Act, as applied to the petitioner here, without reference to a severability clause, the question whether that clause would be so applied as to remove the particular constitutional objection is one which may appropriately be left for adjudication by the state court. P. 316 U. S. 542.

189 Okla. 235, 115 P.2d 123, reversed.

Page 316 U. S. 536

CERTIORARI, 315 U.S. 789, to review the affirmance of a judgment in a proceeding under the Oklahoma Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act, wherein it was ordered that the defendant (petitioner here) be made sterile.

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