SKINNER v. OKLAHOMA EX REL. WILLIAMSON
Oklahoma's Criminal Sterilization Act allowed the state to sterilize a person who had been convicted three or more times of crimes "amounting to felonies involving moral turpitude."
Did the Act violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment?
A unanimous Court held that the Act violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Since some crimes such as embezzlement, punishable as felonies in Oklahoma, were excluded from the Act's jurisdiction, Justice Douglas reasoned that the law had laid "an unequal hand on those who have committed intrinsically the same quality of offense." Moreover, Douglas viewed procreation as one of the fundamental rights requiring the judiciary's strict scrutiny.