Paul Lombardo, Regents’ Professor and Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law, appeared in a program entitled, “A Dangerous Idea: The History of Eugenics in America” at the National Constitution Center. The event was help in Philadelphia on May 2 for the 92nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Buck v. Bell.
Following the screening of excerpts from the documentary film “A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream,” Lombardo joined Andrew Kimbrell, the film’s executive producer, and Dorothy Roberts, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, for a conversation exploring the dark history of eugenics and the Constitution. The panel also included award-winning author and journalist Daniel Okrent, whose book The Guarded Gate, an analysis of the eugenically-tinged 1924 Immigration Restriction Act, was released the same week. It was moderated by Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and president/CEO of the National Constitution Center.
Lombardo answered a question from the crowd assembled at the Constitution Center, asking if Buck was the 20th century equivalent of the 19th century Dred Scott decision, which declared that black Americans were not “people” under the Constitution. Lombardo responded, “I would be happy to put both the Dred Scott decision and the Buck case in the Supreme Court’s Hall of Shame.”