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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lapeer in Lapeer County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Protecting the Impaired

 
 
Protecting the Impaired Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, February 23, 2017
1. Protecting the Impaired Marker
Inscription. The Michigan Legislature passed a bill in 1913 authorizing sterilization of mentally impaired persons confined in public institutions, even over the objections of a parent or guardian. The law was adopted to prevent those so confined from ever having children.

The largest such institution in the state was the Michigan Home and Training School in Lapeer, whose superintendent sought to sterilize a patient under the new law. The patient's guardian objected, contending that the law was unconstitutional. Lapeer County Circuit Judge William B. Williams agreed, stating that the law, limited only to those confined in public institutions, "so limits the class of feeble minded persons who may be brought within its provision as to almost entirely subvert its object and make it clearly class legislation," and therefore unconstitutional.

The Michigan Supreme Court upheld Judge Williams in 1918 in Haynes v. Lapeer Circuit Judge, questioning why such legislation should fall only upon those "already under public restraint," while mentally impaired individuals in private care or at home were exempt from the law. Such a distinction was found to be discriminatory class legislation violating the equal protection provision of the United States Constitution.

The Haynes decision demonstrates the power of the Constitution
Protecting the Impaired Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, February 23, 2017
2. Protecting the Impaired Marker
This marker is to the right of the main doors of the old Lapeer County Courthouse (behind the column).
of the United States to protect even the most vulnerable members of our society.
 
Erected 1993 by State Bar of Michigan and the Lapeer County Bar Association.
 
Location. 43° 3.248′ N, 83° 18.652′ W. Marker is in Lapeer, Michigan, in Lapeer County. Marker is at the intersection of West Nepessing Street and North Court Street on West Nepessing Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Courthouse Square, Lapeer MI 48446, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lapeer County (within shouting distance of this marker); The Tuttle House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Lapeer Public Library (approx. 0.4 miles away); Marguerite deAngeli Branch Library (approx. 0.4 miles away); James Richardson, D.O. a generous gentleman. (approx. 8.6 miles away); Columbiaville Depot (approx. 8.6 miles away); United Methodist Church (approx. 8.6 miles away); The William Peter Mansion (approx. 8.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lapeer.
 
Also see . . .  Haynes v Lapeer Circuit Judge: Eugenics in Michigan. Article in the Michigan Bar Journal (January 2009, pages 9-13). (Submitted on February 23, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.) 
 
Additional keywords. Michigan Legal Milestone
 
Categories. Notable Events
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on February 23, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 103 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 23, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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