Goodridge V. Department of Public Health

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Goodridge v. Department of Public Health

Family Law 250-02
Professor Halbleib
June 14, 2011
In 2003, the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (440 Mass. 309 (Mass. 2003)) was argued to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs were appealing the lower court’s ruling that they would not be allowed to receive marriage licenses in the State because same-sex marriages were not deemed to be legal at that time. The court vacated the judgment for the defendant and referred the case back to the Massachusetts Superior Court for judgment for the plaintiffs. The judgment was also stayed for 180 days in order for the Massachusetts Legislature to be able to enact any laws necessary in light of the court’s verdict.

In 1967, the case of Loving v. Virginia (388 U.S. 1 (1967)) was argued to the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. The plaintiffs appealed to the Court that Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment. The original court ruled that Loving, a white man, and his wife, a white woman who were married in the District of Columbia and returned to Virginia to live were in violation of the laws at the time which stated that interracial marriages were prohibited. They were sentenced to 1 year in jail which was stayed if they agreed to leave Virginia and not return for 25 years.

In agreeing to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court noted that “This case presents a constitutional question never addressed by this Court: whether a statutory scheme adopted by the State of Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. For reasons which seem to us to reflect the central meaning of those constitutional commands, we conclude that these statutes cannot stand consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment.” In agreeing to overturn the original verdict, the court held that allowing Virginia’s laws prohibiting...
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