Loving V. Virginia, Introduction, Facts, Legal Background

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Loving v. Virginia
Interracial marriage: Respecting the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I.INTRODUCTION

This case note will examine the 1967 landmark Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia. The Loving v. Virginia case touched on constitutional principles including equality, federalism, and liberty. Just over 30 years ago, it was a crime for interracial couples in Virginia to marry, or to live as husband and wife. Prior to the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, many states had laws that banned the intermarriage of whites with black or other minorities. The United States has a long history of the existence of anti-miscegenation laws that forbid interracial marriage. The case presents the constitutional question 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. The right that is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, contains the right to be treated the same, legally, as others in the same situation. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws . The equal protection jurisprudence in the United States has evolved greatly. Well-known cases covering the Equal Protection Clause are Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, considering the de-segregation of public schools and Korematsu v. United States in 1944, when the Court first articulated a strict scrutiny standard for laws based on race-based distinctions. This strict scrutiny standard was applied again in the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967. In 1967, the Supreme Court’s had to decide if these anti-miscegenation statutes were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court declared, in a unanimous decision, Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional. Thereby they overturned the Pace v. Alabama case in 1883, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that Alabama's anti-miscegenation statute was constitutional . By this decision, the Supreme Court ended all race based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

II.FACTS

The plaintiffs in Loving v. Virginia are Mildred Jeter Loving, an Afro American woman, and Richard Perry Loving, a white man. By law, Mildred Jeter Loving was classified as “colored”, and Richard Perry Loving was classified as a “white”. Knowing that they would not be able to marry legally in Virginia, Mildred and Richard left the state in June 1958 to marry in Washington, D.C., where such prohibition didn’t exist. One night in July, the couple was awakened in their home in Virginia by three intruders demanding to know why they were in the bed together. The couple was arrested in July 1958 for violating the terms of “the Racial Integrity Act”. Virginia's Racial Integrity Act included a section that forbade interracial couples who married outside the state to live in Virginia as husband and wife. In October 1958 the Circuit Court of Caroline County issued an indictment stating that they were in violation of state law. On January 6th 1959, they were convicted for violating Virginia's anti-miscegenation statues, which made the marriage "between a white person and a colored person a felony”. Judge Leon Bazile accepted their guilty pleas but suspended their one-year sentences on the condition that they leave Virginia and promise not to return as a couple for twenty-five years. After their convictions, the Lovings took up residence in the District of Columbia.

III.LEGAL BACKGROUND

The clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all state sources of racial discrimination in the United States. This means that a law violates the Fourteenth Amendment if a distinction is based on race, gender, or another trait that...
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