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Wed Jun 12, 2019, 05:55 AM

52 Years Ago Today; Loving v Virginia strikes down all state laws banning interracial marriage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia



Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a woman of color, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as "white" and people classified as "colored".

The Lovings appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which upheld it. They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear their case. On June 12, 1967, the Court issued a unanimous decision in their favor and overturned their convictions. The Court struck down Virginia's anti-miscegenation law, thereby overruling the 1883 case Pace v. Alabama and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. Virginia had argued that its law was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the punishment was the same regardless of the offender's race, and thus it "equally burdened" both whites and non-whites. The Court found that the law nonetheless violated the Equal Protection Clause because it was based solely on "distinctions drawn according to race" and outlawed conduct—namely, getting married—that was otherwise generally accepted and which citizens were free to do. Additionally, the Court ruled that the freedom to marry was a constitutionally protected fundamental liberty, and therefore the government's deprivation of it on an arbitrary basis such as race was violation of the Due Process Clause.

The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages in the U.S. and is remembered annually on Loving Day. It has been the subject of several songs and three movies, including the 2016 film Loving. Beginning in 2013, it was cited as precedent in U.S. federal court decisions holding restrictions on same-sex marriage in the United States unconstitutional, including in the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges.

Background
Anti-miscegenation laws in the United States had been in place in certain states since colonial days. Marriage to a slave was never legal. In the Reconstruction Era in 1865, the Black Codes across the seven states of the lower South made intermarriage illegal. The new Republican legislatures in six states repealed the restrictive laws. After the Democrats returned to power, the restriction was reimposed.

A major concern was how to draw the line between black and white in a society in which white men had many children with black slave women. On the one hand, a person's reputation as black or white was usually decisive in practical matters. On the other hand, most laws used a "one drop of blood" rule, which meant that one black ancestor made a person black in the view of the law.

In 1967, 16 states, mainly Southern, still had anti-miscegenation laws.

Plaintiffs

Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967

Mildred Delores Loving (née Jeter; July 22, 1939 – May 2, 2008) was the daughter of Musial (Byrd) Jeter and Theoliver Jeter. Mildred's racial identity has been a point of confusion. She has been noted as self-identifying as Indian-Rappahannock, but was also reported as being of Cherokee, Portuguese, and African American ancestry. During the trial, it seemed clear that she identified herself as black, especially as far as her own lawyer was concerned. However, upon her arrest, the police report identifies her as "Indian". She said in a 2004 interview, "I have no black ancestry. I am Indian-Rappahannock." A possible contributing factor is that it was seen at the time of her arrest as advantageous to be "anything but black". There was an ingrained history in the state of the denial of African ancestry. Additionally, the frequent racial mixing of Central Point, where she lived, could have contributed to this fluid racial identity. Mildred was known as a quiet and humble woman. She was born and raised in the same rural Virginia community as her husband, Richard.

Richard Perry Loving (October 29, 1933 – June 29, 1975) was a white man, and the son of Lola (Allen) Loving and Twillie Loving. He was a construction worker. The 1830 census marks Lewis Loving, Richard's paternal ancestor, as having owned seven slaves. Richard's grandfather, T.P. Farmer, fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Their families both lived in Caroline County, Virginia. The county adhered to strict Jim Crow segregation laws but Central Point had been a visible mixed-race community since the 19th century. Richard's father worked for one of the wealthiest black men in the county for 25 years. Richard's closest companions were black, including those he drag-raced with and Mildred's older brothers. The couple met in high school and fell in love. Richard moved into the Jeter household when Mildred became pregnant.[citation needed]

After the Supreme Court case, the couple moved back to Central Point, where Richard built them a house. The couple had three children: Donald, Peggy, and Sidney. Richard Loving died aged 41 in 1975, when a drunk driver struck his car in Caroline County, Virginia. Mildred Loving lost her right eye in the same accident. She died of pneumonia on May 2, 2008, in her home in Central Point, aged 68.

Criminal proceedings
At the age of 18, Mildred became pregnant. In June 1958, the couple traveled to Washington, D.C. to marry, thereby evading Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made marriage between whites and non-whites a crime. They returned to the small town of Central Point, Virginia. Based on an anonymous tip, local police raided their home in the early morning hours of July 11, 1958, hoping to find them having sex, given that interracial sex was then also illegal in Virginia. When the officers found the Lovings sleeping in their bed, Mildred pointed out their marriage certificate on the bedroom wall. They were told the certificate was not valid in the Commonwealth.

The Lovings were charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified miscegenation as a felony, punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years.

On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pled guilty to "cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth". They were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended on condition that the couple leave Virginia and not return together for at least 25 years. After their conviction, the couple moved to the District of Columbia.

Appellate proceedings
In 1964, frustrated by their inability to travel together to visit their families in Virginia, as well as their social isolation and financial difficulties in Washington, Mildred Loving wrote in protest to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU assigned volunteer cooperating attorneys Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, who filed a motion on behalf of the Lovings in the Virginia Caroline County Circuit Court, that requested the court to vacate the criminal judgments and set aside the Lovings' sentences on the grounds that the Virginia miscegenation statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

On October 28, 1964, after waiting almost a year for a response to their motion, the ACLU attorneys brought a class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. This prompted the county court judge in the case, Leon M. Bazile, to issue a ruling on the long-pending motion to vacate. Echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's 18th-century interpretation of race, the local court wrote:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

On January 22, 1965, a three-judge district court panel postponed decision on the federal class-action case while the Lovings appealed Judge Bazile's decision on constitutional grounds to the Virginia Supreme Court. Justice Harry L. Carrico (later Chief Justice of the Court) wrote an opinion for the court upholding the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statutes. While he upheld their criminal convictions, he directed that their sentence be modified. Carrico cited as authority the Virginia Supreme Court's decision in Naim v. Naim (1955) and argued that the Lovings' case was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because both the white and the non-white spouse were punished equally for the crime of miscegenation, an argument similar to that made by the United States Supreme Court in 1883 in Pace v. Alabama. However, the court did find the Lovings' sentences to be unconstitutionally vague, struck them down, and ordered them resentenced in the Caroline County Circuit Court.

The Lovings, still supported by the ACLU, appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court, where Virginia was represented by Robert McIlwaine of the state's attorney general's office. The Lovings did not attend the oral arguments in Washington, but one of their lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen, conveyed the message he had been given by Richard Loving: "Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia."

<snip>

Decision
On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision that overturned the Lovings' Virginia criminal convictions and struck down anti-miscegenation laws that forbade marriage between people of different races. The Court's opinion was written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, and all the justices joined it.

Virginia had argued that the anti-miscegenation clause in its Racial Integrity Act did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the punishment for violating the statute was the same regardless of the offender's race—that is, a white person who married a black person received the same punishment as black person who married a white person—and therefore it "equally burdened" both whites and non-whites. The Court had upheld this "equal burden" argument 84 years earlier in the 1883 case Pace v. Alabama, but in Loving it rejected it and overruled Pace, stating: "We reject the notion that the mere 'equal application' of a statute concerning racial classifications is enough to remove the classifications from the Fourteenth Amendment's proscription of all invidious racial discriminations." The Court ruled that because the races of the people involved were the only factors determining whether or not they broke the law, the law was therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause:

There can be no question but that Virginia's miscegenation statutes rest solely upon distinctions drawn according to race. The statutes proscribe generally accepted conduct if engaged in by members of different races. [...] There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.

— Loving, 388 U.S. at 11–12.


After ruling that Virginia's anti-miscegenation law violated the Equal Protection Clause, the Court concluded its opinion with a short section ruling that it also violated the Due Process Clause, because it deprived its people of a constitutionally protected right without due process of law. It held that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right, and therefore that depriving Americans of this liberty on an arbitrary basis such as race was unconstitutional:

[....] The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.

— Loving, 388 U.S. at 12


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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply 52 Years Ago Today; Loving v Virginia strikes down all state laws banning interracial marriage (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Jun 12 OP
JustAnotherGen Jun 12 #1
MiniMe Jun 12 #2
Kind of Blue Jun 12 #3
mountain grammy Jun 12 #7
Kind of Blue Jun 13 #10
mountain grammy Jun 13 #11
Kind of Blue Jun 13 #12
mountain grammy Jun 13 #13
GulfCoast66 Jun 13 #14
mountain grammy Jun 13 #15
GulfCoast66 Jun 13 #16
Behind the Aegis Jun 12 #4
malaise Jun 12 #5
mountain grammy Jun 12 #8
ck4829 Jun 12 #6
mountain grammy Jun 12 #9

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 06:22 AM

1. Any minute now

The GOP will take my legitimacy away and annul my own marriage.

It's better to not be happy about this - and laud it. I don't want this in their line of sight.

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Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #1)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 10:27 AM

2. It is too late to make this law illegitimate now

It would affect too many people, like Mitch McConnell

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Response to MiniMe (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 07:29 PM

3. I beg to differ based on the history

of anti-miscegenation laws that certainly barred all African Americans from marrying European Americans. But depending on the state and its whim, California and other Western states, for instance, the ban was against 1st Nation-white marriages. And even more concern in those states due to large Asian male immigration population in the 1800s, Asian-white marriages were banned. Sheesh, one of the grounds to ban Asian-white marriage was because Asian men were "stealing" white women and there were no avenues for reciprocity because not enough Asian women. Freaking unbelievable but no such ban in Kentucky! https://newrepublic.com/article/72808/the-race-against-race

Double Sheesh, laws were established to even prevent PoC of different ethnicities from marrying.

An empowered GOP I think would give states, depending on its bigotry and sense of who is assimilable(?) free reign to do as it pleases and easily pass inconsistent laws as it happened in the past and particularly in the Loving case. There the case against them was overturned because it maintained white supremacy. But if Ms. Loving were Asian American and Mr. Loving African American, Virginia could prove the law had nothing to do with supremacy.

Crazy-making yet

So to me, if rape and incest are not factors for abortion in their minds and we have these incels running around demanding rape as their right to a woman's body, do you really think it impossible for an empowered GOP not to overturn Loving, control white women and have access to the rest of us under the law? I think not. I put nothing past these people because they function best using chaos to keep us in check.

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Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 10:59 PM

7. I agree.. with the way the SC is going.

The Loving case was a unanimous decision.. in 2015, marriage equality squeaked by at 5-4.

President idiot is appointing judges who won't even say if Brown v Board of Ed was correctly decided and we know how they feel about Roe.

I believe the fascist radical judges will reverse just about anything.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 09:20 PM

10. "I believe the fascist radical judges will reverse just about anything."

I just wish more liberals could see that and that we as a group truly underestimate the colossal level of contempt the GOP has for other Americans.

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Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 09:34 PM

11. The GOP senate is confirming these radical judges at an alarming rate

like they know they're running out of time and they have to get everything in place to keep power, despite not having the majority of the country behind them.

When Roberts declared racism over and gutted the VRA, I saw the future, and it isn't good.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #11)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 09:51 PM

12. Me too, mountain grammy. It was astounding.

I heard one candid GOP operative interview from about, I think, 30 years ago. He said they know progress for people is inevitable but all they want to do is slow it down. His chuckle at the end of that statement chilled me to the bone because I knew that they know just how to do it.

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Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #12)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 10:20 PM

13. That is chilling.. I can picture that.

they play a long game. At 71, I've been watching a long time, and my years as a union steward and secretary taught me plenty. In college, I hung out with several young republicans and they were ruthless. One went on to be a Congressman for years from IL, but as right as he was, he wasn't crazy and was primaried out of a job in 2012.

We need to start running some smart ads pointing out what republicans are doing. We must change the narrative. The media is not on our side and yes, they just know how to do it.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 10:29 PM

14. Agree in spirit. But that court would not have ruled for marriage equality.

Too many people had to pay a price before the truth won out.

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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #14)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 10:48 PM

15. same sex marriage wasn't on the radar then, but I'm sure you're right.

You know everyone has to "evolve" and rights that belong to all are always kept from some, and, yes, they pay the price for that.

Everyone pays the price for the privleged white man to remain privileged.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #15)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 10:56 PM

16. Agreed. And without Loving marriage equality would not have happened.

Using it as precedent helped.

But now we have 3-5 justices who do not believe in precedent. They believe what a bunch of white men enacted in 1789 is the final word.

Full disclosure. I’m a white man.

Have a nice evening.

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Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #1)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 08:59 PM

4. I hear you!

You and I may be in the same boat soon. If so, I know you got my back and I got yours!

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 09:01 PM

5. I cried during the movie

I detest racists

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Response to malaise (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 11:01 PM

8. The movie was good

but the documentary was so much better.. Real film of the Lovings. I believe it was on HBO. It's excellent, one of the best I've see.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 09:15 PM

6. K&R

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 11:02 PM

9. Thank you for posting this.

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