Loving v. Virginia
388 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1817
June 12, 1967 (Approx. 9 pages)
Proceeding on motion to vacate sentences for violating state ban on interracial marriages.
The United States Supreme Court, Mr. Chief Justice Warren, held that miscegenation statutes
adopted by Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on basis of racial classification
violate equal protection and due process clauses of Fourteenth Amendment.
Mr. Chief Justice WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.
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
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides: ‘All persons born or naturalized in the
United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’
In June 1958, two residents of Virginia, Mildred Jeter, a Negro woman, and Richard Loving, a
white man, were married in the District of Columbia pursuant to its laws. Shortly after their
marriage, the Lovings returned to Virginia and established their marital abode in Caroline
County. At the October Term, 1958, of the Circuit Court of Caroline County, a grand jury issued
an indictment charging the Lovings with violating Virginia's ban on interracial marriages. On
January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced to one year in jail;
however, the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the
Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years.
After their convictions, the Lovings took up residence in the District of Columbia. On