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Loving v. Virginia

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Brief Fact Summary.

Two Virginian residents, a black woman and a white man, were convicted of violating the state’s anti-miscegenation statute banning inter-racial marriages.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Anti-miscegenation laws restricting the freedom to marry solely on the basis of race violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

We reject the notion that the mere equal application of a statute containing racial classifications is enough to remove the classifications from the Fourteenth Amendment's proscription of all invidious racial discriminations.

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Facts.

In 1958, two Virginian residents, a black woman and a white man, were married in the District of Columbia. The Lovings returned to Virginia and were subsequently charged with violating the state’s anti-miscegenation statute, which banned inter-racial marriages. The Lovings were found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison.

Issue.

Did Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Held.

Yes, Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Discussion.

The clear and central purpose of the Equal Protection Clause was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination. At the very least, the Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications be subjected to the “most rigid scrutiny” and, if they are ever to be upheld, must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective. There is no valid legislative purpose which makes the color of a person’s skin the test of whether his conduct is a criminal offense.


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