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Loving v. Virginia

Citation. 22 Ill.388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1817, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1010 (1967)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Petitioners, a Negro woman and a white man (Petitioners), sued the Respondent, the State of Virginia (Respondent), arguing that a statute forbidding interracial marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Distinctions based on racial classifications are subject to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination.


The Petitioners were married in the District of Columbia pursuant to its laws. Shortly after their marriage, the Petitioners returned to Virginia and were charged by a grand jury with violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages. The Petitioners pled guilty to the violation and left the State of Virginia pursuant to a condition of their judicial sentence. The Petitioners filed suit in a Virginia state court to have the sentence vacated pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state court denied the motion to vacate the sentences. The Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision based on the rationale that the State had a legitimate purpose in preserving the racial integrity of its citizens and that the regulation of marriage had been traditionally been left to the states exclusive control. The State argued that since it treated blacks and whites equally in prohibiting interracial marriage, the Equal Protection clause was not


Whether Virginia’s statute, which prevents marriage solely on the basis of racial classifications, violates the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Reversed. Virginia’s statute preventing interracial marriage violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
Concurrence. It is not possible for a state law to be valid under the Constitution, which makes the criminality of the act depend upon the race of the actor.


The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment will be invoked if a statute makes a classification based on race.

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