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Loving v. Virginia

Citation. 388 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967).
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Citation. 388 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967).

Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiffs challenged Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment demands laws involving racial classification be subject to strict scrutiny.


Plaintiffs were indicted for violating Virginia’s prohibition on interracial marriage and pled guilty. Plaintiffs agreed to leave Virginia in exchange for a suspended sentence. They then filed suit challenging the Virginia law. At the time, Virginia was one of 15 states which prohibited and punished marriage on the basis of racial classifications.


Whether the prohibition on using scholarship funds for degrees in devotional theology violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.


Yes. Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage violates the Equal Protection of the 14th Amendment.


Justice Scalia

The Court offers no authority for approving facial discrimination against religion simply because its material consequences are not severe. The Court also does not explain why legislature motive matters and I fail to see why it should.

There is no logical limit and the Court could justify singling out of religion for exclusion from public programs in virtually any context. What’s next? Will we deny priests their prescription drug benefits?

Justice Thomas

I write separately to note that the study of theology does not necessarily implicate religious devotion or faith. Theology include a secular perspective as well as a religious one.


Justice Stewart

As I have expressed previously, criminality cannot be dependent on race. I therefore concur in judgement.


The Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications, especially suspect in criminal statutes, be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny. If they are ever to be upheld, they must satisfy strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny is satisfied when the law is necessary to the accomplishment of some compelling state interest, independent of the racial discrimination.

The fact that Virginia only prohibits interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates the law was designed to promote white supremacy. 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.

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