1967 June 12

A Loving Victory: Supreme Court Rules Ban on Interracial Marriage Unconstitutional


In Loving v. Virginia, decided on this day, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the Virginia anti-miscegenation law banning interracial marriage. Mildred and Richard Loving were married in Washington, D.C., on June 2, 1958 (where it was legal), and arrested in their home town of Central Point, Virginia (where it was not) on July 11, 1958.

The legal challenge began when Mildred Loving wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, asking if there was anything he could do. He did not feel he could do anything, but referred them to the Washington, D.C. area chapter of the ACLU, which took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Court’s decision also invalidated anti-miscegenation laws in 16 other states. On October 1, 1948, the California Supreme Court had declared its state anti-miscegenation law unconstitutional, taking the first legal step that led to the Loving decision.

The Loving decision became an important precedent for the historic Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutionality of same -sex marriage on June 26, 2015.

The Court: “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.”

Read: Peter Wallenstein, Tell the Court I Love My Wife: Race, Law, and Marriage — An American History (2002)

See the acclaimed film, Loving (2016)

Watch the HBO documentary film: The Loving Story (2011)

Learn more about the case: https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/loving-v-virginia-case-over-interracial-marriage

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