Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
|Loving v. Virginia|
|Argued April 10, 1967|
Decided June 12, 1967
|Full case name||Richard Perry Loving, Mildred Jeter Loving v. Virginia|
|Citations||388 U.S. 1 (more)|
|Prior||Defendants convicted, Caroline County Circuit Court (January 6, 1959); motion to vacate judgment denied, Caroline County Circuit Court (January 22, 1959); affirmed in part, reversed and remanded, 147 S.E.2d 78 (Va. 1966); cert. granted, 385 U.S. 986 (1966).|
|Bans on interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.|
|Majority||Warren, joined by unanimous|
|U.S. Const. amend. XIV; Va. Code §§ 20–58, 20–59|
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
|Pace v. Alabama (1883)|
The case involved Mildred Loving, a woman of color, and her white husband Richard Loving, who in 1958 were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as "white" and people classified as "colored". The Lovings appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which upheld it. They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear their case.
In June 1967, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the Lovings' favor and overturned their convictions. Its decision struck down Virginia's anti-miscegenation law and ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. Virginia had argued that its law was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the punishment was the same regardless of the offender's race, and thus it "equally burdened" both whites and non-whites. The Court found that the law nonetheless violated the Equal Protection Clause because it was based solely on "distinctions drawn according to race" and outlawed conduct—namely, getting married—that was otherwise generally accepted and which citizens were free to do.
Beginning in 2013, the decision was cited as precedent in U.S. federal court decisions holding restrictions on same-sex marriage in the United States unconstitutional, including in the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).
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