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Loving V. Virginia (388 U.S. 1)

2051 words - 8 pages

On July 11, 1958 a couple of hours after midnight, Richard Loving a white man and Mildred Loving an African American woman were awakened to the presence of three officers in their bedroom. One of the three officers demanded from Richard to identify the woman next to him. Mildred, full of fear, told the officers that she was his wife, while Richard pointed to the marriage license on the wall. The couple was then charged and later found guilty in violation of the state's anti-miscegenation statute.
Mr. and Mrs. Loving were residents of the small town of Central point, Virginia. They were family friends who had dated each other since he was seventeen and she a teenager. When they learned that marriage was illegal for them in Virginia, they simply drove over the Washington, D.C. for the ceremony. They returned to Virginia and were arrested the following month for violating the anti-miscegenation statute, which was declared in the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. Commonwealth’s Attorney Bernard Mahon obtained the warrant for Richard Loving and “Mildred Jeter”. Mildred’s maiden name was on the warrant because in Virginia a marriage between a white and black was considered void. In October 1958, the indictments of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were bought before the court and on January 6, 1959, Richard and Mildred pled not guilty to the charges. Changing their pleas to guilty and waiving their right to a jury trial due to fear and optimism for a favorable punishment, the Lovings took the plea bargain. The Circuit Court judge that was presiding over the case, Judge Leon M. Bazile, did not see favor on them and sentenced them to one year in jail. Yet, at the same time in agreement with the plea bargain, Judge Bazile suspended the sentence for 25 years provided that the Lovings would leave the state of Virginia immediately and not return together for the whole period. There was a catch, for when the 25 year period ends they would still face the prosecution of the court if they ever returned. He concluded his decision with this quote:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no case for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did intend for the races to mix.
Later, in a plea to the supreme court of appeals in Virginia as to the constitutionality of these provisions in the decision, the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia referred to The Equal Protection Clause stating that:
The definition of the offense must apply equally to whites and Negroes ... to the same degree. Thus, ... because its miscegenation statutes punish equally both the white and the Negro participants in an interracial marriage, these statutes, ... do not constitute an invidious discrimination based upon race.
The court also referred to its 1955 decision in “Naim v. Naim” as stating the reasons supporting the validity of the...

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