The Lovings challenged their conviction under a Virginia statute
making it a felony for any white person to intermarry with a
colored person, or any colored person to intermarry with a white
The Lovings got married in the District of Columbia and returned
home to Virginia.
They were convicted in Virginia for violating the state's ban on
They were sentenced to one year in jail.
Supreme Court Appeals of Virginia
Upheld the statutes constitutionality.
Relied on its own earlier decision holding that the statutes
served the legitimate state purposes of preserving the racial
integrity of its citizens and preventing corruption of
blood, the creation of a mongrel breed of citizens, and the
obliteration of racial pride.
Statute cannot stand constituently with the Fourteenth Amendment
The anti-miscegenation statutes violate equal protection.
Virginia argues Punish both White and African American
participation the same
The equal protection means only that an offense having an
interracial element must punish the white and African American
offender to the same degree.
Thus, Virginia argues, since its miscegenation statutes punish
both the white and the African American participant of an
interracial marriage the same, the statutes do not constitute an
invidious discrimination based on race, despite their reliance
on racial classifications.
Rejects this stupid ass logic
We reject Virginia's contention that statutes containing racial
classifications should be upheld if there is any possible basis
that they serve a rational purpose.
Equal application does not immunize a statute from the very
heavy burden of justification that the 14th Amendment has
traditionally required of state statutes drawn according to
We also reject Virginia's argument that the framers of the 14th
Amendment did not intend to make anti-miscegenation laws
unconstitutional as long as both white and African American
participants are equally punished.
14th Amendment Purpose - Eliminate all invidious racial
The clear and central purpose of the 14th Amendment was to
eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial
Unquestionably, Virginia's miscegenation statutes are
based upon racial distinctions.
Exception - Unless necessary for some permissible state
Racial classifications are subjected to the most rigid scrutiny
and cannot be upheld unless they are necessary to the
accomplishment of some permissible state Objective other than
Here, the racial classifications serve no legitimate function
other than invidious racial discrimination.
There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry
solely because of racial classifications violates the central
meaning of equal protection.
CONCURRENCE Justice Stewart
It is simply not possible for a state law to be valid under our
Constitution which makes the criminality of an act depend upon
the race of the actor.