Facts: Mildred Jeter (of Black and Native American decent) and Richard Loving (White) were married in June, 1958 in D.C., having left Virginia to evade the Racial Integrity Act, a state law banning marriages between any white and non-white person. Upon returning to Virginia, they were charged with violation of the ban, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia. On January 6, 1959, they pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia.
The Lovings moved to D.C., and on November 6, 1963, they filed a motion to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the ban violated their 14th Amendment rights. The Virginia Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statute and affirmed the criminal convictions. Ignoring U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Virginia Supreme Court cited its own decision in Naim vs. Naim (1955). It also argued that the case at hand was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause because both the white and the non-white spouse were punished equally for the crime of miscegenation, an argument similar to that made by the United States Supreme Court in 1883 in Pace v. Alabama
Issue: Did Brown v. Board (separate but equal is not constitutional) extend to issues outside of education, such as marriage rights?
Holding: The Supreme Court overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision. It held that Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Reasoning: Justice Warren argued that marriage is a basic civil right that cannot be infringed upon by the state. Providing equal punishments to white and black violators, did not give the State sufficient reason to claim that restricting marriage was within its constitutional rights.
Justice Stewart concurred, stating that it is impossible for a law to exist that "makes the criminality of an act dependent upon the race of the actor."
Significance: The Supreme Court concluded that anti-miscegenation laws were racist and had been enacted to perpetuate white supremacy. Despite this Supreme Court ruling, such laws rested unenforced in several states until 2000 when Alabama became the last state to remove its law against mixed-race marriage.
"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classificaitons embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminaiton. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."
"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only nterracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy."
*there is no "permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate."
(I think this means that Rational Basis Review wouldn't even be met, therefore, there's no way that compelling interest could possibly be met).