POLI 330 Week 7 PPT Poli-Science

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Summary of the Case

In 1967, the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia brought about a significant change in the acceptance of interracial marriage. This case involved Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, an African American woman, who were arrested in Virginia for violating the state’s ban on interracial marriage. Prior to this case, the United States Supreme Court had not dealt with such a matter. The couple had to travel to Washington D.C. to get married, and upon their return to Virginia, they were arrested.

Facts of the Case

The state of Virginia had anti-miscegenation laws in place that prohibited marriage between African Americans and Whites. In June 1958, Richard Loving, a White man, and Mildred Jeter, an African American woman, got married in Washington D.C. despite being residents of Virginia. However, upon their return to Virginia, they were arrested for violating the state’s ban on interracial marriage. They were given a choice between leaving Virginia for 25 years or serving a one-year sentence in prison.

POLI 330 Week 7 PPT Poli-Science

History of the Case

The Loving’s were arrested in July 1958 for violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law that banned interracial marriage. In the state court of Virginia, they pleaded guilty to violating section 20-58 of Virginia’s state code. The court sentenced them to one year in jail. However, according to research from BlackPast (2020), the trial judge suspended the sentence for 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave Virginia and not return together for the same period.

Legal Questions

The U.S. Supreme Court was tasked with determining the discriminatory nature of laws that prohibited interracial marriages. Additionally, they had to evaluate the validity of the Equal Protection Clause and if the 14th amendment was being violated. The court also had to decide whether to overturn the convictions of the Lovings or not. These were novel questions for the court, as the legality of interracial marriage had never been addressed before in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Decision or Holdings

The court ruled in favor of the defendants, the Lovings. The Lovings sought justice for the convictions they received and wanted to challenge Virginia’s decision on their case. Despite the rejection of their case by Virginia’s state courts and the belief that their marriage went against state laws, the Lovings continued to fight for their rights. As per research, “After their challenge was rejected by the state court, the Lovings’ case was brought before Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals, which upheld the constitutionality of sections 20-58 and 20-59 but voided their sentences on the grounds that the suspension conditions were “unreasonable.” (Duignan, 2020).”

POLI 330 Week 7 PPT Poli-Science

Verdict and Opinion (Judgement)

Justice Stewart’s opinion was that state law could not be considered valid under the constitution if it relied on a person’s race. According to Duignan’s research (2020), Stewart argued that denying freedom based on such racial classifications would violate due process and deprive citizens of liberty. The defendant won the case with a unanimous decision of 9-0, meaning no justices ruled against them. Justice Stewart’s final verdict declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.


The Lovings had three children: Sidney Clay Jeter, Donald Lendberg Loving, and Peggy Loving Fortune. Unfortunately, Sidney passed away in May 2010, while Donald passed away in August 2000. Peggy is the only surviving child of the Lovings. Richard Loving was tragically killed in 1975 by a drunk driver, while Mildred survived until her death in 2008. Despite being widowed, Mildred never remarried.

POLI 330 Week 7 PPT Poli-Science

How the Case Impacted Segregation

The Loving v. Virginia case had a significant impact on people’s perception of interracial marriage and put an end to the ban on such marriages. In its own way, the case helped to end segregation. As a result, people began to realize that interracial marriage was not wrong.

How Did the Case Impact Others?

The Loving v. Virginia case was a significant milestone in the fight against laws prohibiting interracial marriage. While the change did not happen immediately, many states eventually followed suit and lifted their bans on interracial marriage. The case also helped lay the foundation for the legalization of same-sex marriage in later years. In 2015, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country, referenced the Loving case as a precedent.


The landmark decision of the court lifted the ban on interracial marriage in Virginia and allowed the Lovings to remain married. Moreover, it invalidated laws against interracial marriage in 15 other states, which changed the perception of interracial marriages and laid the foundation for the definition of marriage in the future. As a result, by 2002, the number of Americans supporting laws against interracial marriage decreased to less than 10%, which was a significant drop from almost 40% in the early 1970s. Additionally, June 12th is now recognized as Loving Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision.


◦ BlackPast. (2020, June 3). (1967) Loving v. Virginia.

◦ Duignan, B. (2020). Loving v. Virginia | Summary, Date, Ruling, Facts, & Significance. Encyclopedia Britannica.


◦ Greenberg, E. S., & Page, B. I. (2018). The Struggle for Democracy, 2018 Elections and Updates Edition (12th

Edition). Pearson Education (US).

https://ambassadored.vitalsource.com/books/9780135246849 (Links to an external site.)

◦ History.com Editors. (2021, January 25). Loving V. Virginia. HISTORY.