The Warren Court (1953–69)

Racial Discrimination

Who were the plaintiffs in Loving v. Virginia?

The plaintiffs in the historic Loving v. Virginia case were Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman. The two lived in Virginia but married in the District of Columbia, which did not have an antimiscegenation law. However, Virginia authorities charged the two with violating state law when they returned to Virginia to live. The Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in jail. The trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of twenty-five years if the couple agreed to move out of state and not return together for that period of time. In imposing his sentence, the trial judge wrote: “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 cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” The Lovings later challenged the constitutionality of this law, leading to the Supreme Court decision bearing Richard’s last name.


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