In the law, some people become immortal through a case name. Most reach such immortality through stupid or savage criminal acts like Miranda or Gideon. In the case of Mildred Loving, the case name seemed to fit the principle precisely: she and her husband Richard fought for their right to marry and against the Virginia miscegenation laws. She died this week at 68.
Loving v. Virginia struck down one of the worst elements of segregration laws. The case became with a horrific scene of state intervention.
Mrs. Loving and her husband, Richard, were in bed in their modest house in Central Point in the early morning of July 11, 1958, five weeks after their wedding, when the county sheriff and two deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, burst into their bedroom and shined flashlights in their eyes. A threatening voice demanded, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?”
Mrs. Loving answered, “I’m his wife.”
Mr. Loving pointed to the couple’s marriage certificate hung on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, “That’s no good here.”
Mr. Loving spent a night in jail and Mrs. Loving was held even longer. They eventually pleaded guilty to violating the Racial Integrity Act. They agreed to leave the state and not return together for 25 years. Judge Leon M. Bazile noted in their hearing that if God had meant for whites and blacks to mix, he would have not placed them on different continents.
“ 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.”
(Thanks to Mespo for this quote)
It was Mr. Loving who insisted years later that they challenge the law. The Supreme Court struck down the law in 1967 in a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Earl Warren. Richard Loving died in a car accident in 1975.
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