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Courtroom History

The judiciary system played an important role in regulating interracial relationships. This page includes some of the most important cases on the road to the legalization of interracial couples.

"Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, Malay, and red and 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 the races to mix."
- Judge Bazile, Caroline County, VA, 1965.

Loving v. Virginia (1967):
This decision made it illegal to restrict interracial couples in the United States.
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McLaughlin v. Florida (1964):
This decision reversed a law that prevented the "habitual occupation of a room at night by a Negro and a white person".
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Perez v. Sharp (1948):
This decision, previously known as Perez v. Moroney and Perez v. Lippold, ended the ban on interracial couples in California.
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Meyer v. Nebraska (1923):
This decision guaranteed the right to marry and raise children.
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Pace v. Alabama (1883):
This decision stated that anti-miscegenation laws were in compliance with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as long as both violators were punished equally.
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The Proposed Constitutional Amendment

In 1912, Congressman Seaborn Roddenberry of Georgia proposed a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited interracial marriage:

"That intermarriage between negroes or persons of color and Caucasians or any other character of persons within the United States or any territory under their jurisdiction, is forever prohibited; and the term 'negro or person of color,' as here employed, shall be held to mean any and all persons of African descent or having any trace of African or negro blood. "
Congressional Record, 62nd Congress, 3rd session, Dec. 11, 1912. Vol 49, p. 502

The Last Laws To Go: 1998 and 2000

Incredibly, laws against interracial couples stayed on the books for decades after the Loving decision. In 1998, a clause that prohibited "marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who shall have one-eighth or more Negro blood" was removed South Carolina's state constitution. According to a Mason-Dixon poll four months before the vote, 22% of South Carolina voters were opposed to the removal of this clause. It had been introduced in 1895.

In Alabama, it took until 2000 to remove these laws. A referendum was passed that removed this article from the Alabama State Constitution:

"The Legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro, or a descendant of a Negro."
Alabama State Constitution, Article IV, Section 102

This section was introduced in 1901. According to a poll conducted by the Mobile Register in September of 2000, 19% of voters said that they would not remove section 102. This is comparable to the 22% in South Carolina. However, 64% said that they would vote to remove it. While this is a majority, it is still far from a unanimous vote.

Because of the Loving decision, these laws were not legally enforceable after June 12th, 1967 - even though they were on the books.

The Road to Loving

The Loving decision and the cases before it were a part of the civil rights movement. These are a few of the important steps that finally set the stage for legal interracial marriage.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954):
This landmark decision overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), establishing that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal.
View the complete legal document on FindLaw...

Civil Rights Act of 1964:
This act outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, encouraged the desegregation of public schools, prevented discrimination by government agencies, and prohibited discrimination by employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
View the complete legal document on the U.S. Dept. of State website...

U.S. Constitution - Fourteenth Amendment (1868):
This amendment was meant to guarantee equal protection under the law. However, interpreted this amendment differently at various points in history. Before Brown v. Board of Education, segregation was considered constitutional according to the "separate but equal" doctrine. Before Loving v. Virginia, bans on interracial relationships were considered constitutional as long as both parties were given the same punishment.
View the complete legal document on FindLaw...

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