6 Stunning Moments From Loving V. Virginia


Mildred and Richard Loving in 1965.


“Illicit cohabitation.”

“Psychological evils.”

“Racial integrity.”

It’s difficult to imagine how much the country’s language around race and interracial marriage has changed in the past half century.

But just 50 years ago, interracial marriage was prohibited in Virginia and 15 other states.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Loving v. Virginia declared unconstitutional a Virginia law prohibiting mixed-race marriage. The ruling also legalized interracial marriage in every state.

Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, two young ACLU lawyers at the time, took the case of the Lovings — a black and Native American woman named Mildred and Richard Loving, her white husband — all the way to the high court.

Enlarge this image

Phil Hirschkop was just three years out of law school when he defended the Loving case before the Supreme Court.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Listen to six standout moments from the trial below, transcribed by the Supreme Court in 1967:

1. Cohen and Hirschkop asked the court to look closely at whether the Virginia law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. If the framers had intended to exclude anti-miscegenation status in the 14th Amendment, which assures equal protection under the law, they argued that it would have been easy for them to write a phrase excluding interracial marriage, but they didn’t Cohen argued:

“The language was broad, the language was sweeping. The language meant to include equal protection for Negroes that was at the very heart of it and that equal protection included the right to marry as any other human being had the right to marry subject to only the same limitations.”

2. Cohen forcefully, but calmly argued that the Lovings and their children, just like any other family, had the right to feel protected under the law.

Five weeks after the Lovings’ wedding on July 14, cops led by the sheriff stormed into their house at 2 in the morning. The young couple was arrested and jailed for violating the state’s “Racial Integrity Act.” The Lovings were sentenced to a year in prison, but a judge set them free under the condition they leave Virginia.

Cohen argued that the state was ignoring a very important point:

“And that is the right of Richard and Mildred Loving to wake up in the morning or to go to sleep at night knowing that the sheriff will not be knocking on their door or shining a light in their face in the privacy of their bedroom for illicit co-habitation.”

3. Cohen’s co-counsel Hirschkop, only three years after graduating with Georgetown Law, methodically pointed out Virginia’s long history of discriminatory laws aimed to prevent race-mixing. The state’s first ban of interracial marriage goes back to 1691, Hirschkop reminded the justices. And he argued that in the 1920s, immigration laws were being passed while “the Klan rode openly in the south and that’s when they talked about the bastardy of the races, and miscegenation and amalgamation and race suicide became the watch word.”

“And John Powell, a man we singled out in our brief, a noted pianist of his day, started taking up the Darwin Theory and perverting it through the theory of eugenics, the theory that applied to animals, to pigs, and hogs, and cattle.

They started applying it to human beings.

In taking Darwinism that the Negro race was a stepping stone, was that lost men we’ve always been looking for between the white man and the abominable snowman whoever else, they went back.

And that’s when the Anglo-Saxon Club was formed in the State of Virginia and that’s when Virginia Legislature passed our present body of law.

They took all these old laws.

These antebellum and postbellum laws and they put them together into what we presently have.”

4. Hirschkop also argued that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws rob people of their integrity and of their freedom and that Virginia’s “not concerned with racial integrity of the Negro race, only with the white race.”

“They were not concerned with the racial integrity but racial supremacy of the white race,” he argued.

The young lawyer relentlessly argued that the central purpose of the 14th Amendment lies on protecting citizenship rights – equally – regardless of color.

“We fail to see how any reasonable man can but conclude that these laws are slavery laws were incepted to keep slaves in their place, were prolonged to keep the slaves in their place, and in truth, the Virginia law still view the Negro race as a slave race, that these are the most odious laws to come before the court. They robbed the Negro race of its dignity and only a decision which will reach the full body of these laws in the State of Virginia will change that. We ask that the Court consider the full spectrum of these laws and not just the criminality, because it’s more than a criminality that’s at point here, that the legitimacy of children right to inherent land, the many, many rights, and in reaching a decision, we ask you reach on that basis.”

Thank you Your Honors.

5. But Virginia’s Assistant Attorney General R.D. McIlwaine III argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which preceded the 14th Amendment, was not intended to offer protection to biracial married couples.

McIlwaine says that the state’s anti-miscegenation laws were rational and that Virginia had the right to adopt them.

McIlwaine forcefully argued that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law did not violate the 14th Amendment and offered Justices an alternative contention to make his point:

“If the Fourteenth Amendment be deemed to apply to State anti-miscegenation statutes, then these statutes serve a legitimate, legislative objective of preventing a sociological, psychological evils which attend interracial marriages, and is a — an expression, a rational expression of a policy which Virginia has a right to adopt.”

Bernard Cohen in 2007, looking at newspaper clippings about the case.

Melissa Gray/NPR

6. McIlwaine argued about the importance of the institution of marriage and the interest of the state in ensuring successful and stable marriages, homes and families. Chief Justice Earl Warren questioned McIlwaine’s argument, but the assistant attorney general repeatedly pointed out the disadvantage of mixed-race marriages

MCILWAINE: “Intermarried families are subjected to much greater pressures and problems than those of the intra-married and that the state’s prohibition of interracial marriage for this reason stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent.

W: There are people who have the same — same feeling about and interreligious marriages, but because that maybe true, would you think that the State could prohibit people from having interreligious marriages?

M: I think that the evidence in support of the prohibition of interracial marriage is stronger than that for the prohibition of interreligious marriage.

But I think that the —

W: How can you — how can you say that?

M: Well, we say that principally —

W: Because — because you believe that?

M: No, sir.

We say it principally on the basis of the authority which we have cited in our brief, particularly, this one volume, which we have cited from copiously in our brief which is —

Earl Warren

Who wrote that?

R. D. McIlwaine, III

This is a book by Dr. Albert I. Gordon, Your Honor, which is characterized as the definitive book by Dr. Albert I. Gordon, which is characterized as the definitive book on intermarriage, and has the most careful, up to date, methodologically sound study of intermarriage in North America that exists.

It is entitled “Intermarriage, Interfaith, Interracial, Inter-ethnic.”

Now, our proposition on the psycho-sociological aspects of this question is bottomed almost exclusively on this particular volume.”

On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled in the Lovings’ favor. The unanimous decision upheld that distinctions drawn based on race were not constitutional. The court’s decision made it clear that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The landmark civil rights decision declared prohibitions on interracial marriage unconstitutional in the nation. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the opinion for the court; he wrote that marriage is a basic civil right and to deny this right on a basis of color is “directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment” and seizes all citizens “liberty without due process of law.”

CorrectionJune 12, 2017

One sentence in a previous version of this story incorrectly said the Supreme Court ruling declared interracial marriage unconstitutional. In fact, as the rest of the story made clear, the ruling declared prohibitions on interracial marriage unconstitutional. Also, Philip Hirschkop’s first name was misspelled as Phillip.

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Missouri was one of states that banned Racial Marriage prior to 1967 SCOTUS Decision banning the law

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)

Justia Opinion Summary and Annotations


Primary Holding

A unanimous Court struck down state laws banning marriage between individuals of different races, holding that these anti-miscegenation statutes violated both the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Like 16 other Southern states, Virginia enforced a law that banned marriage between whites and African-Americans. Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and an African-American woman, married in Washington, D.C. to avoid the application of Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, known as the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. They returned to Virginia, however, where police found them in the same bed in their home at night. During the raid, the police found the couple’s marriage certificate in their bedroom.

This document became the basis for criminal charges against the Lovings under the anti-miscegenation law and a related statute. There was no trial, since they pleaded guilty and received a choice between spending one year in prison or leaving the state for the next 25 years. The Lovings moved back to the District of Columbia but soon found themselves wishing to return to Virginia. In 1964, five years after their conviction, Mrs. Loving contacted the ACLU via Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. This case arose when the ACLU sought to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence, while the Lovings also filed an action in federal court. Their claims were heard in the Virginia Supreme Court, which modified the sentence but affirmed the convictions.



  • Earl Warren (Author)
  • Hugo Lafayette Black
  • William Orville Douglas
  • Tom C. Clark
  • John Marshall Harlan II
  • William Joseph Brennan, Jr.
  • Byron Raymond White
  • Abe Fortas

Justice Warren did not accept Virginia’s argument that placing equal penalties on spouses of each race made the law non-discriminatory. He pointed out that the law did not criminalize marriage between persons of two non-white races, which suggested that it had a white supremacist motivation. There was no other legitimate purpose that could justify this law or any others like it, Warren held, since it infringed upon the fundamental right of marriage.


  • Potter Stewart (Author)

Largely echoing Warren’s reasoning, Stewart simply wrote an additional opinion as a reminder that he had advocated striking down anti-miscegenation laws in an earlier opnion from the case of McLaughlin v. Florida.

Case Commentary

This is the prime example of a statute that is discriminatory on its face because it turns race, a protected classification, into one of the elements of a crime. Most discriminatory laws are now framed more subtly. The decision is also notable because it classifies marriage as one of the fundamental rights that are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.


Loving v. Virginia – Wikipedia

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967) is a landmark civil rights decision of the United States ….. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved …

Majority‎: ‎Warren, joined by unanimous
Citations‎: ‎388 U.S. 1 (‎more‎)87 S. Ct. 1817; 18 L. …
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In total, about 3,000 separated children are detained in facilities across the United States; Trump Admin Couldn’t Reunite a Dozen Migrant Kids Because Parents Already Deported

Trump Admin Couldn’t Reunite a Dozen Migrant Kids Because Parents Already Deported

JUL 13, 2018

H4 trump admin fails to reunite families

In immigration news, only 57 of the more than 100 children under the age of 5 whom immigration officials separated from their parents have been reunited, despite a Tuesday court-imposed deadline requiring all of these young children be reunited. On Thursday, the Trump administration said it could not reunite 46 children because their parents have been accused of crimes, because the children were not related to the people they were separated from, or, in at least a dozen cases, because U.S. immigration authorities had already deported their parents. In total, about 3,000 separated children are detained in facilities across the United States. A federal judge has ordered all separated children be reunited with their parents by July 26.

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Trump Lie. #1,783,454,879,013

Trump Falsely Claims He’d Convinced NATO to Increase Military Spending

JUL 13, 2018

H3 trump nato budget lies1

Trump’s trip to Britain comes after a contentious NATO summit in Brussels, after which Trump claimed, without evidence, that he’d convinced other NATO countries to dramatically increase their military spending.

President Donald Trump: “The people have stepped up today like they’ve never stepped up before. And remember the word $33 billion more they’re paying, and you’ll hear that from the secretary general in a little while. He thanked me, actually. He actually thanked me. And everybody in the room thanked me. There’s a great collegial spirit in that room that I don’t think they’ve had in many years.”

French President Emmanuel Macron refuted Trump’s claims, saying countries had not agreed to increase military spending beyond the 2 percent increase by 2024, a plan that had already been brokered under the Obama administration.

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If we can’t stop, if we can’t rest from our labor and gift rest to those we labor alongside, we aren’t working for the Lord– We’re working for Pharaoh.

“See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath.”

Exodus 16:29

The LORD’s exodus act of redemption rescued Israel from relentless, never-ending toil. One of the LORD’s first acts was to interrupt oppressive work patterns with the gift of the world’s first regular vacation day. Sabbath days and seasons invited Israel to both receive rest from their Generous King and give rest to those most likely to suffer under the lack of it.

Like those early Israelites, we often reject this gift. But if we can’t stop, if we can’t rest from our labor and gift rest to those we labor alongside, we aren’t working for the Lord. We’re working for Pharaoh.

Michael Rhodes is the director of community transformation and an instructor at the Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies, where he heads up efforts to equip urban pastors and community development practitioners with theologically informed tools for community transformation. He is the co-author of the new book Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give (Baker 2018). He is a PhD candidate in Divinity through the University of Aberdeen.
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Well Written Piece on Race Issues in a Changing USA

Read article here:
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Race, Names, National Geographic and White Anxieties

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“Discussion Guide for Teachers “on RACE by National Geographic

Open link here for teachers and student discussion and research: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/pdf/race-discussion-guide.pdf

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National Geographic admits: “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It”

I was going over the April Issue on RACE of National Geographic again this weekend.  As an educator and Social Scientists/ Historian it is important to share with you and others.–KAS


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NG: Rethinking Race

These Twins, One Black and One White, Will Make You Rethink Race

Marcia and Millie Biggs say they’ve never been subjected to racism—just curiosity and surprise that twins could have such different skin colors.

This story is part of The Race Issue, a special issue of National Geographic that explores how race defines, separates, and unites us. Tell us your story with #IDefineMe.

WHEN AMANDA WANKLIN and Michael Biggs fell in love, they “didn’t give a toss” about the challenges they might face as a biracial couple, Amanda says. “What was more important was what we wanted together.”

They settled down in Birmingham, England, eager to start a family. On July 3, 2006, Amanda gave birth to fraternal twin girls, and the ecstatic parents gave their daughters intertwined names: One would be Millie Marcia Madge Biggs, the other Marcia Millie Madge Biggs.

This story helps launch a series about racial, ethnic, and religious groups and their changing roles in 21st-century life. The series runs through 2018 and will include coverage of Muslims, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

THESE TWINS ARE HAPPY WITH THEIR DIFFERENT SKIN COLORS. CAN’T WE ALL BE?Though Millie and Marcia are just 11, they understand racism—and the best way to combat it.

From a young age the girls had similar features but very different color schemes. Marcia had light brown hair and fair skin like her English-born mother. Millie had black hair and brown skin like her father, who’s of Jamaican descent. “We never worried about it; we just accepted it,” Michael says.

“When they were first born,” Amanda recalls, “I would be pushing them in the pram, and people would look at me and then look at my one daughter and then look at my other daughter. And then I’d get asked the question: ‘Are they twins?’”


“‘But one’s white and one’s black.’”

“Yes. It’s genes.”

Michael Biggs sees a clear family resemblance in his twin daughters, Marcia (left) and Millie: “They both have my nose.”PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBIN HAMMOND

People who commented on the girls weren’t openly hostile or judgmental—just very curious, Amanda says. And then “as time went on, people just saw the beauty in them.”

Amanda, who works as a home-care aide, calls Millie and Marcia her “one in a million” miracle. But it’s not that rare that a biracial couple would have fraternal twins who each look more like one parent than the other, says statistical geneticist Alicia Martin.

Fraternal twins account for about one in 100 births. When a biracial couple has fraternal twins, the traits that emerge in each child depend on numerous variables, including “where the parents’ ancestors are from and complex pigment genetics,” says Martin, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

And research on skin color is further complicated by a history of “study biases that mean we know more about what makes lighter skin light than what makes darker skin dark,” she says.

In genetic terms, skin color “is not a binary trait” with only two possibilities, Martin notes. “It’s a quantitative trait, and everyone has some gradient on this spectrum.”

Historically, when humans have drawn lines of identity—separating Us from Them—they’ve often relied on skin color as a proxy for race. But the 21st-century understanding of human genetics tells us that the whole idea of race is a human invention.

Modern science confirms “that the visible differences between peoples are accidents of history”—the result of mutations, migrations, natural selection, the isolation of some populations, and interbreeding among others, writes science journalist Elizabeth Kolbert. They are not racial differences because the very concept of race—to quote DNA-sequencing pioneer Craig Venter—“has no genetic or scientific basis.”

And yet 50 years after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., racial identity has reemerged as a fundamental dividing line in our world.

We’re devoting the April issue of National Geographic to the complicated issue of race.

The Race Issue includes a story about how scientific ideas of race originated, a letter from our editor exploring National Geographic’s own checkered history on race, and a video-driven feature documenting the phenomenon of black men getting stopped by police while driving.

This month’s issue is just a starting point. We’re doing stories on the evolving identities of key ethnic, religious, and racial groups throughout 2018.

They Think We’re Just Best Friends

The twins, for their part, understand quite clearly what racism is. “Racism is where somebody judges you by your color and not by your actual self,” Millie says. Marcia describes racism as “a negative thing, because it can hurt people’s feelings.”

Michael, who owns an auto-repair business, says he’s faced hostility at times because of the color of his skin. He vividly recalls an episode from his youth when a car full of men sped by and shouted slurs at him and his brothers.

“But it’s a different time now,” Michael says. Neither he nor Amanda has ever witnessed racist behavior toward the girls. And both Millie and Marcia say that they’ve never sensed racism when people note the contrast in their looks.

“When people see us, they think that we’re just best friends,” Marcia says. “When they learn that we’re twins, they’re kind of shocked because one’s black and one’s white.”

But when the twins are asked about their differences, they mention something else entirely. “Millie likes things that are girlie. She likes pink and all of that,” Marcia says. “I don’t like the color pink; I’m a tomboy. People are made how they are.”

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