Still, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii and a few states in the north-east quadrant of the U.S. never passed anti-miscegenation laws. The legislatures of other states repealed their laws at various times. These are shown in green and yellow above.
The Superior Court of New Jersey once commented:
Very often in the history of religion and culture, natural law has been simply solidified prejudice and bigotry.
Another example occurred in 1869, when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that:
Their implication seems to be that all white persons are closer to the angels than are all blacks. Also, all black persons are closer to reptiles than are all whites.
As far as intermarriage is concerned, the "eternity" hoped for by the court in Georgia came to a crashing halt everywhere in the U.S. 98 years later. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the remaining anti-miscegenation laws in 16 states to be unconstitutional. All U.S. couples -- whether of the same or different races -- were eligible to marry in any state. The Court reached this conclusion even though the vast majority (72%) of American adults were opposed to the legality of interracial marriage and a substantial minority (48%) favored criminal punishments for married interracial couples.
How the anti-miscegenation laws ended in the remaining 16 southern states: the Loving v. Virginia case:
In a most ironically named case "Loving v. Virginia," Richard and Mildred Loving -- interracial married newlyweds -- were arrested in the early morning of 1959-JUL-11. They had been married just five weeks previously in the adjacent District of Columbia where interracial marriages were legal. Various sources say that the county sheriff and two deputies broke into the bedroom of their home in Virginia, or that they simply entered the home through an unlocked front door. The couple were charged with a felony under Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The charge read that they had:
They chose to plead guilty. 6
The Virginia marriage law recognized only two races of human beings: white and colored.
The latter was based on the "one-drop" rule. A person was considered "colored" if they had as few as one non-white ancestor -- no matter how many generations back that ancestor lived.
The law could never be strictly applied, because evidence shows that the ancestors to Homo Sapiens -- modern humans -- came out of Africa about 600,000 years ago. Thus, all of today's caucasians have black ancestors if you go back sufficiently far in history.
The Virginia law contained what was called the "Pocahontas exception." A person who had completely white ancestry back four generations -- except for a single great-great Native American grandparent -- was considered white. 7,8 Apparently, Native Americans were less non-white then were African Americans. So much for the purity of the races!
The Loving couple could have each received a 5 year prison term, However, the Honorable Judge Leon M. Bazile was a compassionate person; he only gave them a one year sentence in County Jail. Then he suspended the sentence and partly exiled them from their home state for 25 years. Each was allowed to return to Virginia, but only as individuals and not as a couple. The trial judge apparently ignored the principle of separation of church and state as well as the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when he delivered his decision.
That is, the law said that race trumps love and commitment, if wife and husband are of different races.
Although she is often referred to as black throughout the Internet, Mildred Loving (1940-2008) was actually part black, and part Native American of Rappahannock and Cherokee heritage. 6
In 1963, Ms. Loving heard that Congress was working on a bill that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She thought that their exile might be challenged in a civil rights lawsuit. She wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (D) for help. He referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACCLU) who took up the Loving's case. The ACLU first asked Judge Bazile to vacate the appealed convictions and sentences. He refused, saying -- on behalf of God -- that:
The ACLU then appealed the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. They lost. Finally, they appealed to the US Supreme Court. In 1967, the court unanimously overturned the Virginia law and all of the miscegenation laws of 15 other states. 9 Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote.
Persons of different racial backgrounds have been able to marry throughout the U.S. ever since. However, many of the miscegenation laws remained on the books for many years even though they had been nullified by the Supreme Court decision.
Blogger Jack M. Balkin wrote:
This topic continues in the next essay
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