Present Status of Miscegenation Statutes

Present Status of Miscegenation Statutes

William and Mary Law Review
Volume 4, Issue 1 (January 1963)
Article 4
pages 28-35

Edmund L. Walton Jr., Founder
Walton & Adams, P.C., Reston, Virginia

With the influx of so called “civil rights” cases in recent years it seems that a reappraisal of state legislation and constitutional prohibitions concerning intermarriage of persons of different races is in order.

A total of twenty-four states currently have prohibitions against miscegeneous marriages, fourteen more have repealed such laws, and the supreme courts of two states have held that their miscegenation statutes are in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution but one of these reversed itself five years later. The highest courts of twelve other” states have affirmed the constitutionality of their respective statutes.¬† The Supreme Court of the United States¬†has once had the opportunity to rule upon the question in recent years but sidestepped the issue.

The statutes, while varied in scope and legal consequences for violation are unanimous in condemning marriage between Negroes and whites. Three representative statutes are those of Virginia, Maryland, and Arkansas. Both Maryland and Virginia have criminal penalties as well as civil prohibitions and both declare the parties to a miscegenous marriage to be felons. Arkansas declares such a marriage to be illegal and void.” Virginia prohibits the marriage of whites with colored persons;¬† Arkansas, white persons with Negroes or mulattoes;¬†and Maryland forbids any intermarriage between members of the white, Negro or Malayan races. Virginia describes a “white person” as one with no other admixture of blood other than white or one-sixteenth or less American Indian blood.

The challenge of the constitutionality of these and other state miscegenation statutes has been made and met in the state courts, but as yet the United States Supreme Court has not seen fit to make a final judgment. What are the major factors to be discussed and when will the court meet the challenge?…

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