Love and the Constitution

Forty-five years ago, the Supreme Court struck down state prohibition of interracial marriage. At the time, 16 states had laws outlawing marriage between a man and a woman of different races (many more had prohibited interracial marriage at some period before repealing these statues).

In Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S.1, 12 (1967), the Court unanimously held Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute unconstitutional:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. . . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.

As reported in the ABA Journal, a new documentary about the Loving case, The Loving Story, will premier on HBO today.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence”*

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Dickens, of course, was a prolific chronicler of English law and legal institutions—-warts and all. Dickens’ descriptions of the law and lawyers often did not paint a rosy picture.  See this recent New York Times Op-ed piece.

But two centuries later, Dickens remains an influential voice in the legal world.  His books are referenced in hundreds of law review articles.  Last Term, Chef Justice Roberts began an opinion quoting Bleak House.  Stern v. Marshall, 564 U.S. _, 131 S. Ct. 2594, 2600 (2011).

Happy Bicentennial Charles Dickens!

*Great Expectations

Harvard Law School Event on the Impact of Citizens United

At a recent event sponsored by the Harvard Law School American Constitution Society, HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig, author of Republic Lost:  How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It and Jeff Clements, author of  Corporations Are Not People shared their views on the the aftermath of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  A video of this discussion is available here.