WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court today struck down state laws prohibiting marriages between Negroes and whites.
The 9-0 decision came in a Virginia case. Fifteen other states have similar anti-miscegenation laws, however.
They are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the issue to the Supreme Court on behalf of a white construction worker, Richard P. Loving, and his Negro wife, natives of Caroline County, Va. They were married in the District of Columbia in 1958 and returned to Virginia to live in violation of state law.
Chief Justice Earl Warren, speaking for a unanimous court, said:
"We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival," the Warren opinion said.
". . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis has the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the 14th Amendment is surely to deprive all the state's citizens of liberty without due process of law," it added.
"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."
In another decision the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a New York state law permitting court-approved electronic eavesdropping in criminal cases.
6 to 3 Decision
In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the law authorizing bugging violated the 4th Amendment to the constitution which bars "unreasonable searches and seizures."
I Justice Tom C. Clark, writhing the majority opinion, said few threats to liberty exist which are greater than that posed by eavesdropping devices.