In October 1958, the grand jury of the Circuit Court of Caroline County charged the Lovings with violating two sections of Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act. Because Richard was white and Mildred was African American and Native American, their marriage was illegal and a felony offence in Virginia.
From Chief Justice Earl Warren’s 1967 unanimous opinion:
"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."