[Source:] Despite the Supreme Court's decision, anti-miscegenation laws remained on the books in several states, although the decision had made them unenforceable. Local judges in Alabama continued to enforce that state's anti-miscegenation statute until the Nixon administration obtained a ruling from a U.S. District Court in United States v. Brittain in 1970.[15][16]

Was there no punishment for these judges who flouted Loving v. Virginia (1967) ?Why was another lawsuit necessary to constrain and override these defiers, as cited in the last sentence in the excerpt above?

  • Its a political issue – user5001 Mar 6 '15 at 5:01

Chiefly I believe because those people were not from Virginia, and had thus never been directly ordered by anyone to comply.

Generally the way these things work is that when the SCOTUS makes a decision on a local case that clearly applies nationwide, lower court justices nationwide will start using their interpretation of that decision in their own jurisdictions. If that decision contradicts a law or state constitution, any attempt to litigate a violation of that law will be stopped in a lower court because its pretty clear what the higher courts would say if it went all the way up to them.

What you had here was an issue that was so sensitive in Alabama that no elected or politically appointed lower court judge either dared or desired to make that call. So the old law kept getting enforced until someone actually bothered to push a case specifically against it clear up to the higher courts.


Federal courts do not have any direct power over state courts, they can only overturn their decisions and only when a case is appealed to the Federal court.

The Supreme Court decision in Loving only nullified a Virginia law. To nullify an Alabama law, that law would have to be appealed to a Federal court as well. In practice, since the Alabama law may have been similar to the Virginia law, the local state judges should have dismissed any cases brought under those laws, but they were under no compulsion to do so. Likewise, it was the duty of the Alabama legislature to repeal any laws that the court had decided to be unconstitutional, yet they did not do that.

Judges, including those on Supreme Court, often make blatantly indefensible decisions for purely political reasons.

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