By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
First-year law students everywhere, along with students of contemporary American history, know it as "The Loving Case" -- shorthand for the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loving vs. Virginia. The court ruled unanimously, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, that laws forbidding interracial marriage (in this case, a law in the Commonwealth of Virginia) violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Mildred Loving (formerly Mildred Jeter) was a black woman who fell in love with a white man. They married in Washington, D.C. in 1958, when she was 18. It was upon their eventual move to Virginia that their union was legally challenged. Her husband died in a car accident (in which Mildred was also injured) back in 1975.
Mildred Loving shunned the spotlight for her entire adult life, often saying she never set out to be famous, only to fight for her right to marry the man she loved. Her case was brought to the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice (under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy), who referred it to the A.C.L.U. The Supreme Court ruling voided similar laws in at least 16 other States. The Lovings had three children and several grandchildren.
Mildred Loving died today in Milford, Virginia. She was 68 years old. Her name will live on, like Linda Brown and Jane Roe before her -- the surnames in American jurisprudential history that now stand for the cases that changed the course of our nation.
On the broadcast tonight, we'll preview tomorrow's presidential primaries. A word about our coverage tomorrow night, for those of you who see the first feed of Nightly News at 6:30 Eastern time: while the polls will not be closed in all of Indiana (80 of the 92 counties will be closed -- but polls in Gary and Evansville will still be open), we will be able to report the raw vote tallies from the rest of Indiana as early as 6:30 ET. That is because the State of Indiana puts the numbers out -- posts them on the web. I didn't want anyone to think we were violating any agreement, principle or policy when those numbers pop up on the screen tomorrow night... the state itself will be reporting the early (albeit incomplete) raw vote.
Also tonight: why some passenger jets are flying more slowly today than they did in 1959 -- and a fascinating health news story.
I hope you all had a good weekend -- we hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.