Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License By Louisiana Judge

Steven Jamar stevenjamar at
Thu Oct 15 18:20:37 PDT 2009

Sorry, my original post query was tongue in cheek -- but I forgot to  
include the html markings for that.   Surely Loving is moe than  
sufficient for this.

<tongue-in-cheek> Any thoughts on whether this might violate the  
Constitutional right of Equal Protection or Substantive Due Process? </ 

But I actually couldn't believe it was really being done!  I thought  
it was a spoof, but couldn't verify it.


On Oct 15, 2009, at 8:48 PM, Kathleen Bergin wrote:

> Why doesn't Loving coupled with Shelley completely foreclose this  
> issue.
> Thanks for calling this to our attention, Steven.  I blogged it here.
> Kathleen A. Bergin
> South Texas College of Law
> 1303 San Jacinto Street
> Houston, Texas 77003
> ph: 713-646-1829
> fx: 713-646-1799
> First Amendment Law Prof Blog
> The Faculty Lounge
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Christine Corcos" <Christine.Corcos at>
> To: "Steven Jamar" <stevenjamar at>, "CONLAWPROFS professors"  
> <Conlawprof at>
> Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 5:50:03 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada  
> Central
> Subject: RE: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License By Louisiana  
> Judge
> Um, no, it’s not a myth. See here. The local ACLU is now involved.
> From: conlawprof-bounces at [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at 
> ] On Behalf Of Steven Jamar
> Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 5:43 PM
> To: CONLAWPROFS professors
> Subject: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License By Louisiana Judge
> Any thoughts on whether this might violate the Constitutional right  
> of Equal Protection or Substantive Due Process?  Does anyone know if  
> this is real or an internet myth?
> Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License By Louisiana Judge
> NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to  
> issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for  
> any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the  
> peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most  
> interracial marriages do not last long.
> "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that  
> way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles  
> and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they  
> use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
> Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are  
> a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.
> Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites,  
> along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the  
> conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept  
> offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he  
> said.
> "There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a  
> marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't  
> help put them through it."
> If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the  
> same for all, he said.
> "I try to treat everyone equally," he said.
> Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples  
> during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.Beth Humphrey, 30,  
> and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will  
> consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination  
> complaint.
> Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and  
> McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She plans to enroll in  
> the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority  
> politics.
> "That was one thing that made this so unbelievable," she said. "It's  
> not something you expect in this day and age."
> Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting  
> a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell's wife told her that  
> Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples.  
> Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in  
> the parish who agreed to marry them.
> "We are looking forward to having children," Humphrey said. "And all  
> our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for  
> this, we're typical happy newlyweds."
> "It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in  
> 2009," said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney  
> Katie Schwartzmann. "The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963  
> that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."
> The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which  
> oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate  
> Bardwell and recommending "the most severe sanctions available,  
> because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious  
> harm to the administration of justice."
> "He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,"  
> Schwartzmann said.
> According to the clerk of court's office, application for a marriage  
> license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is  
> a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have  
> previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage  
> ended, such as divorce.
> Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social  
> Security card.
> The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a  
> Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is  
> returned to the clerk's office.
> "I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think  
> I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes,  
> but you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get  
> married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."
> -- 
> Prof. Steven Jamar
> Howard University School of Law
> Associate Director, Institute of Intellectual Property and Social  
> Justice (IIPSJ) Inc.
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Prof. Steven D. Jamar                     vox:  202-806-8017
Associate Director, Institute of Intellectual Property and Social  
Howard University School of Law           fax:  202-806-8567

"The only things truly worth doing cannot be accomplished in a single  

Prof. Goler Teal Butcher, after Reinhold Neibuhr

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