106 U.S. 583 (1883), Pace v. State

Citation:106 U.S. 583, 1 S.Ct. 637, 27 L.Ed. 207
Party Name:PACE v. STATE OF ALABAMA.
Case Date:January 29, 1883
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 583

106 U.S. 583 (1883)

1 S.Ct. 637, 27 L.Ed. 207

PACE

v.

STATE OF ALABAMA.

United States Supreme Court.

January 29, 1883

[1 S.Ct. 637] Section 4184 of the Code of Alabama provides that 'if any man and woman live together in adultery or fornication, each of them must, on the first conviction of the offense, be fined not less than $100, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than six months. On the second conviction for the offense, with the same person, the offender must be fined not less than $300, and may be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county, for not more than 12 months; and for a third or any subsequent conviction with the same person, must be imprisoned in the penitentiary or sentenced to hard labor for the county for two years."

Section 4189 of the same Code declares that 'if any white person and any negro, or the descendant of any negro to the third generation, inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation was a white person, intermarry or live in adultery or fornication with each other, each of them must, on conviction, be imprisoned in the penitentiary or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not less than two nor more than seven years.'

In November, 1881, the plaintiff in error, Tony Pace, a negro man, and Mary J. Cox, a white woman, were indicted under section 4189, in a circuit court of Alabama, for living together in a state of adultery or fornication, and were tried, convicted, and sentenced, each to two years' imprisonment in the state penitentiary. On appeal to the supreme court of the state the judgment was affirmed, and he brought the case here on writ of error, insisting that the act under which he was indicted and convicted is in conflict with the concluding clause of the first section of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution, which declares that no state shall 'deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.'

COUNSEL

Page 584

[1 S.Ct. 638] J. R. Tompkins, for plaintiff in error.

H. C. Tompkins, for defendant in error.

OPINION

FIELD, J.

The counsel of the plaintiff in error compares sections 4184 and 4189 of the Code of Alabama, and assuming that the latter relates to the same offense as the former, and prescribes a greater punishment for it, because one of the parties is a negro, or of...

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