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

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U.S. Supreme Court

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

Pace v. Alabama

Decided January 29, 1883

106 U.S. 583


Section 4189 of the Code of Alabama, prohibiting a white person and a negro from living with each other in adultery or fornication, is not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, although it prescribes penalties more severe than those to which the parties would be subject, were they of the same race and color.

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 one hundred dollars, 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 three hundred dollars, and may be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than twelve 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. "

Page 106 U. S. 584

In November, 1881, the plaintiff in error, Tony Pace, a negro man, and Mary J. Cox, a white woman, were indicted under sec. 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."

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