John Aldridge v. The Commonwealth.
The following opinion, is that of the whole Court, except Judges R.E. Parker and Bouldin, who dissented.
Dade, J. delivered the opinion of the Court:
"...Upon the second alleged error, the Court are clearly of opinion, that there is nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, repugnant to the power which the Legislature has exercised in the punishment of this crime. Notwithstanding the general terms used in the Bill of Rights, it is undeniable that it never was contemplated, or considered, to extend to the whole population of the State. Can it be doubted, that it not only was not intended to apply to our slave population, but that the free blacks and mulattoes were also not comprehended in it? The leading and most prominent feature in that paper, is the equality of civil rights and liberty. And yet, nobody has ever questioned the power of the Legislature, to deny to free blacks and mulattoes, one of the first privileges of a citizen; that of voting at elections, although they might in every particular, except color, be in precisely the same condition as those qualified to vote. The numerous
restrictions imposed on this class of people in our Statute Book, many of which are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, both of this State and of the United States, as respects the free whites, demonstrate, that, here, those instruments have not been considered to extend equally to both classes of our population. We will only instance the restriction upon the migration of free blacks into this State, and upon their right to bear arms."
[VIRGINIA CASES, OR DECISIONS OF THE GENERAL COURT OF VIRGINIA, CHIEFLY ON THE CRIMINAL LAW OF THE COMMONWEALTH, COMMENCING JUNE TERM, 1815, AND ENDING JUNE TERM, 1826. WITH AN INDEX OF THE PRINCIPAL MATTERS IN THIS AND THE PRECEDING VOLUME. VOL. II. BY WILLIAM BROCKENBROUGH, ONE OF THE JUDGES OF THAT COURT. RICHMOND: PUBLISHED BY PETER COTTOM, AND FOR SALE AT HIS LAW AND MISCELLANEOUS BOOK STORE. 1826. Pg. 449]