Blue Laws

Blue Laws: Antiquated Puritanical Rules Still In Law Books Of Some States

A blue law is a type of legislative decree designed to enforce religious principles. They are especially observed on days of worship or rest. Typically these laws are seen as antiquated, outlawing daily acts people nonchalantly and repeatedly violate. In the US, the majority of blue laws have been repealed or declared unconstitutional to enforce against its citizens. But they are retained in some areas as a matter of tradition.

As a decency provision, blue laws inhibit actions such as prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays. In other countries, blue laws restrict behaviors, barring public eating during holy months or denying the exchange of commerce at times of prayer.

In Winona Lake, Wisconsin, it is illegal to eat ice cream at a counter on Sunday. Ordering a slice of pie a la mode in Kansas is verboten on the Lord’s Day. Children’s toy use like marbles, dominoes, and yoyos are banned on Sundays in a handful of states. In Salem, West Virginia, it is against the law to eat candy less than an hour before church service.

Currently, Virginia lawmakers are working to repeal the state’s old-fashioned 136-year-old “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” law. It outlaws couples from living under the same roof prior to wedlock.

Virginia state statute 18.2-345, lewd and lascivious cohabitation, is levied against any persons not married to one another, lewdly and lasciviously cohabiting together. Whether married or not, guilty of open and gross lewdness and lasciviousness, each of them shall be guilty of a class three misdemeanor. Upon a repetition of the offense, and conviction thereof, each of them shall be guilty of a class one misdemeanor.

Certain “carnal” sexual acts are, in principle, illegal felony violations in Virginia. Obscenity and adultery, a class four misdemeanor, are also technically banned. Virginia law prohibits the transport of a person to any place, say by cab or carriage, if the driver has previous knowledge that person might be going for “illicit sexual intercourse.”

The Michigan Penal Code of 1931 also has an indecency and morality law, outlawing the cohabitation of unwed couples: statute 750.335 lewd and lascivious cohabitation and gross lewdness. Those deemed guilty of the misdemeanor offense are punishable by imprisonment for no more than one year or fined no more than $1,000.

Do you feel blue laws are absurdly antiquated, or do you think some should be reinstated and imposed?

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