Seem implausible? Actually, this absurd Pennsylvania law is technically still on the books. In fact, Pennsylvania is not alone. If you look hard enough, each state has its own collection of outdated, silly laws. And while these laws may never be enforced, they are still legally valid because no one has bothered to repeal them. Most of these laws are so old, lawmakers themselves aren't even aware that many of them exist.
If you're a woman living in Michigan, you might want to check with your husband before heading to the hair stylist. According to state law, your hair belongs to your spouse and you'll need his permission before you can alter it. When visiting Charlotte, North Carolina, don't plan on packing light. According to city law, you must be swathed in at least 16 yards of fabric before stepping out into public. Even in fashion forward New York City, there are laws concerning how a woman dresses. In the Big Apple, wearing clingy or body-hugging clothing carries a $25 dollar fine.
One can easily conclude that some of these silly laws were simply designed to get a laugh or to alleviate the boredom of local legislators. How else could you explain the following Texas law? "When two railroad trains meet at a crossing, each shall stop and neither shall proceed until the other has passed." But as for the rest, you can rest assured they reflect the public standards of the time. In fact, if you want to study how public values have changed over the years, there is no better place to start than with your state and local statutes. Not only will you glean some insight into our past prejudices, but also our best intentions. After all, who but a well-intentioned public official would make it a crime to molest butterflies in California?
Kansans don't mess around with their cherry pie. At one point, it was illegal in the state to top a slice of cherry pie with a scoop of ice cream. According to the Kansas Secretary of State, it's unclear how this law originated or whether it's still technically on the books, but - fortunately for dessert lovers - it's not enforced.
Florida ran into a bit of trouble in 2013 when it accidentally banned all computers in the state. A confusingly worded law designed to ban internet cafes involved in illegal gambling prompted a lawsuit, arguing that the ban could be interpreted to apply to any internet-connected device.
States hostile to abortion have made it clear that they want to prohibit abortion entirely, both inside and outside of their borders. Interstate shield laws protect abortion providers and helpers in states where abortion is protected and accessible from civil and criminal consequences stemming from abortion care provided to an out-of-state resident.
The secretary of state does not maintain the bylaws or tax exempt filings of any nonprofit organization. Some organizations that have obtained tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service are required to make certain documents available to the public. Bylaws may be available if included as part of the organization's application for exemption. For more information, please visit the IRS website. The secretary of state's office cannot assist you in obtaining these documents.
Meanwhile, policymakers in some states have approved laws to protect abortion rights without relying on the Roe decision. Most of these policies prohibit the state from interfering with the right to obtain an abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the life or health of pregnant person, and others offer legal protections for abortion providers. In some of those states, protections also extend to individuals who provide information on abortion and logistical and financial assistance to patients.
In nine states, sodomy laws were explicitly rewritten so that they only applied to gay people. Kansas was the first state to do that in 1969. Kansas was followed in the 1970's by Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas. In two states, Maryland and Oklahoma, courts decided that sodomy laws could not be applied to private heterosexual conduct, leaving what amounted to same-sex only laws in effect.
In many other states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Washington, government agencies and courts treated sodomy laws that, as written, applied to all couples, straight and gay, as if they were aimed at gay people.
After the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1996 (in Romer v. Evans, which struck down a Colorado constitutional amendment that forbade gay rights laws) that states could not discriminate against gay people on the basis of "disapproval," the argument was harder to make. But that didn't stop Georgia's Attorney General from (successfully) using the state's sodomy law as a justification for refusing to hire a lesbian, or the Bowers decision from being offered as a justification for firing a lesbian x-ray technician in a Washington state case last year.
Third, the laws have been used in public debate, to justify denying gay people equal treatment and to discredit LGBT voices. In Utah, the sodomy law was used to justify not protecting gay people from hate crimes. In Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and Texas they've been used to justify various proposals to ban adoption or foster care, sometimes successfully. Sodomy laws are regularly invoked in civil rights debates: from a reason not to recognize domestic partnerships in Kalamazoo, Michigan (the argument was rejected), to a reason to give "sodomy states" the right to "opt out" of a federal law banning employment discrimination (which hasn't even come to a floor vote in Congress since the mid 90's).
All this should change with the Lawrence decision. Lawrence only directly invalidates sodomy laws in the four states that have laws that only apply to gay people: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. But the equal protection clause forbids subtle discrimination just as much as it forbids obvious discrimination. And there isn't much that is subtle about the government saying that a sodomy law justifies taking your children away because you are gay. Either the law in fact applies to everybody-in which case, it provides no justification for treating gay people differently at all-or it applies just to gay people-in which case, it cannot survive today's ruling.
You may be surprised by how many strange Louisiana laws prohibit common things that happen in the state every day, or at least during Mardi Gras. The following laws are proof that there have always been people who use the law to try to stop the rest of us from having a good time.
These carryover bills were introduced during the 2021 state legislative sessions but did not reach final resolution this year. Twenty-five states that have legislative sessions scheduled in 2022 allow for carryover bills. Of the nine states that have restrictive carryover bills, two enacted restrictive voting laws this year (KS, NY); three passed restrictive voting bills that were vetoed by the governor (MI, PA, WI); and three have conducted or have ongoing partisan reviews of the 2020 election (MI, PA, WI).
Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 restrictive laws. At the same time, many state legislatures worked to ensure greater voting access. Between January 1 and December 7, at least 25 states enacted 62 expansive laws.
Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 restrictive laws. footnote29_jf5ahho 29 AL H.B. 285, AL H.B. 538, AR H.B. 1112, AR H.B. 1244, AR H.B. 1715, AR S.B. 643, AZ S.B. 1003, AZ S.B. 1485, AZ S.B. 1819, FL S.B. 90, GA S.B. 202, IA S.F. 413, IA S.F. 568, ID H.B. 290, IN S.B. 398, KS H.B. 2183, KS H.B. 2332, KY H.B. 574, LA H.B. 167, MT H.B. 176, MT H.B. 530, MT S.B. 169, MT S.B. 196, MT S.B. 319, NH H.B. 523, NH S.B. 31, NV S.B. 84, NY S.B. 264, OK H.B. 2663, TX H.B. 3920, TX S.B. 1111, TX S.B. 1, UT H.B. 12, WY H.B. 75. Provisions are categorized as restrictive if they would make it harder for Americans to register, stay on the rolls, and/or vote as compared to existing state law. The restrictive laws make it more difficult for voters to cast mail ballots that count, make in-person voting more difficult by reducing polling place hours and locations, increase voter purges or the risk of faulty voter purges, and criminalize the ordinary, lawful behavior of election officials and other individuals involved in elections.
The state laws restricting voting access are not created equal. Four of the thirty-four laws are mixed, meaning they contain pro-voter policies as well as policies that make voting more difficult (IN S.B. 398, KY H.B. 574, LA H.B. 167, OK H.B. 2663). Other laws are relatively narrow in their scope (e.g., NV S.B. 84, UT H.B. 12). By contrast, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Texas enacted omnibus laws that each contain several new restrictive provisions. footnote30_d8yl6at 30 GA S.B. 202, FL S.B. 90, IA S.F. 413, TX S.B. 1.
Between January 1 and December 7, 2021, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws with provisions that expand voting access. footnote31_oa92ejw 31 CA A.B. 37, CA S.B. 29, CA S.B. 152, CA S.B. 503, CO H.B. 1011, CT S.B. 1202, DE S.B. 5, HI S.B. 159, HI S.B. 548, IL H.B. 1871, IL H.B. 3235, IL S.B. 825, IN S.B. 398, IN H.B. 1479, IN H.B. 1485, KY H.B. 574, LA H.B. 167, LA H.B. 286, MA H. 73, MA H. 3973, MD H.B. 206, MD S.B. 596, MD H.B. 745, MD H.B. 1048, MD S.B. 525, MD S.B. 683, ME L.D. 1399, ME L.D. 221, ME L.D. 1126, ME L.D. 1363, ME L.D. 1575, MN H.F. 1952, MT S.B. 15, ND H.B. 1078, ND H.B. 1253, ND H.B. 1447, NH H.B. 555, NJ S.B. 3203, NM H.B. 231, NV A.B. 121, NV A.B. 321, NV A.B. 432, NY A.B. 2574, NY A.B. 6046, NY A.B. 6047, NY S.B. 830B, NY S.B. 5545, OK H.B. 2663, OR H.B. 2681, OR H.B. 3021, OR H.B. 3291, VA H.B. 1888, VA H.B. 1921, VA H.B. 1968, VA H.B. 2125, VA S.B. 1097, VA S.B. 1245, VA S.B. 1331, VA S.B. 1395, VA H.B. 1890, VT S.B. 15, WA H.B. 1078. Provisions are categorized as expansive if they would make it easier for Americans to register, stay on the rolls, and/or vote as compared to existing state law. These expansive policies ease the processes for requesting and casting a mail ballot and having that ballot counted, expand early voting time periods, improve access for disabled voters, strengthen language access provisions, expand or implement automatic voter registration, and restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people, among other measures. More than 1,000 bills with expansive provisions have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions. 2b1af7f3a8