For the past 118 years, it has been illegal to swear in front of women and children in Michigan. It has also been illegal to mock someone who refuses to duel, and to dance to the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
On Wednesday, the brave heroes of the Michigan House of Representatives set to reclaim the land of the free and the home of the profane when they voted unanimously in favor of a seven-bill package aimed to repeal or redesignate nearly 80 laws that are superfluous and passé to the point of absurdity.
For the rest of the country, the long, national nightmare of ridiculous rules continues. Indeed, almost every state is riddled with laughable laws like the aforementioned.
Picture this: The sun is setting, a breeze is blowing and mustached man in Eureka, Nevada, is about to kiss his girlfriend. Just one problem—he has a mustache and is thus committing a local criminal offense. That’s right, it is illegal for any man who dons a moustache in Eureka, Nevada, to kiss women.
“Obscure laws that sit around unenforced are bad for both liberty and justice,” said William Baude, an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago, where he teaches courses on federal courts and constitutional law. According to Baude, since citizens lack a basic awareness of these laws, they pose “a serious risk of arbitrary enforcement.”
Such laws may not just hurt a mustached man’s romantic prospects and/or result in unforeseen enforcement, but often even violate America’s Constitution. Baude explains that since regulations of this kind may prove unconstitutional, “it’s good to get them off the books to avoid confusion about what the law is. We don’t want officers mistakenly enforcing unconstitutional laws, and we don’t want to leave constitutional problems entirely up to the courts to fix later.”
The following are some of the odd laws still in effect around the country:
• Publicly swearing in front of two or more people in Mississippi could lead to a 30-day jail sentence. Though this law seems to directly violate the First Amendment, it’s justified as it “protects the public.”