blue laws

In South Dakota, if there are 5 or more Native Americans on your property, they can be considered to constitute a “raiding party” and you are in fact permitted to shoot them.

BLUE LAWS: In South Dakota, if there are 5 or more Native Americans on your property, they can be considered to constitute a “raiding party” and you are in fact permitted to shoot them.

The reason that most of blue laws do still exist is that they do not violate any existing Federal laws.  As I was researching for the blue laws article series , I did however come across a handful of blue laws which actually do directly violate Federal laws.  

These would actually be far easier to overturn, because as soon as anyone challenges these laws, the Supreme Court would have no choice but to declare them to be unconstitutional very quickly- that’s not even debatable, these laws are quite obviously blatantly racist.

The reason that these laws still exist and they were not eliminated during the Civil Rights Era is that they’ve not been enforced for the past 100+ years, and legislators as well as law enforcement agencies seem to have forgotten that they even exist.  However, these really are offensive, and unlike most of the blue laws which I’ve written about in this article, these absolutely need to be repealed as soon as possible.

I was actually surprised to discover that as of 2016, these haven’t been repealed yet:Yes, in South Dakota, if there are 5 or more Native Americans on your property, they can be considered to constitute a “raiding party” and you are in fact permitted to shoot them.

(Yes, you’ll obviously be arrested for either murder or attempted murder if you do shoot at someone for any reason unless they really are attempting to break into your house, regardless of their ethnicity- that’s not the point.  The point is that politicians have forgotten to remove this law.)

In Montana, any group of 7 or more Native Americans who appear together anywhere in a public place can be considered to be a raiding party and can be arrested or shot (referred to with the term “Indians” in the law.)  

Again, this law dates back to the 19th century, it is doubtful that this was ever enforced even once- not even the most bigoted, prejudices and racist law enforcement officers today would even consider that this law ever made any sense.  That’s not the point.  The politicians in the state legislature may have forgotten about this law- including some of whom are Native Americans themselves, but the law isn’t really forgotten.  

In today’s world, nothing is forgotten.  It took me less than 5 minutes to find this law through a google search, which means that anyone can find these laws if you actually make the effort to look for them.  This does impressively little to promote tolerance in today’s world.

Oregon had laws in the mid 19th century which regulated the transporting of African Americans (who were referred to as “Negroes” in the law.)  Most historians believe that the purpose of these laws was probably to bring up the issue as to whether or not the [white] citizens of the the Oregon Territory wanted to allow for slavery to be permitted in the territory or whether to prohibit slavery.  These laws were rendered obsolete by the 14th Amendment in 1866, though the laws were still kept in the state’s legal code until voters opted to remove them in 1925.  However, the last references which included racist language still remained in the state’s Constitution until 2002.  If the state governments of Montana and South Dakota to not follow the example that the state legislature in Oregon set in 2002, these laws have to be challenged soon.

Here Are Some Of My Favorites:

While the legislators in many town, county, city and state governments have removed their obsolete blue laws from their legal codes, quite a few do have not yet done so.  Here are some of my favorites- Believe it or not, as of July, 2016:

  1. In Alabama, you are permitted to wear a fake mustache in churches.  However, if your mustache appears to be too humorous and it might cause other people to laugh, technically you have actually committed a civil infraction.
  2. Fishing is quite obviously permitted in Idaho– people travel from all over the country to fish for trout in the mountain streams.  It is also permissible to ride a camel in Idaho.  However, it is not legal to go fishing while concurrently riding a camel in Idaho.
  3. Also in Idaho, it is illegal to operate a merry-go- round carousel on Sundays.
  4. In the city of Baltimore, Maryland, it is illegal to bring a live lion into a movie theater.  This law includes both adult lions as well as lion cubs.  [Scott’s note]- Actually, you need an exotic wildlife permit to bring a lion anywhere in the country, but because Baltimore actually still has a law on the books which specifically addresses the issues of lions and movie theaters, we can only conclude that at some point in the city’s history, someone must have actually brought a live lion into a movie theater.  
  5. In Maine, you’re actually required to bring a shotgun with you when you enter into a church, in case of attacks from Native Americans (referred to as “Indians” in this law.)  South Carolina has a comparable law, except that only adult men are required to bring guns to church.  [Scott’s note]- Don’t try bringing a weapon with you if you walk into a church in Maine.  Unless you’re a policeman, a security guard, or you have the necessary hunting permits, you will go to jail if you bring a weapon with you anywhere in Maine.  This law made no sense when it was written centuries ago, so it was never enforced, and therefore it’s been forgotten.  Does that mean that it still makes any sense to keep it on the book just because it’s been forgotten about?
  6. Also in Maine, it is illegal to display Christmas decorations after January 14th.  [Scott’s note] I’ll agree that it does look a little silly when I see winter holiday decorations displayed in the middle of the spring or the summer, but I can’t see why that would be illegal.  Neither can any politicians or law enforcement officers, which is why from what I’ve read, this law has never been enforced.  But it has also never been repealed.
  7. In Ohio, it is illegal for more than 5 women to live in a single house [Scott’s note]- I don’t think that I even want to know where this one came from.
  8. In Ohio, it is illegal to go fishing for whales on Sundays [Scott’s note]- just look on a map- if you find a whale anywhere in Ohio, I’ll be pretty impressed.
  9. In Ohio, it is illegal to serve alcohol to a fish [Scott’s note]- I don’t want to know how this one was enacted either, perhaps it’s something in the drinking water …
  10. In Nebraska, it is illegal to fish for whales
  11. In Nebraska, if a child burps in church, the child’s parents can be arrested
  12. in Nebraska, if a bar is serving alcohol, they are required to also be “brewing soup from a kettle” at the same time
  13. Back to Alabama, you are in fact of course permitted to eat ice cream cones in public.  And while you are in fact permitted to keep an ice cream cone in the front pockets of your pants, if you try to keep one in the back pocket of your pants, yep- that’s a civil infraction too.  [Scott’s note] The police aren’t terribly likely to enforce this one either, though I don’t recommend trying it for quite a few other reasons, involving the fate of the ice cream as well as the fate of your clothes.
  14. It’s also somehow still illegal to play dominoes on Sundays in Alabama. [Scott’s note]  Yes, do feel free to play dominoes whenever you want to in Alabama- even on Sundays.  You won’t get into any trouble, I promise.  The police there have more important things to do with their time than to search through obsolete laws from yestercentury which have not yet been repealed.

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...

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