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  • Wednesday, October 13, 2004


    The Law and Time

    I've always found the line between precedent in law and the passage of time a strangely conflicted place. Legal foundations are often built on precedents or what has been decided by the courts in the past. Sometimes this can change dramatically, breaking from the past with a new interpretation such as Brown v. Board of Education which nullifies some previous precedents (Brown v. Board decided that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." The decision effectively denied the legal basis for segregation in Kansas and 20 other states with segregated classrooms and would forever change race relations in the United States.) This story reminded me of the gaps in such decisions: Alabama to Vote on Segregation Language.

    Outmoded laws often remain on the books because once enacted, it takes special effort to get rid of them. While some of these laws are funny, they are still in effect. I wonder about the possibility of long "sunset" clauses on laws, say 75 or a hundred years. It seems like an attic that's never cleaned out, the accumulated detrious of the system. Or have someone sifting through these outmoded or unenforcable laws and make recommendations on what to keep and what to discard. How the hell does a law die anyway? Just through disuse? Curious.

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