Outdated laws are thriving

Old laws affect current times


Serena Bovee

As in most times, right now is a very politically-active period. With the recent laws that are designed to restrict and remove the rights of trans people and women’s reproductive rights, this country is very volatile. This can sometimes lead to the creation of laws that would later be regretted.

As of right now, to put a bill onto the president’s or governor’s desk to be signed into law, one only requires a simple majority from both the House and the Senate. However, to repeal a law requires two-thirds of the vote in both states and on the federal level. Generally, this is the truth, but there is an exception. When the bill deals with money, it only needs a simple majority. This is why the individual mandate tax for not having healthcare went down to $0 from $625 in 2019 — however, for this to happen it took 60 tries over the course of its lifetime. It is extremely difficult for a law to be voided and written out of law.

On another level, the courts can decide whether or not laws are legal and if they break the Constitution. This was determined back in 1803 in the court case Marbury v. Madison. An example of this is in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, where the Supreme Court determined that racial segregation is illegal and breaks the law. This is a fantastic thing that has helped desegregate public schools. The problem comes if the Supreme Court were to ever overturn this decision. At this point, any bill written into law that would segregate schools would come back into effect. Quite frankly, I find this horrifying. If all it takes is only a misjudgment of the nine people in the Supreme Court, then the rights of many people are at risk. Very recently, this situation has occurred though on the topic of a woman’s autonomy. 

When Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, any law governing women’s sexual autonomy became legal. In Wisconsin, a law was introduced in 1849 which made it a felony to obtain an abortion. Roe v. Wade repealed this law and it went out of play, but because it never was written out of law and the Supreme Court decision was overturned, it became illegal to obtain an abortion in Wisconsin. 

This is most certainly something that needs to be worked on by our government. For a long-term solution, we the people must make it just as easy to remove the bill as it is to put it in. For the rights of entire groups of people to be removed on the basis of a law written 100s of years ago is scary. Humans make mistakes on occasion and the supreme court is most certainly included in this. When the supreme court makes a mistake we shouldn’t be forced to stew in it and be affected by these outdated laws. Instead, I think that the system should be changed so that at least it is just as easy to remove a law as it is to put it in the books. However, with the system we have right now we should still be putting in the work to remove these infectious laws.

For us to move forward as a nation, we first have to look back. We must remove outdated laws to ensure that what happened in Wisconsin won’t also happen to Minnesota and to our nation. If we are not willing to take the time to ensure the safety of the rights of our people, then what is our government doing?