Investigative Reporting   |   Student Reporting

Antiquated MA state laws still on the books

If you swear at a sporting event, you could be charged $50.  Dancing to the tune of the “Star Spangled Banner” at a public event could cost you $100.  If you commit adultery you could go to jail, thanks to a 1762 law that calls for up to three years in prison.  These and other antiquated laws have been on the books for decades.  Though they are seldom enforced, they could be.  In “Antiquated state laws stir modern-day worry,” January 3 in “The Boston Globe,” by journalism graduate students Andrew Carden and Kristen Lee reveals several of these laws, that could be used at the discretion of law enforcement and lawmakers.

A 1923 law forbids nonresidents of Massachusetts to marry in the state was used by then Governor Mitt Romney after a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision legalized same-sex marriages in 2003.  Attempts to repeal these laws have met little success.

In addition to Carden and Lee, Graduate student Meg Heckman reported this story as an assignment for the seminar in investigative reporting taught by Prof. Walter Robinson.

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