Out of the Box: Expiration of Laws

Out of the Box: Expiration of Laws

I have a radical idea that I want to open to debate:

All laws should expire every 20 years.

Now before you go off the handle on this, hear me out.

The first major issue with our current legal system I will illustrate by example. It is illegal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia to have oral sex according to SFSU. According to this analysis, “In Georgia, those charged and convicted for either oral or anal sex can be sentenced to no less than one year and no more than 20 years imprisonment.” Now, let’s be real. About 75% of the state of Georgia has violated this law. So why is this law still on the books in so many states? It’s pretty simple. There is no state legislator that wants to come out and take a public stance for o**l se* (although he/she would earn my vote). Now, this goes much beyond a few out of date puritanical laws. There are countless special interests that are continuing to get unjustified tax breaks, contracts, etc.

The second major issue is a little more subtle. Imagine you’re a legislator that ran a great campaign and got elected to office. It’s your first day on the job. Things are going pretty well. In fact, the country is doing just fine. But all the good citizens of your state elected you to PASS LEGISLATION. So now feel compelled to get busy and show them you’ve accomplished something. You dig around and come up with some asinine law, lobby hard, and pass it. In all likelihood, the existing legislation was just fine, maybe even better. But you had to do something, right?

Having all laws expire every 20 years solves both of these problems. First, all the old stupid laws would quickly drop off the books. And the good citizens of Georgia and enjoy their oral sex without fear of doing 1 to 20 years hard time. But as importantly, the legislative branch would be kept supremely busy RENEWING THE IMPORTANT LAWS like murder, rape, etc. Now the new legislator can go home and say that he renewed the laws preventing child pornography. His constituency is happy. He is happy. The country is happy. The good news is that this is a pretty self-regulating process. If a senator fails to renew the law for, say, murder, guess who the first person his constituents would murder legally? 🙂

The only major downside that I see is that a lot of the execution of laws is based on court interpretations and hundreds of years of legal precedent. But I figure we’re pretty resourceful, and we can figure that out.

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