This is part of Students For Liberty’s “World’s Worst Laws” series. By highlighting the most egregious instances of state abuse of power, we hope to show that corruption, paternalism, and inefficiency are the rule rather than the exception when it comes to government. These stories shouldn’t boggle the mind or be excused as the workings of stupid or evil individuals. Instead, public choice economics tells us that any time a new law or regulation is put into place, we should expect Baptist and Bootlegger scenarios. Since state institutions are characterized by concentrated benefits and dispersed costs, they naturally support bureaucratic growth, special interest lobbying, and rent seeking. Hopefully, these stories show that distrust of state authority is not only healthy, but actually critical in creating a freer society.
World’s Worst Laws: Interracial marriage was illegal in Alabama until 2000
By November 2000, interracial marriage had been legal in every state for more than three decades thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia (1967) – but the Alabama State Constitution still contained an unenforceable ban in Section 102:
“The legislature shall never pass any law to authorise or legalise any marriage between any white person and a Negro or descendant of a Negro.”
The Alabama State Legislature stubbornly clung to the old language as a symbolic statement of the state’s views on interracial marriage; as recently as 1998, House leaders successfully killed attempts to remove Section 102.