US Laws That Have Changed Over Time

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US Laws That Have Changed Over Time

Over the years, the United States has undergone significant changes in various sectors, including lawmaking. Laws that were once considered the norm a few years back are now treated with scrutiny or entirely abolished. It is a reflection of how the country’s morals, values, and beliefs have evolved over time. This article delves into some of the significant US laws that have changed over time.

Prohibition of Alcohol

The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol in the country. The amendment was passed in 1917, and it became effective in 1920. It was partly motivated by the belief that alcohol consumption was ungodly, wasteful, and immoral. However, the amendment became highly unpopular, as it was difficult to enforce, and criminal activities such as bootlegging and smuggling of liquor rose. As a result, in 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, thereby making alcohol consumption and distribution legal in the US.

LGBTQ Rights

The LGBTQ community has come a long way regarding recognition, acceptance, and rights in the United States. In the past, discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation was legal in many states. However, as the public became more accepting of the LGBTQ community, the legal system had to respond accordingly. In 2013, the Supreme Court declared that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, therefore recognizing same-sex marriages, thereby granting equal rights to the LGBTQ community. Subsequently, other legal victories such as the right to adopt children, marry in states where same-sex couples are banned, and the right to work without being discriminated, among others, have been granted to the LGBTQ community in recent years.

Cannabis Legalization

The United States has had a longstanding history of the criminalization of cannabis. In the early days, the plant was banned due to its connection with Mexican immigrants and fears that it would lead to violent behavious, causing white women to indulge in sexual relations with black men. In 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act listed cannabis as a Schedule I drug, with no accepted medical use in the country. However, over the years, the restrictions surrounding cannabis have reduced, with thirty-six states legalizing medical marijuana, and fifteen states and Washington DC legalizing recreational marijuana.

Abortion Rights

Abortion rights have been a subject of heated controversy in the U.S. for many years. In the past, many conservatives had the stance that abortion was morally wrong and should be criminalized. In 1973, the landmark case of Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in the United States. However, afterward, numerous states have been imposing restrictions on abortion, such as providing waiting periods, mandatory counseling, and requiring the parent’s consent for minors. Some states have even enacted laws that could effectively ban abortions such as the ‘heartbeat bills,’ which prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a time when most women may not even know they’re pregnant. Recently, the supreme court reduced the timeline for legal abortions by upholding a Texas law that bars most abortions after six weeks.


The United States has undergone significant changes regarding its legal system. As the country continues to evolve, some laws may have to be changed or abolished to reflect the current social and moral values of the society. However, some laws can become entrenched and prove difficult to change, leading to protests and legal battles.

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US Laws That Have Changed Over Time