June 23, 2024

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A Look at Why Certain Laws Differ From State to State

A Look at Why Certain Laws Differ From State to State

Most people know that laws can be quite different from state to state but they might not know why that’s the case. They may have learned it in school or come across the information while browsing Wikipedia or another website. First, let’s take a look at how this is possible and then we’ll delve into a few reasons why state laws are different.

How Can Some Laws Be Different in Different States

The reason that laws differ between the states lies within the country’s name: The United States. Although together we form a country, that country is made up of 50 individual states and the US Constitution gives each state the right to make its own set of laws. This allows people the chance to live in places with “tougher” laws or ones they find more “forgiving.”

Political Makeup

The first reason is a rather obvious one: politics. The political makeup of a state is very important because state laws are usually decided by the legislature or occasionally a public vote. If the number of Republicans or Democrats is significantly higher in a state, the odds of that state’s laws being closer to the official position of the relevant party are significantly higher.

Gun laws are a prime example of this as states with more Republicans tend to support open carry laws and states with more Democrats tend to have higher restrictions on the possession of firearms in public places. Other examples include the death penalty and marijuana legalization, among others.


Another important factor is the history of the state itself. Many states often have laws that have been on the books for years and have remained virtually unchanged, which is why there are so many of those “silly state laws” articles online (although, of course, some of those are outdated or even made up).

For example, Louisiana was founded by French and Spanish settlers, which means its laws are based on “Civil Law.” As most of the other states were either British colonies or later populated by descendants of people who lived in British colonies, all other 49 states are based on “Common Law.”

Geographical Differences

Geography also plays a part in some lesser offenses. Hunting and fishing limits are different in places where the local ecosystem must be preserved. In Alaska, non-guided fishers are limited to two halibut per day. In other states with wild halibut, the limits are often different.

The main reason for this is to prevent overfishing, which could wipe out the native halibut population and drive the species to extinction. In other states, this is less of a concern, especially with other types of fish that spawn in greater numbers more regularly, which means less regulation is required.

Laws are different between states for reasons like politics, history, and geography, among many others. This is enshrined in the US Constitution, which allows each individual state to govern as it sees fit, but some laws are at the federal level and apply to all states and territories.