Friday, June 03, 2005

The state's response in anti-cohabitaiton suit

Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper calls the ACLU's challenge to North Carolina's law against cohabitation "baseless." It's a criminal statute, he points out, and there is no criminal charge threatened in this case. True enough: the case is a constitutional challenge coming out of an incident in which a woman who lives with her boyfriend was compelled to quit her job. Her boss told her that if she didn't go looking elsewhere she ought to get married or move out of her boyfriend's house.

Her (now former) boss is a county sheriff. No threat of criminal enforcement? Evidently not: he says it's a law he doesn't enforce. It's more of a "moral" issue with him; he prefers not to employ pathetic reprobates people who flout this law.

So it's a 200-year-old law that's rarely and unevenly enforced,* it's on dubious ground since Lawrence v. Texas, and it touches the lives of some 144,000 North Carolina couples. Doesn't seem like a baseless claim to me.

* According to one report, a federal magistrate judge in Charlotte "regularly asks defendants whether their living arrangements violate the cohabitation ban. [The judge] has refused to release violators unless they promise to comply."

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