Category: law

In the Roman Republic from 450 to 445 BCE, intermarriage of patricians and plebeians was banned. It was unpopular with the people and quickly lifted.

Over 400 years later, in 18 BCE, Emperor Augustus introduced a similar set of laws that were more widely accepted, and remained in place for centuries. The new laws limited some senatorial and equestrian individuals from marrying outside their rank. It also more generally limited marriages across class boundaries by limiting the marriage of Roman citizens with people who were registered as immoral – actors, adulterers, prostitutes, and those living off prostitution like pimps.

After bills pass both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in British Parliament, they are required to be given “Royal Assent” by the reigning monarch, at which point they become law of the land and known as an Act of Parliament.

Royal Assent is largely a formality. The last time Royal Assent was not given was in 1707 by Queen Anne. And the last time it was given in person by the monarch was in 1854!

In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that “France signifies freedom” and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed. And France maintained that law, even after it began allowing slavery in its New World colonies in the 1600s. Any enslaved person who as brought to France became free. Born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas became free when his father brought him to France in 1776.

Slavery in the French colonies was another story. The French crown regulated the slave trade and institution in the colonies, starting with Louis XIV’s Code Noir in 1685. The royal government had over 100 years of profiting from plantation-based slavery and particularly sugar production before the French Revolution killed the royal family and attempted to end slavery in the colonies. The first elected Assembly of the First Republic abolished slavery in France (since the royal law was no longer recognized) and more importantly in France’s colonies.

However, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in 1802. This was mainly because of lobbying by planters in the West Indies, and to benefit from taxing the planter’s slavery-produced profits. In 1848, under the Second Republic, slavery was totally abolished in the French colonies. And this time it stuck.

During a 1968 visit with the Pope, William D. Borders, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Florida, observed that arguably he was now bishop of the moon. According to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was in force at the time, any newly discovered territory fell under the jurisdiction of the diocese from which the discovering expedition had left.

And Bishop Borders’ diocese included Brevard County. Which is the home of Cape Canaveral, where the Apollo missions to the moon took off.

Gangster John Dillinger’s body to be exhumed in September, and here are the top ten myths surrounding Dillinger.

When women got the vote, around the world.

New Zealand was first, and Saudi Arabia was most recent – although women still do not have full voting rights there, as they may only vote or run for office in municipal elections not national elections.

When women got the vote, around the world.

New Zealand was first, and Saudi Arabia was most recent – although women still do not have full voting rights there, as they may only vote or run for office in municipal elections not national elections.

In Ramsgate, a town on the coast of southeastern England, on September 20th, 1930, a mysterious murder occurred. At 6p.m., a 12-year-old girl was sent across the street to buy a blancmange powder (used to make jellies) from the neighborhood sweetshop. When the owner, 82-year-old Margery Wren, came to the door, the girl was shocked to see blood streaming down her face.

Wren was taken to the hospital and she suffered for five days before dying of her wounds. She had eight wounds and bruises on her face, and the top of her head had seven more. Wren gave multiple, conflicting statements including that she had fallen over the fire tongs, that a man had attacked her with the tongs, that he had a white bag, that it was another man with a red face, that it had been two men, and that it had been an accident.

Note these were all made to people other than the police – Wren refused to make a statement to the police. When the Ramsgate vicar visited, she promised him she would make a statement after he left, but she never did. At one point Wren said she knew her attacker but that “I don’t wish him to suffer. He must bear his sins.” Just before she died she said, “He tried to borrow 10 pounds.”

Wren had been seen alive and well at about 5:15pm by another schoolgirl. That meant she was attacked between about 5:30pm and 6pm. However no one reported seeing a man entering the premises. In the end, the police had three main suspects who stood to benefit from Wren’s death, but no hard evidence to tie any specific one man to the crime. The case was never solved.

In Ramsgate, a town on the coast of southeastern England, on September 20th, 1930, a mysterious murder occurred. At 6p.m., a 12-year-old girl was sent across the street to buy a blancmange powder (used to make jellies) from the neighborhood sweetshop. When the owner, 82-year-old Margery Wren, came to the door, the girl was shocked to see blood streaming down her face.

Wren was taken to the hospital and she suffered for five days before dying of her wounds. She had eight wounds and bruises on her face, and the top of her head had seven more. Wren gave multiple, conflicting statements including that she had fallen over the fire tongs, that a man had attacked her with the tongs, that he had a white bag, that it was another man with a red face, that it had been two men, and that it had been an accident.

Note these were all made to people other than the police – Wren refused to make a statement to the police. When the Ramsgate vicar visited, she promised him she would make a statement after he left, but she never did. At one point Wren said she knew her attacker but that “I don’t wish him to suffer. He must bear his sins.” Just before she died she said, “He tried to borrow 10 pounds.”

Wren had been seen alive and well at about 5:15pm by another schoolgirl. That meant she was attacked between about 5:30pm and 6pm. However no one reported seeing a man entering the premises. In the end, the police had three main suspects who stood to benefit from Wren’s death, but no hard evidence to tie any specific one man to the crime. The case was never solved.

With peanut butter’s growing popularity in the 1950s, poor-quality products flooded the markets, hoping to cash in on the new food trend. Companies used cheaper hydrogenated oils instead of the more expensive peanut oil, and used glycerin as a sweetener.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some products labeled as “peanut butter” only contained 75% peanuts. The FDA proposed a standard of 95% peanuts in peanut butter in 1959. Manufacturers did not like this – arguing that customers preferred a more spreadable, and sweeter, product. The spreadable-ness of peanut butter became the focal point of a 12-year “Peanut Butter Case” which wound its way through the American legal system.

To compromise with the manufacturers the FDA initially agreed to lower its peanut butter standard to 90% peanuts. The manufacturers wanted 87% and when the FDA did not budge they took it to court. After too many years and a US Appeals Court appeal, the 90% peanut standard was upheld.