I don't know that I've seen a good answer to the following question:
An interesting piece today looks at attempts in Massachussetts (and elsewhere) to remove old Puritan-era "blue laws" that are technically still on the books.Good question.
* * *
The second thing that made me pause was the mention of adultery as an example of an archaic crime. I'm not so sure. A good part of this has to do with the current debates about the place of marriage in society. In the same-sex marriage debate, one thing that most everyone takes for granted is that the marital contract is of crucial interest to the State -- so much so that many on the right want a Constitutional amendment to limit it to man and woman, that many on the left will try all sorts of legal legerdemain to force recognition of same-sex marriage even against the will of the majority, and many in the middle are thinking up laws to construct something like marriage but without the name. If this public institution (and its analogues) needs all that legal attention, then why shouldn't the State also penalize those parties who violate the terms of the contract? It seems to me that if the State can't survive without legislating and regulating marriage in the first place (and that remains to be demonstrated), then violation injures the State and so it's in the State's interest to enforce the terms of the marriage contract -- which means adultery laws. And, contrariwise, if the State shouldn't worry itself with whether the parties to a civilly-recognized marriage are in fact meeting the obligations that justify all the civil perks and recognition in the first place, then it seems to follow that the State's interest in marriage isn't as great as everyone is claiming.