Blue Laws and Black Codes
Women were once excluded everywhere from the legal profession, but by the 1990s theVirginia Supreme Court had three women among its seven justices. This is just one example of how lawin Virginia has been transformed over the past century, as it has across the South and throughoutthe nation.In Blue Laws and Black Codes, Peter Wallensteinshows that laws were often changed not through legislative action or constitutional amendment but bycitizens taking cases to state and federal courtrooms. Due largely to court rulings, for example,stores in Virginia are no longer required by ",blue laws", to close onSundays. Particularly notable was the abolition of segregation laws, modifiedversions of southern states' ",black codes", dating back to the era of slavery and thefirst years after emancipation. Virginia's long road to racial equality under the law includedthe efforts of black civil rights lawyers to end racial discrimination in the public schools, the1960 Richmond sit-ins, a case against segregated courtrooms, and a court challenge to a law thatcould imprison or exile an interracial couple for their marriage.Whileemphasizing a single state, Blue Laws and Black Codes is framed in regional andnational contexts. Regarding blue laws, Virginia resembled most American states. Regarding racialpolicy, Virginia was distinctly southern. Wallenstein shows how people pushed for changes in thelaws under which they live, love, work, vote, study, and shop-in Virginia, the South, and thenation.
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