Sometimes cities and states end up with laws on the books that are out-of-date, or were put in place for odd reasons. Occasionally you will even find laws that likely violate the United States Constitution. But if something appears to be unconstitutional, it would still need to be challenged in court to establish that...meaning you can still be arrested or face penalties for the law before a court rules against it.

Looks like Louisiana happens to be one of those places with some odd things still in place. Or maybe its just a case of the law being poorly placed.

The particular law we're looking at today is Louisiana's law on Contributing to the Delinquency of Juveniles. Its a law that is pretty common, but the way that Louisiana's particular version is worded could lead to some issues. Especially with changes we have seen over the last few years with major retail Walmart.

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The way that Louisiana's Contributing to the Delinquency of Juveniles law is written could actually be an issue for stores like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and other national retailers operating in Louisiana. That's because those stores recently started carrying products that could run afoul of the way this law is written.

At the center of the concern is the fact that these retailers are now stocking adult toys. We don't mean expensive LEGO sets, we mean the same adult toys you by generally have to go to a specialized store for.

Why is this an issue?

Louisiana's Contributing to the Delinquency of Juveniles reads:

Contributing to the delinquency of juveniles is the intentional enticing, aiding, soliciting, or permitting, by anyone over the age of seventeen, of any child under the age of seventeen, and no exception shall be made for a child who may be emancipated by marriage or otherwise, to:

(1) Beg, sing, sell any article or play any musical instrument in any public place for the purpose of receiving alms.
(2) Associate with any vicious or disreputable persons, or frequent places where the same may be found.
(3) Visit any place where beverages of either high or low alcoholic content are the principal commodity sold or given away.
(4) Visit any place where any gambling device is found, or where gambling habitually occurs.
(5) Habitually trespass where it is recognized he has no right to be.
(6) Use any vile, obscene or indecent language.
(7) Perform any sexually immoral act.
(8) Absent himself or remain away, without authority of his parents or tutor, from his home or place of abode.
(9) Violate any law of the state or ordinance of any parish or village, or town or city of the state.
(10) Visit any place where sexually indecent and obscene material, of any nature, is offered for sale, displayed or exhibited.
(11)(a) Become involved in the commission of a crime of violence as defined in R.S. 14:2(B) which is a felony or a violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law which is a felony.

Let's ignore the stuff about singing for pay and vile language, and lets go straight to section 10...

(10) Visit any place where sexually indecent and obscene material, of any nature, is offered for sale, displayed or exhibited.

Though we are mostly familiar with Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart saying "I know it when I see it" as a legal definition for "obscenity" in America, that really isn't it. Stewart was actually referring to something much more narrow in that moment (hardcore pornography), and not obscenity in general.

Truly, the legal definition of "obscenity" is pretty tough to solidify. Cornell Law School says:

"Currently, obscenity is evaluated by federal and state courts alike using a tripartite standard established by Miller v. California. The Miller test for obscenity includes the following criteria: (1) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’ (2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

In order to measure the obscenity of adult toys, we'd probably have to apply the first line from Cornell, about the average person. Would the average person in the "contemporary community" consider adult toys on display to be "obscene"? If the answer to that is "yes", then its illegal for you to take kids into Walmart stores, or CVS stores, or Walgreens, or anywhere in Louisiana that sells these items.

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