Missouri’s mixed rural and urban demographic, influenced by both Southern and Midwestern culture, reflects the nation’s diverse population as a whole. Overall, Missouri residents have adopted fairly conservative regulations, including some of the most permissive alcohol and tobacco laws in the country.
Today, there is no open container law across Missouri, and all jurisdictions are forbidden from adopting dry laws. Furthermore, Missouri does not prohibit consumption by minors (in contrast to possession), and explicitly permits parents and guardians to serve their children alcoholic beverages. Additionally, Missouri does not designate specific locations for selling liquor and does not impose criminal liability for public intoxication. Missouri also has lax tobacco laws. The state imposes the second-smallest cigarette excise tax in the country, and permits restaurants and bars with fewer than 50 persons, along with all billiards rooms and bowling halls to determine their own smoking rules.
A case arising in Missouri, Dred Scott v. Sandford, marked one of the milestones in our nation’s history of slavery. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court held that African-Americans brought to the U.S. and used as slaves, as well as their descendants, could not become U.S. citizens. Furthermore, Congress did not have the power to outlaw slavery within federal territories. In Dred Scott, The High Court also held that slaves did not have the right to bring lawsuits, and slaves (who were considered chattel) could not be removed from their owners without due process.
In 1873, the Court decided the Slaughter-House Cases, which indirectly overruled Dred Scott. In the Slaughter-House Cases, the Court stated that the Thirteenth Amendment—which abolished slavery—and the Fourteenth Amendment—which guarantees citizens of all races equal rights and citizenship—superseded Dred Scott.
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These websites also contain information about Missouri’s legal history as well as its current laws and procedures: