Ban (law)

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Smoking is banned in public buildings in many parts of the world.

A ban is, generally, any decree that prohibits something. Usually a ban is implemented for the benefit of public safety.

Bans are formed for the prohibition of activities within a certain political territory. Some see this as a negative act (equating it to a form of censorship or discrimination) and others see it as maintaining the "status quo". Bans in commerce are referred to as embargos.


In current English usage, ban is mostly synonymous with prohibition. Historically, Old English (ge)bann is a derivation from the verb bannan "to summon, command, proclaim" from an earlier Common Germanic *bannan "to command, forbid, banish, curse". The modern sense "to prohibit" is influenced by the cognate Old Norse banna "to curse, to prohibit" and also from Old French ban, ultimately a loan from Old Frankish, meaning "outlawry, banishment".

The Indo-European etymology of the Germanic term is from a root *bha- meaning "to speak". Its original meaning was magical, referring to utterances that carried a power to curse.

Banned political parties[edit]

In many countries, political parties may be and are banned. Parties may be banned for numerous different reasons, including extremism and anti-democratic ideologies,[1] or on ethnic or religious grounds.[2] Germany, for instance, has a long history behind its modern practice of banning political parties. The Nazi Party was banned in 1923, non-Nazi parties such as the Communist Party were banned in 1933, the Nazi Party was again banned and the Communist Party un-banned after 1945, and the Communist Party was again banned in 1956 then un-banned in 1968.

Banning marriages[edit]

For much of the 1800s and 1900s there were bans on marriage between people of different races (interracial marriage) in the United States. However, the ban on interracial marriage was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967 in the landmark civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia, in which the Court ruled Virginia's miscegenation law an unconstitutional violation of the fundamental right to marriage. Historically, child marriage was common, but is now banned in some countries. There have also been bans enacted on same-sex marriage.

Banned persons[edit]

The imperial ban was a form of outlawry in the Holy Roman Empire. At different times, it could be declared by the Holy Roman Emperor, by courts like the League of the Holy Court (Vehmgericht) [fém-gəʀɪχt] or the Reichskammergericht, or by the Imperial Diet. People under imperial ban lost all their rights and possessions and anyone was allowed to rob, injure or kill them without legal consequences. The imperial ban automatically followed the excommunication of a person, as well as extending to anyone offering help to a person under the imperial ban.

During the apartheid régime in South Africa, the National Party government issued banning orders to individuals seen to be threats to its power—often black politicians or organizations— these banning orders acted as suppression orders. Individuals banned by the Suppression of Communism Act (which also suppressed actions calling for Western-style democracy, as well as Communism) could not communicate with more than one person at any time unless at home (thus removing them from partaking in political activities), travel to areas without government approval, or leave the country.

Public safety[edit]

Bans like the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, smoking ban, and prohibition of drugs are enforced for the safety of the general public.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Issacharoff, Samuel (2007-03-31). "Fragile Democracies". Harvard Law Review 120: 1405. 
  2. ^ Bogaards, Matthijs; Matthias Basedau; Christof Hartmann (2010-07-21). "Ethnic party bans in Africa: an introduction". Democratization 17 (4): 599. doi:10.1080/13510347.2010.491183. 

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