I am reading through some of the recent COVID legislation in my state. Specifically, Utah HB1007. In the text, there are "you can't do that" type clauses... e.g. "An institution of higher education... may not require an individual to wear a face covering". However, there doesn't seem to be any "or else" type language that one typically sees in criminal-type-law, such as "impose a jail sentence of not less than 5 days"

What is the point of laws with no "or else" clause? Does this just create some other kind of legal pathways toward "or else" via other vehicles? If so, how can I track down the "or else" resulting from these laws?

1 Answer 1


Since this apparently amends the law giving colleges and universities the power to adopt and enforced various regulations, what it really means is that if such an institution adopts a rule in violation of this law, it may not legally enforce that law. It might also give an affected student a right to sue if such a rule is adopted and enforced.

As a comment by ohwilleke mentions, such a law might well authorize a court to issue an injunction forbidding the institution from enforcing the kind of rule prohibited by the law.

Note that it is not at all uncommon to have "or else" provisions in different sections of the law. For example Section 123 of the (hypothetical) New France state code might prohibit having a faked driver's license, section 124 prohibit obtaining a license through false or misleading statements on nthe application, and section 458 say "anyone who violates sections 123, 124, 125, or 126 shall be fined up to $2,000, or imprisoned for up to 1 year, or both, as a court may think just". Thus it is not always easy to find what penalties, if any, apply to a code section.

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    As I noted in an answer at politics.SE there are also many reasons to have laws that don't have specific penalties for violating them. Injunctive relief is the natural remedy in this case.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 10, 2021 at 18:58

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