In general

  • What is the law should be in Law
  • Why is the law should be in politic

What about enforcement?

Things like

  1. Why Federal governments do not pursue legal ganja in say California? That seems like a political decision.
  2. Has there been anyone jailed for having sugar babies due to anti prostitution laws? Again this is more of enforcement kind of question.
  3. Why are certain frauds are not processed even though we have video evidence of it actually happening? I asked that question and it's deleted. I forget the link to see my deleted questions. A mod insist that it's a question of law.

All those 3 issues are the issue of why something is prosecuted. I presume some political process must have happened.

For example, a DA may think that prosecuting something will not get him reelected.

I think #1 should be here. #3 I am not sure. But I can't quite figure out why either.

  • I think I found the question you mentioned in point 3: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/43623/… Users with enough reputation are still able to read it if they get a direct link.
    – Philipp Mod
    Aug 26, 2019 at 8:06
  • Why something is enforced is somewhere "between" the what the law is and why the law is. It's more like why it's enforced that way. I think we should err in allowing it to be asked in both rather than
    – user4951
    Sep 7, 2019 at 6:30

2 Answers 2


The answer by Nij already pointed out one important factor regarding when questions about law are on-topic and when they are off-topic: "What is the law?" vs. "Why is this the law?".

But I would like to point out a different aspect which can make a question off-topic: Politics Stack Exchange is not a complaint forum. Politics means looking at the bigger picture, not on individual cases. This means:

  • A question about why a whole law doesn't get enforced at all in a jurisdiction is on-topic.

  • A question about why one specific district attorney apparently doesn't persecute one specific allegedly criminal act is off-topic. It's a question which can only really be answered by that one attorney, and if that attorney chooses not to answer, we can only guess what their motivation might be.

The trickier example is IMO the one about sugar baby / sugar daddy relationships and why they don't get persecuted as prostitution. In that case whether it's on-topic or off-topic would actually depend on the answer.

Is it because politicians discourage persecution of this form of prostitution? That would be political.

Or is it more about the practical problems with persecuting people for this which makes it more effort for the legal system than it is worth? Or maybe it isn't actually a crime in some jurisdictions because it falls into some legal grey area? If one of these is the answer, then it would be a question for Law Stackexchange.

However, I think that if someone would post this here on Politics Stack Exchange, it would likely turn out to be one of those questions where people would rather post their personal views on the ethics of prostitution than post proper answers which look at the issue from a political point of view. Would I give the question the mod-hammer? That would depend on how it's actually written. But I would very likely downvote it, because it's likely not the kind of question which encourages good answers.

  • 1
    H'm, "persecuted", "persecution", "persecuting"? The context suggests "prosecuted", "prosecution", and "prosecuting". That is, "prosecute," as in, "institute legal proceedings against (a person or organization)." Rather than, "persecute," as in, "subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs."
    – Rick Smith
    Sep 6, 2019 at 14:38

Questions of "why" a law is as it is, are about politics and should be asked here. Questions of "what" the law is (or was), and should be asked on Law Stack Exchange.

For your specific examples,

  1. is clearly a question about political motivation. What the law is, is clear (federal supremacy) but why it isn't applied as written requires an explanation involved

  2. is about case law and precedent - what has happened before? This is definitely on-topic at Law SE.

  3. is potentially a question about high-level policy (i.e. political motivation and reasoning) but may also involve prosecutorial discretion and be law-based instead. The question would need clarification either way.

Generally speaking, if the answer can be determined from the text of the law or court documents (and related work), it's best on Law SE. If the question involves knowing what people think or say or do (be they individuals or as groups), it's best on Politics. If it's in-betweeny, you should ask in chat or tailor it to make clear what you're seeking and why that will be obtained from the site you posted on.

  • how do I ask in chat?
    – user4951
    Sep 7, 2019 at 6:25

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