Jen asks: What are “Blue Laws” and how did they come to be? A third violation was, supposedly, punished by death, though there is debate over whether accounts of early blue laws were in some cases exaggerated or not. In addition to requiring religious observation, blue laws also prohibited unseemly behavior, including drinking and other recreational activities. As for the name, the precise origin of the term, “blue laws,” is unclear. Whatever the case, blue laws continued to be popular well into the 20th century, and some have even survived constitutional (i.e., separation of church and state) grounds.