Opinion: Nebraska’s Absurd Age of Majority

How you can be considered an adult federally but not in Nebraska


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Tom Hermanek, Features Editor

At age 18, you’re old enough to fight, and possibly even die, defending your country. But according to Nebraska State Law, you’re too young to buy a lottery ticket. You’re also too young to enter into a legal contract or change your name without your parents’ permission.

In 47 states, the legal age of majority is 18. Three states, though–Nebraska, Alabama, and Delaware–require citizens to be at least 19 to be considered adults and to bear the rights and responsibilities associated with the status.

However, while persons living in Nebraska at age 17 or 18 are not entitled to the rights associated with adulthood, they nonetheless bear many of the responsibilities of adulthood.

For example, an 18-year-old living in Omaha could commit robbery and be charged as an adult. In fact, you don’t even have to be 18 to be charged as an adult; in some cases, this can apply to those as young as 13. This status can come with more severe sentences, including having to serve time in adult correctional facilities.

The same 18-year-old from above is also required to register with The Selective Service (AKA the draft) and could be required to risk their life defending their country should Congress order it.

Under Nebraska’s current laws, the draft-registered 18-year-old isn’t allowed to play the lottery or even own property.

Granted, in some ways these legal provisions exist to protect minors. If it wasn’t for these, some minors could be taken advantage of by unethical business practices.

But then again, if a minor is old enough to be deemed by a court as worthy of being charged as an adult, then they are certainly old enough to sign a contract as well.

The misalignment between Nebraska and federal laws that allows for a draft-registered 18-year-old Nebraskan to be legally considered a child is, frankly, nonsensical. It’s necessary that we as a nation decide what a reasonable age of majority is–and stick to it.

Tom Hermanek - Managing Editor

Tom became a member of The Flightline in January of 2015. He is a senior who is involved in mock trial and swimming. Off campus, Tom spends his time with friends or working at Starbucks. You can email him at [email protected]