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What’s in a Name?

by Paul Creech on Thursday, June 2, 2016

Paul was the 200th most popular boy’s name in 2015. It comes right after Kenneth (#199) and before Jaden (#201). Ryder is 98th. It comes right after Nathaniel (#97) and before Elias (#99). We live in sick, sick world. Moose Roots, using data from the Social Security Administration created an easy-to-use searchable database that ranks boy’s names, girl’s names and surnames. The number one boy’s name of 2015 is, of course, Noah. Apparently, Russell (#403) Crowe (#1095) holds a lot of sway. Noah is followed by Taken 33 1/3’s Liam (#2), Mason (#3) and Jacob (#4). Jacob would seem the more traditional of the top four, except that we can trace that to hot-wolf-on-vampire action. It is a sick world.

The median age of all Pauls is 50 years old. The interquartile range (that is, the range spanning the 25th through 75th percentiles) for persons named Paul is 37-55 years old. All this according to Five Thirty Eight, who created some fascinating charts focusing on young names (Ava, Aiden, Sophia) and dying names (Mabel, Willard, Elmer).

In many less free countries around the world, unelected pearl-clutchers breathlessly decide which names they will allow and those they will deem unacceptable. Often this job is given to the tax department, whose enlightened knowledge is a blessing unto the people. Unlike xenophobic North American countries, many countries require the name a person gives their child come from a list of names that preserve national heritage or originate from the native tongue–very likely preventing a wave of 15 year old Joey and Rachels from cascading over the globe.

In America, people react like free people when they are told that there are people in other developed countries that must get their government’s approval to name their children–they fire off the 12 gauge on the front porch and shake a fist at the commies hiding in the trees seeking to supplant freedom with the state’s regulation. The pesky Constitution probably gets in the way of another beneficial government program that would grant us name equality at last. First, its probably a state’s rights issue reserved under the 10th Amendment. However, to the extent that its a federal issue, naming of a child is probably protected by America’s famously broad Free Speech protections of the First Amendment. Another source of U.S. Constitutional protection can be found the substantive due process right to privacy free from arbitrary government interference spun from the Fourteenth Amendment. Though, the extent that federal law protects a parent’s right to name their child Satan is an inch wide and centimeter deep.

This kind of mess is how you get a woman named Blake naming her daughter James.

That’s not going to stop the odd-ball Judge from slamming a hammer down now and again to keep some waxed mustachioed plaid clad mobile app developer from naming their child C++++.

These materials have been prepared for general informational and entertainment purposes only and are not intended as legal advice.

Paul Creech
Paul Creech is an attorney living in Houston, Texas. Paul has baccalaureate degrees in philosophy and political science from Utah State University, and a juris doctorate degree from Houston College of Law. He is a former U.S. Marine. Besides the law, Paul's interests include sports, art, and food.