The Good, The Bad, The Unusual...
Part2: THE LEHRMAN ACT
Not long after the War, several of the young men that had been empowered began to grow restless, and turned their newfound might to the eradication of problems at home.
Based on the comics of the previous decades, many of these individuals took to wearing colorful outfits as a symbol of their difference from common men, and as a way of protecting their private identities while they struggled against crime and other injustice.
A fierce debate broke out in the centers of world government over the disposition of these individuals. Based on the USSR’s post-war decision to force all non-retired metahumans to register their identities with the state and continue to serve in the people’s army, Senator Herbert Lehrman of New York was able to successfully convince the United States to do the opposite.
Under the Lehrman Act of 1952, it became permissible for individuals to operate legally under a costumed identity separate from their private one.
While costumed heroes were encouraged to register with the government, at least sufficiently to verifiably contest any individual in a duplicate costume smearing the hero’s good name, doing so was not required.
No costumed individual meeting a certain standard of conduct (primarily, the establishment of capabilities at or beyond the peak of a normal human) could be forced by government agencies to divulge his private identity, or be associated with a private identity by forensic techniques, unless he voluntarily declared himself (or admitted to being a Communist).
However, any individual availing himself of this identity protection tacitly agreed to comply with all local laws and the directions of the mundane authorities or face summary judgment: costumed menaces to society were subject to incarceration without a trial and, if necessary, a much lower bar to law enforcement considering them a clear and present danger (i.e., the police had carte blanche to use lethal force if deemed appropriate).
Under the Lehrman Act, vigilante justice was, de facto, legalized, so long as costumed heroes made a real attempt to follow the intent of the law and did not interfere with the duly appointed authorities.
Conversely, many figures of organized crime began to use the law as a loophole, conducting their own dealings in costume to protect their personal identities from legal repercussions from their crimes. The era of superheroes vs. costumed villains began.