The Keene Act was a national law passed in 1977 by the United States Congress that outlawed "costumed adventuring". Passed by a United States senator named John David Keene, it immediately made illegal any form of vigilantism by costumed adventurers, except for the few who worked solely in the remit of the United States government. Although the Act had been on the table for some time, it was finally rushed through as an emergency law following the police strike on America's east coast, which was itself a reaction to the extreme methods employed by costumed crimefighters (notably Rorschach) who used excessive force when punishing criminals.
Passage of the Keene Act seems to have ended the strike action. Only Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian chose to continue to use their careers in service of the government -- though both had in fact been working for the government for some time previously. Although Laurie Juspeczyk's identity had been public knowledge throughout her career, and although she entered government service at this time (largely as Dr. Manhattan's lover), she nevertheless chose to retire her Silk Spectre identity. Dan Dreiberg also chose to retire, but without revealing his identity. Adrian Veidt had retired from superhero work and made his identity public two years before the passage of the Act, thereby paving the way for the foundation of his multi-billion dollar corporation.
Rorschach refused to comply with the strictures of the Act. Shortly after the Act was passed, he left the dead body of multiple-rapist Harvey Charles Furniss outside a New York City police precinct with a note bearing only his symbolized signature and the word "neveR!".
- The Keene Act and YOU 1977 video