Can Anyone Justify Blue Laws WITHOUT Invoking Religion?

In a 1961 US Supreme Court case Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for the majority, said that blue laws weren’t religious in nature and that any community had the right to enforce a day or period of quiet. “Insuring the public welfare through a common day of rest is a legitimate interest of government”.

if the government picks one day on which liquor can not be sold and enforces it for everyone, would you agree that there need be no religious reason to do that?

oh there’s a case, it’s just not a very compelling one.

I live not far from Paramus, NJ. Paramus has about six or seven shopping malls. The citizens of Paramus love all that nice tax revenue from the malls, but they hate the traffic the malls generate. I haven’t been keeping up with this; things may have changed, but for years, Paramus had strict blue laws. Almost nothing could be sold on a Sunday, other than the Sunday newspapers and a very few things deemed essential (milk, for instance).

Whenever someone proposes a repeal, the people of Paramus rally round to defend their blue laws. They don’t even pretend that there is any reason for this other than their desire to have one day a week without the massive traffic their malls generate.

Strict enforcement seems to be the norm. There was a case some years ago where a man went into the office on a Sunday to catch up on paperwork. The non-store business (can’t remember what it was) where he worked was located in a Paramus mall. He was cited for violating the blue laws, even though he wasn’t actually comitting a business act with anyone; just sitting all by himself at his desk, in a closed office, doing solo paperwork.

Anyway, my point is that the people of Paramus clung to their blue laws for utterly non-religious reasons. The law must have been passed (centuries ago, I suppose) for religious reasons, but it’s now being kept for completely secular reasons.

Why should anyone defend something on secular grounds when there’s clearly a underlying religious reason for its existence? Why are we pretending supporting moderately restrictive religious traditions is a bad thing?


There’s lots of various stupid traditions, mind you-- summer vacation springs to mind-- and there’s a few I don’t happen to agree with. But lots of people cling to them and if the majority of people happen to want the tradition, well-- That’s democracy. You don’t like it, move. If you need it that bad, stock up. Nobody’s saying you can’t drink at all, just that you can’t do it in public or buy or sell it.

I should point out that Blue Laws technically support the religious viewpoints of Islam and orthodox Judiasm, too, so it’s not just Christians, its the 3 of the big 5 religions.

Personally I like living in a country where you get to experience a slower pace of life simply by travelling to different communities where things aren’t available to you 24/7, where there are public restrictions on what you can and cannot do, that the local will of the people is being expressed, that you learn to cope with minor inconvenices like not getting to your favorite vice dealer every single day. This society is way too permissive and accommodating as it is. Places where Blue Laws exist should stay that way.

Wow, you slipped Kerry in right out of the gate. Congrats. Trying to figure out if you’re insinuating he’s a Godless shmo, a Ted Kennedy wannabe, or a shinning night of the dark (beer) realm.

To answer the question, there are many laws that exist for the sole reason of community standards. They were enacted at the pleasure of the voter. And can be removed the same way. It is a desire of the community to regulate behavior.

Although religious leaders might speak the loudest it is not necessarily because they object to spirited fun. Italians and the Irish are more than capable of Olympic beer swilling contests.

I’ve always been told the reason behind blue laws was to take the fun out of Monday hangovers. Keep the factories running and the country will be strong, blah blah blah…

From a historic perspective, life was not always air conditioning and color TV’s. I would postulate that alcohol was a greater crutch for life’s difficulties than it is now. Getting Joe 6 pack to work on Monday was something of a project for a shepherd tending his/her flock. if Sunday was kept to a higher moral plane it was easier to do this.

We have limited Sunday sales in my area (different levels of liquor licenses). I personally don’t object to this because of how Saturday is treated in bars. If you know you want to get plowed on Sunday then plan ahead.

So in conclusion, yes, religion plays into it but not for the purposes of salvation. It is simply a buffer zone between working hard and playing hard.

Might it be argued that they reduce drinking on Sundays and therefore lower the number of people that show up to work on Monday hung over? (not that I’m supporting them or anything)

Oh, I cannot wait for your explanation for how requiring businesses to close on Sunday supports “the religious viewpoints of Islam and orthodox Judiasm, too”… :confused:

I’ve never had any kind of alcohol, so this whole post may be for nothing, but:

A couple years ago, I was at summer camp that had vending machines, stocked with candy and soda, in the dorms. We were allowed to eat anything at any time, but we could only buy things from the machine until a certain time (10:00, IIRC). It was made very clear that you could buy a whole bunch of candy during the day, and stock up to eat it later. But people rarely did this. Candy and soda were more of an impulse purchase for us. So I guess my question is, do people often (or ever) buy beers because they suddenly decide they want one? If so, that might explain the no-alcohol-purchases-in-the-evening laws.

As for the no-alcohol-on-Sundays laws: Are there statistics that show that drunk driving accidents happen more on Sundays than other days? If not, I think they’re pretty much religious.

Um, I don’t think any of you guys in this thread understand what the blue laws actually are. I keep reading sentiments similar to the one I quoted, and they demonstrate a complete lack of understanding.

Here in Connecticut, yes it is true I cannot pick up a twelve pack after 8pm on any day of the week, and I also cannot pick one up at any time on Sunday.

But that in no way prevents me from getting rip-roaring smashed after 8pm or on Sunday, because there is a distinct difference between selling alcohol and serving alcohol.

The quote above is particularly out of touch. The vast majority of people who drink from store-bought twelve packs do not drive, because they are drinking at home. If they are out drinking in public, they are usually being served, and the blue laws don’t apply. Therefore, blue laws do nothing whatsoever to reduce DWI. In fact, they promote it.

I mean, shame on you Phlosphr for not pointing this out. Give it just a moment of thought and you’ll see how ridiculous it is. Let’s say it’s noon on Sunday, and you’re getting ready to watch the Patriots game. Then you see your fridge is empty. Oh no! No booze! What to do, what to do? Go to a friggin sports bar. They are all over the state. And yes, they do serve booze during football games on Sunday, all day long.

Do you really think you can’t get drunk on Sunday? That’s ignorance, through and through. What you can’t do on Sunday is drink at home. At least, that’s the only intent of the blue laws.

(In a pinch, however, you can go to a hotel bar and say you have a room and buy a six pack and take it home. Not all of us like to drive drunk, after all.)

Hmm…so they still serve alcohol in bars but don’t sell it in stores??? Yea, I did misunderstand. I live in a dry county (don’t get me started on that idiocy) so I don’t really know exactly when bars are open or closed. If that’s the case, then no, I don’t see any other reason than religion for them and they are much more ignorant laws than I thought.

Massachusetts repealed its Sunday Blue Laws for liquor sales this year. I don’t recall much opposition from anyone other than small liquor store owners who wanted a forced day off so they wouldn’t be at a disadvantage to larger liquor stores that are easily able to staff seven days a week. It is a welcome change for consumers and I haven’t heard of any problems that are a direct result of the change.

I knew people (myself included) that went to a bar to get trashed on Sunday precisely because buying alcohol for home consumption wasn’t allowed then.

Why the hell can’t these minor religions just change their sabboth to Sunday like the rest of the world? :wink:

  1. Alcohol can be sold until 9:00 p.m.

  2. The 8:00 p.m. ban was enacted after a rash of late night liquor store robberies in the early 70s at the behest of liquor store owners.

This isn’t accurate: you can drink all you want on Sunday, you just can’t buy the booze on Sunday.
Back to the OP: in looking at the Connecticut statutes on this, I see the following case: Griswold Inn, Inc. v. State, 183 Conn. 552 (1981) in which the Connecticut Supreme Court struck down a statute barring liquor sales on Good Friday as unconstitutional under the establishment clause.

IIRC, there was a move a few years ago to exempt Superbowl Sunday from the laws, also at the behest of store owners. Did that ever happen? I seem to remember it did, but like I said, I wasn’t paying much attention.

I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised. Even when Massachusetts had blue laws for Sunday liquor sales, the Sundays between Thankgiving and New Years were exempt from the law. Very strange. Even now, Massachusetts has a minor blue law for Sunday liquor sales. Liquor stores cannot open until noon whereas it is earlier every other day.

The city of St Paul, MN (as well as the whole state, if I’ve heard correctly) prohibits the sale of cars on Sunday by car dealerships. The reason being, according to a friend of mine that’s a car salesman, that the dealerships have lobbied to keep this law into effect. Not for religious reasons either, although, that’s how it started. The business is very competitive and opening up the dealerships on Sunday wouldn’t allow the salespeople a day of rest to recoup so they’re ready to sell cars. The pressure would be too much. He also said that at one point, the state was thinking about removing this law but the dealerships lobbied against that.

It looks like Illinois is doing the same thing:

Ok, I found the Minnesota State Statute as well

So the law, initially instated for religious reasons, has had those religious notions made moot by those whom the law is applying against. I think it’d be a pain in the neck to have this day of the week moved from Sunday to Monday just to remove any religious history that it was associated with (and as such, could this still be construed as a blue law).

Because the countries we live in have a tradition of separating Church and State. Those of us who have no desire to live in a theocracy object to having religious laws imposed on us, especially when these laws do nothing but restrict our own freedom to choose.

If you wish to voluntarily dedicate yourself to observing the Sabbath by not purchasing alcohol on any given day, go ahead. It’s no skin off my nose. But you have no right to restrict my activities, which involve no one but myself, simply becase your interpretation of your god’s rules says so.

“So, what are you in for?”

“Selling a car on a Sunday.” :smiley:

Unless your religion requires you to purchase alcohol on a Sunday, I don’t see your point. Separation of Church and State means that the federal government cannot endorse one particular religion and force us to follow that religion’s beliefs. (IANAL, so maybe someone better versed in Constitutional Law can refute this.)

I’m not saying that Blue Laws aren’t religiously inspired, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to agree that they violate Church and State. There’s a difference, as others have pointed out, between why something was inspired (religion) and why it remains (tradition, convenience, traffic control, fear of competition, etc.)

Not selling alcohol to you and I on Sunday is not part of a religious belief or action, even if the laws were endorsed or even pushed by religious leaders. It may be a religiously supported inaction, but it’s not making you do or say anything against your faith.

Unless you’d like to join my Orthodox Reformed Church of Alcoholic Procrastinators. :o