Religion and the Law of Church and State and the Supreme Court

By Philip B. Kurland | Go to book overview

11
NEVER ON SUNDAY

Sunday closing legislation has had a long history and most of it was set out at length in one or another of the opinions rendered by the Court on the subject of its constitutionality during the 1960 Term. Indeed, in the four cases disposed of by opinion, the Court contributed well over two hundred pages to the discussion of the subject342--this despite the fact that the problem had been presented to the Court many times in recent years in cases disposed of by orders of dismissal for want of a substantial federal question.343 Nor was there an absence of older Supreme Court opinions on the subject.344 It should be obvious, therefore, that any exegesis here must take the form of synopsis rather than expansive analysis.

The first time the Court had a serious look at a closing regulation, it involved Thursdays rather than Sundays. In Richardson v. Goddard,345 a carrier had delivered cargo at a wharf in Boston; the cargo was thereafter destroyed by fire. The consignee brought a suit in admiralty against the ship for improper delivery on the ground that "by the appointment of the Govenor of Massachusetts, [Thursday] was kept and regarded by the citizens as 'a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer,' " during which the people of Massachusetts abstained "from all secular work."346 The consignees urged that the delivery was, therefore, improper. Mr. Justice Grier noted, first, that the Massachusetts high court had ruled that the only day on which business was suspended was Sunday; second, that even with reference to the ban on secular business on Sunday by both Church and State, "lading and unlading of ships in maritime commerce"347 was an exception; and, third, that while it was customary in Massachusetts to enforce "the most rigid observance of the Lord's day as a Sabbath," they did not enforce fast days or prayer days in order that the people of Massachusetts "might enjoy liberty of conscience."348 Thus, drawing a distinction between the sabbath and mere fast days or prayer days, the Court ruled that the delivery was proper.

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Religion and the Law of Church and State and the Supreme Court
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • Part One - A Doctrine In Search of Authority 13
  • Introduction 16
  • Part Two - Authorities In Search of a Doctrine 19
  • 2 - The Early Mormon Cases 21
  • 3 - The Apocrypha 26
  • 4 - The Problem Of Standing to Sue 32
  • 5 - "Patriotism is Not Enough" -- or is It? 37
  • 7 - The Trial of "Saint Germain"' 75
  • 8 - The School Bus Case: The Precedent of Byron's Julia 80
  • 9 - Released Time: The Precedent of Julia Again 86
  • 10 - Of Czar and Commissar 91
  • 11 - Never on Sunday 97
  • 12 - The Notary's Oath 107
  • Part Three- Conclusion 109
  • 13 - Conclusion 111
  • Notes 113
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