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The Sunday Laws of the United States
and Leadingjudicial Decisions
Having Special Reference
to the JewS/y

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By Albert M. Feiedenbeeg


This summary is devoted to an examination of the Sunday laws now (1908) in force in the United States and of the leading reported decisions in which the courts of justice have sought to construe these statutes.

Sunday Laws The Sunday laws in effect in the States of the United States were collected for the Massachusetts Labor Bulletin, in 1905. They are here reproduced, the material having been brought down to date (1908).

Alabama.—Any person who compels his child, apprentice, or servant to perform any labor on Sunday, except the customary domestic duties of daily necessity, or works of charity, etc., and any merchant or shopkeeper (except a druggist) who keeps open store on Sunday, is subject to a fine or a fine and imprisonment; these provisions do not apply to the running of railroads, stages or steamboats, or other vessels navigating the waters of this State, or any manufacturing establishment, which requires to be kept in constant operation. [Chap. 195, Sec. 5542, Code of 1897.]

1 All the Sunday statutes of the different States, of Canada and of European countries are collected in Labor Bulletin of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. 36 (June, 1905), reprinted in Report [on] Observance of the Lord's Day, Boston, 1907, p. 41 et seq. The reader is also referred to papers and notes by the present writer in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, Nos. 11, 12, and 13.

Arkansas,—Every person who shall on the Sabbath or Sunday be found laboring, or shall compel his apprentice or servant to labor or to perform other services than customary household duties of daily necessity, comfort, or charity, shall be fined.

Every apprentice or servant compelled to labor on Sunday shall be deemed a separate offense of the master.

The provisions of this act shall not apply to steamboats and other vessels navigating the waters of this State, nor to such manufacturing establishments as are required to be kept in continual operation.

No person who from a religious belief keeps any other day than the first day of the week as the Sabbath shall be required to observe the first day of the week usually called the Christian Sabbath, and shall not be liable to the penalties enacted against Sabbath-breaking, provided that no store or saloon shall be kept open or business carried on there on a Christian Sabbath, and provided, further, that no person so observing any other day shall disturb any religious congregation by his avocations or employments. Every person who shall keep open any store or retail any goods, wares, and merchandise on Sunday, shall be subject to a fine. [Chap. 48, Secs. 2030 to 2042, Digest of 1904.]

California.—Every employer who causes his employees or any of them to work more than six days in seven, except in the case of emergency, whether the employee is engaged by the day, week, month, or year, and whether the work performed is done in the day or night, is guilty of a misdemeanor. [Sec. 653e, Codes and Statutes 1885 and Chap. 158, Acts of 1901.]

Colorado.—A penalty is imposed upon any person carrying on the business of barbering on Sunday in any city of the first or second class, whether incorporated by general law or special charter. [Chap. 73, Acts of 1893.] Places where liquors are sold shall be closed from 12 o'clock Saturday night until 6 o'clock Monday morning. [Chap. 36, Sec. 1346ci, 1891-1905.]

Connecticut.—Persons are forbidden under penalty of a fine to do any secular business or labor, except works of necessity or charity, or keep open any shop, warehouse, or any manufacturing or mercantile establishment, or expose any property for sale, or engage in any sport, between 12 o'clock Saturday night and 12 o'clock Sunday night. [Chap. 89, Sec. 1369, General Statutes of 1902.]

The statute exempting Seventh-Day Sabbatarians is discussed below.

No railroad company shall run any trains on any road operated by it within this State between sunrise and sunset on Sunday, except from necessity or mercy, provided that trains may be run carrying the United States mail, and such other trains as may be

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