1921 January 2

California, Oregon Only States without “Sunday” Laws


California and Oregon, it was reported on this day, are the only states in the nation without a “Sunday” law. “Sunday”, or “Sunday Closing,” or “Blue” laws in the other 46 states mandate observance of the Christian Sabbath, primarily by prohibiting businesses from being open on Sunday. In that respect, Sunday laws represent an establishment of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

California actually had two short-lived Sunday laws in the nineteenth century, both of which were repealed because of either public opposition or court decisions. The California Supreme Court declared an 1858 Sunday law unconstitutional five months after it was passed. An 1861 law, meanwhile, was repealed 1883.

Opposition to Sunday closing laws grew in the 1950s and 1960s because of increased public opposition to the establishment of religion. On May 19, 1961, however, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Maryland Sunday closing law, in McGowan v. Maryland, on the grounds that it served the secular purpose of promoting a day of rest.

Sunday closing laws disappeared in the late 1960s and 1970s primarily because of pressure from businesses who wanted to operate seven days a week.

Learn more about “Sunday” or “Blue” laws here.

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