October 26, 2008

Blue laws

"Blue laws" originated during the Colonial period of American history, referring to laws intended to enforce the Fourth Commandment. I'm old enough to remember blue laws still being occasionally enforced in upstate New York, even in the wake of the 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision.

In Utah, state liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Aside from those governing alcohol, there are few explicitly religious regulations. However, some local Utah governments have skirted with the appearance if not the fact by closing municipal swimming pools on Sunday.

In the case of Provo, it was argued that they were closed for lack of use, an argument that paradoxically makes sense considering that the city closed the municipal swimming pool but not the golf course, a clear indication of the priorities of Sabbath-breaking Mormons.

In any case, it must be said that laws governing the consumption of tobacco and trans-fats and the like are proving just as puritanical as the blue laws originally enacted by the real Puritans.

Labels: , ,