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American Jewish Congress Report Foresees Discord on Sunday Blue Laws

Despite the recent Supreme Court decision upholding Sunday-closing statutes, the long-run trend toward ultimate discard of all blue laws will continue unabated, according to a report issued by the American Jewish Congress. The report, written by Leo Pfeffer, AJC general counsel, forecast three developments arising out of the recent ruling of the court: a temporary spurt of legislative and administrative action to enact new Sunday laws, to strengthen those already on the books, and to institute more vigorous enforcement; launching of a drive to “modernize” Sunday laws by exempting additional varieties of commercial activity on Sundays, and intensification of efforts to obtain exemptions for Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists and other Sabbatarians who observe Saturday as their religious day of rest.

The report expressed “reasonable optimism” over the chances of legislation to exempt Sabbatarians from Sunday laws. For the first time, it was noted, a leading Catholic newspaper, the Boston Pilot, official organ of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, editorially endorsed the idea of such an exemption provision. This, it was said, could be an indication that official Catholic policy, which has long advocated strict Sunday-law observance, might now be changing to permit Orthodox Jewish merchants and others who close on Saturday for religious reasons to avoid the double-penalty imposed by compulsory Sunday-closing laws.

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