Boston Jews May Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday Blue Law
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Boston Jews May Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday Blue Law

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A broad campaign to obtain reconsideration of a Sunday blue law amendment that has been killed in the Massachusetts State Legislature was launched here today by Jewish organizations. They allege that the legislative action, particularly in the State Senate, had been killed through undue influence prejudicial to Jews and others who observe Saturday as the Sabbath. The amendment, first adopted by the State Senate and later killed, would have permitted business enterprises to stay open on Sundays if they close Saturdays.

The campaign, according to Rabbi Samuel J. Fox, chairman of the Social Actions Committee of the Massachusetts Council of Rabbis, will include a possible appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court, a call for a state-wide referendum on the issue, and a demand that the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe the manner in which State Senators were influenced to kill the pro-Sabbatarian amendment.

The State Legislature has amended the Sunday blue laws in such a way that many business and factories will be permitted to operate on Sundays, Rabbi Fox said. Included are “taverns, beer joints, pet stores,” and many other enterprises. However, the State House of Representatives rejected an amendment permitting businesses closed Saturday for religious reasons to open on Sunday.

The Senate’s reversal of its previous stand, it is charged, came in response to a campaign inaugurated by an editorial in The Pilot, organ of the Catholic Archdiocese here. The editorial singled out Jews, Seventh Day Adventists and other minorities who had favored the Sabbatarian amendment. Letters had been sent to members of the State Senate, calling upon them to reverse their votes in the State Senate. “Copies of the letters,” said Rabbi Fox, ,rare being gathered for careful scrutiny, and will be submitted to the officials of the FBI.”


The Senate amendment which last week gave relief to Sabbatarian was carried by a vote of 21 to 14. The reversal of the pro-Sabbatarian amendment was carried by a vote of 31 to 8. The Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Boston observed in a statement that many of the State Senators after responding affirmatively to an appeal to advance a bona fide non-Sunday Sabbatarian exemption “wilted under ecclesiastical fire from The Pilot.” The Council statement was prepared by Robert E. Segal, executive director, who was also one of the 20 people serving on Governor Volpe’s Sunday Law Advisory Committee.

The Council statement also called attention to a communication dispatched to all State Senators as recently as June 4 by Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, president of the Council, and Marvin N. Geller, chairman of the Administrative Committee of the American Jewish Congress, declaring: “We respectfully submit that Saturday observers who are closed on Saturday should not also be required to be closed on Sunday and thereby lose two days of business. If they are closed on Saturdays for religious reasons, there is no reason of public policy which should force them to close Sunday also.”

The chairman of the Social Actions Commission of the Massachusetts Council of Rabbis, an Orthodox group, in charging The Pilot with influencing the Senate’s reversal of its stand on the pro-Sabbatarian amendment, declared in a statement:

“It is obvious that the reversal of the Senate position was the result of the biased stand taken by The Pilot. The Pilot was not content to confine its editorial attack to its columns, but released its contents to all the newspapers, striking panic into the hearts of the legislators, with the most vicious result still being felt on Beacon Hill, To this day Senators are receiving threatening letters and anti-Sabbatarian insults from those who were stirred up by this propaganda. Until The Pilot’s activity, no such letters were received. To single out Jews and Adventists in the editorial was both insulting and anti-religious. I cannot believe that this is the real, honest opinion of our Catholic brethren, both clergy and laity, many of whom have come forth to disclaim responsibility for this act.” The rabbinical group called for a full investigation of the deportment by both Senate and Federal authorities.

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