Aug 302004
Authors: Ryan Riggen

Students new to Colorado should get used to seeing closed signs

on Sundays, at least at liquor stores and car dealerships.

Laws that prohibit certain activities on Sundays have existed in

America for more than 200 years. These laws, commonly referred to

as “blue laws,” are not as prevalent today as they once were.

“It would be a lot more convenient to be able to buy liquor here

on Sundays rather than driving to Wyoming,” said Preston Fisbech, a

junior construction management major.

Since all liquor and car sales are illegal on Sundays, most

businesses do not see a problem with being closed.

“I don’t think we lose any business on Sundays,” said Christina

Dawkins, general manager of Colorado’s BMW Center on South College

Avenue. “Customers have the opportunity to browse without being

approached by a salesman. I think they like that.”

Dawkins said if some dealerships were open and some were closed,

there would be more of a problem. She also said most employees

enjoy the day off.

Joe Musa, owner of Liquor Depot on East Harmony Road, also said

there would be no benefit to his business being open.

“It wouldn’t make a difference,” Musa said. “We’d have to run

the extra overhead and it would give grocery stores a reason to


Musa said grocery stores would likely lobby for the ability to

sell unrestricted alcohol content beer and that would take away

from his business.

Some people feel that these laws should not exist at all.

“These laws are clearly a violation of the separation of church

and state,” wrote David J. Hanson, professor emeritus of sociology

at New York State University, in an e-mail interview. “Blue laws

prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays have continued to exist

for religious reasons.”

The Columbia Encyclopedia states that the Supreme Court has

upheld Sunday closing laws by ruling that such laws do not

interfere with the free exercise of religion and do not constitute

the establishment of a state religion.

Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute wrote in an e-mail that

blue laws today have very little to do with their original

religious motivation of preserving Sunday as a day for repose and


“These laws exist for the benefit of the regulated businesses,”

Kopel wrote. “By restricting competition, the laws help the

businesses save labor costs. Actual lost sales are probably not

very high.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McGowan v. Maryland that having

Sunday closing laws is legal.

“The present purpose and effect of most of our Sunday Closing

Laws is to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens; and the

fact that this day is Sunday, a day of particular significance for

the dominant Christian sects, does not bar the State from achieving

its secular goals,” the ruling states.

Blue laws continue to exist in a number of states throughout the

country. The laws may take some getting used to for new residents

and students, but the laws are in place and continue to be enforced

in the Colorado.

“The legislature is generally reluctant to change laws which

benefit business special-interest groups unless there is a strong

push from the general public,” Kopel said.

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