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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
Facts of the Case 

Abraham Braunfeld owned a retail clothing and home furnishing store in Philadelphia. As an Orthodox Jew, he was prohibited by his faith from working on Saturday, the Sabbath. The Pennsylvania blue law only allowed certain stores to remain open for business on Sundays. Braunfeld's store was not one of those types allowed to be open. He challenged the law as a violation of the religious liberty clauses because he needed to be open six days a week for economic reasons and was prohibited from doing so by a tenet of his faith and the blue law.


Did the Pennsylvania blue law violate the First Amendment's protection of free exercise of religious beliefs?

Decision: 5 votes for Brown, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that the Pennsylvania blue law did not violate the Free Exercise Clause. The freedom to hold religious beliefs and opinions is absolute; however, the freedom to act (even in accordance with religious convictions) is not totally free from government restrictions. The Court found that the Sunday Closing Law had a secular basis and did not make any religious practices unlawful. The blue law is valid despite its indirect burden on religious observance unless the state can accomplish its secular goal of providing a uniform day of rest for all through other means. That an indirect burden, such as economic sacrifice, may be a result of the statute, does not make the blue law unconstitutional.

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BRAUNFELD v. BROWN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 30 August 2015. <>.
BRAUNFELD v. BROWN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 30, 2015).
"BRAUNFELD v. BROWN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 30, 2015,