MCGOWAN v. MARYLAND

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
8
Appellee 
Maryland
Appellant 
McGowan
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellee)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Several employes of a discount department store sold a few items, such as floor wax and loose-leaf notebooks, to customers on a Sunday. By doing so, they violated Maryland's blue laws which only allow certain items, such as drugs, tobacco, newspapers and some foodstuffs, to be sold on Sundays.

Question 

Do Maryland's blue laws violate the Free Exercise and Religious Establishment clauses of the First Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Maryland, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

No. The Court found that the blue laws did not violate the Free Exercise Clause because the employees allege only economic injury and not infringement on their own religious practices. The Court also found that the blue laws did not violate the division between church and state. Sunday closing laws started out to facilitate church attendance in colonial America; however, the present Maryland laws are based on secular rather than religious state interests. The laws are to improve the "health, safety, recreation, and general well-being" of citizens. The present purpose of the laws is to provide a uniform day of rest for all. The fact that this day is of particular significance for various Christian sects does not bar the State from achieving its secular goals.

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MCGOWAN v. MARYLAND. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 04 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_8>.
MCGOWAN v. MARYLAND, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_8 (last visited April 4, 2014).
"MCGOWAN v. MARYLAND," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_8.