Blue Law Controversy

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Chris Christie suspended New Jersey’s Blue Law (NJSA 40A:64-1) which prohibited the sale of clothing and wearing apparel, furniture, home furnishings, household appliances, and building and lumber supply materials. Blue Laws have been controversial for years but have generally been upheld as constitutional although fewer counties and local towns are enforcing the law. Governor Christie’s executive order states that the suspension of the Blue Law as it relates to Bergen County was initiated at the request of the Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan.

Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera however took issue with the Executive Order and announced that only stores selling essential items would be allowed to open on Sunday in the Borough of Paramus. Governor Christie however stated publicly that all stores could open on Sunday under his executive order. Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan faced with the conflicting interpretations filed a Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Hackensack, NJ seeking the court’s clarification of who could open on Sunday under the executive order.

Honorable Judge Menelaos Toskos ruled that the Governor’s Executive Order allowed all stores to open on Sunday. Judge Toskos in issuing his ruling went out of his way to indicate that his ruling did not render any judgment on the validity of Blue Laws but only dealt with the narrow issue of whether or not the Governor’s Executive Order allowed all stores to open on Sunday in Bergen County. Blue Laws have long been challenged by retailers including New Jersey based retailers.

One of the leading United States Supreme Court cases dealing with the validity of Blue Laws was filed by a New Jersey retailer, Two Guys from Harrison, who sought to open on Sunday in one of its stores in Pennsylvania over fifty years ago in the matter of Two Guys from Allentown v. McGinley, 366 US 582 (1961) The very informative Oral Argument in the Two Guys case is available below. Governor Christie’s suspension of the Blue Laws brought about by Hurricane Sandy’s devastation has highlighted the controversial nature of a law that forces the closure of retail stores on Sunday:

Share

If you have an Opinion on whether the Blue Law should be repealed, leave your Comment below:


  • SallijaneG

    The blue laws should be maintained just as they are, now that we have gotten back to normal. The governor backed off his attempt to weaken them at the beginning of his term because of the public hue and cry; citizens have voted to maintain them in increasing numbers each time they have been on the ballot. In particular, large stores in Paramus make more in 6 days than other branches do in other locations in 7 days—with lower overhead and the assurance that all employees will have at least one full day off each week.

  • Vinney

    In the of matter of: New Jersey Statute/{NJSA 40A:64-1}(Blue Law)

    As a United States citizen I am quite alarmed and concerned with regards to the enactment of the State of New Jersey Statute {NJSA 40A:64-1}(Blue Law) permitting the various counties within the state to via voter referendum to implement and enforce a ban on certain Sunday sales. I do believe that as of this date the County of Bergen is the only county which presently enforces such a law.

    I strongly believe that the State of New Jersey statute {NJSA 40A:64-1} is synonymous with elements of a religious nature and in my opinion would constitute to be a valid violation to the United States Constitution, First Amendment, {Federal Establishment Clause}. You cannot have unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

    Also, in my opinion, I believe that the State of New Jersey statute {NJSA 40A:64-1} is in violation to the United States Constitution, Federal Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3/ “Congress shall have Power to …regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes…”/And based upon precedent cases, it is also of my opinion that the State of New Jersey may be infringing and trumping upon federal jurisdiction by the regulating and the restricting of the flow of commerce from engaging in the normal course of business operations when it involves the interstate transit and sales with regards to such goods and services as it relates to the Sunday sales ban law enforcement.

    The United States Supreme Court stated in its opinion that local commerce could be applied as interstate commerce when it involves the interstate transit and sales with regards to such goods and services.

    It is also of my opinion that this State of New Jersey statute {NJSA 40A:64-1}(Blue Law) discriminates against the local labor force as well as the local business and incorporated community who are thus negatively impacted as a result of being deprived of their inherent right to establish a livelihood for they and their families.

    This is a matter to be left to the courts of jurisdiction. But the State of New Jersey does have a matter to be concerned about with regards to this most demanding and critical issue of course. Time will tell!

    Vinney V/03/22/14