A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Mayor Richard LaBarbiera

Gray Skies, Blue Laws, $800 Shoes

Gold sneakers

By José I. Ortiz

As a poor law student, I don’t get very many opportunities to shop. When I do, the fact that I live in New Jersey makes shopping a little more complicated because one of my favorite malls — located in Paramus — is closed all day on Sundays. As a Saturday Sabbath-keeping Christian, this makes finding the time to shop particularly challenging for me, but it probably affects everyone in the area. Most people work Monday through Friday, so Sunday would appear to be a prime shopping day.

Bergen County lawmakers don’t seem to care.

As we all know, “Superstorm Sandy” caused devastating damage across the Northeastern United States. As the New York Times reported in one article, Bergen County’s executive, Kathleen A. Donovan, thought a good way to help New Jerseyans recover was to lift the county’s laws banning the operation of certain businesses on Sunday known as “blue laws.” Though the reprieve would only be temporary, it still rankled Paramus’ Mayor Richard LaBarbiera who wanted to make sure shoppers’ sprees would be limited to “necessities” and not “$800 shoes”.

I live near Hoboken, an area that Sandy was particularly unkind to. After I read about the Mayor’s reaction to temporarily allowing shopping on Sundays (and after my fall semester finals), I decided to look into the legality of the mandated Sunday closings in honor of the Sabbath. Why are these laws constitutional in a country where separation of church and state is recognized as a basic democratic principle? LASIS investigates.

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