Saturday, December 7, 2013

McGowan v. Maryland case brief

McGowan v. Maryland case brief summary
366 U.S. 420 (1961)

Petitioners, seven employees of a discount department store, challenged their convictions, which were upheld by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which held that they violated "Sunday Closing Laws" or "Sunday Blue Laws" by selling prohibited goods on Sunday.

Petitioners, seven employees of a large discount department store, were convicted under respondent State of Maryland's "Sunday Closing Laws," also known as "Sunday Blue Laws." The laws prohibited petitioners from selling prohibited general goods products to individuals for 24 hours on Sunday. Petitioners challenged their convictions, arguing that the laws were irrational since they provided for exceptions on goods and people who could sell goods on Sunday. Petitioners also argued that the laws violated the Equal Protection Clause and theEstablishment Clause.

  • The Court affirmed petitioners' convictions, holding that the laws were secular in nature, since the State's purpose was to give its citizens a common day of rest. 
  • The Court also determined that the Equal Protection clause was not implicated since a state may discrimination against it citizens in enacting its laws where the state's objective is achieved. 
  • The Court concluded that the laws did not establish a religion within the meaning of the Establishment Clause although the day of rest happened to coincide with the religious day of a majority of its citizens.

The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court and held that respondent's "Sunday Closing laws" were constitutional, permissible, and did not violate the Equal Protection Clause or the Establishment Clause.

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