Home > law & justice, massachusetts and new england > When Laws Make No Sense

When Laws Make No Sense

Tuesday, December 27, 2005, 22:16 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Massachusetts is somewhat famous for it’s set of so-called Blue Laws, that set of prohibitions on what can and cannot be done on Sunday. The laws go back to colonial times when “keeping holy the Sabbath” was the business of the legislature, and they have evolved ever since. The most recent changes have involved abolition of parts of the law and relaxing of others. Among the vestiges of the old laws that remain is the requirement that liquor stores be closed on Sundays and holidays. This year, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, it would seem that the stores kill two birds with one stone. But that isn’t the way it worked.

On Monday, Dec. 26, all stores may legally open, but one line of stores is losing out this year on Sunday and Monday business during the Christmas holiday – package stores. Under state law, package stores and other alcohol licensees may not sell liquor during those two days. Natasha Dunker, state outreach coordinator for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC), said the state law that authorized package stores to sell liquor on Sunday also included a clause requiring stores to close the Monday after a Sunday holiday. Dunker did not know why that provision was included.

I’m all for having a day of limited retail activity, when workers aren’t forced to toil like they do every other day of the week. I am especially sympathetic to holiday closings because I know first-hand what a drag it is to have to work on a holiday. But Monday wasn’t a holiday. Many non-retail businesses were closed Monday as their Christmas holiday, but that’s only because the benefits packages promised to their employees promise certain paid holidays. There is certainly no expectation that families will travel over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house on the day after Christmas. If they do, there’s no good reason why they shouldn’t be able to pick up a bottle of Grandma’s favorite wine on the way.

Don’t hold your breath for the rocket scientists over in the Massachusetts State House to come to their senses and change the law. Most of them aren’t that smart.

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