Blue Laws and Other Localized Legislation

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Taylor's Drive-In Liquor store, Frankfort, Kentucky, 1969. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky Special Collections Library.

“Blue Laws” are laws originally designed to enforce compliance with Christian Sabbath, restricting some activities such as alcohol consumption on Sundays, and requiring others, such as church attendance. The term “blue” is likely from 17th century use, meaning a rigid moral code. Several states still have blue laws in effect, restricting sale of alcohol on Sundays. The Supreme Court has interpreted current laws as secular – promoting a common “day of rest” – and so not a violation of separation of church and state. There remain towns and counties in the US where alcohol cannot be sold at all.