A SPEAKER at the “Christian Citizenship” meeting in Washington, February 28, contended that the words “Sundays excepted” in that clause of the Constitution which relates to the signing of bills by the President, were sufficient to demonstrate that Sunday observance is Constitutional and therefore not un-American.
These words of the Constitution, however, afford no basis whatever for an enforced observance of Sunday. The most that can be deduced from them is an acknowledgment of the President’s right to rest on Sunday from his official work. He is granted a certain length of time in which to consider bills passed by Congress before affixing his signature thereto, and in order to avail himself of the full limit, he would be obliged to do such work on Sunday were that day not designated as an exception. Were the words “Sunday excepted” left out, the provision would simply amount to the statement that the President has nine days in which to consider the said bills, unless he should be a man devoid of religious scruples, which would be rarely if ever the case. But the framers of the Constitution designed that the President should have ten days—not nine days—in any case, and accordingly made this allowance for conscientious scruples against Sunday work.
No one claims that mere Sunday observance, in obedience to the dictates of conscience, is unconstitutional or un-American. Neither also is it Constitutional; for what is Constitutional is established in the supreme law of the land. It is simply outside the sphere of the Constitution; and that instrument does not undertake to regulate it in any way. If the President wishes to examine bills on Sunday, there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent him; and he is equally free to observe that day as the Sabbath if he believes that he ought to do so.
But compulsory Sunday observance is another thing altogether. That is not sanctioned by the Constitution in any way. That can be secured only by religious legislation, which is forbidden so far as the provisions of the Constitution extend, and it totally un-American and un-Christian.