March 6, 1889
THE Blair Sunday Bill proposed to “promote” the observance of the first day of the week “as a day of religious worship.” It is a religious bill wholly.
The title of the bill not only says that its object is “to promote its [the Sunday] observance as a day of religious worship,” but the first section defines the Lord’s day; the second section refers to it as a day of worship and rest; section three refers to it as a day of “religious worship;” section four refers to it as a day of “religious worship;” and section six declares that the provisions of the bill shall be construed so as to secure to the whole people rest “and the religious observance of the Sabbath-day.” The word “civil” is not in the bill. It is religious legislation, and that only. But any sort of religious legislation by Congress is unconstitutional. Therefore the Blair Sunday Bill is unconstitutional. This we shall now prove.
All the powers of Congress are delegated powers. It has no other power; it cannot exercise any other. Article 10 of amendments to the Constitution expressly declares that,—
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
In all the powers thus delegated to Congress, there is no hint of any power to legislate upon any religious question, or in regard to the observance of any religious institution or rite. Therefore, Senator Blair’s Sunday Bill, being a religious bill, is unconstitutional; and any legislation with regard to it will be unconstitutional. More than this, Sunday being a religious institution, any legislation by Congress in regard to its observance will be unconstitutional as long as the United States Constitution shall remain as it now is.
Nor is this all. This would be true if the first amendment to the Constitution were not there as it is. But the Nation has not been left in doubt as to whether the failure to delegate this power was or was not intentional. The first amendment to the Constitution, in declaring that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” shows that the failure to delegate such power was intentional, and makes the intention emphatic by absolutely prohibiting Congress from exercising any power with regard to religion. It would be impossible to frame a law on the subject of religion that would not in some way prohibit the free exercise of religion. Therefore the first amendment to the Constitution absolutely prohibits Congress from ever making any law with regard to any religious subject, or the observance of any religious rite or institution. Senator Blair’s bill, being a religious bill, is shown by this second count to be unconstitutional.
The National Reformers know, and have been contending for twenty-five years, that for Congress to make any Sunday laws would be unconstitutional. Yet the National Reform Association is one of the most prominent agencies in urging  forward Senator Blair’s National Sunday bill. And this only shows that they are willing to resort to unconstitutional means to secure their coveted power, and to accomplish their purposes. But, when they will knowingly resort to unconstitutional means to accomplish their purposes, what will they not do when they have attained their object. As for Dr. Crafts and his fellow-workers, the W. C. T. U., etc., whether or not they know it to be unconstitutional, we do not know. Whether they would care, even though they did know, we very much doubt; because, when they can make, at a single stroke, seven millions two hundred thousand and one people out of one Roman Catholic cardinal, and can make all the Roman Catholics in the United States “twenty-one years of age or more,” it would not be a matter of great surprise to find that they would knowingly attempt to secure an unconstitutional enactment.
A. T. J.