“Due Process of Law” and The Divine Right of Dissent



Religious legislation is steadily gaining favor in the public mind, and is intrenching itself more and more strongly in the law of the land. In defiance of specific constitutional provisions, in violation of the fundamental principles of American institutions, and contrary to the plain words of Jesus Christ, religious observances are given the sanction of law, and in pursuance thereof are by the power of the State enforced. The chief, the most comprehensive, and the most far-reaching of all these observances is the Sunday, as Blackstone observes, “vulgarly (but improperly) called Sabbath.” DPL 3.1

From the beginning of our national history, Sunday observance has been enforced by all the original thirteen States. By these it was simply the continuation of the colonial system and legislation, when each of the colonies had an established religion; and from these it has been copied and perpetuated by nearly all the States which in succession have entered the Union. Attempts have also been made to have it copied, established, and enforced by the national Government and authority. DPL 3.2

This question has been touched upon several times by both the executive and the legislative branches of the national Government. By the executive branch the action every time has been favorable to the practice; by the legislative branch the action has been decidedly against it. Until 1891, however, the judicial branch of the national Government had never been called upon to take official cognizance of the question. In that year the question of enforced Sunday observance was brought before the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Tennessee, and was acted upon. DPL 3.3

This being the first instance of the kind, the action of the court would be worthy of careful consideration, if for no other reason than that it is the first. But in view of the real nature of this action, and the doctrines promulgated by the court in its decision, it is made, for a number of reasons, worthy of the most diligent examination of every American citizen. DPL 4.1