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The Sunday Liquor Law

The Sunday Liquor Law image
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In the Supremo Court last week a inainuioiiR (Incisión was made in tho caso of Joseph A. Kurtz m. the l'coile, involvng tho oonstitutionality of the law rohibiting tho siilo of liquors to minors, drunkcn persons, and drunkards, and tho openiug of saloons on Sunday. The court held tho disputen section within the object of the bill as expressed by its tille, and scouted the dea that the parenthetical cliiuso in the seotion did or could authorize a common council to Buspend the penal aws of the State. We give the decisión in full : l'laintüï in error was convicted of keeping open on Sunday bis saloon for the sale of ntoxioating liqnors at retail, and of Kelling such liquors at retail on that day. The couviction was under section 1 of " An act to prevent the sale or delivery of intoxicatiug liquors, wine and beer to minors and to drunkon persons and to habitual drunkards ; to provide a reraody against persons selling liquors to husbands and children in certain cases ; approved My 3d, 187Ö." The clause undor which he was convicted is as follows : " All saloons, restaurants, lüirs, bar-rooms, in taverns or otherwiso, nnd all places of public resort where intoxicating liquors aro solil, either at wholesale or retail, shall ( othurwise (liMcniiinii'l by tho Board of Trustees or Comuiou Council oL the village or city where such saloons, restaurants, bars, bar-rooms are kept) be closed on tho first tlay of the week, coimnoiily called Sunday, and on each week day night from and after the hour of eleven o'clock untit six o'clock of the morning ot the succeeding day ; but this provisión shall not be construed to prohibit druggists trom selling such liquora at such times upon tlie writteu re(ïuest or order of soine practicing physician of the town, viüage or city. Any porson who shall viólate any of the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemauor, and upon convictiou thereof shall be punishet by a fine of not Less than Í26 nor muro jthai $100 and costs of prosocution, and on {allure to pay such fine and coats, shall bs nnprisoned in the county jail not less than ten nor more thau ninety days, or both such tiue and imprisonuicnt, in the disoretion ot thü court." The first part of the section prohibits sale to minors and drunkards, and sales made by persons who have not tiled a bond under the act. It is clairaed by the plaintiff in error that the provisión uiidor which he was convicted is invalid, because that provisión is not within the title of the act if applied to such cases as his, where the sale is not made to minors or drunk ards ; and that, if meaut so to apply, the act is void uuder that clause of the con stitution which requi res that " no law shall embrace more than one object which shall be expressed in its title." It is claitned that the statuto so constrned is a law to enforco the propor observanco of Sunday and that no suol purpose is disclosed in the title. There is no question now presentoc concerning the somewhat extraordinan proviso which seoms to be basod on the idea that a municipality eau be allowec to suspend tho penal laws of tho State as the complaint negativos any such at tempt on tho part of tho city of Detroit where this conviction was obtained, the case stands buforo us on tho statute alone. Thero is no ambiguity in the statute It very clearly iuteuds to close up the places namod against liquor-selling 01 Suuday, or after eleven o'clock at night It is not important on this record tu ex aniiuc critically into the meaniug ol' the term " closed," as applied to houses rooms, or parts of rooms. It is clearly nieant that the sales at least shall be entirely stopped and the trarfie shut oí effectually, so that drinking and tht conveniences for drinking shall be no longer accessible, and those who frequent them for that purpose shall be dispersed. Common sense will dispose of such cases readily enough. Everybody knows pratically what " closing " a saloon or drinking place means and there is no occasion for seeking or solving imaginary difliculties. We are brought, then, to the question whethor under such a title as that o: the act in question the Logislature can punish Sunday or night sales to persons not minors, drunken persons or habitúa drunkards. Nothiug but our respect for what wo understand to be the doubts of some judicial officers in regard to this statute has induced us to deern it proper to do more than rfifer to tho numorous cases heretofore decided on the ineaning ol the constitutional provisión. It is a very wise and wholesome provisión, intended to provent legislators from being entrapped into tho careless passagp o: bilis on mattors foreign to the ostensible purpose of the statute, as entitled. But it is not designed to requiro the body o: the bilí to be a mere repetition of the title. Neither is it intended to prevent iucluding in the bill such means as are reasonably adapted to secure tho objeel indicated by the title. It would not be profitable to discuss thoso extreme cases where the adaptation of means to ends is so far fetched and unnatural as to be directly and palpably uiisleadinsi. This case presents, in our view, no suoh dilliculties. The Legislature assume that theopening of drinking places on Sundays and late at night is likely to induce or favor the tempting of youths and drunkards into drinking and intoxication. If there is any possible ground for holding that belief, it certainly is no function of a court to determine that tho Legislature were mistaken. It is their view and not ours which must determine the value of such au opinión. But if wo were to bo called on to express the views which belong to tho othor department of the government, we think it is not only possiblo, but obvious from all human experience that they have judged reasonably. Dissipation is very closely connocted with idleness, and brought on by its temptations. It is tho uso of loisuro which determines cbaracter more than anything else. The daily experienco of mankind is open to courts and logislatures as it is to others. The time when persons aro unemployed and porhap weary is the time when they are most easily lod astray. Tho records of pólice courts indícate boyond doubt that wheu places of resort for driuking aro open on Sundays or othor days of leisure they are 8uro to be liberally patronized by the classes who have least control of their appetito. The tendency of those who have begun to drink to go on with drinking when opportunities are before them is known to all. The pressure of business and the performance of such duties as keep the mind occupiod, may and will control those who eaiinot so easily control themsolvos, when thoso checks are removed. Tho continuance of lounging and drinking into the late hours of the night is equally known as peculiarly dangerous. Men and boys can escape observation more readily by night than by day. When they íiave once become engaged in the pleasurcs and temptations of such resorts, it is but too sadly manifest to all who do not shut thoir eyes to what is going on around thom tbat after drinking has once bcgun by those who are in danger of excess, (if thero are any that are not), it is apt to bo kopt up much louter than may havo been thought of or intended. " Midnight reveis" would never jave bocouie a popular phraso unloss ;hoy had buoR a well-known reality. Unless tho annala of crime are strangely distortod, the amount of misohief duo ;o tho indulgence of lato drinking is much beyoud itsproportion in any other jart of tho day. Thero is cortainly a decided impression that such is the fact; and if the Logislaturo, liko other ons, havb been impressed with its truth, wo are not preparad to say tcat it is ach a palpable error as to show they can not be regarded as acting witliin .hoir province in acoepting it. We hink the objeclion to thu law without onndation. The udsmant must be affirmed.


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