Governor Christie wants Bergen County’s Blue Law repealed so the state could reap another $65 million in sales tax revenue to help pay its bills next year. Allowing Sunday shopping in Bergen County will not raise $65 million in sales tax revenue. In fact, Sunday shopping in the County will probably not raise a single dollar for the state.
Currently, Bergen County residents travel to Hudson or Passaic counties if they want to shop on Sunday, or they wait until the stores open up on Monday to shop in Paramaus, Hackensack, etc. In other words, lifting the ban on Sunday shopping will not increase retail spending by Bergen County residents. Every family has a limited amount of dollars to spend, thus shopping on Sunday will only shift their spending from other counties on Sunday to Bergen County. Thus, there will be no net increase in purchases by Bergen County residents after the Blue Laws are repealed.
The Blue Laws should be repealed because they violate the property rights of mall owners, department store merchants and small business owners. In a free society, people have the right to trade goods and services without interference from state, county or municipality, unless there is an extraordinary, compelling reason to prohibit such an activity. Shopping on Sunday is not one of them.
In addition, prohibiting the sale of some merchandise on Sunday is discriminatory. For example, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, and other retailers are “allowed” to be open on Sunday. If the Blue Laws were applied equally, no commerce should be allowed on Sunday, including online commerce. That is the logic of the Blue Laws. No proponent of the Blue Laws has advocated prohibiting online commerce on Sunday…yet.
The most compelling reason to maintain the Blue Laws is to reduce congestion on the roads and highways on Sunday so residents can have a “day of tranquility and rest.” but this is a disingenuous argument. People can rest whenever they want on any day of the week. We do not need a compulsory day of rest. In fact, the Blue Laws have unintended consequences, massive traffic jams in Paramus and vicinity on Saturday.
The bottom line is that the blue Laws should be repealed because they are anti-freedom. Period. The fact that both Republicans and Democrats in Bergen County support the Blue Laws reveals how Establishment politicians have embraced statism, not liberty, as their philosophical foundation.