Blue Law: An Insight

Blue Law: An Insight


Perhaps, you were wondering why during the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin[1], the court[2] sat on Good Friday and Easter Monday being days ordinarily expected to be holidays. Further still, did you observe that none of the court’s hearings took place on a Saturday or a Sunday? Are you at a loss as to why no serious business activity is generally undertaken on Sundays? Have you also tried to find out the rationale behind rescheduling holidays to Mondays, whenever they fall on weekends? What is so unique about Sundays in particular? It is all because of one law – blue law.

For centuries, blue law in diverse forms and colours has operated across the globe. Although, its popularity has no doubt waned in recent times, it is still alive and functioning on weekly basis. In some jurisdictions, its constitutionality has been tested in the courts. In this piece, attempts would be made to explain blue law as well as trace its origin. Relying heavily on the available literature on the subject, a comparative analysis of blue laws in some jurisdictions would be looked at before narrowing down to Ghana to consider the concept in our local context.

It is expected that the legal fraternity would be enriched with an insight into the subject so that should blue law find its way into our courtroom one day, we will not be found wanting.

Meaning of the term Blue Law

Blue law is a law which forbids certain circular activities like selling alcohol and shopping on Sundays. It is defined by the Black’s Law Dictionary as: “a statute regulating or prohibiting commercial activity on Sundays”.[3] Blue law has other names such as Sunday law, Sunday closing law and Sabbath law. The Cambridge Dictionary defines blue law as “a law that limits activities that are considered not to be moral for religious reasons, such as shopping or working on Sundays”. In a report titled, ‘Blue Law by State 2021’contained in the World Population Review, blue law was defined as a law “designed to restrict certain activities on Sunday (or other specific days) for religious reasons to observe a day of worship or rest”.[4]

 Origin of the Law

The precise origin of the name is unclear. According to an account, the name is derived from Samuel A. Peters’s General History of Connecticut (1781) which purported to list the stiff Sabbath regulations at New Haven, Connecticut. It is believed that the work was printed on a blue paper and the culprits of the law were sanctioned with ex communication, confiscation, fines, banishments, whippings, cutting off the ears, burning the tongue and in some cases death.[5] Other accounts of the origin of blue law exist. According to Sara Zeigler, ‘more colourful versions propose that the term (blue law) was a mocking reference to the effect to prevent ‘blue’ or indecent behaviour, such as adultery, fornication, blasphemy and drinking”.[6]

Whatever it is, even before the eighteenth century, there had been traces of blue law, although not called by that name. The Roman Emperor Constantine promulgated the first known law regarding prohibition of Sunday labour for apparent religious-related reasons in the year 321 AD. He decreed: “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed”.[7]

Under the reign of Charles 1, the first modern Sunday observance statutes were enacted and their religious purpose is observed from the titles, “An Act for punishing diverse abuses committed on the Lord’s Day, called Sunday[8] and An Act for the further Reformation of sundry abuses committed on the Lord’s Day, commonly called Sunday”[9].

 Blue Law in some Jurisdictions

Blue law is enforced in Canada and other European countries like Germany, Austria, ways. To say that some of the Sunday law are weird is an understatement.

  1. In Salem, West Virginia, you cannot eat candy hour and half before church on Sunday.
  2. In Winona Lake, Wisconsin, it is illegal to eat ice cream at a counter on Sunday, while in Georgia, one may not carry ice cream cone in their back pocket on Sunday.
  3. In Rhode Island, you may not sell toothpaste and toothbrush to the same customer on Sunday.
  4. In Washington, mattresses sales are illegal on Sundays.
  5. In Arizona, taking a picture before noon on Sunday is prohibited.
  6. In St. Cloud, Minnesota, eating a hamburger on Sunday is prohibited.[10]
  7. In South Carolina, selling musical instruments on Sunday is an offence.[11]
  8. In Massachusetts, it is illegal to go to bed without bathing. However, in the same state, the law prohibits bathing on Sundays.[12]
  9. In Pennsylvania, organized sports competition on Sundays was illegal[13] until in 1931.[14]
  10. In Maryland, professional sports teams are prohibited from playing games before 1pm on Sundays.[15]
  11. In Georgia, it is illegal to cut off a chicken’s head on Sundays.
  12. In Alabama, it is illegal to make a person in church laugh by wearing a fake moustache on Sundays.[16]

The popularity of blue law in general led to many more states hiding under the guise of blue law to pass more weirder statutes, which had nothing to do with Sunday or a religious related holiday. Undoubtedly, such laws purportedly sought to achieve some ‘moral objectives’ like blue laws. Below are examples of such weird laws.

1.In Florida, it is illegal to fart in a public place after 6.00pm on a particular day.[17] Whereas some writers state the day as Sundays, others claim it is on Thursdays. Similarly, the Air Fouling Legislation of 2011 made it illegal for people in Malawi to ‘foul the air’. This law was greeted with controversy in the country as its actual import appeared to be lost on the people.


2.In England & Wales, Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 stipulates that it is an offence to handle salmon under suspicious circumstances. Any person who receives or disposes of any salmon in circumstances where they believe or could reasonably believe that the salmon has been illegally fished. If convicted, the maximum penalty is two (2) years.


3.In Georgia, if you own any chicken, it is illegal to let them cross the road in Quitman.[18]

4.In Australia’s second most populated state of Victoria[19], changing your light bulb by yourself when you did not have a valid licence constituted an offence.[20]

5.In Milan, Italy, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times except at funerals or hospitals.[21]Putting on a long face, is an offence. You must smile even if you do not want to. The law was prescribed by a city regulation from Austro-Hungarian times that was never repealed.

6.In Arizona, it is against the law to have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub after 7pm. This law was enacted due to a public menace case in 1924. A merchant used to allow donkey to sleep in a bathtub. One day, the town was flooded when a local dam broke and the donkey was a mile down the valley. Although the donkey survived, the local people spent a lot of time and manpower to save the animal. The law was passed shortly after.[22]

7.In Scotland, if a stranger knock at your door and requires the use of your toilet, it is illegal to deny him.[23] This law has been questioned by many that allowing just anybody into your home is not ideal, but the law makers are unmoved.

8.In Samoa, it is illegal to forget your wife’s birthday.[24]

9.In California, it is illegal to eat an orange in your bathtub. The law was made around 1920 when people believed that the citric in the orange would mix with the natural bath oils and create explosive mixture.[25]

10.In Oklahoma, eavesdropping is a misdemeanour.[26]

11.In Mississippi, it is a crime to have more than one illegitimate child.[27]

12. In Massachusetts, singing the national anthem incorrectly could land you in trouble.[28]

13.In Georgia, it is illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork, according to the Gainesville Proclamation of 1961.[29]

14.In Arkansas, there is a legislation ‘discouraging’ incorrect pronunciation of its name.[30]

15.In Brazil, apart from the beach, it is illegal to be shirtless in public. The law was passed in 2011.[31]

16.In the U.A.E., it is illegal to swear. Under Article 373 of the UAE Penal Code, “swearing disgraces the honour or the modesty of a person”.

17.In Australia, it is illegal to disrupt a wedding. Even if the preacher asks if anyone has any objection to the wedding, you must keep it to yourself, otherwise you could be fined up to US $ 10,000 and even so end two years in jail if you interrupt a wedding.[32]

18.In Canada, it is illegal to make payment with too many coins under the Currency Act of Canada.[33]

19.In Singapore, chewing gum is illegal and carries a hefty fine and jail sentence.[34]

20.In Japan, you cannot be overweight. Upon the passage of the Metabo Law of 2008, the waist of men and women between 40 and 74 are measured annually by a doctor and the waistline circumference limits are 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women.[35]

21.In Alabama, voters have four minutes to spend in a voting booth.[36]

22.In Oklahoma, if you make ugly faces at someone’s dog, you can expect to pay a fine.


Blue Laws & Religious Freedom

Many argue that blue law is underpinned by Christian practices and therefore acts as a fetter on religious freedom. Notwithstanding these concerns, blue law continued to make giant strides into the 20th century. In the account of Goldberg, both labour unions and trade associations have historically supported the legislation of blue laws.[37]

1.Blue law challenged in U.S.

The first decision that examined whether blue law or Sunday closing law was based on religious ground was Soon Hing v. Crowley.[38] The U.S. Supreme Court held that the law was intended to prevent undue physical labour rather than promote religion. The decision was not to be the last challenge to blue law. Its critics unyieldingly contended that it was a violation of the Freedom of Religion guaranteed by the First Amendment of the American Constitution. The constitutionality of blue law was thus tested in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of McGowan v. Maryland[39]. The apex Court of America upheld a Maryland law that banned the sale of most merchandise. While acknowledging that the original law was ‘motivated by religious forces’, the Court’s decision authored by Chief Justice Earl Warren[40], concluded that “in light of the evolution of our Sunday closing laws … and of their more or less recent emphasis on secular considerations (including a day of rest for labor), it is not difficult to discern …. that presently they bear no relationship to the establishment of religion”.

Since then, many blue laws have survived actions challenging their validity in several state courts.[41]However, not all the states agreed to uphold the law. In some states, actions that sought to challenge blue law succeeded either in part or in whole.[42] At the moment, only few blue laws exist and majority of them regulate the sale of alcohol in U.S.

2.Blue law challenged in Canada

In Canada, the Lord’s Day Act was passed in 1923 and it was not until in the year 1985 that the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously declared it unconstitutional in the case of R. v. Big M. Drug Mart Ltd[43]. Their Lordships unanimously held that the Act was an infringement of the freedom of conscience and religion as defined in section 2 (a) of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom.[44]

3. Blue Law in England and Wales

Prior to 1994, trading laws forbade the sale of certain goods on Sundays, but the Sunday Trading Act of 1994 relaxed the restrictions on Sunday trading. This received significant backlash from bodies such as the Keep Sunday Special Campaign and the Lord’s Day Observance Society on religious grounds.

 Blue law in Ghana

In order to appreciate the status of blue law in Ghana, it is important to consider the interrelation between the law and colonialism. In the case of R. v. Big M. Drug Mart Ltd supra, the Canadian Supreme Court in explaining blue law emphasized on its Christian bias and how it became part of the common law. As a result, nations that became colonized by the British adopted it and ordered their affairs along that lines. One would have thought that the attainment of political independence would have broken that cord, but it did not. The significance attached to Sunday as a resting and holy day did not change much and so were the celebration of Christian ceremonies. It is of little wonder that The Gambia with over 95%[45] of their population being Muslims, do not only recognize Christian ceremonies as public holidays but also Saturdays and Sundays as their days of rest after inheriting the practise from their colonial masters.

Archer CJ (as he then was) elaborately explained in the case of the New Patriotic Party v. The Attorney General[46] thus: “Before the British colonial administration came to these shores to govern, we had holidays in various parts of the country among ethnic groups for the celebration of festivals restricted to various localities. Up to this day, farmers in different parts of the country do not farm on a particular day of the week.  In the south, we all know that fishermen do not go fishing on the seas on Tuesdays. These days of rest are consistent with the biblical text in Genesis chap 2, v 2: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made.”[47]

It needs reiterating the point that the colonial administrators used laws to undermine the celebration of ceremonial occasions and customs in the life of the native people, while at the same time elevating the ceremonial days associated with Christianity. This was achieved by the enactment of the Native Customs (Colony) Ordinance, (Cap 197) on 15 July 1892. The Ordinance proscribed Dipo custom[48], a puberty rite of the Krobo people. It also made it illegal for the celebration of native customs like yam custom and Black Christmas,[49] such that these could only be celebrated with the permission in writing of the District Commissioner.[50]

Barely seven years after the passage of Cap 197, the Public Holidays Ordinance, 1899 (Cap 208)was enacted on 20 May 1899 declaring the following days as public holidays: 1 January, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, His Majesty’s birthday, the first Monday in the month of August, Christmas Day, 26 December and all days which the Governor may, by proclamation, declare to be days of thanksgiving or to be public holidays. Later, the Saturday next following Good Friday and 24 May (Empire Day) were added as public holidays.[51]

The British colonial government introduced public holidays here because observance of public holidays in England was governed by an Act of Parliament. To be precise, in 1551 during the reign of Edward VI, Parliament had enacted a law, that was, the Holy Days and Fasting Days Act, 1551[52]for the keeping of holy days and fasting days. One significant point to bear in mind is that what started purely as religious holidays was expanded to include holidays not necessarily connected with any religious observance.

A year after the attainment of Ghana’s independence, the Public and Bank Holidays Act, 1958 (No 1 of 1958) was enacted on 22 March 1958 to consolidate and amend the law relating to the observance of public holidays and bank holidays and for other purposes relating thereto. The holidays in the Schedule were limited to Ghana’s Independence Day (6 March), Good Friday, Saturday next following Good Friday, Easter Monday, National Founder’s Day (21 September), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

At this point, it must be pointed out that the sacredness of Sunday to Ghanaians is no illusion. It is a reality. Sometimes, Saturday is added, perhaps, due to the Sabbath Day controversy over the proper day set apart as a day of rest. Though, the observance of Sunday as a ‘holy day’ is not established by any legislation, it is an unwritten law in many jurisdictions. Our law makers are very mindful of the religious freedom for all persons in Ghana so they have been careful not to ‘elevate’ Sunday above the other days. Their ingenious pretensions notwithstanding, some statutory provisions appeared to have given them away.

a)Sundays like other holidays should not be a day to set a prisoner free.

Section 33 of the Prisons Service Act, 1972 (N.R.C.D. 46) provides: “A prisoner shall be released from prison at nine o’clock in the morning of the day of release, or, where that day falls on Sunday or on a public holiday, shall be released on the preceding day”.


b)Saturday & Sunday recommended by law as days of rest

Under section 42 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) all workers are statutorily required to stay away from work and rest every forty-eight hours in each week and the Act specifically mentions Saturdays and Sundays as the recommended days.

 c)The courts ordinarily are not supposed to work on Saturday and Sunday

The High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2004 (C.I. 47) states under Order 79 rule 3 (2): “Except as otherwise directed by the Chief Justice, the offices of the Court shall be closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Even in circumstances when the law maker wants an act to be done on each day of the week, Sunday is singled out and specifically mentioned with some ‘respect’ as if it is untouchable, but had to be affected out of necessity.

Under the Criminal Procedure Act, 1960 (Act 30), it is provided:

Section 82. Summons, Warrants on Sundays

“A Summons or warrant may be issued and executed on any day of the week” (My emphasis).

Also, in Act 30 supra, Section 89 states: “A search warrant may be issued and executed on a Sunday…”

It is in order that workers have some rest but the question is, why did the lawmaker mention Saturdays and Sundays which are inextricably linked to the Christian Sabbath in the Bible? The two days seem to have been ‘hyped’ above the other days and are likely to have constitutional implications. It is worthy at this stage to consider some relevant provisions of the Constitution.

 Article 21 (1) (C) of the 1992 Constitution provides that all persons shall have the freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice.

Similarly, Article 26 (1) guarantees the right of every person to enjoy, practise, profess, maintain and promote any religion subject only to the Constitution.

Additionally, it is provided under Article 17 (2) that a person shall not be discriminated against on religious grounds among others. Clause (3) of the Article goes ahead to explain the meaning of ‘discrimination’ as giving different treatment to different persons attributable only or mainly to their respective descriptions of several factors including religion, ‘whereby persons of one description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another description are not made subject or are granted privileges or advantages which are not granted to persons of another description’.

The combined effect of the constitutional provisions referred to is that every person in Ghana is free to practice his preferred religion and that, persons of a particular religion should not be disadvantaged as a result of the privileges or advantages extended to another.

It must not be misconstrued that the Constitution does not acknowledge the existence of the Almighty God. In fact, the opening words of the Preamble to the Constitution reaffirms Ghanaians’ belief in God. It starts with him thus: – “IN THE NAME OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD, We the People of Ghana”.

It is a fact that the Constitution is also a secular document which guarantees religious liberties. Hence, apart from Christianity and Islam, African Traditional Religion is also recognized and this explains why during national ceremonies, such as Independence Day, Farmers Day and May Day, libations are poured in addition to Christian and Muslim prayers. It is common knowledge that Muslims go to the Mosque on Fridays. In the same vein, some African Traditional worshippers also consider some specific days of the week as sacred and have set such days apart to worship their gods. If one, for example, decides to pay a visit to some of the fishing and farming communities in Ghana, he will discover that some days like Tuesdays and Fridays are set aside as special days in veneration to the gods and on such days, nobody goes to sea or farm.

Archer CJ (as he then was) in his decision supra was emphatic that the holidays as we have in Ghana started purely as religious days. It is on record that for more than a century, blue laws have fuelled church/state controversy in many countries. The same situation could arise in Ghana if Saturdays and Sundays are imposed on the followers of the other religions as the days for their rest, simply because that is the day Christians have chosen to worship and honour their maker. On the contrary, it is doubtful whether Christians would readily accept any attempt by the state to recognize minority religious groups. For instance, towards the end of the previous century, when the parliament of Benin Republic decided to legislate the Voodoo National holidays for the large groups of traditional religionists in Benin, it was reported that the Christians and Muslims there reacted unfavourably.[53]

It may appear that those who want to hide under the Labour Act to advance the argument about the legality of Saturdays and Sunday as resting days may be exposing the law to a constitutional combat under Article 56, thereby putting Parliament’s power of choosing the two days in the first place into question.

Article 56 of the Constitution states: “Parliament shall have no power to enact a law to establish or authorize the establishment of a body or movement with the right or power to impose on the people of Ghana a common programme or a set of objective of a religious or political”.

Emerging Developments

It may appear that the aura surrounding Sunday is gradually loosening its hold in Ghana. Not long ago, the Supreme Court held in the Kpebu (No. 3) v. Attorney General[54] that the courts are now supposed to sit on weekends (including Sunday). Though C.I. 47 permits the Chief Justice to direct a court to sit on Saturdays and Sundays, it is rarely invoked.

Recently, it was reported that some adherents of African Traditional Religion demanded public holidays for traditional worshippers like what Christians and Muslims have. The call was first made by the Chief of Dagmate, Torgbui Klu Agudzeamegah II during the celebration of the 2018 Apetorku Festival.[55] In 2019, a cultural anthropologist, Osofo Kofitse Ahadzi made a similar request to the government thus, “Give us a holiday just as you have given the Christians holidays…. If you agree to give us a holiday, call us, we will tell you the days that we like… the traditional leaders need maximum (sic) three days of holiday to start with”.[56] The demands of the traditionalists are yet to receive any favourable response from the government.


The connection between blue law and the Christian religion cannot be disputed. Many of the people who have successfully challenged blue law in other jurisdictions did so on the basis of its unconstitutionality. The determination by minority groups in the country to assert their constitutional rights in recent times cannot be lost on us as Ghanaians. The case of the Rastafarians in court underscores the point. In the words of a human rights activist[57], “It is possible for some to seek to explain away the present situation as a rather minor issue, but we may take the caution sounded elsewhere that ‘the breach of neutrality that is today a trickling stream may all too soon become a raging torrent”.[58] And since the flames of the church and state controversy that was lighted over a century ago has not been put out, it is most likely that the Supreme Court in Ghana may be invited to extinguish it in the not-too-distant future. Until that day comes, we need to savour the moment and say to blue law, ‘thank you for giving us weekly breather from the heavy loads on our necks at our work places’.


Tons of gratitude go to the following:

  • Justice Jones Dotse JSC, Justice Agnes M.A. Dordzie JSC, Justice Lovelace Johnson JSC, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo JSC, Justice Victor Dotse Ofoe JA, Justice Henry Kwofie JA, Justice Anthony Oppong JA, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour JA, Justice Emmanuel Lodoh J., Justice Charles Gyamfi Danquah J. and Her Worship Bridget Akattah for their diverse motivations and support to my career.
  • Col. Awuah Ameyaw Esq. and Ebenezer Adu Yeboah (Pennsylvania, USA) for their friendship and brotherly guidance.
  • Professor Kofi Abotsi, the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the UPSA (a kind colleague and class mate), for finding my pieces worthy of publication in the UPSA’s Journal of Comparative and International Law.
  • Lawyer Samuel Alesu-Dordzi, Lawyer Derrick Adu Gyamfi and Lawyer Dennis Adjei Dwomoh for their immense contributions to the growth of our Jurisprudence.
  • Lawyer Mettle Nunoo, Lawyer Francis Koffie, Lawyer Bright Obeng Manu and Lawyer Dominic Aning for the wonderful relationship.



This article is officially dedicated to my good friend and class mate, Lawyer Alfred Tuah Yeboah, incoming Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Republic of Ghana.


[1] State of Minnesota v. Derek Chauvin 27-CR-20-12646, is a criminal case in which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was tried and convicted of the murder of George Floyd during an arrest on May 25, 2020.

[2] The trial took place in the Fourth Judicial District Court of Minnesota presided over by His Honour Judge Peter A. Cahill.

[3] Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition at page 195.

[4] Available online –

[5] See Melissa: What are Blue laws? (December 29, 2014)

[6] Sara L. Zeigler: Sunday Blue Laws (The First Amendment Encyclopaedia (2017)

[7] Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3.

[8] 1 Car. 1, C.1

[9] 3 Car. 1 C.2.

[10] Barry Allen: Dumb Minnesota laws that still exit, including St. Cloud’s Hamburgers on Sundays Law. (Published April 26, 2017).

[11] See South Carolina Code, Section 53-1-60 (2013).

[12] See Weird laws in Massachusetts by (June 8, 2015).

[13] The Pennsylvania State blue law of 1794 prohibited all sports on Sundays.

[14] Jable, J. Thomas: Sunday Sports comes to Pennsylvania: Professional Baseball and Football triumph over the Commonwealth’s archaic Blue Laws, 1919-1933.

[15] Maryland Business Regulations Code: Subtitle 1 State Sunday Laws, Sections 18-102, Professional Sports (Maryland Code via LexisNexis) Retrieved February 15, 2018.

[16] Leada Gore: Here’s the dumbest law in Alabama (Jan 26, 2016)

[17] Samuele Mura: 10 weird laws from around the world (11 June 2016)

[18] See Section 8-1 of the Municipal Code of Quitman, Georgia.

[19][19] Victoria is the smallest of the mainland states in size, but is home to Australia’s second most populated city, Melbourne (Often referred to as the nation’s cultural capital and reputed for sports and the inhabitants love for coffee)

[20] The 1998 Electricity Safety Act, called G17 of the Orders in Council (1999) updated the law regarding electric work.

[21] See John Hutchison for Mailonline: Why it’s illegal not to smile in Milan … and donkeys can’t sleep in the bath in Oklahoma: The strangest laws around the world. Posted on Daily Mail on 3 December 2014.

[22] Larry Holzwarth: These are some of the craziest laws in the United States, as well as some that were totally made up. (February 17, 2019)

[23] Sam Booth: 10 Ridiculous Scottish laws you won’t believe. (12 October 2018)

[24] Soli Wilson, Samoa ‘law’ against forgetful husbands goes viral. (14-02-20)

[25] Michelle: 7 of Americas strangest laws

[26] 21 OK Stat Section 21-1202 (2014).

[27] See Mississippi Code Title 97, Crimes section 97-29-11. Illegitimate Children.

[28] See Section 9, Chapter 264, Part IV of Massachusetts General Laws.

[29] Andrea Coleman: Georgia’s Finger Lickin’ Good & Woke Fried Chicken Law. (March 6, 2019)

[30] See Arkansas Code Section 1-4-105: Pronunciation of state name.

[31] Sarah Brown: The Essential Guide to Rio De Janeiro Beach Etiquette. (11 September 2018)

[32] 4 weird Australian laws you’ve almost definitely broken without realising. Posted on 6th August 2017.

[33] See Section 8 (2) of the Currency Act

[34] See the Prohibition of Imports (Chewing Gum) Order 1992 (Sp. S3/1992) (p.2) Singapore.

[35][35] Stephen Louise: ‘Obesity in Japan, Can Metabo Law prevent it? (February 24, 2018) Available online.

[36] See Code of Alabama, Section 17-9-13 (b) (2006) (Belofsky)

[37] Goldberg, Steven (2000). Seduced by Science. How American Religion has lost its way. NYU Press. P. 106.

[38] Soon Hing v. Crowley (1885)

[39] McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961)

[40] Warren was known to be a champion of rights for the underdog in society and persuaded fellow judges to follow his lead in the unanimous case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954, which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

[41] Among them are New Hampshire (1967), North Dakota (1970, South Carolina (1970), Vermont (1970), Maryland (1974), Mississippi (1975), Maine (1976), Texas (1976), Massachusetts (1977), Virginia (1977) and New Jersey (1978)

[42] See Illinois (1962), Kansas (1964), Wyoming (1964), Kentucky (1966), Nebraska (1966), Washington (1966), Louisiana (1968), Minnesota, Utah, North Carolina, Oklahoma Georgia, Alabama  New York and Pennsylvania.

[43] R. v. Big M. Drug Mart Ltd., (1985) 1 S.C.C. 295.

[44] CanLII – 1985 CanLII 69 (S.C.C.) Canadian Legal Information Institute

[45] See Africa: The Gambia – The World Factbook-Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2020-05-29.

[46] See New Patriotic Party v. Attorney General {1993-94) 2 GLR 35 at p. 46.

[47] See New Patriotic Party v. Inspector-General of Police (1993-94) G.L.R. 459 at p. 465.

[48] Dipo custom is a puberty rite celebrated by the people of Krobo. Despite its proscription, the Dipo remained a custom. As part of this rite, girls were paraded through the streets of the towns and villages semi-nude to exhibit their maturity. Under the Ordinance, any traditional ruler who permitted the celebration as well as any fetish priest who took part in the celebrations was liable to imprisonment.

[49] Black Christmas was celebrated at Dix Cove.

[50] Quarshigah E.K.: Legislating Religious Liberty: The Ghanaian Experience, published in the Brigham Young University Law Review (1999) Issue 2.

[51] See the case of New Patriotic Party v. Attorney General supra.

[52] The Holy Days and Fasting Act, 1551 (5 & 6 Edw 6 c3)

[53] Quashigah E.K. supra

[54] Kpebu (No. 3) v. Attorney General(J1/22/2016) [2019] GHASC 90 (18 December 2019).

[55] See Traditionalists call for a national holiday in Ghana. Published by the on 4th March 2018.

[56] See report by Elikem Kpodo titled, “Traditionalist rejects national shrine proposal” – Published on on November 21, 2019.

[57] Quarshigah E.K. supra.

[58] School Dist. of Abin gton Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963).

The author is a Justice of the High Court of Ghana and is currently on secondment in the Gambia. He obtained his LLB at the University of Ghana in 2000 and was called to the bar in 2002. In 2010, he joined the bench as a circuit court judge – after 8 years in private practice. He became a High Court Judge in 2013. Justice Alexander Osei Tutu holds an LLM in International Human Rights from the Fordham University and a Diploma in Transnational Criminal Law from the International Law Enforcement Academy at Roswell, USA.

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