Sunday sessions have been extremely rare because of the U. S. Constitution's Article I "Sundays Excepted" Clause, which excludes Sunday from the federal lawmaking process. The Framers of the Constitution held great respect for the Christian Sabbath and therefore removed it from the federal lawmaking calendar.
In fact, only a few years ago when a Sunday session was proposed, Sen. Robert Byrd boldly declared: "I think we are setting a bad example. I don't think we are showing proper respect to Christians in our country — and all over the world, for that matter — by publicly failing to observe that Commandment that we keep the Sabbath Day holy and remember it."
Significantly, until the twentieth century, Sunday remained off-limits as a legislative day. Then after a few Sunday sessions popped up in the early twentieth century, Congress returned to the constitutional directive. In fact, there were no congressional Sunday sessions even during the nation's most serious crises, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Only in recent years has Congress decided to violate the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution's "Sunday's Excepted" Clause.
Even the liberal 1961 U. S. Supreme Court recognized and acknowledged the religious significance of this important constitutional clause:
In 1846, the South Carolina Supreme Court had similarly noted:
First is the inclusion in the U. S. Constitution of the recognition of the Sabbath in Art. I, Sec. 7, ¶ 2, stipulating that the President has 10 days to sign a law, "Sundays excepted." ... Can any impartial mind deny that it contains a recognition of the Lord's Day as a day exempted by law from all worldly pursuits? ... Sunday was recognized as a day of rest....
U. S. Supreme Court
In 1853, the U. S. Senate likewise affirmed:
The President is allowed ten days [to sign a bill], with the exception of Sunday. The Legislature does not sit, public offices are closed, and the government recognizes the day in all things. ... The Lord's day — the day of the Resurrection — is to us who are called Christians the day of rest after finishing a new creation. It is the day of the first visible triumph over death, hell and the grave! It was the birthday of the believer in Christ, to whom and through whom it opened up the way which, by repentance and faith, leads unto everlasting life and eternal happiness!
South Carolina Supreme Court
Even though the courts and Congress acknowledged that Sunday was the Christian Sabbath, it is true that not every Christian observed a Sunday Sabbath (various Christian "sabbatarian" groups observe a Saturday Sabbath). Nevertheless, no other religion in the world observed a Sunday Sabbath except Christianity. As the Supreme Court of California noted in 1858, the Sabbath observed by various religions included "the Friday of the Mohammedan, the Saturday of the Israelite, or the Sunday of the Christian."
Sunday — the Christian Sabbath — is recognized and respected by all the departments of the government. In the law, Sunday is a "dies non" [a day on which no legal business can be transacted]; it cannot be used for the service of legal process, the return of writs, or other judicial purposes; the executive departments, the public establishments, are all closed on Sundays; on that day neither House of Congress sits. ... Here is a recognition by law and by universal usage not only of a Sabbath, but of the Christian Sabbath in exclusion of the Jewish or Mohammedan Sabbath. The recognition of the Christian Sabbath is complete and perfect.
The actions of the current congressional leadership certainly call into question whether they have ever read the Constitution. If they have, they have certainly shown little respect for its clauses — clauses they swore to uphold when they took their oath of office last January 6th.
U. S. Capitol
Contact your elected U. S. Representatives and Senators and find out where they stand on the issue of the Sundays Excepted Clause. If they support or make excuses for this recent congressional Sunday session, then they have affirmed their disregard for the Constitution and for their own congressional oath. If such is the case, make sure and replace them in the next election, November 2, 2010!