Congressional Health Care Sunday?

By David Barton | Wall Builders | December 7, 2009

Barack Obama
Barack Obama
On Sunday, December 6, 2009, President Obama traveled to Capitol Hill to speak to the Senate Democrat Caucus to rally their support for the federal government health care seizure and takeover plan. Following that lobbying meeting with the President, Senate leader Harry Reid took the Senate into an extremely rare Sunday session where they continued debating the many problems with the health care bill, including required abortion coverage and the public option issue.

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."

Harry Reid
Harry Reid
Despite such concerns, earlier in the year Senator Harry Reid called the Senate into a rare Sunday session for a vote on a lands bill a session which, in the words of one prominent national newspaper, communicated the clear message "church be damned."

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:

U. S. Supreme Court
U. S. Supreme Court
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....
In 1846, the South Carolina Supreme Court had similarly noted:
South Carolina Supreme Court
South Carolina Supreme Court
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!
In 1853, the U. S. Senate likewise affirmed:
Remember the Sabbath: Exodus 20:8
Exodus 20:8
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.
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."

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
U. S. Capitol
There have already been numerous instances demonstrating Congress's insistence on passing the federal health care seizure and takeover bill in blatant disregard for specific clauses of the Constitution (including the Tenth Amendment). This disregard for yet another part of the Constitution further heightens concern over the current reckless congressional agenda.

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!