Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The 21st Amendment

     The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
     The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
     This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
And with this simple amendment the nation-wide prohibition of alcohol ends, and the rights for a state to regulate its sale or use is returned.  Only in place for about 14 years from ratification to repeal the 18th Amendment, as noted earlier, sparked a whole new industry in the US that did not simply disappear with its repeal.
Since  approval there have been a number of significant court cases challenging the second section statement about the rights of the state.  These have met with mixed results as the court has moved first in one direction, and more recently in another.  For example, soon after its ratification the court found a state could write legislation that would favor domestic production over the importation of other products without running afoul of the Constitution's commerce clause in Article 1. (e.g. State Board of Equalization v. Young’s Market Company,1936).  More recent judgements have seen the court move to undercut the broad interpretation of the 1936 decision with positions favoring federal jurisdiction with the commerce clause holding sway.
Finally, if you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed the last several amendments carry an interesting last section or clause.  This, to me, seems to be the mark of a professional law staff now engaged in the writing of the amendments.  Starting with the 18th, then the 20th, and now the 21st the Congress gave the states a drop- dead date to get the amendment passed.  In each case, they said  “you’ve got seven-years or else this proposed amendment dies.”   If our founding fathers had used that provision I wonder if the 27th amendment would have ever seen the light of day, but that’s for another posting, isn’t it?

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