May 10, 2023 | SCOTUS Concludes Oral Arguments for the Term
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
One year after this amendment is official, nobody can make, sell, or move beer, wine, or liquor anywhere in the United States or anywhere under the control of the United States.
Congress and the States have the power to enforce this amendment by law.
This amendment will not work unless it is added to the Constitution by the State Legislatures, like the Constitution says, in seven years from the day it is given to the States by Congress.
|Prohibition of Alcohol in the United States||Important Cases|
|In the early 20th century, a movement was growing that advocated using constitutional means to correct perceived social ills. In 1919, the “Dries” had their way; and the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol was constitutionally prohibited in the United States via the 18th Amendment.|
The amendment stated as follows:
The text of the amendment is fairly straightforward. The first section enacted prohibition. The second section gave both states and Congress the power to enforce it. The third section governed the ratification itself, requiring state legislatures to ratify the amendment within seven years.
In the years during which 18th Amendment was in effect, there were no significant constitutional challenges to the prohibition of alcohol itself. But there were some challenges to the procedure used to ratify the amendment. For example, in Hawke v. Smith (1920), those arguing in favor of prohibition asserted that an Ohio referendum was invalid. In Ohio, the state legislature had approved the 18th Amendment. But a subsequent direct referendum of the voters rejected it. In the Ohio constitution, the people were given the power to review their legislature’s passage of any amendment to the national Constitutional. The prohibitionists argued – and the Supreme Court agreed – that the process by which amendments are to be ratified only involves state legislatures, not referendums. The Constitution itself made no mention of a review by the people. Thus, Ohio’s referendum was immaterial. The legislature had ratified the amendment and that was all that mattered.
Challenges aside, the 18th Amendment passed, ratified by the vast majority of states. Subsequently, Congress passed the National Prohibition Act, more commonly known as the Volstead Act. This piece of legislation, pursuant to the second section of the amendment, put in place the laws governing prohibition: definitions of terms, punishments for violations, and exceptions for research, medicine, and religion.
But prohibition, far from ridding the country of alcohol consumption, emboldened those in the black market. The laws were inconsistently enforced. Because possession of alcohol was not prohibited, the laws effectively favored those with sufficient means to stockpile supplies in the days before the laws took effect. Meaning, the wealthy were relatively unaffected by prohibition. The poor resented prohibition. The criminals reveled in prohibition.
However, the era of the 18th Amendment did not last long. In 1933, the 21st Amendment undid prohibition.
|Hawke v. Smith (1920)|
Dillon v. Gloss (1921)