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Constitution Monday: Constitutional Change Works!

Here is the 21th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

AMENDMENT XXI

Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

Section 1.
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.
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.

Section 3.
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.

Here is further proof that our Constitution is flexible and that when people and politicians shift from grumbling about perceived faults and passing ineffective statutes to taking on the hard work called for by Article V, the Supreme Law of the Land changes.

This amendment repealed the nationwide prohibition on alcohol established by the 18th Amendment. Section two of this legislation preserves the right of state and local governments to pass their own prohibitions. That’s part of why Utah and some Alaskan towns can have restrictive alcohol laws even though Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

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3 Responses

  1. You can read more about an Article V Convention at http://www.foavc.org. The states have applied in sufficient number for a convention. The reason we’ve not had one is Congress refuses to obey the Constitution. Join the movement to have them do so.

  2. Hi Bill, Thanks for stopping by. Your site has given me food for thought and I encourage my readers to check it out.

    The part of Article V I’m encouraging people to pursue is direct pressure on their Congressional delegations. At this point i’m not challenging your assertions that Congress is blocking a convention. I do want to remind people that Congress, sometimes under popular pressure, has changed the Constitution 27 times. It can do so again.

  3. Readers of this thread might also want to read part of:

    Analysis and Interpretation of the Constitution
    Annotations of Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of the United States
    Senate Document No. 108-17
    2002 Edition: Cases Decided to June 28, 2002
    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/browse2002.html

    The section on Article V suggests a few things to me:

    • Congress doesn’t seem to be deliberately ignoring state calls for various amendments, but seem to be confused by them.
    • Congress’ actions are throughly bipartisan in nature as NONE of the 27 current amendments to the US Constitution were brought about by state initiative. Republicans and Democrats should be asking why state calls for initiatives seem to dropping into limbo.
    • It seems like one problem is that since the process of calling conventions in the Constitution isn’t spelled out in Article V, Congress isn’t sure how to call one. This could be solved through a statute similar to the one that governs the regular amendment ratification process. Politicians who claim to hold the Constitution above all should have no problem sponsoring such legislation.

    Finally, the section from Analysis and Interpretation cited above has what look to be interesting suggestions for further exploration in its footnootes:

    • 21 The matter is treated comprehensively in C. Brickfield, Problems Relating to a Federal Constitutional Convention, 85th Congress, 1st Sess. (Comm. Print; House Judiciary Committee) (1957). A thorough and critical study of activity under the petition method can be found in R. CAPLAN, CONSTITUTIONAL BRINKMANSHIP—AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION BY NATIONAL CONVENTION (1988).
    • 22 Id. See also Federal Constitutional Convention: Hearings Before the SenatebJudiciary Subcommittee on Separation of Powers, 90th Congress, 1st Sess. (1967).
    • 23 C. Brickfield, Problems Relating to a Federal Constitutional Convention, 85th
      Congress, 1st Sess. (Comm. Print; House Judiciary Committee) (1957), 7, 89.
    • 25 R. CAPLAN, CONSTITUTIONAL BRINKMANSHIP—AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION
      BY NATIONAL CONVENTION 73-78, 78-89 (1988).

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