Pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution may be proposed by Congress (with a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives) or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the states. A proposed amendment must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
On December 18, 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, which was then ratified by the states on January 16, 1919. The 18th Amendment established what is commonly referred to as Prohibition, which generally prohibited the manufacture, storage, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. Less than two decades later, on February 20, 1933, Congress passed the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment. State conventions ratified the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. Utah provided the 36th vote, which was the final vote necessary for ratification. (Today, a successful amendment to the Constitution would require 38 states to ratify the amendment; however, in 1933, Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states, thus only 36 states were required in order to meet the three-fourths requirement.) As a result, today, December 5, 2014, is celebrated as Repeal Day.
Are you interested in learning more about the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional Law? Check out these resources!
– The official transcript of the Constitution of the United States is available through the National Archives website at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html.
– You can read the full-text of the Constitutional Amendments, including the 18th Amendment and 21st Amendment at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html.
– Information about the constitutional amendment process is available at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/ and http://www.lexisnexis.com/constitution/amendments_howitsdone.asp.
– If you are interested in learning more about Prohibition, check out http://www.history.com/topics/prohibition.
As always, the Law Library is available to assist you with your research needs. For example, the Law Library provides users with access to the LexisNexis and Westlaw databases, which include many constitutional law primary and secondary resources.