Liquor Laws and Liquor Control

prohibition, adopted, amendment, act, congress, constitutional, law, majority and territory

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The Webb-Kenyon Law.—With the passage of the Webb Kenyon law, March 1, 1913 (37 Stat. at L. 699), Congress and the Federal Government took the most aggressive step in aiding effective State prohibition. The title of the act, "An Act divest ing intoxicating liquors of their interstate character in certain cases," indicates its broader scope and purposes as compared with the earlier Wilson Act which merely removed the bar of the original package decision of 1890 (Leisy v. Harden, 135 U.S. oo). The Webb-Kenyon Act removed another bar, namely, the Federal protection the traffic had enjoyed as an article of inter state commerce. Congress in this act forbids the transportation of intoxicating liquors into a State by any persons interested therein "to be received, possessed, sold, or in any manner used, either in the original package or otherwise, in violation of any law of such state." The act presented grave constitutional diffi culties, which led President Taft to veto it on purely constitu tional grounds and in this judgment he was supported by his attorney-general, Mr. George W. Wickersham, and able lawyers in the Senate. Congress passed the act over the veto of the president, and the Supreme Court sustained the act in the Clark Distilling Co. cases (242 U.S. 311) decided Jan. 8, 1917.

Effects of Webb-Kenyon Law.—The immediate effect of the Webb-Kenyon law was to stimulate State prohibition. The year 1914 saw State constitutional prohibition amendmehts adopted by popular vote and substantial majorities in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon and rejected by substantial majorities in California and Ohio. Statutory prohibition was adopted in 1914 in Washington, on an initiative measure by 18,632 majority, and in Virginia by a majority of 30,365 out of a total of 150,00o votes. A consider able extension of dry territory was secured under local option votes in many other States. Congress for the first time adopted in one house a resolution (by majority [193-189] but not by req uisite two-thirds vote) submitting a prohibitory amendment to the Federal Constitution. In 1915 Alabama re-enacted a prohibi tory law which was adopted in 1907 and repealed in 1911, and Idaho, Iowa, Arkansas and South Carolina adopted State-wide prohibitory laws. Idaho submitted to the people a constitutional amendment, which was adopted in 1916 which saw constitutional State prohibition adopted also in Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The resolution for submission of the prohibition amendment re ceived the necessary two-thirds majority in both Houses of Con gress in 1917. Congress enacted prohibition for the District of Columbia and for th. territory of Alaska. A referendum on prohi bition was provided for Porto Rico, which voted in July 1917 to adopt it by 99,774 for to 61,295 against. Early in 1917 Congress enacted as an amendment to the Post Office Appropriation Act the anti-liquor advertising law with the so-called Reed "bone-dry" amendment. This was a drastic prohibition of the use of mails for

advertising or soliciting orders for liquor in "dry" territory.

In 1917 Indiana, New Hampshire and Utah adopted State wide prohibition statutes, and New Mexico a prohibition consti tutional amendment. Thus 25 of the 48 states and the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Porto Rico had adopted statutory or con stitutional prohibition for their respective legislative jurisdictions before the Federal amendment was submitted for ratification. Minnesota voted also in 1917 for a state constitutional amend ment by a majority of 15,932 of all the votes cast but short only 756 votes of the majority required by the state election law. Similar state amendments, however, were defeated by substantial majorities in Missouri and in California. In nearly every state by one method or another the area of "dry" territory was being extended. In 1918, while ratification was proceeding, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming adopted State-wide prohibi tion statutes. Utah adopted a prohibitory amendment to the State Constitution. Congress enacted a prohibition statute for Hawaii and passed the War Prohibition Act as an amendment to the agri cultural appropriation bill. In several States, State constitutional amendments were adopted in 1919.

Liquor Control After Repeal of National prohibition.— With the ratification of the 21st Amendment, effective Dec. 5, 1933, most of the States repealed their enforcement statutes or their constitutional prohibition, or both. The Committee on Liquor Control Legislation of the National Municipal League (Jan. 1934) declared that new liquor legislation must have three principal aims: (I) To eliminate abuses from intemperate use of alcoholic beverages (by removing private profit from retail sale, by differentiating light wines and beers from hard liquors, by tax policies favouring beverages of lower alcoholic content, and by control of liquor advertising) ; To eliminate bootlegging, speakeasies, and corruption in related forms of lawlessness (by defining conditions of sale with strictness or liberality in accord ance with variations in customs, habits and accepted modes of personal conduct, by local option, by taxes for social control rather than revenue, by retail prices kept low enough to stifle illicit trade) ; (3) To relegate the liquor problem to a place where it no longer dominates all other social and political issues (by local controls under administrative rules instead of general statutes subject to continual legislative change, by not too frequent local option elections, by control of liquor advertising, by elimination of private profit).

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