Author:Dennis J. Mahoney

Page 2050

A recurring theme in American constitutional history is the attempt of a majority to impose its moral standards on society by legislation. The nineteenth-century temperance movement, along with its close ally, the ABOLITIONIST movement, constituted such a moral majority. That movement sought the legal prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

State and local prohibition statutes were accepted by the Supreme Court in MUGLER V. KANSAS (1887) as valid applications of the STATE POLICE POWER. That such laws deprived citizens of their liberty and property without DUE PROCESS OF LAW had been asserted, before the CIVIL WAR, only in the state court case of WYNEHAMER V. NEW YORK (1856). In the early twentieth century the prohibition movement acquired a new ally in the Progressive movement, and, after nineteen states adopted prohibition laws, agitation shifted to the national level. In 1917 Congress enacted prohibition as a wartime austerity measure. The same year Congress proposed the EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT, which, when ratified in 1919, raised prohibition to constitutional status. Repeal came fourteen years later with adoption of the TWENTY-FIRST...

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