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Eighteenth Amendment

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Description: Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also known as the Prohibition amendment, that prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating beverages.


Significance: Constitutional prohibition of alcoholic beverages lasted from 1920 to 1933. Supreme Court decisions from 1917 to 1920 supported the prohibition cause and defended the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment.


The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on January 16, 1919, and went into effect on January 16, 1920. The Supreme Court's decisions in such cases as Crane v. Campbell (1917), Hawke v. Smith (1920), and the National Prohibition Cases(1920) strengthened the basis for and strongly endorsed the amendment. In Crane, the Court supported national prohibition by ruling that possessing alcohol for personal use was not a constitutional right. In Hawke, the Court upheld the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment by the Ohio General Assembly over the referendum by Ohio voters who rejected the amendment. According to the Court, when Congress requested that a constitutional amendment be ratified by state legislatures, it neither authorized nor permitted a referendum. In the National Prohibition Cases, the Court completed the process of making national prohibition part of the law of the United States. In these cases, the justices upheld the constitutionality of the Eighteenth Amendment and approved the method by which the state legislatures had ratified it. On December 5, 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. This amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and ended constitutional prohibition of alcoholic beverages.