Constitution question


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rm23
November 11, 2012, 03:22 PM
Why does the federal government need a Constitutional amendment to have the power to ban alcohol, but only needs to pass a law in order to ban "assault weapons?"

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CmdrSlander
November 11, 2012, 03:26 PM
They didn't need an amendment to ban alcohol, but they got one because they had the votes and willing states and because it would be the hardest to challenge. They don't have the votes for an AWB amendment so they just use regular legislation.

buck460XVR
November 11, 2012, 03:34 PM
A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3 vote in both houses. It also requires to be ratified by of the state legislatures.



A law requires a majority vote in both houses.

Shadow 7D
November 11, 2012, 03:55 PM
It has MUCH more on the HOW the prohibition ban came about vs. gun control and the political climate

the ban alcohol movement was a VERY popular and 'vocal' ground swell movement, often ran through churches and organized into local 'women' movements and 'clean' committees.

http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A5.html

hermannr
November 11, 2012, 04:48 PM
I disagree that the Federal government did not NEED a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. It did need one, and it got one....then everyone got smart and saw that it caused more problems then it solved and repealed it, which is what should happen to the equally stupid "War on Drugs" which has also caused way more problems than it (supposedly) solved.

Between when the 18 amendment was passed and the present time, there was this guy that stacked the supreme court and got a "commerce clause" (mis)ruling that basicially said, you can do whatever you want as long as you can tie it to interstate commerce. That is why who appoints the federal court judges is so important.

That is why we can have prohibition, without a constitutional amendment. Even though the ruling was a big bunch of twisted logic, designed to legislate from the bench,,,it is what it is.

tipoc
November 11, 2012, 05:08 PM
the ban alcohol movement was a VERY popular and 'vocal' ground swell movement, often ran through churches and organized into local 'women' movements and 'clean' committees.

Ken Burns did a useful documentary on Prohibition for PBS last year. It's worth looking at. A wide variety of forces came together to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to put it in place. It did have support from many in the Federal government and in both political parties. It was a central issue in many electoral campaigns. A number of forces that joined in the movement to prohibit alchocol did not want to see a amendment to the Constitution to enforce it but they were drug along and it was too late. Religious groups (evangelical, Baptist, etc), some in the early women's rights movement, the widespread Temperance Societies which preached against the abuse of alcohol, anti immigrant groups, anti Jewish outfits, some in the labor movement, all sorts of professional "do-gooders", etc., etc. Those that wanted the police on local and federal levels to have more power and authority saw it as a useful tool in that. It was a broad array of forces that pushed for laws and eventually Prohibition.

Even after the Amendment was reversed many states and localities still had and have Blue Laws on the books and enforce them. No booze sales on Sunday, State liquer stores, package stores, no sales of booze in grocery stores, near beer, etc.

tipoc

The_Armed_Therapist
November 11, 2012, 07:35 PM
A Constitutional amendment is required for both. Perhaps it's just a question of legislative integrity in 1919 vs. the present day.

Drail
November 11, 2012, 09:13 PM
The Constitution does not matter any more AT ALL to the clowns in the Federal Govt. They view it as an annoying obstruction to their efforts to "fix" everything. They belive their ability to do so justifies their ridiculous salaries. They believe they know better than "we the people" what is best for us. They believe we cannot possibly "know" what the original Founders were actually saying. They have invented the concept that it is a "living document" subject to the whims of the legislature. The Consitution today means only what they can get the Supreme court to "say" it means. They believe that the Consitution was written in a language that only they can interpret because we're just too dumb. It is way past time for these people to have a wake up call before we all end up like the Romans and the Greeks. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Over and over. It is the history of the human race. Once the people believe that their rights were "granted" by the Consitution and can be easily taken away by the Fed it's really pretty easy to turn them into subjects and the majority won't even question the process. Question everything.

Frank Ettin
November 12, 2012, 12:16 AM
Why does the federal government need a Constitutional amendment to have the power to ban alcohol, but only needs to pass a law in order to ban "assault weapons?"It all depends on exactly what they want to do and how they want to do it.

I basically covered the issue in this post (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=8501342&postcount=49) in another thread:It took a constitutional amendmant to give the federal government the power to prohibit alcohol. How are drugs and guns any different?

Actually they are not all that different, and regulations on them are kind of related...Nope, the regulation of alcohol under the now repealed 18th Amendment was very different from the current regulation of firearms and drugs.

The goal of the prohibitionists was to completely eliminate the manufacture, sale, importation or exportation of alcoholic beverages anywhere and everywhere in the United States. Nothing in the Constitution could support such a broad and plenary exercise of legislative authority by the federal government. So the Constitution had to be amended to allow that.

The 18th Amendment reads:Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

In contrast, the NFA was written as a tax law, and both the Gun Control Act and the Controlled Substances Act (and related laws) were written as regulating interstate commerce. And that's why the regulation of firearms under the NFA has been sustained by courts as being within the federal government's power to tax; the regulation of firearms under the Gun Control Act has been sustained by courts as being within the federal government's power regulate interstate commerce; and the regulation of drugs under the Controlled Substances Act has been sustained as being within the federal government's power regulate interstate commerce.

Harvie
November 12, 2012, 06:57 PM
We're on the very same page.

alsaqr
November 12, 2012, 07:29 PM
The goal of the prohibitionists was to completely eliminate the manufacture, sale, importation or exportation of alcoholic beverages anywhere and everywhere in the United States. Nothing in the Constitution could support such a broad and plenary exercise of legislative authority by the federal government. So the Constitution had to be amended to allow that.

Exactly.
The goal of the prohibitionists was to kill a legal industry. The 18th amendment killed a legal industry and brought forth a criminal enterprise. There was little organized crime in the US prior to prohibition.

ConstitutionCowboy
November 12, 2012, 09:03 PM
Here's how it works: What you can't pass legitimately, you usurp.

That which has been usurped is nigh impossible to remove or repeal.

Woody

oneounceload
November 12, 2012, 11:14 PM
read up on republic and rule of law versus democracy and mob rule and you will have your answer

legaleagle_45
November 13, 2012, 11:13 AM
Why does the federal government need a Constitutional amendment to have the power to ban alcohol, but only needs to pass a law in order to ban "assault weapons?"


Because no one in their right mind would have believed that SCOTUS would expand the commerce clause to the extent they did in Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942).

ksquare
November 13, 2012, 02:05 PM
we need to be very careful with the word LAW. US CODE is nothing more than corporate policy of US inc. i did not get a paycheck from them so i am not an employee of US inc. same applies to you if you didn't get a paycheck.

Cosmoline
November 13, 2012, 02:15 PM
Legal Eagle has hit it on the nose.

The Supreme Court's view of the Constitution has changed in the past century. What once took a Constitutional amendment now takes only an act of Congress. Or perhaps just the pen scratching of a civil servant.

Once Prohibition was repealed, the feds had to find new wars to fight. Wars on pot, on firearms, and so on were cooked up in the 30's. Even then the Court fought FDR which is why the NFA has the rather ridiculous "tax stamp" facade. But by the 40's, with the Court liberalized, the way was paved for a full spectrum of federal criminal laws and much more to boot. If a Founder were alive today, he'd be shocked to see the alphabet soup of armed agents enforcing federal laws on everything from hemp to corn crops.

Zoogster
November 13, 2012, 02:32 PM
At the time the government believed that under the Constitution they did not have the power to outright ban things. There was a couple precedents that didn't sit well, and those in power still felt they merely had the Constitutional authority to regulate trade between the states, not ban anything outright.
They felt this way even though they had popular support for such a ban, a strong statement about the stronger moral makeup of a good percentage of previous politicians.


The solution was to modify the Constitution itself to ban the object they didn't feel the Constitution currently allowed them to ban.
Most of the United States was 'dry' before Prohibition was even passed by state and county laws.
By 1919 64% of Americans and 37 (39 with 2 repealed) states were primarily dry.




Later on FDR would pack the court and get a very different ruling on what authority the government had under the Constitution.
This is the infamous Wickard vs Filburn, which was later interpreted to mean even more than what it said.
FDR was for all intents a dictator, got his way, used intimidation and threats to force other branches of government to do what he wanted, and was in power for longer than anyone else and so scared government they introduced term limits after he conveniently died as WW2 came to an end and the benefits of a dictator were no longer needed.
A lot of what FDR did was popular, including his 'New Deal'.
Other things like banning the possession of gold showed just how far he was willing to go beyond those previously. (Your gold could be seized by government for no compensation and you were guilty of a crime for having it.)

Since the time of FDR and his Supreme Court the government does have the authority over anything it can in any way say has an impact on commerce.
Scalia recently expanded that even more in Gonzales vs Raich and gave essentially the same all encompassing power to the 'Supremacy Clause'.
Now government has multiple ways to declare virtually anything is subject to government legislation, a primary and a secondary Constitutional authority.


The start of government feeling it had authority to first tax, and later by expanding Constitutional interpretation to prohibit altogether started with the Harrison Tax Act. That was to restrict opium use (and cocaine) and was an international effort. (Opium use first becoming a widespread problem after the British forced the Chinese to allow it into the country. Even going to war over it in the Opium Wars. It became a widespread problem in China and the Chinese emmigrants then expanded it to other parts of the world through opium dens including to the USA and Europe.)
That is why for example the early NFA was a tax stamp, Marihuana was banned with a tax stamp, but by the 60s they could just pass legislation to restrict whatever they wanted.
It was the slippery slope, they got a taste for banning and it expanded. (Those tax stamps were a ban, they officially had ways to comply but it was very difficult to comply at the time. Not like getting an NFA stamp today.)



Now guns should be different because they are arms specifically protected by the 2nd Amendment, in fact the only personal possession the Contitution demands not be infringed upon (while implications are made for some other things.)
However that is not the stance the legislator has taken, and has treated guns as just as fully within the same scope of federal authority the expanded commerce powers have over everything else.

AlexanderA
November 13, 2012, 03:34 PM
we need to be very careful with the word LAW. US CODE is nothing more than corporate policy of US inc. i did not get a paycheck from them so i am not an employee of US inc. same applies to you if you didn't get a paycheck.

Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

Cosmoline
November 13, 2012, 06:05 PM
Isn't there some kind of conspiracy theory along those lines?

316SS
November 14, 2012, 04:28 PM
So this all brings up an obvious question:

If many of the protections afforded by the Constitution have been subverted, and the federal government has turned into that which the Founding Fathers sought to prevent, then what recourse do we have within our current political system to undo the damage?

It seems to me that without the protections afforded by the Constitution we are at the mercy of the mob. As recent events indicate, the mob has different ideas about the future of the US than most folks on THR.

It is hard not to get discouraged.

brickeyee
November 14, 2012, 04:47 PM
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

It should sound familiar.

henschman
November 14, 2012, 06:28 PM
Alcohol prohibition was instituted before the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Federal gun control (as well as most federal drug prohibition) was instituted during or after. The Supreme Court and their views on the Commerce Clause changed a lot during the Roosevelt Admin.

Frank Ettin
November 14, 2012, 06:34 PM
The initial question was answered and we've had some unfortunate excursions into the political and the silly. Enough.

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