Archive for March 13th, 2011

Are Politics Sober?

Somebody needs to write a book about liquor laws.

Liquor laws are what I call real history, not about Historical Inevitability or The Conspiracy, but about real compromises that are so human they are funny.

But never forget that every law on alcohol represents a compromise that was life and death to real, live, active people.

We know that the Eighteenth Amendment, enforced by the Volstead Act, established prohibition. The twenty-first amendment repealed the eighteenth.


In order to get the necessary two-thirds majority in congress for repealing Prohibition, a compromise was required. The twenty first amendment did repeal national prohibition, but it also included a clause almost no one today is really aware of, but which is still active.

National Prohibition was repealed, but local prohibition was specifically sanctioned,

It is specifically stated that, when it comes to alcoholic beverages, state law is sovereign over national law.

I used to ride in trains where this reservation made things VERY confusing. You are going along at sixty miles per hour and the Club Car is open or closed every few minutes or every few hours.

It was interstate transportation, where in all other things the Feds have always been sovereign, but a guy well on his way to a good drunk had the glass snatched out of his hand because they were passing through a dry county.

State law.

On absolutely nothing else could s state law override Federal law by declaring COUNTY law to take precedence over FEDERAL law.

Except for that clause on that amendment.

This made for a lot of confusion in the days of propeller aircraft.

Today it is still legally true that serving a drink on board a jet aircraft flying over a dry country is illegal.

And, in fact, if a real person in a real dry county pressed it in court, he would win.


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