Prohibition Was a Constitutional Amendment

It always amazes me to think that Prohibition in the U.S. was implemented via a Constitutional amendment, as was its repeal.

In my head I think of a Constitution as a country's legal axioms - the foundation of its law system. From this perspective it makes sense that the prohibition of alcohol, having no Constitutional basis, had to be passed by adding another axiom. And when people realized that this was just a bad idea, it makes sense that getting rid of it required adding yet another axiom. It's funny, when you think about it, like a big legal "oops!" that you can't erase.

But it's also intensely disquieting, because it means that you can pass what amounts to an unconstitutional law just changing the definition of "constitutional". Is banning alcohol unconstitutional? No problem! Amend your constitution to allow it. Oh wait, was that a bad idea? Also no problem! Amend your constitution and erase your mistake!

My greatest fear when Trump became President was that he would find a way around the two-term limit. The two-term limit is, after all, a constitutional amendment. If you can repeal Prohibition, you can repeal that.

And this is part of the reason I'm afraid that the days of legal abortion in the U.S. may be numbered. Maybe the Supreme Court will strike down Roe vs. Wade, and maybe that will render the legality of abortion a question to be decided by individual states. But that won't be good enough for a lot of pro-lifers. For them, presumable, nothing short of a nationwide ban will be enough.

And if you can ban alcohol nationwide, you can ban abortions nationwide.