11 August, 2008

The Candidates and the Twenty-First Amendment

This is the fifteenth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Twenty-First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I skipped the Twentieth Amendment since it deals with starting and ending dates for Congressional and Presidential terms as well as dealing with scenarios where no President-elect is able to take office.

As a historical note, had the Supreme Court not "interfered" in 2000, it may have fallen to the House of Representatives to elect a President according to Section 4 of this amendment. Section 4 would also apply if no candidate receives the required majority of electoral votes.

No doubt a Republican controlled House would've elected President George W. Bush (R-USA), so would he still have been "selected, not elected"?

But, I digress.

We all know the Twenty-First Amendment, right? It repealed prohibition and the Eighteenth Amendment. And that's settled law, right? No point in bringing it up. Well, it's worth bringing it up even if it's settled for two reasons. It does relate to a civil liberty, and it was the last time supporters of "states rights" can claim any kind of victory against the federal government.

Now to the text:

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use there in of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

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

Another historical note relates to Section 3. This is the only amendment ever ratified by state conventions.

What do we have when we look at the candidates?

Obama apparently has a very large wine cellar. He's also said that he's against lowering the drinking age to 18 from 21. The drinking age matters since the federal government ties funds to states based upon the states support of it, skirting the edge of the amendment.

McCain's wife is chairwoman of the board at the distribution center for Anheuser-Busch. His son Andrew is CFO. And he was once the company's chief publicist.

He's not given an unequivocal answer on his views on the drinking age, but apparently believes that 21 is correct.

Last October, McCain was asked by a student in South Carolina whether he favored lowering the drinking age. He responded that he was "divided on the issue," noting that people can fight for their country at 18 but can't drink legally until 21. Later, McCain told reporters that it was a "tough decision" but that he supported keeping the 21-year drinking age.

That's all I've got. Grades? I'm going to give them each an A-, having dropped them a little bit for not supporting a lowering of the drinking age.

Twenty-first Amendment: No Advantage

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment* F
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-

UPDATE: There was a typo relating to Cindy McCain's position at Anheuser-Busch. Corrected.

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

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