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Friday Constitutional 19 – Amendments 21, 22 And 23

Happy Friday and welcome to the 19th installment of Friday Constitutional! As nearly everyone that is reading this knows by now, this is the Dog’s series looking at the Constitution of the United States. For those that missed any of the other installments or are coming in now, you can find all of the previous installments of this series at the following links (the Dog just realized that the links for this series are longer than some folk’s essays. What does that say about the Dog?):

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 and 6
Friday Constitutional 4- Article One, Sections 7 and 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 and 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article 2, Presidential Powers, Sections 1-3
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Presidential Powers
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, Judiciary Branch, Sections 1-3
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5 – 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – Amendments 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 11 – Amendments 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 13 – Amendments 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 14 – Amendments 7, 8, 9 and 10
Friday Constitutional 15 – Amendments 11 And 12
Friday Constitutional 16 – Amendments 13 And 14, Slavery And Equal Protection
Friday Constitutional 17 – Amendments 15 -17

Amendment Twenty One:

Section One:

The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repeal

Section one is short and sweet; that mean old Amendment Eighteen is repealed. Twenty-four years after the Temperance Movement managed to impose its morality on the nation, we collectively wised up. The supposed cure for drinking was far worse in real terms than the disease. There should be a lesson here for both the supporters of the so-called War On Drugs and any other group that would try to legislate morality. It does not work and it often leads to other problems for your society.

Section Two:

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

This was needed to put the control of commerce in alcohol back into the States hands. Since the 18th Amendment used this specific language there could have been some argument that there were no controlling laws when it was repealed. This is likely to have been an incorrect argument, but when you are amending the Constitution you really should not take any unnecessary chances.

Section Three:

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.

As with the 18th Amendment the 21st had a time limit for ratification. This was probably a sop to those that did not want it pass, but it was hardly needed. The Amendment was proposed to the States in February 1933 and was ratified on December 5th of that year when both Ohio and Pennsylvania voted to ratify.

Amendment Twenty Two:

Section One:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section one lays increases the rules on the ability for a citizen to serve as President. Prior to this Amendment there was nothing to bar the holder of that office from running for as many terms as the voters would give him. President Roosevelt was the only president in our history to have more than two terms. He ran and was elected four times, though he died during his forth term.

President Jefferson (yes, that Thomas Jefferson), was very concerned that there was no mechanism limiting the terms that a president could serve. In part this was the reason that after his second term he did not elect to run for another.

This Amendment makes it clear that once you have served two terms or two years of someone else’s term and one of your own, that is it. You no longer qualify to be elected to this office. There is some contention that a former President could run for Vice President and serve two terms, as long as he does not aspire to the highest office at a later date. The counter argument is that that 12th Amendment says:

But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

That would seem to be talking about the standard requirements of age and citizenship by birth, but like all things Constitutional we do not really know what it means until the Supreme Court tells us directly. However the Dog is going to tell all of you not to lose any sleep over this issue, can you actually imagine any of our living ex-Presidents being willing to run for Vice President? Even if you could, is there a politician in either Party who wants to be President that would ask any of them to be his running mate?

Section Two:

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Obviously any time an Amendment changes the rules for existing offices there has to be a provision excluding the current office holders. Section Two addresses this.

The 22nd Amendment was ratified in February 1951. Two States, Oklahoma and Massachusetts rejected the 22nd and have to this day never ratified it.

Amendment Twenty Three:

Section One:

The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

This Amendment, ratified in 1961, gave the people of the District of Columbia a small voice in the election of the President of their nation. Prior to this Amendment there was no representation for those living in the District. The 23rd Amendment provided for representation in the Electoral College equal to their population if the District were a separate State, but no more than the smallest State. This still seems unfair to the Dog, either your vote counts for President the same as someone from a State of the same size or it does not. It is, after all, not the fault of the people of DC that more people might want to live there than say North Dakota.

The flip side of that is, if you don’t have any say a slightly degraded say looks pretty good. Half a loaf is often better than none, but it is still as shame that we would think like that with something as important to our very system of government as a vote.

Section Two:

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This is the standard boiler plate for these kinds of Amendments.

We will call it a week here, Constitutionalists. Other than the obvious issue of DC voting rights, does anyone have any strong feelings one way or the other about these Amendments?

The floor is yours.

Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for