Interlude in a Speakeasy
IF THE flow of the commerce doctrine may be left in a literary bayou for a few pages, attention may be directed abruptly toward an entirely separate issue that resulted in sharp conflict between State and Federal authority in the period under consideration. This was, of course, the matter of national prohibition.
It is an everlasting testimony to the sincerity, the optimism, and the blind idiocy of man that no fewer than forty-six of the forty-eight sovereign States ratified the Eighteenth Amendment as proposed, late in 1917, by the Sixty-fifth Congress. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island kept their heads. The other States, losing theirs, agreed that after January of 1920, "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors," was to be prohibited.
But scarcely had the long dark night begun before a thirsty people, suddenly appalled, began to resist the amendment just adopted. Twenty thousand persons, spurred on by the late Mr. Mencken, paraded through the streets of Baltimore; another ten thousand participated in a protest before the Capitol in Washington.268 Bootleggers and rumrunners came forward, dutifully, to perform those patriotic services for which Nature had fitted them. In New York, an Association Against the Prohibition Amendment was chartered, with an announced purpose "to make the Eighteenth Amendment forever inoperative." Rhode Island made the mistake of testing the Amendment, only to be told that no State could undertake "to defeat or thwart" its provisions.269 Emiment attorneys urged Connecticut to take a still bolder position-- that not even forty-six ratifying States and the Supreme Court could take from sovereign Connecticut the power reserved in-