6:00 pm
28120 Jefferson Ave.
Temecula, CA

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs
Lesson 20
Women’s Voting Rights, Election Rules
Amendment 18 was ratified
January 16, 1919, bringing the prohibition of alcohol to America. The amendment
was repealed by Amendment 21, December 5, 1933.
Christian churches worked to
bring about prohibition as far back as the early 1800s, largely through
the campaigning by women and young adults who had been adversely affected by
husbands and fathers who were heavy alcohol consumers.  Alcohol was considered to be one of the most
prevalent social problems in America. 
The concerns over the dangers of alcohol brought about the Temperance
.  The American Temperance
Society was founded in 1826, with the specific goal of outlawing alcohol in the
United States.
Local organizations that
encouraged abstinence from alcohol existed as early as 1808.  It was not until 1826 that a nationwide
temperance society was created.  As the
American Temperance Society gained steam, national and international temperance
societies sprang up.  Organizations like
the Washington Temperance Society did not consider temperance to be a religious
issue, while other groups felt compelled by God to proclaim temperance.  Considering the involvement in the movement
by a diverse menu of denominations, no one religion was able to claim to have
been the originator of temperance ideals.
The most effective weapon of
temperance was to advocate total abstinence from alcohol through personal
pledges.  The societies gave out pledge
cards or medals with various types of pledges written on them.  Not all of the pledges, however, demanded
total abstinence, as indicated by the following pledge:
“We agree to abstain
from all intoxicating liquors except for medicinal purposes and religious
Concerned that being too
strict may discourage many from joining their society, some organizations gave
people the option to choose the extent of their pledge.  One common practice was to have those who
joined a society to sign a book indicating their commitment.  If the person was willing to commit to total
abstinence, they would place a capital “T” by their name.  The “T” stood for Total or
“Total Abstinence”.  Hence came
the term “Tee Totaler” as one who has committed himself to total
Through the use of
pressure-politics the goal of nationwide prohibition was achieved during World
War I with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment in January of 1919.
Congress, in response to the
new amendment, passed the Volstead Act on October 28, 1919, to enforce
the law.  Most large cities refused to
enforce the legislation.  As the federal
government went after bootleggers, it became quickly apparent that the
understaffed agencies were fighting a losing battle.  Meanwhile, though there was a slight decline
in alcohol consumption around the nation, organized crime increased in
the larger cities.  Alcohol became a high
demand cash crop that the criminal element could not resist.
As Prohibition became
increasingly unpopular, and the element of organized crime had reached its
height, the perceived need for tax revenue during the Great Depression
also encouraged a repeal movement.  The
hope for tax revenue from the legal sale of alcohol, and the need to weaken
organized crime, led to the 21st Amendment, which repealed the amendment that
had brought Prohibition to America.  The
repeal returned the legalities of alcohol to the States.  Though Prohibition was over nationwide, some
counties remained dry counties, forbidding the sale of alcoholic
In our current society there are calls for the
legalization of Marijuana, and other drugs. 
Existing federal drug laws enforce a prohibition of drugs.  There is a movement in some parts of
government pushing for the legalization of certain drugs, like marijuana.  If at the federal level a number of
politicians decided that the legalization of drugs is good for the nation, we
could very well see such legislation pass through Congress.  By studying the U.S. Constitution, and taking
a lesson from the 18th Amendment, it is apparent that the federal government
does not have the authority to ban, or legalize, drugs in America without
receiving such an authority through the Amendment Process (as we saw with the
18th Amendment in regards to Alcohol). 
The regulation of drugs is a State issue, as per the Tenth
Amendment.  This means that all federal
drug laws are unconstitutional, and laws in California legalizing marijuana for
medicinal purposes, and in the States of Washington and Colorado for
recreational use, are completely constitutional.
– Counties in the United States whose government
forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages within the county.
– A severe worldwide economic depression in the
decade preceding World War II.
– Transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises
run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly
for monetary profit.
Prohibition – Period
in United States history during which the manufacture and sale of alcohol was
prohibited.  Drinking alcohol itself was
never illegal, and there were always exceptions for medicinal and religious
– A social movement urging the reduced use of
alcoholic beverages during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
– Officially The National Prohibition Act; the law that was the
enabling legislation for the Eighteenth Amendment which established prohibition
in the United States.
for Discussion:
1.  Why were
women a major factor in the temperance movement?
2.  What were
some of the factors that contributed to the growing popularity of The
Temperance Movement?
3.  What
challenges did The Temperance Movement encounter, and how did they adjust (i.e.
through the style of pledges, exceptions to abstinence, etc.)
4.  What was the
reaction of many local governments to the Volstead Act?
5.  What
happened to the presence of organized crime when Prohibition was enacted?  Why?
6.  What were
the reasons for repealing Prohibition?
7.  What did
Prohibition say about individualism and personal responsibility from the point
of view of the federal government?
8.  In what form
does Prohibition continue to exist in the United States even today?
9.  What lesson
regarding the legalization of other drugs does the 18th Amendment teach us?
Andrews, A Guide for Learning and
Teaching The Declaration of
Independence and The U.S. Constitution – Learning from
the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders
; San
Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010)
John, Ardent Spirits The Rise and Fall of
, New
York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (1973)
Temperance Movement, US;
Mintz, Moralists & Modernizers:
America’s Pre-Civil War
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (1995)
Voting Rights
The 19th Amendment
established uniform voting rights for women nationwide.  It was ratified on August 18, 1920.
Women, despite popular
opinion, did vote in elections prior to the ratification of the 19th
Amendment.  In 1869, women in the newly
created territory of Wyoming became the first women in the United States to win
the right to vote.  Colorado gave voting
rights to women in 1892, and both Utah and Idaho gave women the right to vote
in 1896.
The Constitution gives the
States the right to determine their own rules for elections.  The women’s suffrage movement worked to bring
about an amendment that would give women voting rights nationwide.  The amendment was first proposed in 1878, and
it took forty-one years before it was submitted to the States for ratification.  It took about a year to receive enough votes
for ratification.
Susan B. Anthony, already
known for her crusade for the abolition of slavery, and the prohibition of
alcohol, added women’s suffrage to her plate.  By 1878 she was able to induce a Senator from
California to introduce a resolution in Congress calling for an amendment to
the Constitution which would give women throughout the United States the right
to vote.
The drive for an amendment
that would grant uniform voting rights for women was nothing new.  Aaron Burr, the Vice President during Thomas
Jefferson’s presidency, was a fervent believer in women’s rights, and took
personal charge of his daughter’s course of study, insisting she learn Greek,
Latin, and French, along with literature, philosophy and sciences.  His proposals for the uniform voting rights
for women, however, never gained traction.
John Adams, the second
President of the United States, also supported expanding women’s freedoms.  As a great admirer of his wife, Abigail, he
often went to her for advice.  In 1776,
as the Founders put into full gear their drive for American independence,
Abigail offered in a letter, “I long to hear that you have declared an
independency.  And, by the way, in the
new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire
you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than
your ancestors.  Do not put such
unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. 
Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.  If particular care and attention is not paid
to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold
ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
A challenge to the 19th
Amendment (Leser v. Garnett, 1922) claimed that the amendment was
unconstitutionally adopted, and that the rules for elections were implicitly
delegated to the individual States because of the need to preserve State
Sovereignty.  However, the very fact that
the change in voting rules was through amendment made the argument against the
19th Amendment a moot point.
Once the 19th Amendment was
ratified, with this new power, women were able to attempt to elect those who
shared their beliefs, hoping that other measures that would push forward the
fight for women’s rights would also emerge.
After the 19th Amendment
passed, the percentage of women in the workforce increased to about 25%.  Though some discrimination continued, and
women rarely held decision-making positions, it was definitely a step in the
right direction for the purpose of encouraging the rights of women.
During World War II, women
were needed in all areas since many of the men went overseas to fight.  The percentage of women in the workforce
increased to 36%.  The boom for women was
short-lived, however.  When the war
ended, and the soldiers returned home, two-million women were fired within
fifteen months after the end of the war to make room for the men.
Despite such setbacks, by
the 1980s, the percentage of women in the workforce exceeded 50%.  However, the percentage of women voting has
not equaled the original push shortly after the ratification of the 19th
Advocates for family values,
though supportive of equal opportunity, often view these advancements as
promotion for the break-up of the family unit. 
With mothers participating in the workforce, advent of women’s rights
has also given rise to the emergence of latch-key kids.
The greatest right for women
is choice, which includes the choice not to pursue the numerous opportunities
available for the purpose of following a more traditional role, should they
desire to make such a choice.  Women in
today’s society have the choice to pursue a career, be a stay-at-home mom and
wife, or attempt to juggle both.  For the
purpose of protecting the family unit, and the traditional nature of the
American society, wife and mother remains the more popular choice. 
– The right of women to vote and to run for
office.  The expression is also used for
the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to
women without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership,
payment of tax, or marital status.
for Discussion:
1.  Were women
allowed to vote in national elections before the ratification of the Nineteenth
2.  How did the
abolition movement and temperance movement lead some to also support women’s
3.  On what
grounds was the Nineteenth Amendment Challenged?
4.  How has the
drive for the rights of women changed to an opposite extreme?
5.  How has the
Women’s Rights Movement affected the concept of the traditional family unit?
Burr Biography, Essortment;
Adams urges husband to “remember the ladies”,;
Andrew M.
Allison, K. DeLynn Cook, M. Richard Maxfield, and W.
Cleon Skousen, The Real Thomas Jefferson; New York:
National Center for Constitutional Studies (2009)
McCullough, John Adams; New York:
Simon and Schuster (2001)
W. Cleon
Skousen, The Role of Women in Healing America, Latter Day
Conservative and The
Constitution magazine, November 1985;
Ratified in 1933, the 20th
Amendment establishes the current rules regarding the beginning and end of the
terms of elected federal offices.
The amendment moved the
beginning of the Presidential, Vice Presidential and Congressional terms from
March 4.  Congress, under the new rules
established by the 20th Amendment, convenes on the third day of January,
reducing the amount of time a lame duck Congress would be in session.  A lame duck Congress, no longer
fearful of the effect their decisions may have on re-election, may be more apt
to support otherwise unpopular legislation during a lame duck session.
The 20th Amendment moved the
terms of the President and Vice President to begin on the 20th day of January.
Section 2 of the 20th
Amendment begins, “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year.”  The phrase is consistent with the language
used in Article I, Section 4, though one wonders if the delegates debating the
20th Amendment viewed meeting one day a year as overburdensome as did the Framers
of the Constitution, or if they considered themselves to be professional
politicians who must be constantly legislating, as does today’s legislators.
The 20th Amendment’s Section
3 addresses vacancies to the presidency before the new President has the
opportunity to take office.  The clause
assigns the presidency to the Vice President in the case of the death of the
President, if the President dies before he can take office.  Assigning the presidency to the Vice
President was in line with Article II, Section 1, Clause 6, and the 12th
Amendment assigning to the Vice President the Office of the President should
the President die after he took office. 
In the case it turns out the President does not qualify for the office,
this article grants to Congress the authority to declare who shall act as
President.  “Failing to qualify for
office” refers to an occasion that the Electoral College fails to resolve who
will be the President or Vice President. 
A key point of this provision, and a critical protection against an
outgoing faction attempting to retain some semblance of power, in the case that
the candidates fail to qualify for office, is that the decision still devolves
to Congress, but to the newly elected Congress, as opposed to the outgoing
one.  As established in Article II,
Section 1, the decision for President would continue to rest upon the House of
Representatives, and the choice of Vice President would continue to be the
choice of the United States Senate.
Section 4 of the 20th
Amendment addresses succession, giving Congress the authority to establish a line
of succession,
in the case of death of the President, or of the Vice
President.  The more astute student may
recall that today’s constitutional protocols calls upon the President to
appoint a new Vice President, should that seat be vacated, but that provision
did not become law until the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967.
The final two sections of
the 20th Amendment address when the amendment would take effect should it be
ratified, and a time limit of the proposal should the States not ratify it in a
timely fashion.  Section 5 states that
the first two sections of the amendment, the parts of the amendment that alters
the date the terms of President, Vice President, and members of Congress shall
begin, “shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification
of this article.”  If ratification
reached completion during an election year, that would put the new amendment
into effect a couple weeks before the next election.  The amendment was ratified January 23, 1933,
not in time for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s victory in the 1932 Election.  FDR had to wait until March of 1933 to take
In Section 6 of the 20th
Amendment, for the first time in American History, a limitation was placed upon
a proposed amendment, requiring that the amendment be ratified within seven
years from the date of its submission. 
The same stipulation would be added at the end of the 21st and 22nd amendments,
as well as a number of proposals that failed to be ratified within the allotted
time period (like the Equal Rights Amendment). 
The 27th Amendment, ratified in 1992, reveals that without a limitation,
proposed amendments remain in place and can stay on the active list
indefinitely.  The 27th Amendment was
originally proposed as a part of the original Bill of Rights, submitted
September 25, 1789.
Lame Duck
– A lame duck session of Congress in the United
States occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected, but
before the successor’s term begins.
Line of
– The order in which individuals are expected to
succeed one another in some official position.
for Discussion:
1.  Why did the
framers of the Twentieth Amendment see a need to move forward the dates of
Presidential and Congressional Terms?
2.  In what way
can Lame Duck Sessions be dangerous?
3.  Why do you
think the Amendment changed the duty of electing the President, should the Electoral
College fail to do so, to the newly elected Congress from the outgoing one?
Andrews, A Guide for Learning and
Teaching The Declaration of
Independence and The U.S. Constitution – Learning from
the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders
; San
Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010)
States Senate, Lame Duck Session Definition:
Copyright 2015 Douglas V. Gibbs

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