How Government Works

Prohibition is often called the “noble experiment.”  I’m not sure how noble it was, but it was certainly a miserable failure.  The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed Congress on January 16, 1919.  Effective January of 1920, the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the United States. Importation from other countries was also banned. Private consumption of liquor was still permitted.  Prohibition lasted 13 years.  To end it, another constitutional amendment was required.  By 1932, both parties in Congress advocated the repeal of Prohibition.  By December 5, 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the states, and Prohibition came to a welcome end.

One of the most important principles of American constitutional law is the idea that the United States has no official religion and that anyone may practice whatever religion they choose (or no religion at all). This principle became a part of the United States Constitution – which is the supreme law of the United States – through what is known as the First Amendment.

The Third Amendment proposed in 1789, reads as follows: “No Soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”  While part of the Bill of Rights, it is among the least cited by courts of law, and it has never been the basis of a Supreme Court decision.  People today read the Third Amendment and wonder why soldiers would ever be quartered in their homes when we have plenty of military bases with base housing and barracks.  However, back in the 18th Century, the quartering of troops in private homes was a serious issue.  It was one of the sparks that ignited the American Revolution.

In January of 2011, President Obama signed the FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) into law.  The Act is designed to shift government focus away from merely responding to outbreaks of food borne illness.  The Act proposes a more proactive approach by enacting preventative measures designed to protect America’s food supply.  The FSMA contains seven regulations intended to have far reaching effects on food production, supply and distribution systems.  One of the seven regulations under the FSMA is the Produce Safety Rule. 

While Americans have debated for many years about the continued need for the Electoral College, the conflict reached new heights after the 2016 election when Donald Trump won the presidency despite losing the popular election by almost 3 million votes.  The large discrepancy between the popular vote and the Electoral College vote has caused some people to question why we still rely on the Electoral College in the 21st Century.  Others believe it remains an important part of the process but question the right of the states to control how Electors vote.

Disposable plastic bags are both a convenience and a blight.  Across the nation, political battles are being waged over whether single-use, plastic bags should be banned.  Environmentally concerned citizens and local governments point to the plastic bag littler in streets, bags caught on trees and bushes, and bags blowing across highways.  They talk about the glut of plastic bags in landfills, plastic litter in oceans and waterways, and injury to wildlife.  On the other side of the battle are retailers and the plastic industry.  They claim single-use bags are more sanitary than reusable bags.  They also argue that customers want the convenience of bags provided by the store. 

If we can pick one complaint most Americans have in common, it is this.  We are all sick and tired of having our day interrupted by unwanted robocalls.  They call on land lines.  They call on cell phones.  They never stop.  Members of Congress are also frustrated.  They are inundated with phone calls from constituents complaining about robocalls.  This universal frustration explains why, on May 23, 2019, Senate Bill 151, which is designed to curb the annoying calls, passed with a vote of 97 to 1.

One of the most important principles of American constitutional law is the idea that individuals in the United States have a reasonable expectation of privacy – that is, a right to be free from invasion in their own private space (for example, the home that they own or the apartment that they rent), whether that invasion is physical or electronic, and whether the invader is a stranger or a government actor (such as the police). This principle became a part of the United States Constitution – which is the supreme law of the United States – through what is known as the Fourth Amendment.

Most Americans know the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants us freedom of speech.  It states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, . . . .”  The intent of the drafters is clear.  They believed that in a free society, people must be permitted to criticize government and lobby for change.  But how far do free speech protections go?  What are the limits of free speech, and who has the authority to restrict speech?  These questions have repeatedly been addressed by the United States Supreme Court, and over the past 200 years, the definition of freedom of speech has evolved and been refined by the courts.

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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