Amendment XXI-Repeal of Prohibition (1933)

The Twentieth Amendment of the United States Constitution contains three sections. Section 1-Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment, Section 2-Intoxicating liquors, shipment into dry territory prohibited, and Section 3- Ratification, time limit. The amendment was passed by Congress on February 20, 1933 and was ratified on December 5, 1933.

Section 1: “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”

The Eighteenth Amendment provided for a nationwide prohibition in 1919 of the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, and importation and exportation from the United States and all territories.  The Eighteenth Amendment’s prohibition was not popular and was seen as Government intrusion into the personal lives of the people.

Although, the Eighteenth Amendment aimed to reduce the consumption of liquor, the effect was reverse.  People continued to produce and sell alcohol illegally.  Eventually, Congress realized that the prohibition had more bad consequences than good and the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.

Section 2: “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.”

Although Section 1 had repealed prohibition, Section 2 gave the states the right to regulate and prohibit the  import, export and transportation of intoxicated liquor.

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.”

Section 3 simply states the time frame within which this amendment needs to be ratified and if the amendment is not ratified in seven years this amendment shall be considered not ratified.


Inside Amendment XXI-Repeal of Prohibition (1933)