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How Government Works

Prohibition is often called the “noble experiment.”  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.

The general election of 2018 is almost here, so a quick refresher on election law and protocols is timely.  We all want to be sure our vote counts.  Being informed on both the law and the issues is important for us all.

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.

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.

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.

Everyone who has ever watched a crime show on TV has heard and probably memorized the Miranda warnings: “You have the right to remain silent.  If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney . . .”   Reading an accused his rights is now an ingrained part of law enforcement procedure and considered integral to protecting everyone’s Fifth Amendment rights, but it wasn’t always that way. History is loaded with examples of coerced confessions, dating back to the Spanish Inquisition and even earlier to the Roman Empire.  Today, we often take the protections afforded by our Bill of Rights for granted, including our Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

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.

Every president in the last 20 years has prompted mutterings and threats of impeachment.  But, what exactly is impeachment?

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 Arizona State Legislature has a website that provides information to the public.  The website contains valuable information, including the names and districts of senate and house members, legislative calendars, the Arizona Constitution, Arizona Revised Statues, and a host of other information.  The website is moderately easy to navigate, but there are significant shortcomings.

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.