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  • 21 Drinking Age Unconstitutional?

    Safety issues aside, what do you think of the argument that the 21 drinking age is unconstitutional as presented in this Freerepublic forum?

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-.../posts?page=31

    I myself wonder what would happen in the courts if a state decided to raise the drinking age to 25, as suggested by some.
    204
    Yes
    28.92%
    59
    No
    66.67%
    136
    It depends
    4.41%
    9
    Last edited by equinox137; 08-23-2007, 12:14 AM.
    "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

  • #2
    Which part of the US Constitution guarantees the right to drink? Don't waste too much time looking...there's not a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees that right.

    Of course it's absolutely constitutional. It's not a violation of states' rights...any state has the right to set their minimum drinking age wherever they want. The federal government mandating that states that set a minimum drinking age of 21 or lose federal highway money isn't a constitutional issue. The federal government has no constitutional guidelines as to how they are required to distribute federal money to the states.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post
      Which part of the US Constitution guarantees the right to drink? Don't waste too much time looking...there's not a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees that right.

      Of course it's absolutely constitutional. It's not a violation of states' rights...any state has the right to set their minimum drinking age wherever they want. The federal government mandating that states that set a minimum drinking age of 21 or lose federal highway money isn't a constitutional issue. The federal government has no constitutional guidelines as to how they are required to distribute federal money to the states.
      I meant more along fourteenth amendment guidelines. Hypothetically, if a state were to raise their drinking age to 25, wouldn't that be the grounds for the next-day lawsuit attempting to throw it out?

      I wasn't necessarily arguing that the highway funding requirement was a constitutional issue though.....
      "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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      • #4
        Originally posted by equinox137 View Post
        I meant more along fourteenth amendment guidelines. Hypothetically, if a state were to raise their drinking age to 25, wouldn't that be the grounds for the next-day lawsuit attempting to throw it out?

        I wasn't necessarily arguing that the highway funding requirement was a constitutional issue though.....
        In 1984, Congress enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which remains in effect. This law requires that a portion of Federal highway funds be withheld from any States that do not prohibit persons under 21 years of age from purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic beverages. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1987 that Congress was within constitutional bounds in attaching such conditions to the receipt of Federal funds to encourage uniformity in States' drinking ages. By 1988, every State had passed legislation to meet the Federal funding requirements.
        Retired

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        • #5
          Originally posted by retired View Post
          In 1984, Congress enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which remains in effect. This law requires that a portion of Federal highway funds be withheld from any States that do not prohibit persons under 21 years of age from purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic beverages. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1987 that Congress was within constitutional bounds in attaching such conditions to the receipt of Federal funds to encourage uniformity in States' drinking ages. By 1988, every State had passed legislation to meet the Federal funding requirements.
          Yes, I understand that.

          Here is my question: If a state raised their drinking age to 25 as MADD and someothers have suggested (regardless of the federal highway funds), there would most certainly be a civil rights lawsuit filed by the next day, most likely on 14th Amendment grounds, yes?

          If that's the case, what makes 21 some kind of legal magic number (statistics aside)???
          "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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          • #6
            Originally posted by equinox137 View Post
            Yes, I understand that.

            Here is my question: If a state raised their drinking age to 25 as MADD and someothers have suggested (regardless of the federal highway funds), there would most certainly be a civil rights lawsuit filed by the next day, most likely on 14th Amendment grounds, yes?

            If that's the case, what makes 21 some kind of legal magic number (statistics aside)???
            A lawsuit by whom?

            There were states that did not comply with the 55 mph speed limit when it was the federal guideline that never faced any kind of lawsuit over thier noncompliance. They simply did not receive federal highway funds. It would be the same situation with the 21 drinking age.
            "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
            -Friedrich Nietzsche

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post
              A lawsuit by whom?
              By any 24 year old affected by the new law that claims they were discriminated against, I would suppose.

              Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post
              There were states that did not comply with the 55 mph speed limit when it was the federal guideline that never faced any kind of lawsuit over thier noncompliance. They simply did not receive federal highway funds. It would be the same situation with the 21 drinking age.
              I understand. I remember it when it happened. I think Wyoming was last in 1998, but I might be wrong.

              I'm not referring to the feds forcing the states to adapt a uniform standard. What I'm asking is - if my state were to adapt a drinking age of 25 tomorrow, what is to stop legal adults over 21 from filing a federal lawsuit enjoining the state from enforcing the law? Would a suit such as that have no merit, even though the individuals hypothetically filing the suit are legal adults in every respect? If my state were to adapt a drinking age of 25, as MADD suggests, wouldn't that violate equal protection?
              "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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              • #8
                The constitutional challenge would be 14th Amendment/Equal Protection, but all the State has to do is establish a "rational basis" for the change, which (I believe) is exactly what happened over the change from 18 to 21 at the time. The burden of proof is on the challenging party and unless it involves one of the suspect classes (like race or religion, etc.) or a fundamental constitutional right, all the State has to do to overcome the challenge is establish that the change somehow furthers public safety, which is pretty easy to do if you check into actuarial tables breaking down accidents and various risk groups by age.
                Last edited by ProWriter; 08-23-2007, 03:39 AM.
                No longer ignoring anybody here, since that psycho known as "Josey Wales" finally got the boot after being outed as a LE imposter by B&G978. Nice job.

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                • #9
                  There are already legal precedents from prohibition and making the drinking age 18 and 21. Not to mention the laws that set age limits for purchasing or possesing firearms and ammunition. And driving, and.... you get the point.

                  I don't see how raising the drinking age would deny someone life, liberty, or property. Otherwise, someone would have already tried it against the current laws.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by equinox137 View Post
                    Yes, I understand that.

                    Here is my question: If a state raised their drinking age to 25 as MADD and someothers have suggested (regardless of the federal highway funds), there would most certainly be a civil rights lawsuit filed by the next day, most likely on 14th Amendment grounds, yes?

                    If that's the case, what makes 21 some kind of legal magic number (statistics aside)???

                    It is my humble opinion that a state could in fact raise the drinking age and it would not be unconstitutional. But unless they want to lose highway funding, (Extortion by feds) they cannot lower it from 21. JMHO.
                    Retired

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by retired View Post
                      It is my humble opinion that a state could in fact raise the drinking age and it would not be unconstitutional. But unless they want to lose highway funding, (Extortion by feds) they cannot lower it from 21. JMHO.
                      As is often the case *he swallows hard and admits it*, retired is correct.

                      (We really have to stop agreeing like this - what will people say)

                      Just as any state could, at any time, outlaw consumption totally. Home rule is a strong thing and so long as states do not pass laws more permissive than the feds, they can do things their way.

                      No lawsuit would fly on this.

                      Carry on...
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                      • #12
                        Those pesky highway funds... I suppose it violates the spirit of the constitution, but not the law itself. When you factor in how much more power the federal government wields these days in terms of taxation and the resulting financial windfall one has to question the morality of such sneakiness...

                        Kind of like pot being illegal because it would affect interstate commerce and that's how the federal government justifies getting involved (not a comment on whether or not drugs should be legal - but a comment on how the federal government bullies states in what I believe to be an unethical manner.
                        Last edited by zombo; 08-24-2007, 03:44 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Pro Writer nailed it. The equal protection clause would be the basis for a constitutional attack. Only with suspect classes do the courts examine acts of the legislature with strict scrutiny. In others cases, the courts simply defer to the legislature. That is to say that the courts aren't looking at it from a perspective of whether they like it or if they themselves would have passed the law had they been law makers, but only whether the law makers had a rational basis. In this case, it's obvious that they did.

                          Of course, many laws dealing with age restrictions are both over and under inclusive. For example, some people under age 21 are responsible enough to drink. On the flip side, others who are over 21 will never be mature enough to handle alcohol. However, you have to set the line somewhere. Law makers decide it would be 21.


                          "Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it". George Constanza.

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                          • #14
                            I think you guys are looking at this all wrong. I think that a state might have grounds under the Interstate Commerce act against the feds if they withheld the funds. I am not a lawyer and would never claim to be one, even under duress , just a thought though.
                            "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pkagel View Post
                              I think you guys are looking at this all wrong. I think that a state might have grounds under the Interstate Commerce act against the feds if they withheld the funds. I am not a lawyer and would never claim to be one, even under duress , just a thought though.
                              What would that have to do with it? Do you mean the Interstate Commerce Act or do you mean the Commerce Clause in our Constitution? The ICA, would have nothing to do with the constitutionality of a state rasing its drinking age to 21, unless of course there is a preemption issue. As for the Commerce Clause, the Feds have the right to pass laws under it ( heck, they even violate it from time for time) but a state is free to do what it wants so long as the Feds don't speak first.

                              Now, a Federal Law making the drinking age 21 may be unconstitutional because it interferes with the states. However, there is no Federal drinking age law. All states have their own drinking age and its 21. If course if they don't, they just won't get highway funds. That's perfectly legal.


                              "Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it". George Constanza.

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