South Dakota vs. dole Group One: Apryl, Asia, Felisha, Lisa & Sheena
Significance of this case South Dakota versus Dole was a case in which the Supreme court considered Federalism and the power of Congress under the taxing and spending clause.
The main issue of this case… Does Congress have the power under Article II of the Twenty-First Amendment to “encourage” South Dakota to raise their drinking age?
Back Ground History In 1984, Congress enacted legislation (23 U.S.C 158) called the Federal Aid Highway Act which ordered the Secretary of Transportation to withhold 5%-10% of federal highway funds from states that did not adopt a 21-year-old minimum drinking age. South Dakota, a state that permitted persons 19 years of age to purchase beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol, challenged the law.
Arguments for South Dakota South Dakota challenges the condition of federal funds on the basis that it’s an unconstitutional regulation of liquor sales under the Twenty-First Amendment. "Twenty-first Amendment grants the States virtually complete control over whether to permit importation or sale of liquor and how to structure the liquor distribution system." South Dakota asserts that the setting of minimum drinking ages is clearly within the "core powers" reserved to the States under section 2 of the Amendment
Who was Dole? She was the Secretary of Transportation named Elizabeth Dole. She was named as the Defendant because her office was responsible for enforcing the legislation. She worked with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to pass laws withholding federal highway funding from any state that had a drinking age below twenty-one.
Arguments for Dole The Constitution empowers Congress to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States." Congress may attach conditions on the receipt of federal funds, and has used that power repeatedly.
The Powers of Congress Congress may attach conditions on the receipt of federal funds, and has used that power repeatedly. Congress’s use of the spending power must be in pursuit of the “general welfare”. If Congress conditions the States’ receipt of federal funds, it must do so unambiguously. Congress can’t place conditions on funding if those conditions are not related to “particular national projects or programs”. Congress cannot use its spending power to induce states to perform actions that are unconstitutional.
Verdict of the Case In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court decided that Congress, can indirectly encourage uniformity in states' drinking ages and that it’s within constitutional bounds. The Court found that the legislation was in pursuit of "the general welfare," and that how the ways the government used were reasonable. The Court also said that the 21st Amendment's limitations on spending power were not prohibitions on congressional attempts to achieve federal objectives indirectly. The five percent loss of highway funds was not unduly coercive.
Significance In 1984, Congress enacted legislation called the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. It is also called the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act. This act was the forerunner for which all states would follow in requiring the legislation and enforcement of 21 as the minimum drinking age.