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4 Va. L. Rev. 558 (1916-1917)
Webb-Kenyon Decision

handle is hein.journals/valr4 and id is 560 raw text is: VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW

ON JANUARY 8, 1917, the Supreme Court of the United
States held that, since the passa.ge 'by Congress of the
Webb-Kenyon Act, the State of West Virginia has the power
to foribid the importation of intoxicating liquors, even for per-
sonal use.' Thus, after twenty-eight years of agitation, the
prohibitition interests have apparently been successful in secur-
ing an adjustment of jurisdiction which will enable the common-
wealths to make their liquor laws absolutely effective. I say
'apparently -because once -before Congress granted the prohi-
bition states what they asked for in the way of legislation,2 and
it was thought that the problem was solved; but the Supreme
Court of the United States, 'by a strained interpretation 3 of a
phrase in the law, deprived it of all effectiveness and further fed-
eral action was necessary. In the case just decided, however,
the Supreme Court -seems to go to the opposite extreme, it being
interesting to note that both decisions were 'by the present Chief
A holding of such far-reaching import was, I venture, hardly
expected by those who were .acquainted with the constitutional
doctrines involved, and in order to reach this conclusion, the
Supreme Court had to ignore, perhaps because its theory was
departed from, the case (Rhodes v. Iowa) which, after the pas-
sage of the Wilson Act, made further congressional action neces-
sary, and had to treat ruthlessly, if not unfairly, its only deci-
sion on the Webb-Kenyon Act.4     And furthermore, while the
inquirer is compelled to infer what the ratio decedendi of the
most recent holding is, -the only available one seems to announce
'James Clark Distilling Co. v. Western Maryland Ry. Co. and The
State of West Virginia; James Clark Distilling Company v. American
Express 'Company and The State of West Virginia, 37 Sup. Ct. 180
(January 8, 1917). Mr. Justice Holmes and Mr. Justice Van Devanter
-dissented and Mr. Justice McReynolds concurred in the result.
The Wilson Act (Act of August 8, 1890), 26 Stat. L. 313.
Rhodes v. Iowa, 170 U. S. 412 (1898).
'Adams Express Co. v. Kentucky, 238 U. S. 190 (1915)

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