The 18th Amendment prohibited alcoholic beverages; the 21st repealed the 18th. If the 21st Amendment were repealed, would that "un-repeal" the 18th Amendment and reinstate Prohibition?

2 Answers 2


Since one of the things that the 21st amendment does is repeal that Amendment, the 18th Amendment would again be a valid part of the Constitution (until SCOTUS says otherwise). Also note that prior to repeal of the 18th Amendment, the restrictions were lightened e.g. via the Cullen-Harrison Act. In the original instance, enabling legislation had to be passed – the National Prohibition Act. That act was not formally repealed or amended, it just fell to desuetude. Congress could re-pass enabling legislation like it did the first time. Or, the executive branch could conclude that the National Prohibition Act is good law, it would be enforced, there would be a lawsuit, and SCOTUS would decide.

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    I'm not sure if the conclusion of the first sentence is self-evident. Repeal of repeal usually for statutes usually does not revive a former provision (as it ceases to exist the moment the repeal provision comes into force), but the intention of the Congress might be more relevant (but hopefully the Congress will write better provisions than a simple repeal without other precising words or clauses).
    – xngtng
    Jul 23, 2022 at 2:58

On a purely logical level, that would make sense. The 18th amendment is like an overridden piece of computer code, it hasn’t been deleted from the constitution, it’s simply been superseded by the 21st. But if the 21st itself were to be nullified, that would theoretically reactivate the 18th.

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