HAWKE V. SMITH , 253 U. S. 221 (1920)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hawke v. Smith , 253 U.S. 221 (1920)

Hawke v. Smith (No. 1)

No. 582

Argued April 23, 1920

Decided June 1, 1920

253 U.S. 221


Under the Constitution, Art. V, a proposed amendment can be ratified by two methods only -- by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by conventions in three-fourths of the states, the choice of method being left to Congress. P. 253 U. S. 226.

The term "legislatures," as used here and elsewhere in the Constitution,

Page 253 U. S. 222

means the deliberative, representative bodies that make the law for the people of the respective states; the Constitution make no provision for action upon such proposals by the people directly. P. 253 U. S. 227.

The function of a state legislature in ratifying a proposed amendment to the federal Constitution, like the function of Congress in proposing such amendments, is a federal function, derived not from the people of that state, but from the Constitution. P. 253 U. S. 230.

The ratification of a proposed amendment to the federal Constitution by the legislature of a state is not an act of legislation in the proper sense of the word; it is but the expression of the assent of the state to the proposed amendment. P. 253 U. S. 229. Davis v. Hildebrant, 241 U. S. 565, distinguished.

The action of the General Assembly of Ohio ratifying the proposed Eighteenth Amendment cannot be referred to the electors of the state, the provisions of the state constitution requiring such a referendum being inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States. P. 253 U. S. 231.

100 Ohio St. 385 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 253 U. S. 224

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