From Ohio History Central
Tumey v. Ohio was a case considered by the United States Supreme Court in 1927. The court struck down an Ohio law that denied citizens their constitutionally guaranteed right to due process by financially rewarding public officials for successfully prosecuting cases related to Phohibition.
Following the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1919, the Ohio government implemented stringent measures to enforce Prohibition within the state's borders. One law, the Crabbe Act, compensated mayors, justices of the peace, various judges, and other law enforcement officials with additional money beyond their normal pay whenever they arrested, convicted, and fined violators of the Eighteenth Amendment. Many legal officials sought to extend their jurisdiction into nearby cities to arrest and prosecute more violators and to enhance the judges' own paychecks.
This particular law became the foundation for Tumey v. Ohio, a case before the United States Supreme Court, in 1927. In North College Hill, Ohio, a man was arrested for illegally possessing alcohol, a violation of the Eighteenth Amendment. This man contended that the law compensating officials with additional money for liquor cases violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by depriving him of "due process of law." Attorneys for the accused man claimed that judges were more likely to convict accused people because convictions increased the judges' and other law enforcement officials' salaries. In March 1927, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff over the defendant, the State of Ohio.
Upon losing the case before the Supreme Court, the Ohio legislature attempted to enact another law that would compensate judges for hearing additional cases beyond a normal number. It would not matter how the judges ruled in the cases; the state and local governments would guarantee the judges' additional pay. This legislation was never implemented. Ohio voters defeated the measure in a referendum in the autumn of 1927 by a two-to-one advantage.
Tumey v. Ohio and the events that resulted from it illustrate the divisions among Ohioans over Prohibition.
- Behr, Edward. Prohibition: Thirteen Years that Changed America. New York, NY: Arcade Pub., 1996.
- Clark, Norman. Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition. New York, NY: Norton, 1976.
- Kobler, John. Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York, NY: Putnam, 1973.