The Supremacy of U. S. Constitution over State Constitutions; Federal law over State Law Under the legislative system of the United States are the U. S. constitution, state constitutions, federal laws, and state laws. In some instances conflicts may occur between the federal and state constitutions and between the federal laws and state laws. To solve this, the federal constitution contains a clause known as The Supremacy Clause which states that the federal constitution is superior to state constitutions and that federal laws are superior to state laws.
The Supremacy Clause is contained in Article VII Paragraph 2 and it says that the federal constitution and federal treaties and laws are supreme in the land (Ville 108). The clause serves to bind state judges to the federal constitution in that the clause says that the supremacy holds regardless of conflict with state constitutions and state laws (Ville 108). This supremacy clause has been used in the judicial review process particularly when it comes to state legislation.
In fact, when the state judges are taking their oaths, they always pledge to support the U. S. Constitution thereby pledging to hold the U. S. Constitution supreme over any conflicting provisions in the constitutions of their states (Ville 108). All states in the U. S. have their own constitutions which serve to complement the U. S. constitution. Most of these states’ constitutions have provisions that contradict the federal laws and these makes the provisions unenforceable.
However, this does not mean that the state constitutions are not important; on the contrary. The state constitutions are very important in that it is the state governments which are charged with the responsibility of providing basic services to the citizens and dealing with issues that affect the citizens daily (Ville 108). The state laws are usually applied only if they do not conflict with the federal laws. In case there is any conflict between the two laws, the federal laws take precedence which means that the state laws are disregarded in such a case.
A conflict normally occurs when one cannot comply with both the state law and the federal law that governs the issue in question and a good example is when the federal law forbids something that is required by the state law (Deleo 7). Conflicts also occur when the federal law is more strict compared to the state law which means that compliance with the state law would violate the federal law (Deleo 7). The need for both federal and state governments emanated from the need to decentralize power.
All the states have been given the authority to pass their own laws provided that they do not conflict with the federal laws as this would lead to their preemption or nullification. For example passing of a state law that seeks to create an agency that will regulate nuclear power would lead to preemption of that law by the federal law since the congress is solely responsible for making laws governing nuclear power in the U.
S. (Deleo 7). The Supremacy Clause has greatly served to hold the U. S. together since in its absence there would have been endless squabbles due to conflicting laws and this would have led to falling apart of the United States of America (Morrison, 33) . It is clear that The Supremacy Clause plays a very important role in the legislative system of the United States.
This is because it clearly states the federal constitution is supreme over any state’s constitution and that all federal laws are supreme over state laws thus making it very easy to deal with any conflicts that may arise.
Deleo, John. Administrative Law. New York: Delmar-Cengage, 2008. Morrison, Alan. Fundamentals of American Law. New York: Oxford Press, 1997. Vile, John. A Companion to the United States Constitution and its Amendments. California: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2010.