The clause in United States Constitution’s Article VI, stating that all laws made furthering the Constitution and all treaties made under the authority of the United States are the “supreme law of the land.” Chief Justice John Marshall interpreted the clause to mean that the states may not interfere with the functioning of the federal government and that federal law prevails over an inconsistent state law.
Supremacy Clause Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the "Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land." It means that the federal government, in exercising any of the powers enumerated in the Constitution, must prevail over any conflicting or inconsistent state exercise of power.
The concept of federal supremacy was developed by Chief Justice John Marshall, who led the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. In mcculloch v. maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 4 L. Ed. 579 (1819), the Court invalidated a Maryland law that taxed all banks in the state, including a branch of the national bank located at Baltimore. Marshall held that although none of the enumerated powers of Congress explicitly authorized the incorporation of the national bank, the Necessary and Proper Clause provided the basis for Congress's action. Having established that the exercise of authority was proper, Marshall concluded that "the government of the Union, though limited in its power, is supreme within its sphere of action."
After the Civil War, the Supreme Court was more supportive of States' Rights and used the Tenth Amendment, which provides that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people, to justify its position. It was not until the 1930s that the Court shifted its position and invoked the Supremacy Clause to give the federal government broad national power. The federal government cannot involuntarily be subjected to the laws of any state.
The Supremacy Clause also requires state legislatures to take into account policies adopted by the federal government. Two issues arise when State Action is in apparent conflict with federal law. The first is whether the congressional action falls within the powers granted to Congress. If Congress exceeded its authority, the congressional act is invalid and, despite the Supremacy Clause, has no priority over state action. The second issue is whether Congress intended its policy to supersede state policy. Congress often acts without intent to preempt state policy making or with an intent to preempt state policy on a limited set of issues. Congress may intend state and federal policies to coexist.
Some federal legislation preempts state law, however, usually because Congress believes its law should be supreme for reasons of national uniformity. For example, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (Wagner Act) (29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.) preempts most state law dealing with labor unions and labor-management relations.
In Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497, 76 S. Ct. 477, 100 L. Ed. 640 (1956), the Supreme Court developed criteria for assessing whether federal law preempts state action when Congress has not specifically stated its intent. These criteria include whether the scheme of federal regulations is "so pervasive as to make the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it," whether the federal interest "is so dominant that the federal system [must] be assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject," or whether the enforcement of a state law "presents a serious danger of conflict with the administration of the federal program."
supremacy clause n. Article VI, section 2 of the U. S. Constitution which reads: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." Thus a Supreme Court ruling can be binding on state courts if involving a constitutional issue.
Preemption A doctrine based on theSupremacy Clauseof the U.S. Constitution that holds that certain matters are of such a national, as opposed to local, character that federal laws preempt or take precedence over state laws. As such, a state may not pass a law inconsistent with the federal law.
A doctrine of state law that holds that a state law displaces a local law or regulation that is in the same field and is in conflict or inconsistent with the state law.
Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution provides that the "… Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land." This Supremacy Clause has come to mean that the national government, in exercising any of the powers enumerated in the Constitution, must prevail over any conflicting or inconsistent state exercise of power. The federal preemption doctrine is a judicial response to the conflict between federal and state legislation. When it is clearly established that a federal law preempts a state law, the state law must be declared invalid.
A state law may be struck down even when it does not explicitly conflict with federal law, if a court finds that Congress has legitimately occupied the field with federal legislation. Questions in this area require careful Balancing of important state and federal interests. Problems arise when Congress fails to make its purpose explicit, which is often the case. The court must then draw inferences based on the presumed objectives of federal law and the supposed impact of related State Action.
The federal right to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution has resulted in federal preemption of state labor laws. Likewise, the Supreme Court, in Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, 411 U.S. 624, 93 S. Ct. 1854, 36 L. Ed. 2d 547 (1973), declared that state and local laws that interfere with comprehensive federal environmental laws and regulations are invalid. In California v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 495 U.S. 490, 110 S. Ct. 2024, 109 L. Ed. 2d 474 (1990), the Supreme Court held that state regulations imposing minimum flow rates on rivers used to generate hydroelectric power were preempted by the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C.A. § 791 et seq. ). In Mississippi Power and Light Company v. Mississippi ex rel. Moore, 487 U.S. 354, 108 S. Ct. 2428, 101 L. Ed. 2d 322 (1988), the Court held that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's regulations preempted a state's authority to set electric power rates.
At the state level, preemption occurs when a state statute conflicts with a local ordinance on the same subject matter. Preemption within the states varies with individual state constitutions, provisions for the powers of political subdivisions, and the decisions of state courts. For example, if a state legislature enacts Gun Control legislation and the intent of the legislation is to occupy the field of gun control, then a municipality is preempted from enacting its own gun control ordinance.
The issue of preemption has dominated litigation over the right of states to require insurance companies and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to accept "any willing [healthcare] provider" rather than to force consumers to stay within the health providers' exclusive networks. HMOs and insurance companies have argued that the 1974 federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preempted these state laws. ERISA is an extremely complex and technical set of provisions that seek to protect employee benefit programs, which include Pension plans and healthcare plans. Healthcare providers have pointed to the comprehensive nature of ERISA as demonstrating the intent of Congress to maintain a uniform national system. Therefore, they argued, state laws must be preempted to affect this purpose.
The Supreme Court rejected the ERISA preemption argument in two cases involving Health Insurance. In Moran v. Rush Prudential HMO, Inc., 536 U.S. 355, 122 S. Ct. 2151, 153 L. Ed. 2d 375 (2002), the Supreme Court in a 5–4 decision upheld an Illinois law that required HMOs to provide independent review of disputes between the primary care physician and the HMO. In Kentucky Association of Health Plans, Inc. v. Miller, 538 U.S. 329, 123 S. Ct. 1471, 155 L. Ed. 2d 468 (2003), the Court tackled the "any willing provider rule." In a unanimous decision the Court held that Kentucky laws were not preempted by ERISA. The Court concluded that the laws did not deal with employee benefit plans as defined by ERISA but instead were insurance regulations. This was an important distinction because state insurance regulations are not preempted by ERISA.
preemption n. the rule of law that if the federal government through Congress has enacted legislation on a subject matter it shall be controlling over state laws and/or preclude the state from enacting laws on the same subject if Congress has specifically stated it has "occupied the field." If Congress has not clearly claimed preemption, a federal or state court may decide the issue on the basis of history of the legislation (debate in Congress) and practice. Example: Federal standards of meat or other products have preempted state laws. However, federal and state legislation on narcotics control may parallel each other.
States' Rights A doctrine and strategy in which the rights of the individual states are protected by the U.S. Constitution from interference by the federal government.
The history of the United States has been marked by conflict over the proper allocation of power between the states and the federal government. The federal system of government established by the U.S. Constitution recognized the sovereignty of both the state governments and the federal government by giving them mutually exclusive powers as well as concurrent powers. In the first half of the nineteenth century, arguments over states' rights arose in the context of Slavery. From the 1870s to the 1930s, economic issues shaped the debate. In the 1950s racial Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement renewed the issue of state power. By the 1970s economic and political conservatives had begun to call for a reduction in the power and control of the federal government and for the redistribution of responsibilities to the states.
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, delegates represented state governments that had become autonomous centers of power. The Constitution avoided a precise definition of the locus of sovereignty, leaving people to infer that the new charter created a divided structure in which powers were allocated between the central government and the states in such a way that each would be supreme in certain areas.
Nevertheless, defenders of states' rights were concerned that a powerful, consolidated national government would run roughshod over the states. With ratification of the Constitution in doubt, the Framers promised to add protection for the states. Accordingly, the Tenth Amendment was added to the Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment stipulates that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This amendment became the constitutional foundation for those who wish to promote the rights and powers of the states vis-à-vis the federal government.
In the early years of the Republic, states' rights were vigorously protected. An early argument involved whether or not states were subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the federal government. In chisholm v. georgia, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) 419, 1 L. Ed. 440 (1793), a South Carolina businessman sued the state of Georgia in order to collect for payment of supplies. The state of Georgia maintained that it was a sovereign body, and so could not be sued since it was not subject to the authority of federal courts. The Supreme Court dismissed this argument and ruled that the conduct of the states was subject to Judicial Review. In response, states' rights advocates pushed for passage of the Eleventh Amendment, which limits the rights of persons to sue a state in federal court.
In 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison proposed the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves to clarify the role of states in checking the powers of the federal government. The resolutions were in response to passage of the alien enemies and sedition acts of 1798 (1 Stat. 570, 1 Stat. 596), which restricted a number of personal liberties. In proposing the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves of 1798, Jefferson argued that the "sovereign and independent states" had the right to "interpose" themselves between their citizens and improper national legislative actions and to "nullify" acts of Congress they deemed unconstitutional. The resolutions started the seed of the doctrines of nullification and interposition, later employed by New England states during the War of 1812, and by South Carolina in opposing federal tariff legislation in 1832.
From the early 1800s until the end of the Civil War in 1865, states' rights played a major role in the U.S. political process. The doctrine was most fully articulated in the writings of South Carolina statesman and political theorist john c. calhoun. Calhoun contended that if acts of the federal government ran contrary to state or local interests, then states had the right to nullify said acts. Calhoun further proposed that states had the right to dissolve their contractual relationship with the federal government rather than submit to policies they saw as destructive to their local self-interests. Followers of Calhoun linked states' rights to slavery, and thus, protecting slavery became the equivalent of protecting regional Southern interests. In 1860, seven Southern states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. The constitution of the Confederacy began, "We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its own sovereign and independent character …."
Northern leaders were also prepared to manipulate the concept of states' rights. As early as the 1820s, Northern legislatures enacted personal liberty laws as devices to block the enforcement of the federal fugitive slave law. Such laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in prigg v. pennsylvania, 41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 539, 10 L. Ed. 1060 (1842). However, when Congress enacted the more stringent Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Northerners responded by again creating personal liberty laws in general defiance of federal fugitive slave policy.
The defeat of the South in the Civil War ended the dispute, and Congress enacted the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, in part, to prevent states from denying certain basic rights to U.S. citizens. Although the Supreme Court substantially restricted the power of these amendments during the late nineteenth century, it did so indirectly, relying on states' rights arguments to justify its actions. The judicial philosophy of the times was also marked by laissez-faire capitalism. Thus, the Court would invoke the Tenth Amendment to strike down federal laws that were characterized as hostile to state interests and then use the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down state legislation that sought to regulate business, labor, and the economy.
This trend continued into the twentieth century. Until the 1930s, the Court frequently used the Tenth Amendment as a device for striking down federal measures, from Child Labor Laws to major pieces of President franklin d. roosevelt's New Deal legislation. Hundreds of state regulatory statutes were also overturned. Only when the states sought to restrict unions or control dissenters did the Court sustain these efforts.
By the late 1930s, however, New Deal policies had dramatically increased the size and power of the federal government. Proponents of states' rights argued against extensive use of the Commerce Clause, which gave the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce, and the federal government's power to tax for the General Welfare. Given the desperate economic situation, such arguments fell on deaf ears. By the end of World War II, centralized authority rested with the federal government.
States' rights were revived in the late 1940s over the matter of race. In the 1948 election, Democrat Harry S. Truman pushed for a more aggressive Civil Rights policy. Southern opponents, known as the "Dixiecrats," bolted the Democratic Party and ran their own candidate, J. strom thurmond. Their "states' rights" platform called for continued racial segregation and denounced proposals for national action on behalf of civil rights.
Desegregation efforts of the 1950s and 1960s, including the Supreme Court's decision in brown v. board of education of topeka, kansas, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954), which ruled that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional, also met with Southern resistance. Segregationists again argued for state sovereignty, and developed programs of massive resistance to racial Integration in public education, public facilities, housing, and access to jobs.
Beginning in the 1960s, other states' rights proponents started stressing the need for local control of government. One reason was the introduction of federal Welfare and subsidy programs. The concern was that along with federal money would come federal control.
By the end of the twentieth century, a number of efforts were being made to curtail the broad power of the federal government. For example, in National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 96 S. Ct. 2465, 49 L. Ed. 2d 245 (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had exceeded its power to regulate interstate commerce when it extended federal Minimum Wage and overtime standards to state and local governments. Determination of state government employees' wages and hours is one of the "attributes of sovereignty attaching to every state government," attributes that "may not be impaired by Congress." Less than ten years later, however, the Court overruled National League in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U.S. 528, 105 S. Ct. 1005, 83 L. Ed. 2d 1016 (1985). Nevertheless, the 5–4 majority in Garcia and the Court's difficulty in articulating a coherent Tenth Amendment Jurisprudence have left this area of states' rights muddled.
The 1980s saw a major shift in government policy. President ronald reagan agreed with the public that the federal government was becoming too involved in state government affairs. As a result, a major focus of his administration was to reduce the size and power of the federal government. States were given more authority to experiment with policy initiatives, especially social programs, which had previously been directed from Washington. Subsequent administrations followed suit. In the early 2000s, however, political analysts commented that a new trend was afoot: both Republicans and Democrats were pushing for federal laws that would preempt state laws, especially state laws that attempted to regulate financial corporations and other types of business.
On this page Word BrowserAdvertisement (Bad banner? Please let us know) Share: Cite / link:Federalism A principle of government that defines the relationship between the central government at the national level and its constituent units at the regional, state, or local levels. Under this principle of government, power and authority is allocated between the national and local governmental units, such that each unit is delegated a sphere of power and authority only it can exercise, while other powers must be shared.
The term federalism is derived from the Latin root foedus, which means "formal agreement or covenant." It includes the interrelationships between the states as well as between the states and the federal government. Governance in the United States takes place at various levels and branches of government, which all take part in the decision-making process. From the U.S. Supreme Court to the smallest local government, a distribution of power allows all the entities of the system to work separately while still working together as a nation. Supreme Court justice hugo l. black wrote that federalism meanta proper respect for state functions, a recognition of the fact that the entire country is made up of a Union of separate State governments, and a continuance of the belief that the National Government will fare best if the States and their institutions are left free to perform their separate functions in their separate ways. (Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91S. Ct. 746, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669 )
The Constitution lists the legislative powers of the federal government. The Tenth Amendment protects the residual powers of the states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Judicial ReviewIn the early 1990s and early 2000s, the U. S. Supreme Court continued to revisit and reshape the concept of federalism in cases pitting the powers and prerogatives of the state and federal government against each other. Perhaps the biggest changes had occurred in the judicial branch, with its power of Judicial Review. Judicial review allows the courts to invalidate acts of the legislative or executive branches if the courts determine that the acts are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court first exercised judicial review of national legislation in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803). The decision, written by Chief Justice John Marshall, followed the principles of Publius in The Federalist, no. 78. The Federalist Papers were based on the principle that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate. The ideas set forth in The Federalist Papers challenged those articles and proposed a new governmental style for the Union.
Judges have five sources of guidance for interpreting the Constitution: the original intention of the founders; arguments based on the theory of the Constitution; arguments based on the Constitution's structure; arguments based on judicial precedent; and arguments based on moral, social, and political values. Across the centuries, several justices have attempted to interpret the original, often vague intention of a document written in the late 1700s. Justice benjamin n. cardozo said, "The great generalities of the constitution have a content and a significance that vary from age to age." Justice Joseph McKenna wrote, "Time works changes, brings into existence new conditions and purposes. Therefore a principle, to be vital, must be capable of wider application than the mischief which gave it birth. This is peculiarly true of constitutions" (Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 30 S. Ct. 544, 54 L. Ed. 793 ).
Although it may seem unlikely that a federal body would favor states' rights over federal, it is not uncommon. For example, in the 1991 case of Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 111 S. Ct. 2546, 115 L. Ed. 2d 640, the Supreme Court chose not to interfere with a state's jurisdiction. Roger Keith Coleman had received a death sentence, which he challenged in the Virginia state and federal courts on the basis that he was an innocent man being executed for a crime he did not commit. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where the majority said,"This is a case about federalism. It concerns the respect that federal courts owe the States and the States' procedural rules when reviewing the claims of state prisoners in federal habeas corpus." The Court ruled that because the state court's decision against Coleman was based on independent and adequate state grounds, it would not review the determination. This deference to state laws is based on the idea that states are separate sovereigns with autonomy that must be taken into consideration.
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