The current decisions coming out of the Supreme Court have led to chaos. Between the recent rulings on gun control and abortion, people are losing their minds screaming they are violating the laws and how returning decisions to the states is unconstitutional.
The left-leaning news media, the Biden administration, and many others are effectively questioning the role of the Supreme Court, so we should probably discuss some of the differences between state and federal law.
Federal Laws for All Citizens
Let’s start by discussing federal Laws and what they cover. Federal law is created on the national level and applies to the entire Nation (states and territories). The foundation of federal laws is based on the Constitution. It also represents the government taking responsibility and establishing its power. These laws also have to preserve the basic rights of every citizen.
Federal laws are typical of broader topics of federal criminal laws and associated more with the Constitution. Some examples of these Federal laws include:
- Civil Rights
- Patent and Copyright
- Federal Criminals
Federal laws can only be created by the U.S. Congress; both houses have to pass the law and it needs to be signed by the president. These are the basics of what defines these types of laws. So, what about state laws?
State Laws for Where You Live
State laws are laws created and applied to a specific state. This law will apply to everyone within the state; residents and visitors. This also applies to businesses, corporations, and other organizations that are based or operating in the state. State laws are made for individual states and only apply within that state. Most of these laws act as guidelines on what you can and cannot do.
The scope of state laws is more specific. While there are plenty of ridiculous laws that would make anyone laugh. One example of these weird laws comes from New Jersey. This New Jersey law states that it is illegal to commit a crime while wearing a bulletproof vest. After all, someone who is ready to commit a crime would not be worried about breaking another law. However, all of these weird laws also apply to categories that state laws cover seriously. Some of these categories include:
- Divorce and Family Matters
- Inheritance and Estates
- Real Estate
- Personal Injury
The state legislators are the ones who create the laws. These laws only go into effect when the governor signs them. Now that we understand the difference between federal and state laws, let’s talk about how they interact!
Federal vs State Laws
Just like the recent Supreme Court decisions, there are times when state and federal laws come into conflict. While these cases were a bit more complicated, there are some basic facts about when federal and state laws trump each other. First of all, there is the presumption of conflict. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, it is always presumed that federal law will supersede state law. However, there are times when States win over the federal statute.
If state law provides more rights than the federal one, the state’s law will prevail. While States cannot be more restrictive of rights, they are allowed to give more rights to their residents. In this case, the federal government cannot infringe on these rights.
These laws can be confusing when it comes to conflicts. For example, if you follow a state law that is in conflict with federal law, the state cannot arrest you. However, the federal government can hold you accountable. One event that shows this conflict is marijuana use, where legalization in some states came into conflict with the federal law at the time. In addition, if the state law calls into question a federal law, it often leads to the Supreme Court becoming involved.
It is important to understand the difference between federal and state laws to know where their jurisdiction begins and ends. Then maybe we could work together to find more common ground while respecting the opinions and concerns of fellow citizens.