Question for lawyers about states rights


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somerandomguy
February 19, 2013, 06:36 PM
I've heard somewhere that a state constitution trumps ALL federal laws due to the states rights clause part of the federal constitution. So theoretically if Iowa passed a state constitution provision stating that:

"Adult citizens have the right to purchase, keep, carry, and bear; firearms, ammunition, and accessories, regardless of type, functionality, or use."

That federal law COULD NOT override it. Is that true? If so, we might want to also try fighting gun control at the state level starting with the pro- 2nd ammendment states.

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Crashola
February 19, 2013, 06:43 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacy_Clause

danprkr
February 19, 2013, 06:45 PM
Sadly we lost that fight in 1864

InkEd
February 19, 2013, 06:50 PM
Yep.

Carl N. Brown
February 19, 2013, 07:21 PM
Actually, we lost that fight with the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1938 Federal Firearms Act when the Roosevelt Administration federalized gun control, which before then had been exclusively a matter for the states.

Under the supremacy clause of the US Constitution, the federal Constitution and federal laws have always trumped state constitutions and state laws.

Phatty
February 19, 2013, 07:53 PM
The U.S. Constitution was set up so that the federal government only had the powers expressly provided to it by the Constitution, and all others powers were reserved to the States. Nothing has changed in that regard since the Constitution was originally ratified.

Over time, however, the Supreme Court has interpreted the federal powers in the Constitition more and more broadly, particularly during the FDR years. The biggest offender has been the Commerce Clause, which the federal government now uses as the basis for almost all of its legislation. As the scope of the Commerce Clause increased, the powers reserved to the States decreased.

CarolinaChuck
February 19, 2013, 08:18 PM
I've heard somewhere that a state constitution trumps ALL federal laws due to the states rights clause part of the federal constitution. So theoretically if Iowa passed a state constitution provision stating that:



I ain't no lawyer, so take it for what it is worth. There is no such provision in the Constitution; I believe you are refering to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

If that's the case, there is a legal difference to an anmendment and a rewritting and a revision in the eyes of the law.

The Constitution is the highest law of the land, and the Bill of Rights is subjugated to it. I do notice that the weasels in DC take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and not the Bill of Rights...

You can send the lawyers back in now, if you can trust em.

Chuck

Frank Ettin
February 19, 2013, 09:28 PM
I've heard somewhere that a state constitution trumps ALL federal laws due to the states rights clause part of the federal constitution....You heard wrong.

...if Iowa passed a state constitution provision stating that:
...

That federal law COULD NOT override it.No. Federal law absolutely can, and does, override.

See the Constitution of the United States, Article VI, Clause 2 (emphasis added): 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.

And yes, I'm a lawyer.

Some folks might be interested in Spat McGee's (another lawyer on this board and a moderator over at TFL) little primer on the Constitution (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=700582).

Outlaw Man
February 20, 2013, 09:02 AM
The key phrase is "made in Pursuance thereof." State Constitution (or even the lack of any law whatsoever) trumps an unconstitutional federal law.

But guess who you have to convince....

Frank Ettin
February 20, 2013, 11:19 AM
The key phrase is "made in Pursuance thereof." State Constitution (or even the lack of any law whatsoever) trumps an unconstitutional federal law...But you don't get to decide whether a federal law is unconstitutional. That will be up to the U. S. Supreme Court.

That's something else the Founding Fathers provided for in the Constitutions (Article III):Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish....

Section 2. The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution,...

And thus disagreements concerning the application of the the Constitution to the resolution of particular disputes is the province of the federal courts -- something clearly the Founders intended.

The exercise of judicial power and the deciding of cases arising under the Constitution necessarily involves interpreting and applying the Constitution to the circumstances of the matter in controversy in order to decide the dispute.

And, as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in the decision in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803):....It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department [the judicial branch] to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each.

So, if a law [e.g., a statute or treaty] be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty. If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.....

Note also that many of the Founding Fathers (the delegates to the Constitutional Convention who signed the Constitution) were lawyers. They were familiar with English Common Law (the basis of out legal system) and that for a long time it had been customary for the courts, under the Common Law, to consider the validity of such matters as the Acts of Parliament and the actions of the Crown under the rather amorphous collection of statutes, court judgments, treaties, etc., that became understood in the Common Law to be the English Constitution. And thus there was Common Law precedent, as no doubt understood by the Founding Fathers, for the invalidation of a law as unconstitutional being within the scope of the exercise of judicial power. (And English cases continued to be cites by courts of the United States for many years after Independence.)

And while John Marshall may not have been a Founding Father, he wasn't at the Constitutional Convention, he should at least be entitled to be considered a founding uncle. He was a delegate to the Virginia Convention that would ratify or reject the Constitution and, together with James Madison and Edmund Randolf, led the fight for ratification.

Outlaw Man
February 20, 2013, 03:35 PM
I don't disagree at all, Frank. Just pointing out the slim chance where the OP could be "correct."

I'm with you on Marshall. He's much like John Adams, who missed out on the Convention, but had a great hand in writing many of the items within it. However, Marshall is nearly unknown to anyone who doesn't study that era on their own.

yinyangdc
February 21, 2013, 05:48 PM
The Constitution is the highest law of the land, and the Bill of Rights is subjugated to it. I do notice that the weasels in DC take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and not the Bill of Rights...Pardon me if my ignorance is showing, but don't amendments, once ratified, become part of the Constitution, over-riding any previous applicable article in the Constitution?

1911austin
February 21, 2013, 06:11 PM
Pardon me if my ignorance is showing, but don't amendments, once ratified, become part of the Constitution, over-riding any previous applicable article in the Constitution?



You are 100% correct. In addition, the states would not have ratified the Constitution without the understanding that the Bill of Rights would happen. The original Constitution recognize the enumerated powers of the Federal Government but the anti-federalist insisted on a “Bill of Rights” to protect the states and citizens from the Federal Government.

Frank Ettin
February 21, 2013, 06:16 PM
I don't disagree at all, Frank. Just pointing out the slim chance where the OP could be "correct." Understood. I'm sorry for my misunderstanding.


The Constitution is the highest law of the land, and the Bill of Rights is subjugated to it. I do notice that the weasels in DC take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and not the Bill of Rights...Pardon me if my ignorance is showing, but don't amendments, once ratified, become part of the Constitution, over-riding any previous applicable article in the Constitution? Yinyangdc is essentially correct. An amendment to the Constitution indeed becomes part of the Constitution and supersedes any prior, inconsistent provision.

gatorjames85
February 21, 2013, 07:12 PM
The Bill of Rights, like any other amendment are part of the Constitution.

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