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Are the Laws Passed by State Legislatures Legally Binding If They Contradict the Constitution?

Updated on September 23, 2017

This is an important question as there are many laws passed by state legislatures across the country each year and these laws need to be in compliance with our national constitution along with their individual state constitutions. Today states are passing laws and have passed laws which contradict either the Constitution or federal laws. Laws that violate the Constitution are technically non-binding. States can pass laws to add additional elements to federal law but they cannot contradict federal law or violate the rights we have under the Constitution.

Under the Constitution the federal government has specific responsibilities and those not delegated to the federal government are the responsibilities of the states. There have been a number of topics for which the federal government has taken control with justification as our world is a far different place than when our country began. The federal government or central government as it was referred to in the beginning was meant to be a support function for the states but it has become for more today than when our country began.

We elect individuals to represent us in our state legislatures and individuals to represent us in conducting the business of the federal government. Today there is more of an atmosphere of ignoring federal law and in some cases the Constitution than at any time in our history. The laws of the federal government are clear in relation to the topics they address and the Constitution is clear as to the responsibilities of the federal government but states seem to be ignoring these requirements and passing laws which are a push back on the federal government.

Recently a state passed a law requiring police officers to ignore federal immigration laws by not notifying the federal government with respect to illegal aliens within their state or city. Federal laws require compliance not acting as though they do not exist. It is true that some states are more liberal than others when it comes to generating laws and I do not have a problem with this philosophy but political philosophy has no place within state laws when they ignore both the Constitution and federal laws.

State legislatures do not have the freedom to write whatever laws they feel need to be written for their individual citizens. The principle in place and has been supported many times within our justice system that federal laws take precedence over state laws and the Constitution takes precedent over state constitutions. The attitude of some state legislatures to act in accordance with political party philosophy rather than honoring federal laws and the Constitution has no place in the United States. We as voters must or should send a message that their state representatives and senators must honor federal laws and the Constitution. Federal laws are there for a reason and are generally issued as a result of situations or topics that need to be addressed which have surfaced. Sometimes it is a matter of clarification while other times it is a matter of protecting the citizens of the United States.

In addition to state laws being in violation of federal laws and the constitution it is also a fact that some cities have generated policies which are in violation of federal law and the constitution. Actions which are taken either by state legislatures or city governments which are not in the best interest of their citizens such as safety and security create an environment that is a recipe for disaster. Even with this situation when incidents happen there is no movement to change the bad decisions to improve the security and safety of their citizens. State governments and local governments cannot in any respect violate federal law, the constitution or their individual state constitution. If it is felt that laws or constitutions need to be changed there is a process for proposing these changes it is through our elected representatives at each level of government. If citizens feel their elected officials are making bad decisions they can send a strong voice come election time that they are dissatisfied with the decisions that they are making or have made. Changes that make the environment of states worse need to be corrected and if such decisions are not made than the citizens of each state should remove them from office and replace them with individuals who will cater to their safety, security and their needs.


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