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The Law of American State Constitutions$
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Robert F. Williams

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195343083

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343083.001.0001

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Federal Limits on State Constitutions

Federal Limits on State Constitutions

The Law of American State Constitutions

Robert F. Williams

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the various ways in which state constitutions are limited by the federal Constitution and federal law, which are the supreme law of the land. Provisions in state constitutions can violate not only the federal Constitution itself, but also federal statutory law, administrative regulations, federal common law, and even treaties and interstate compacts. In addition, enabling acts passed by Congress to facilitate the admission of new states can have continuing, limiting effect on states' constitutions to the extent that such federal provisions are based on ongoing congressional power (not just the power to admit new states). In some contexts federal law can preempt the provisions of state constitutions. All of these ways in which federal law limits the content of state constitutions are enforceable by the courts.

Keywords:   preemption, interstate compact, federal common law, treaties, administrative regulations, federal Constitution, limits

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