It is often said that the United States is a nation of laws. But exactly how these laws are observed and enforced can differ from state to state. The reason? Long before the Democrats and Republicans came onto the scene, the Federalists were busy establishing a new nation. To avoid the mistakes of the past, America’s first political party decided that sovereignty, or supreme power, must be constitutionally shared. As such, the Federalists gave both central and state governments the right to pass and enforce their own laws. The conflict between state and federal laws has been raging ever since. It is no wonder law firms are often needed to decipher these discrepancies.

What Are Federal Laws?

Passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, federal laws apply in every U.S. state. They often involve the following legal subjects:

– Immigration
– Social Security
– Patents and Copyright Law
– Bankruptcy
– Anti-Discrimination and Civil Rights
– Federal Crime

What Are State Laws?

The U.S. Constitution gives all 50 states the right to devise their own laws. Such laws typically cover issues such as:

– Criminal matters
– Business contracts
– Real estate
– Welfare, Medicaid, and public assistance
– Divorce and family issues
– Inheritances, wills, and estates
– Personal injuries
– Workers’ compensation cases

Possible Conflicts

Although it rarely happens, there are situations where federal and state laws clash. When this occurs, federal laws most often prevail. For example, if a patient wanted to use medical marijuana in a state where it was legal but federal law prohibited it, he/she could not legally use cannabis. This is what is known as the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Everyday Dilemmas

Every time a person crosses state lines, he/she is subject to a new set of laws. Gun laws, traffic laws, estate laws, drug laws, and tax laws are just a few of the rules that may differ slightly, or significantly, from state to state. It is also important to note that marriage and family laws are seldom the same when you move to a new state.

Although state laws vary, federal laws apply in all jurisdictions throughout the United States. Because state laws can differ, it may be difficult to know which laws apply to you. Have questions about the laws in your state? Alexander Shunnarah & Associates represents clients across the Southeast in a wide variety of legal matters, including personal injury. Our skilled legal team can navigate the laws specific to your state as well as federal laws to best represent your case in court.

Special thanks to Brian Turner for the image.