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Part I State Constitutions in American Constitutional Federalism, 4 Federal Limits on State Constitutions

From: The Law of American State Constitutions

Robert F. Williams

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 07 May 2021

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.

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