Is it constitutional for the federal government to ban a state law?

So a friend and I were having a debate and what i want to know is can the U.S federal government pass a LAW that bans a state law? I know the supreme court can declare a law unconstitutional, but can congress pass a law that says a states law is no longer valid? I.E a state has a three strikes law and the federal government passes a bill that says those states must get rid of that law and/or those laws are no longer valid.

The amendment say that all powers not given to the federal government are given to the state, so would such a law be unconstitutional?

Sources would be helpful.


Okay so it seems some of you were confused on what I meant. I know that federal law trumps state law when they conflict, but what I wanted to know was can they change a states law without a supreme court ruling.

Lets say marijuana is LEGAL on a FEDERAL level but ILLEGAL on a STATE level. Can the federal congress pass a law that says states may not ban marijuana without a supreme court case ruling the STATE law unconstitutional?

6 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Not exactly, but you're close. Take DOMA for example. This is a federal statute which directly contradicts several state laws. DOMA doesn't "ban" those laws. But a plaintiff can challenge the state law on the grounds that it fails to comply with the federal law. In this situation the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution would operate to invalidate the state law.

    Another example is the end of Separate but Equal policies.

    After Brown v. Board of education the state of Kansas refused to desegregate schools in direct violation of a Supreme Court order. The Kansas legislature even passed a bill imposing criminal & civil penalties on any state official who tried to implement desegregation.

    Another plaintiff challenged Kansas' refusal to desegregate schools, and in a separate opinion the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a state to pass a law that directly contradicted a Supreme Court decision.

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  • 7 years ago

    Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution is called the 'supremacy clause'. It states that the Constitution, all laws made by the fed. govt., and also treaties, will be the SUPREME law of the land. IOW if federal and state laws conflict, the federal law takes precedence.

    "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."

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  • 7 years ago

    However, "a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all. It is void and of no effect..if a law is unconstitutional and therefore void and of no effect, it is up to the states, the parties to the federal compact, to declare it so and thus refuse to enforce it."

    Source(s): Nullification, chapter one, Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
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  • 7 years ago

    The federal Government can trump a state law but, it doesn't mean what the feds do is Constitutional.

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  • 7 years ago

    Federal law supercedes state law.

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  • Sum
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Hahahaha - of course. The states just can't pass any stupid law that pops into their heads.

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