Supremacy Clause

The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States (Article VI, Clause 2), establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the "supreme Law of the Land", and thus take priority over any conflicting state laws.[1] It provides that state courts are bound by, and state constitutions subordinate to, the supreme law.[2] However, federal statutes and treaties are supreme only if they do not contravene the Constitution.[3]

In essence, it is a conflict-of-laws rule specifying that certain federal acts take priority over any state acts that conflict with federal law, but when federal law conflicts with the Constitution that law is null and void. In this respect, the Supremacy Clause follows the lead of Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation, which provided that "Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress Assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them."[3] A constitutional provision announcing the supremacy of federal law, the Supremacy Clause assumes the underlying priority of federal authority, only when that authority is expressed in the Constitution itself.[4] No matter what the federal government or the states might wish to do, they have to stay within the boundaries of the Constitution. This makes the Supremacy Clause the cornerstone of the whole American political structure.[5][6]

Text

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.[7]