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Laws passed by state legislature



Laws passed by commissioners and city counsels



Between different nations or different states


Case law

Common law
- The law as established by the outcome of former cases.


Executive does what?

Carries out the law


Code of Federal Regulations

Where all of the laws are


What kind of government does the US have?

Constitutional Republic



A system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.
- The authority to govern is divided between two sovereigns, or supreme lawmakers: the federal government and the states.


Separation of powers

The Constitution divides power among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The system of checks and balances allocates specific powers to each branch to keep the other branches from dominating government.


What are the three branches of government?

Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches


Judicial review

The power of a court to review legislative and executive actions, such as a law or an official act of a government employee or agent, to determine whether they are constitutional.
- Not found in Constitution, it’s common law
- Also allows courts to review the constitutionality of lower courts' decisions.


Marbury vs. Madison

Supreme Court case that started judicial review


Supremacy clause

Article VI, Paragraph 2, of the US Constitution, which states that the Constitution and all laws and treaties of the US constitute the supreme law of the land. Thus, any state or local law that directly conflicts with the US Constitution or federal laws or treaties is void.
- Federal law trumps state law
- Concurrent authority means they can both pass laws
- State laws must be as strict or stricter than federal laws


How does the Legislative brach check the other branches?

Checks on Executive branch:
- Can refuse to approve president's budget
- Can overrule presidential vetoes
- Can refuse to approve presidential appointments
- Can refuse to ratify treaties
- Can impeach and remove president

Checks on Judicial branch:
- Can pass amendments to overrule judicial rulings
- Can impeach judges
- Establishes lower courts and sets number of judges


How does the Executive branch check the other branches?

Checks on Legislative branch:
- Can veto laws passed by legislative branch
- Can call special sessions of Congress

Checks on Judicial branch:
- Appoints federal judges
- Can pardon federal offenders


How does the Judicial branch check the other branches?

Checks on Executive branch:
- Can declare acts of the executive branch unconstitutional

Checks on the Legislative branch:
- Can declare laws passed by Congress unconstitutional


Federal preemption

A principle asserting the supremacy of federal legislation over state legislation when both pertain to the same matter.
- The federal government uses this doctrine to strike down laws that do not directly conflict with a federal law but attempt to regulate and area within federal legislative jurisdiction.


Commerce clause

Clause 3 of Article I, Section 8, of the US Constitution, which authorizes Congress to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes.
- Primary source of authority for the federal
- They have the power to regulate interstate commerce, which means states cannot regulate interstate commerce
- Gives power to the federal and takes away from the state


US v. Lopez Case

- Has to do with the commerce clause

1995 case: The Court ruled that Congress had exceeded its commerce clause authority when it passed the gun-free school zone act, a law banning the possession of guns within 1,000 feet of any school. In its ruling, the Court said that Congress could not regulate in an area that had "nothing to do with commerce, or any sort of enterprise"


Zancala v. Morris case

Happened on a college campus, lady was assaulted and raped and filed a complaint with the school.
- The school held a meeting and suspended the two guys for two semesters and then they didn’t suspend them.
- The girl dropped out and sued the school and the two guys
- She said they violated the violence against women act (passed by congress)
- Congress said they got the power to pass the law from the commerce clause- they said it affects interstate commerce, but it was turned down because it has nothing to do with commerce
- To make this decision, they looked at the Lopez case.


Police power

Power retained by each state to pass laws that protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.
- ex. Drinking age


1937 case NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp

In this case, the Court ruled that Congress could regulate labor relations at a manufacturing plant because a work stoppage at the plant would seriously affect interstate commerce. The Court states that "although activities may be intrastate in character when separately considered, if they have such a close and substantial relationship to interstate commerce that their control is essential or appropriate to protect that commerce from burdens or obstructions, Congress cannot be denied the power to exercise that control."


Dormant commerce clause

A restriction on states’ authority that is implied in the commerce clause of the US Constitution: The power given to Congress to enact legislation that affects interstate commerce in effect prohibits a state from passing legislation that improperly burdens interstate commerce.
- Federal government regulates interstate commerce, which means state government can’t
- State would want to do that to protect themselves and reduce competition, but they can’t do this because it’s discriminatory


Can the federal government use their taxing powers to promote certain industries/businesses?

example- electric cars
(Article 1, Section 8)

another example: Highways- If the drinking fund is under 21, you don’t get highway funds, which made states change their drinking age in order to get those funds. This is how they use spending power to persuade us


Article 1, Section 8

- Grants Congress spending power
- Power to lay and collect taxes, as long as it has the motive to generate revenue for the Federal government
- South Dakota v. Dole


South Dakota v. Dole

The Supreme court upheld a federal statute that grants federal funds for state highways to only those states in which 21 is the legal drinking age.


Privileges and immunities clause

Clause in the US Constitution requiring a state to grant citizens of other states the same legal benefits that it grants its own citizens.
- States can’t discriminate against citizens of other states when engaging in ordinary and essential activities.
- These activities include buying and selling property, seeking employment, and using the court system.


Full faith and credit clause

The clause of the US Constitution (Article IV, Section 1) mandating that each state must recognize, respect, and enforce the public records, legislative acts, and judicial decisions of the other states.
- Protects wills, marriage, and divorce decrees, and judgments in civil courts.
o This means if you’re married in Georgia, Alabama has to recognize this based on this clause.
o If you have a legally binding thing in one state, it is binding in all state.
- However, states don’t have to give full faith and credit to laws that violate their public policy (ex. Same sex marriage).


Contract clause

The clause in the US Constitution that prohibits the government from unreasonably interfering with an existing contract (Article I, Section 10).
- 1934 US Supreme Court case Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell
- For example, if you’re paying $500 for an apartment and a law is passed that says no more than $400 can be charged for a lease, you still have to pay $500 until the lease is over.


1934 US Supreme Court case Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell

The Home Building & Loan Association challenged Minnesota's Mortgage Moratorium Act as a violation of the contract clause.
The act, implemented temporarily during the Great Depression, authorized courts to extend the redemption periods of mortgages to delay foreclosures of mortgages on real estate. The Court ruled that the act's provisions were within the state's police power to protect its citizens and did not violate the contract clause. Although the act impaired contractual obligations between lenders and borrowers, the Court held that courts must balance even substantial contractual impairments against states' interest in protecting the welfare of their citizens.