Article VI: Federal Supremacy
What happens when a Federal law and a State law contradict? That’s what Article VI of the Constitution covers, among other things.
- All debts by the United States prior to the adoption of the Constitution are valid against the United States, just as they were under the Articles of Confederation.
- The Constitution and all the laws and treaties made in accordance with the Constitution, are the Supreme Law of the Land (not the Supreme Court, as we are taught).
- Judges in every State are bound by the Constitution, and the Constitution as well as Federal law overrides any contradictory State law.
- Senators, Representatives, members of the State Legislatures, all executive and judicial officers shall be bound by oath to support the Constitution.
- No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
What this means is that Federal Laws trump State Laws. This means that any regulations created by the Federal agencies also trump State law, provided that those laws and regulations were created in accordance with the Constitution.
For example, the States of Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, however, under Federal law, marijuana is still illegal, thus it is still an illegal activity, and one could still be punished by the Federal government for a crime. The President has stated that he isn’t going to enforce that Federal law, but that could be a double edged sword, as it could lead to Impeachment as Dereliction of Duty.
On the other hand, if the Federal government were to create an assault weapons ban, the States could potentially create their own laws overriding any Federal gun ban. This is called Nullification, and the States are within their rights to override any Federal law that they feel is unconstitutional. A few States have approved, or are working on approving same sex marriage. This could also potentially fall under Nullification, as the Federal government does not have the authority to restrict the rights of individuals.
No religious test can be used to disqualify a person from holding public office or an office of profit and trust under the United States. This means a person cannot be disqualified on the basis that they are not Christian, Muslim, Hindu or even non-denominational, non-religious or an atheist.