When state law and federal law conflict, federal law displaces, or preempts, state law, due to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. U.S. Const. art. VI., § 2. Preemption applies regardless of whether the conflicting laws come from legislatures, courts, administrative agencies, or constitutions. For example, the Voting Rights Act, an act of Congress, preempts state constitutions, and FDA regulations may preempt state court judgments in cases involving prescription drugs.
Congress has preempted state regulation in many areas. In some cases, such as medical devices, Congress preempted all state regulation. In others, such as labels on prescription drugs, Congress allowed federal regulatory agencies to set national minimum standards, but did not preempt state regulations imposing more stringent standards than those imposed by federal regulators. Where rules or regulations do not clearly state whether or not preemption should apply, the Supreme Court tries to follow lawmakers’ intent, and prefers interpretations that avoid preempting state laws.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
1) The principle that a federal law supercedes a state law (and a state law supercedes a local law) where both governments have made laws on the same subject and the laws conflict. 2) The right of purchasing before others (for example, a preemptive right).
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:22 pm