Surprise: Law Professor Misinterprets Supremacy Clause

Have you ever read an article that you were not sure what stance the author takes on the subject but presents both sides of the argument at once? I had the distinguished experience recently when I was reading the article titled “Sheriffs, State Lawmakers Push Back on Gun Control” on the Newsmax website (see: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Gun-Control-Pushback/2013/01/17/id/471825). It was a little confusing until I got about half way through it and read a quote by Sam Kamin.

Sam is a constitutional law professor at the University of Denver. One would think that if someone was a law professor that they would actually know and understand the law. Or in this case, a constitutional law professor – who should then know and understand the constitution. It is highly unfortunate when people like Sam misspeak about a subject. Their title gives them some credibility so people think what they say is true because they are supposedly an “expert”. But, when they make a mistake it is still a mistake.

The Supremacy Clause of Article VI, Clause 2 reads:

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, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Sam makes the comment that state legislatures can pass any laws they want but that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes such actions unconstitutional. He further states that when there is a conflict between state and federal law, the federal government is supreme. Nothing could be farther from the truth. His blanket statement implies that the state laws are not necessary and state governments are not necessary because the federal government and its laws are supreme.

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Constitutional Ignorance from the Tennessee AG

In an opinion released today on the Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act (HFA), State Attorney General Robert Cooper informs us that the Act is unconstitutional (and in essence, shouldn’t be passed by the legislature). Here’s his argument, in short (read the full opinion here): Congressional power to preempt state law arises from the Supremacy Clause…

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Selective Reading Of The Constitution

One favored method of dismissing the sovereignty of state governments is to quote the Supremacy Clause, saying that since the Constitution is the supreme law of the land that state laws are necessarily subordinate to federal law. The only problem with this reading is that they fail to read the entire Supremacy Clause. To remedy…

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The Supremacy Clause Vs. the 10th Amendment: Who Has the Power?

The feds do, according to an article at Nolan Chart on Monday, which specifically takes issue with the idea that nullification is a power left to the states by virtue of its having never been surrendered: In order to advocate their belief nullification or Tenth Amendment advocates ignore the specific language of the Constitution prohibiting…

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Getting the Supremacy Clause Wrong

An article in today’s New York Times discusses the recent growth of state-level resistance to a future national health care plan. In 2010, voters in Arizona will have a chance to approve a state constitutional amendment that would effectively ban national health care in that state. Legislators in Florida and Michigan have already introduced similar…

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