Article VI: The Supremacy Clause


Article VI of the US Constitution is used often by government officials and pundits, when they are trying to justify significant federal power grabs. Since 9/11, we have seen many runs on constitutional rights through legislation that chooses to arbitrarily decide which rights need to go, so that they (Uncle Sam) can keep us “safe and secure”. Article VI is home of the so called, “Supremacy Clause” and it is generally invoked when the party in power at any given time, decides that the 9th and 10th amendment don’t exist and there is an urgent need to attack the individual freedom of Americans.  The minority party will cry foul and invoke the 9th and 10th amendments in response to the power grab. However, when power and authority shifts in DC the roles of each side tend to change. We have become accustomed to twist the constitution here and bend it there, in order to create something that we are happy with. The Bill of Rights has become a political tool of both parties, and we have Republicans and Democrats pick and choose the parts they like at any given time, while ignoring parts that they disagree with. There is no objectivity anymore, there is only arbitrary slicing and dicing of our founding document, as politicians look to impose their will on the masses. Here we will take a look at the US Constitution and see what our founders had to say about usurpation of authority at the peoples’ expense.

The constitution imposes restrictions on the federal government, not on the people. The individual sovereign states allowed for the creation of a central government. In Article VI, the Supremacy Clause states,” 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.” This suggests that federal law “in pursuance thereof” the legal “authority of the United States” is the law of the land. Authority that is usurped by congress, or any other government entity, in the form of legislation or regulation is not lawful, therefore it does not fall under the “authority of the United States”. In other words, a majority vote in congress, or even a super-majority, does not make an unconstitutional government act legal. Congress still has to operate within constitutional boundaries that were established by our founding fathers, via our founding document. States have much more flexibility when it comes to regulation and other legislative fixes that are aimed at the local/state level. The states created the federal government, with the understanding that this central government was going to be very limited in scope, and kept of a leash, to prevent much of what we are seeing today from power hungry oligarchs. They saw a need for central power, but they also acknowledged the potential for an abuse of this power if controls were not maintained.

Federal drug laws could qualify as federal overreach, as the US Congress has no constitutional authority to ban or prohibit anything. The US Congress is given the responsibility of regulating foreign and interstate commerce, but regulation does not equal prohibition. Hence the Commerce Clause is a tough sell if you are looking for legal justification for federal drug laws.  We have recently seen the states move to nullify the federal laws regarding marijuana in various forms. This has been a textbook case of state nullification of unconstitutional federal law. It is only acceptable for a state to act in this manner, if the federal law blatantly violates the constitution (9th and 10th amendment). On the flip side, cities and states that provide safe passage, and asylum for criminals that are here illegally, are not justified in doing so because they are aiding rapists, murderers, thieves, and other deviants, as they elude law enforcement, and wreak havoc on the population. There are not many ways that you can attempt to spin that.

People love to quote the constitution, when they are attempting to justify their position. Article VI is invoked when one is trying to argue for more federal power, while the 10th amendment would be used to argue in favor of state’s rights. There are very few people that can read and interpret constitutional law, without allowing a world view and personal bias to interfere with objective thought/decision making.  People have a hard time acknowledging constitutional principles when those principles differ from their own. The law is not subject to an individual’s discretion. The law is always the law, even if someone doesn’t care for it. American law and the Constitution makes more sense to the average person if there is not an expectation that everything contained within will be to one’s liking. The very foundation of this American experiment, and self-government, is the belief that individuals making their own decisions and being free to choose the direction of their life and career, provides a free society with the most potential for advancing the human race, and human condition. People should be allowed to do what they do, as long as it does not infringe the rights of others to do the same.


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Avatar photo About Jason Brown

Jason A Brown currently works for a Department of Defense contractor at a clinic in Tampa Florida. He is currently in Pediatrics but has also worked Family Health. Aside from working full time Jason also possesses a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security. With a full time job, a wife and 13 year old daughter, Jason still finds time to educate people on America’s founding document, US history, and the US Constitution, through his writing, as it is one of his passions.


  1. […] the States would become part of a nation, subject to the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the central government would still be limited to only the powers granted by the Constitution, with […]