According to Wikipedia,

The Supremacy Clause is the provision in Article Six, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution that establishes the United States Constitution, federal statutes, and treaties as "the supreme law of the land." It provides that these are the highest form of law in the United States legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either a state constitution or state law of any state.

Does the Supremacy Clause apply for administrative law? Say the Federal Government enacts a Freedom of Information Act, and the States don't or they pass inferior legislation with fewer rights. Or say that the Federal Government enacts a law regulating the advertising activities in the public sector. Those are purely administrative matters. Does the Supremacy Clause dictate that the inferior or missing legislation by the states is supplanted by the federal law?

1 Answer 1


In general, no. One reason is that those laws say that federal agencies must do X; for instance, "agency" in FOIA is defined as "each authority of the Government of the United States." Laws regulating what federal agencies must do apply only to federal agencies, because they explicitly say so. Anything beyond that is generally not considered to be administrative law, because it's regulating the actions of a different government.

Regulating the internal organization of state governments is also mostly outside the powers of the federal government; it's unlikely the feds could pass a national FOIA even if they wanted to. There are exceptions when constitutionally authorized; for instance, the feds can bring suit against a police department for violating civil rights laws, and as part of resolving the dispute can enter into a consent degree setting out new administrative procedures. This is the exception, however, not the rule (and even with a consent degree the department has to agree to the new procedures).

  • 2
    ... hence why it's called a consent decree.
    – Bobson
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 1:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .