What is the supreme law of the land is an important question and you must know why it matters. It is a term that refers to the highest form of law that governs a nation. It is the foundation upon which all other laws are built and enforced.
For the United States of America, the supreme law of the land is its Constitution, federal laws, and treaties unless they are in direct conflict with the Constitution itself. The Constitution is, therefore, the founding document of the American political system and the source of its legitimacy.
The Supremacy Clause
So what is the supreme law of the land? The term “the supreme law of the land” is derived from Clause 2 of Article VI of the United States Constitution. It is also known as the Supremacy Clause. This clause states that:
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, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Supremacy Clause establishes that the federal government has authority over the state governments when it comes to matters of national interest or concern. It also obliges state judges to uphold federal laws and treaties even if they conflict with state laws. The Supremacy Clause is meant to resolve any potential legal disputes between different levels of government and to ensure a uniform application of federal law across the nation.
The History of the Law of the Land
The concept of what is the supreme law of the land has its roots in the Magna Carta. And a historical document that was issued by King John of England in 1215. The Magna Carta contained a provision that stated that no one could be deprived of their rights or liberties except by “the law of the land”. This phrase was later translated into Latin as “lex terrae” and into English as “the law of the land”. The Magna Carta influenced the development of constitutional law in both England and America.
The term “the supreme law of the land” was first used in the United States Constitution in 1787, after the American Revolution. The framers of the Constitution drew inspiration from the Magna Carta and other sources of political thought to create a system of government that was based on popular sovereignty, limited power, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and individual rights. The Constitution was ratified by nine out of thirteen states in 1788 and became effective in 1789.
The Importance of What is the Supreme Law of the Land?
The supremacy of the Constitution is essential for maintaining a democratic republic that respects the rule of law and protects human dignity. The Constitution defines the structure, functions, and powers of the federal government. And its relationship with the states and the people. It also guarantees certain fundamental rights and freedoms to all citizens and residents.
The Constitution can be amended by a supermajority vote of Congress and three-fourths of the states, or by a national convention called by two-thirds of the states. This process ensures that the Constitution can adapt to changing circumstances and reflect the will of the people.
How else does it serve?
The question of what is the supreme law of the land also serves as a guide and a constraint for all branches and levels of government. The legislative branch must pass laws that are consistent with the Constitution. Otherwise, they can be challenged in court or repealed by subsequent legislation.
The executive branch must enforce laws that are constitutional; otherwise, they can be vetoed by Congress or overturned by judicial review. The judicial branch must interpret laws that are constitutional; otherwise, they can be overruled by constitutional amendments or new precedents. All public officials must swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Otherwise, they can be impeached, removed from office, or prosecuted for violating their oath.
Challenges to the Supreme Law of the Land
The supremacy of the Constitution and the federal laws and treaties made under its authority has not always been accepted or respected by the states or other actors. There have been several instances where the supreme law of the land has been challenged or violated, either intentionally or unintentionally, by different parties.
What is the supreme law of the land is more than just a legal term. And it is a symbol of American identity and values. It reflects the principles and ideals that shaped the nation’s history and culture. It expresses the aspirations and expectations that guide its future. Also, it represents the common ground and shared vision that unites its diverse people. It is, in short, what makes America America.
1. What is another name for Clause 2 of Article VI of the US Constitution?
The Supremacy Clause.
2. What historical document influenced the concept of “What is the supreme law of the land”?
The Magna Carta.
3. How can the US Constitution be amended?
By a supermajority vote of Congress and three-fourths of states, or by a national convention called by two-thirds of states.
4. What are some examples of rights guaranteed by the Constitution?
Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, petition; right to bear arms; right to due process of law; right to trial by jury; right to vote; etc.