The U.S. Constitution defines the federal legislative body. Article 1, Section 1 states that “[a]ll legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

Article 1, Section 8 also identifies the areas -such as interstate commerce - over which Congress has legislative powers. In other words, the Constitution tells us when federal statutes are binding, and what legal issues need to be researched at the federal level. Additionally, Article I, Section 8 empowers Congress to “make all [other] Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.” This wording has caused many legal battles that often ended up in courts. As the result of such a legal battle, the Supreme Court may declare a federal statute unconstitutional. One such example was discussed earlier in the Supreme Court case of //United States v. Lopez//, 514 U.S. 549 (1995).

In those areas, federal legislation takes precedence over conflicting state legislation; it is said that federal legislation preempts state legislation. For example, as Miller and Davis wrote in their Intellectual Property (Nutshell Treatise), about copyright infringement, “state cause of action securing to an author an exclusive right to copy a tangible expression clearly interferes with federal regulation [the Copyright Act] and is preempted” (2012, 416). The Copyright Act is codified in title 17 of the United States Code, and the preemption provisions are included in [Section 30l].

Similarly, at the state level, each state Constitution defines that state’s legislative body. For example, Article III of the New York Constitution vests the state’s power to pass statutes in a bi-cameral body made up of the Senate and Assembly: "The legislative power of this state shall be vested in the senate and assembly.”

Understanding how federalism works is a must when it comes to legal research.