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How many laws has the US Supreme Court declared unconstitutional?

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2014-04-02 20:12:28
2014-04-02 20:12:28

The list would be too long for this format. The US Supreme Court has declared a total of 1,315 laws (as of 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available; the database may be updated in 2012) unconstitutional using the process of judicial review.

The first time the Court declared a federal law unconstitutional was in Chief Justice John Marshall's opinion for Marbury v. Madison, 5 US 137 (1803), in which he asserted Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional because it extended to the Supreme Court an act of original jurisdiction not explicitly granted by the Constitution.

Unconstitutional and Preempted Laws 1789-2002

According to the GPO (Government Printing Office Database):

1789-2002 Acts of Congress Held as Unconstitutional..............................158

1789-2002 State Statutes held unconstitutional......................................935

1789-2002 City Ordinances held unconstitutional....................................222

1789-2002 State and City laws preempted by Federal Laws.......................224

Total State, Local and Federal Laws Declared Unconstitutional................1,315

Total State and Local Law Preempted by Federal Laws..............................224

Total Laws Overturned, all governments..............................................1,539

You can find a list of federal laws held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court; state and local laws held unconstitutional or preempted by federal laws; and Supreme Court decisions overruled by subsequent decision, at the end of the congressional publication The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation(popularly known as the Constitution Annotated, or CONAN).

This publication is prepared by the Congressional Research Service and issued as a U.S. Senate document every 10 years and is updated by a cumulative supplement every two years. The latest edition and supplement are available online to the general public at the Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System (FDsys) Web site: (See Related Links, below. It will be listed in the "Featured Collections" menu on the right.) Your congressman has access to a more frequently updated version of the Constitution Annotated in XML format, but this version is not currently available to the public.

Here is a table of the total numbers for each category taken from the June 2002 edition and the 2010 cumulative supplement:

1789 - 2002

Acts of Congress held unconstitutional.......................................158

State laws held unconstitutional...................................................935

Ordinances held unconstitutional.................................................122

State and local laws held preempted by federal laws…...............224

Supreme Court decisions overruled by subsequent decision.......220

1789 - 2010

Acts of Congress held unconstitutional........................................165

State Laws held unconstitutional..................................................948

Ordinances held unconstitutional..................................................124

State and local laws held preempted by federal laws....................234

Supreme Court decisions overruled by subsequent decision........233

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