Validity of State Statutes

Federal jurisdictional statute provides that final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a state in which a decision could be had may be reviewed by the Supreme Court where the validity of a statute of any State is drawn in question on the ground of its being repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the U.S.[i]

A statute is a law established by the act of the legislative power.[ii]  Any enactment to which a State gives the force of law is a statute of the State.[iii]  In Hamilton v. Regents of University of California, 293 U.S. 245 (U.S. 1934), the court held that the meaning of statute of any state includes acts of state legislatures to which the State gives sanction.  Courts make no distinction between acts of the state legislature and other exertions of the state law-making power.

In King Mfg. Co. v. City Council of Augusta, 277 U.S. 100 (U.S. 1928), the court held that any enactment, from whatever source originating, to which a State gives the force of law, is a statute of the State, which confers jurisdiction on the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court further held that any municipal ordinance, city ordinance or an order of a state commission made in the exercise of delegated legislative authority is a statute of the State.  Supreme Court has reviewed decisions of state courts regarding the validity of municipal ordinances, municipal regulations authorized by municipal ordinances, and state regulatory commission orders authorized by state statutes.

An order of the highest court of a state integrating the state bar is a statute of State, making an appeal the appropriate remedy to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court of state judgments upholding a statute of the state against an attack on federal grounds.[iv]

Under the federal jurisdictional statute, the legislative character of challenged state action is decisive of the question of jurisdiction rather than the nature of the agency of the state performing the act.[v]  It is not necessary that the state legislature itself, or a state agency to which the state legislature delegated authority, should have taken the action.

Orders of a commission, issued pursuant to specific statutory authority and challenged as violating the Federal Constitution, upon the highest state court’s denial of review of such orders, is treated as an act of the legislature.[vi]

In Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (U.S. 1961), the court held that a state constitutional provision is considered to be a state statute under the provisions of federal jurisdictional statute.

[i] 28 USCS § 1257

[ii] King Mfg. Co. v. City Council of Augusta, 277 U.S. 100 (U.S. 1928)

[iii] id

[iv] Lathrop v. Donohue, 367 U.S. 820 (U.S. 1961)

[v] id

[vi] Live Oak Water Users’ Asso. v. Railroad Com. of California, 269 U.S. 354 (U.S. 1926)


Inside Validity of State Statutes