As we explain throughout
this website, our national government of the United States legislates for
two distinct territorial jurisdictions.
Zone, which includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American
Samoa, Virgin Islands. This jurisdiction is also referred to as
the "territorial jurisdiction" or the areas over which the sovereignty
of the government of the united States extends.
50 states of the Union of states. These states are foreign governments
with respect to the United States. They are also referred to as
"foreign countries" in
28 U.S.C. §297 and 26 CFR §1.911-2(h) and "foreign states" in
28 U.S.C. §1603.
Terms clarifying these
concepts appear below:
Foreign laws: "The laws of a foreign country
or sister state."
[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition,
Foreign States: "Nations outside of the United
States...Term may also refer to another state; i.e. a sister state.
The term "foreign nations', ...should be construed to mean all nations
and states other than that in which the action is brought; and hence,
one state of the Union is foreign to another, in that sense."
[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 648]
Unless expressly provided
otherwise in the law itself, all laws passed by the U.S. Congress shall
conclusively be presumed to apply only within the former, or first of the
two jurisdictions, called the federal zone, above.
"A canon of construction which teaches that of Congress, unless
a contrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial
jurisdiction of the United States."
v. Spelar, 338 U.S. 217 at 222 (1949)]
“It is clear that Congress, as a legislative
body, exercise two species of legislative power: the one, limited
as to its objects, but extending all over the Union: the other, an absolute,
exclusive legislative power over the District of Columbia. The preliminary
inquiry in the case now before the Court, is, by virtue of which of
these authorities was the law in question passed?”
19 U.S. 264, 6 Wheat. 265; 5 L.Ed. 257 (1821)]
All of this is confirmed
by Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, who said at
"With respect to our State and federal governments, I do not think
their relations are correctly understood by foreigners.
They generally suppose the former subordinate to the latter.
But this is not the case.
They are co-ordinate departments of one simple and integral whole.
To the State governments are reserved all legislative and administration,
in affairs which concern their own citizens only, and to the federal
government is given whatever concerns foreigners, or the citizens of
the other States; these functions alone being made federal.
The one is domestic, the other the foreign branch of the
same government; neither having control over the other, but within its
"Writing of Thomas Jefferson" pub by Taylor & Maury, Washington
DC, 1854, quote number VII 355-61, from correspondence to Major John
Cartwright, June 5, 1824.]
The important question
"How can we know which laws apply to each jurisdiction?"
This same question was
asked of a Congressman, and here was their response. Essentially,
they admitted that Congress hides which jurisdiction they mean:
Here are some ways to
determine for yourself which of the two jurisdictions a specific enactment
we examine the U.S. Constitution to determine the specific delegated
power from which the authority to legislate derives. If Congress
is exercising a delegated power authorized by the Constitution as applicable
within the 50 states, then it applies there as well as in the federal
look at the definition of the term "United States" used in the legislation
or statutes themselves. If legislation refers to the District
of Columbia as its meaning of the word "State", for instance, such as
the Internal Revenue Code does in
26 U.S.C. §7701(a)(9), then the legislation must be presumed to
only apply within the federal zone.
above are inconclusive, we examine court cases.
This is what we have
done to come up with the list below. The table shows the constitution
authority from which each aspect of jurisdiction arises and identifies the
statues and the court cases that apply to show the limits of jurisdiction
for each subject matter.
Below is an even more specific and succinct list of types of federal
jurisdiction within states of the Union:
- Postal fraud. See Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of
the U.S. Constitution..
- Counterfeiting under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 6 of the
- Treason under Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution.
- Interstate commercial crimes under Article 1, Section 8, Clause
3 of the U.S. Constitution.
- Slavery, involuntary servitude, or peonage under the Thirteenth
42 U.S.C. §1994,
18 U.S.C. §1581. and
18 U.S.C. §1589(3).
“Other authorities to the same effect might
be cited. It is not open to doubt that Congress may enforce
the Thirteenth Amendment by direct legislation, punishing the holding
of a person in slavery or in involuntary servitude except as a punishment
for a crime. In the exercise of that power Congress has enacted
these sections denouncing peonage, and punishing one who holds another
in that condition of involuntary servitude. This legislation
is not limited to the territories or other parts of the strictly
national domain, but is operative in the states and wherever the
sovereignty of the United States extends. We entertain
no doubt of the validity of this legislation, or of its applicability
to the case of any person holding another in a state of peonage,
and this whether there be municipal ordinance or state law sanctioning
such holding. It operates directly on every citizen of
the Republic, wherever his residence may be.”
v. U.S., 197 U.S. 207 (1905)]
Things that are EXCLUDED from federal subject matter jurisdiction in
the states include jurisdiction over any federal franchise, such as the
"trade or business" franchise that forms the hearts of the federal and state
“Thus, Congress having power to
regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States,
and with the Indian tribes, may, without doubt, provide for granting
coasting licenses, licenses to pilots, licenses to trade with
the Indians, and any other licenses necessary or proper for the
exercise of that great and extensive power; and the same observation
is applicable to every other power of Congress, to the exercise of which
the granting of licenses may be incident. All such licenses confer authority,
and give rights to the licensee.
But very different considerations
apply to the internal commerce or domestic trade of the
States. Over this commerce and trade Congress has no power
of regulation nor any direct control. This power belongs exclusively
to the States. No interference by Congress with the business of citizens
transacted within a State is warranted by the Constitution, except such
as is strictly incidental to the exercise of powers clearly granted
to the legislature. The power to authorize a business within
a State is plainly repugnant to the exclusive power of the State over
the same subject. It is true that the power of Congress to tax is a
very extensive power. It is given in the Constitution, with only one
exception and only two qualifications. Congress cannot tax exports,
and it must impose direct taxes by the rule of apportionment, and indirect
taxes by the rule of uniformity. Thus limited, and thus only, it reaches
every subject, and may be exercised at discretion. But, it reaches only
existing subjects. Congress cannot authorize [e.g. "license"]
a trade or business within a State in order to tax it.”
[License Tax Cases,
U.S. 462, 18 L.Ed. 497, 5 Wall. 462, 2 A.F.T.R. 2224 (1866) ]