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As we explain throughout this website, our national government of the United States legislates for two distinct territorial jurisdictions. 

  1. The Federal 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.

  2. The sovereign 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, p. 647]

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." 
[U.S. 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?”
[Cohens v. Virginia, 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 http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1050.htm:

"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 own department."
[Thomas Jefferson, "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 then arises:

"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:

PDF SEDM Exhibit #04.003 (OFFSITE LINK)

Here are some ways to determine for yourself which of the two jurisdictions a specific enactment applies to:

  1. First, 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 zone.

  2. Next we 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. 

  3. If the 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.

# Subject matter Constitutional
Statutes Court cases Federal zone
50 states
1 Punishment of slavery Thirteenth Amendment ("THEIR" jurisdiction) 18 U.S.C. 1581 Clyatt v. United States, 197 U.S. 207 (1905) YES YES
2 Regulate/tax foreign
commerce (excises on imports)
Clause 1:8:3 26 U.S.C. Subtitles D and E YES YES
3 Immigration and naturalization Clause 1:8:4 8 U.S.C. (Title 8)
15 Statutes at Large
Briehl v. Dulles, 248 F.2d 561 (1957) allows expatriation of NATIONALITY. YES YES
4 Coining money and counterfeiting Clause 1:8:5 31 U.S.C. (Title 31)   YES YES
5 Establishing military forts and magazines (land becomes part of federal zone after acquired from state) Clauses 1:8:12-1:8:16 10 U.S.C. (Title 10)   YES NO
6 Taxing exports from sovereign states Clause 1:9:5     NA NO
7 Subtitle A personal income taxes Clause 1:2:3
Clause 1:9:4
Sixteenth Amend.
26 U.S.C. 1-2000   YES NO
8 Post offices Clause 1:9:7 39 U.S.C. (Title 39)   YES YES
9 To establish and regulate the military Clause 1:8:12-1:8:14 10 U.S.C.
50 U.S.C.
10 Establish courts Clause 1:8:9 28 U.S.C. (Title 28)   YES NO

Below is an even more specific and succinct list of types of federal jurisdiction within states of the Union:

  1. Postal fraud.  See Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7  of the U.S. Constitution..
  2. Counterfeiting under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 6  of the U.S. Constitution.
  3. Treason under Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3  of the U.S. Constitution.
  4. Interstate commercial crimes under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3  of the U.S. Constitution.
  5. Slavery, involuntary servitude, or peonage under the Thirteenth Amendment, 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.
    [Clyatt 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 income tax:

“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, 72 U.S. 462, 18 L.Ed. 497, 5 Wall. 462, 2 A.F.T.R. 2224 (1866) ]

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