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Can Federal Law Preempt State Law ?

Federal law can preempt state law in three ways:

  1.      First, Congress may expressly declare that state law is preempted.
  2.      Second, state law is preempted if Congress intends the federal government to occupy a field exclusively.
  3.      Third, federal law preempts state law if the two actually conflict." Totemoff v. State, 905 P.2d 954, 958 (Alaska 1995).

Generally, federal regulations should not preempt state regulations absent "persuasive reasons." Webster v. Bechtel, Inc., 621 P.2d 890, 898 (Alaska 1980) (quoting Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 142, 10 L. Ed. 2d 248, 83 S. Ct. 1210 (1963)).

As the Alaska Supreme Court has recognized:

When considering preemption, "courts start with the assumption that the historic police powers of the States were not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress." Totemoff, 905 P.2d at 958 (quoting Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U.S. 597, 605, 115 L. Ed. 2d 532, 111 S. Ct. 2476 (1991)).

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