Arkansas residents are subject to Arkansas state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in Arkansas as they do across all 50 states. In addition to the U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of the U.S., federal laws include statutes that are periodically codified in the U.S. Code. Federal laws also include decisions by courts that interpret federal laws. Finally, federal laws include regulations issued by federal administrative agencies to implement federal laws. You can explore federal laws and related resources by visiting the federal law section of the Justia site.
The state of Arkansas also has its own state laws. Arkansas state laws include the Arkansas Constitution, laws passed by the Arkansas legislature and periodically codified in the Arkansas Code, and decisions by courts that interpret Arkansas laws.
The current Arkansas Constitution is the fifth version of this document. Adopted in 1874, it responded to the public distrust of centralized authority that had developed during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Its drafters shifted substantial power from the state government to local governments. The Constitution may be amended by legislative proposals under Article 19 or by ballot initiatives under Article 5. Both houses of the Arkansas legislature must approve a legislative amendment by a majority vote, and then voters must approve it by a simple majority. Amendments by initiative must be proposed by 10 percent of legal voters and approved by a simple majority.
The Arkansas Code contains the laws passed by the Arkansas legislature. These laws and the provisions of the Arkansas Constitution are often interpreted by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Arkansas Court of Appeals also reviews the laws in the Arkansas Code. In addition, two federal district courts in Arkansas issue decisions that may affect Arkansas residents. These are the Eastern and Western District Courts of Arkansas. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in Arkansas. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Eighth Circuit or from the Arkansas Supreme Court.