North Carolina residents are subject to North Carolina state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in North Carolina 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 North Carolina also has its own state laws. North Carolina state laws include the North Carolina Constitution, laws passed by the North Carolina legislature and periodically codified in the North Carolina General Statutes, and decisions by courts that interpret North Carolina laws.
Ratified in 1971, the current North Carolina Constitution is the third version of this document. Each successive version has expanded individual rights and government agencies. A few provisions of the Constitution, such as a literacy requirement for voter registration, are not enforced because they are believed to violate the U.S. Constitution or other federal laws. Article XIII provides the two processes for amending the Constitution. Under Section 4, a legislatively proposed amendment will appear on a ballot if 60 percent of each chamber of the legislature vote in its favor. Under Section 1, a proposal for a constitutional convention will appear on a ballot if two-thirds of each chamber vote in its favor.
The North Carolina General Statutes contain the laws passed by the North Carolina legislature. These laws and the provisions of the North Carolina Constitution are often interpreted by the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Three federal district courts in North Carolina also issue decisions that may affect North Carolina residents. These are the Eastern, Middle, and Western District Courts of North Carolina. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in North Carolina. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Fourth Circuit or from the North Carolina Supreme Court.