Pennsylvania residents are subject to Pennsylvania state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania also has its own state laws. Pennsylvania state laws include the Pennsylvania Constitution, laws passed by the Pennsylvania legislature and periodically codified in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, and decisions by courts that interpret Pennsylvania laws.
While the current version of the Pennsylvania Constitution dates from 1968, it closely resembles the previous version of 1874. Briefer than many state constitutions, the document contains only 11 articles. The main way to change the Constitution involves legislatively referred amendments. An amendment proposed in the legislature can appear on a ballot if a majority of each chamber votes in its favor in successive legislative sessions. While the Constitution does not explicitly discuss constitutional conventions, the legislature has traditionally believed that it holds the authority to vote to put a convention proposal on a ballot. Pennsylvania has held five of these conventions.
The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes contain the laws passed by the Pennsylvania legislature. These laws and the provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution are often interpreted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania intermediate appellate courts. These are the Pennsylvania Superior Court and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Three federal district courts in Pennsylvania also issue decisions that may affect Pennsylvania residents. These are the Eastern, Middle, and Western District Courts of Pennsylvania. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in Pennsylvania. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Third Circuit or from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.