Tennessee residents are subject to Tennessee state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in Tennessee 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 Tennessee also has its own state laws. Tennessee state laws include the Tennessee Constitution, laws passed by the Tennessee legislature and periodically codified in the Tennessee Code, and decisions by courts that interpret Tennessee laws.
The current Tennessee Constitution dates from 1870 and is the third version of this document. Its preamble traces the authority of this Constitution to the original Tennessee Constitution, which was adopted in 1796. Section 3 of Article XI provides the two processes for amending the Constitution. First, an amendment proposed in the legislature will appear on a ballot if it is approved by a simple majority of each chamber of the legislature, and then approved again in the next legislative session by a two-thirds majority of each chamber. In addition, the legislature can place a proposal on a ballot to call a constitutional convention to amend or otherwise change the Constitution. A convention cannot be held more often than once in six years.
The Tennessee Code contains the laws passed by the Tennessee legislature. These laws and the provisions of the Tennessee Constitution are often interpreted by the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Tennessee intermediate appellate courts. These are the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which reviews appeals in civil cases, and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Three federal district courts in Tennessee also issue decisions that may affect Tennessee residents. These are the Eastern, Middle, and Western District Courts of Tennessee. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in Tennessee. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Sixth Circuit or from the Tennessee Supreme Court.