Washington residents are subject to Washington state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in Washington 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 Washington also has its own state laws. Washington state laws include the Washington State Constitution, laws passed by the Washington legislature and periodically codified in the Revised Code of Washington, and decisions by courts that interpret Washington laws.
The current version of the Washington State Constitution was ratified shortly before Washington became a state in 1889. It was substantially based on an earlier constitution that was ratified in 1878 but never approved by the U.S. Congress. Article XXIII provides the two processes for amending the Constitution. The first process involves an amendment proposed in either chamber of the legislature, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority in each chamber before it appears on a ballot. As an alternative, the Constitution may be amended through a constitutional convention. A proposal for a constitutional convention will appear on a ballot if it is approved by two-thirds of each chamber of the legislature.
The Revised Code of Washington contains the laws passed by the Washington legislature. These laws and the provisions of the Washington Constitution are often interpreted by the Washington Supreme Court and the Washington Court of Appeals, which consists of three divisions. Two federal district courts in Washington also issue decisions that may affect Washington residents. These are the Eastern and Western District Courts of Washington. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in Washington. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Ninth Circuit or from the Washington Supreme Court.