West Virginia residents are subject to West Virginia state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in West Virginia 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 West Virginia also has its own state laws. West Virginia state laws include the West Virginia Constitution, laws passed by the West Virginia legislature and periodically codified in the West Virginia Code, and decisions by courts that interpret West Virginia laws.
Ratified in 1872, the current version of the West Virginia Constitution replaced an earlier document that was ratified during the Civil War. Its distinctive features include Article I, which discusses the relationship between West Virginia and the federal government. Article XIV outlines the paths to amending the Constitution. Under Section 1, a proposal for a constitutional convention will appear on a ballot if it is approved by a majority of each chamber of the legislature. Under Section 2, meanwhile, an amendment proposed in either chamber will appear on a ballot if it is approved by two-thirds of each chamber. If the legislature calls a special election to vote on one or more amendments, the election cannot decide any other issue.
The West Virginia Code contains the laws passed by the West Virginia legislature. These laws and the provisions of the West Virginia Constitution are often interpreted by the West Virginia Supreme Court, which is the only appellate court in the state. Two federal district courts in West Virginia also issue decisions that may affect West Virginia residents. These are the Northern and Southern District Courts of West Virginia. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in West Virginia. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Fourth Circuit or from the West Virginia Supreme Court.