Texas Juvenile Justice Department
Texas Interstate Compact for Juveniles

What happens when there is a conflict between an individual state’s law and the compact law?

When State Law Conflicts with Compact Law.  Section 60.010, Article VII authorizes the Interstate Commission to provide oversight, enforcement and dispute resolution in the administration and operations of the interstate movement of juveniles subject to the ICJ.  The courts and executive agencies in each compacting state are to enforce the ICJ and take all actions necessary and appropriate to affect the compact’s purposes and intent.  The provisions of this compact and the rules promulgated hereunder are to be received by all of the judges, public officers, commissions and departments of the state government as evidence of the authorized statute and administrative rules.  All courts must take judicial notice of the compact and the rules.  In the event of a judicial or administrative proceeding in a compacting state pertaining to the subject matter of this compact that may affect the powers, responsibilities or actions of the Interstate Commission, it is entitled to receive all services of process in any such proceeding and has standing to intervene in the proceedings for all purposes.  The Interstate Commission, in the reasonable exercise of its discretion, is to enforce the provisions and rules of this compact using any or all of the means set forth in Article X of this compact.

Section 60.010, Article XII states that nothing prevents the enforcement of other laws that are not inconsistent with this compact.  These provisions take precedence over conflicting laws except for state constitutional provisions or the provisions of other compacts to the extent of the conflict.  As stated in the following excerpt from “The Evolving Use and the Changing Role of Interstate Compacts: A Practitioner’s Guide”:

Once entered, the terms of the compact and any rules and regulations authorized by the compact can, to the extent provided in the agreement, supersede any substantive state laws that may be in conflict, including even state constitutional provisions.  Under the Compact Clause, the federal questions are the execution, validity, and meaning of federally approved state compacts.  A compact controls over a state’s application of its own law through the Supremacy Clause and the Contracts Clause of the Constitution.  As observed in West Virginia ex rel. Dyer v. Sims:

It has frequently been held that when a question is suitably raised whether the law of a State has impaired the obligation of a contract, in violation of the constitutional provision, this Court must determine for itself whether a contract exists, what are its obligations, and whether they have been impaired by the legislation of the State.  While this Court always examines with appropriate respect the decisions of state courts bearing upon such questions, such decisions do not detract from the responsibility of this Court in reaching its own conclusions as to the contract, its obligations and impairments, for otherwise the constitutional guaranty could not properly be enforced

The contractual nature of the agreement and its federal standing, where applicable, trumps individual state statutory schemes because, through the compact, the member states cede individual state authority in favor of a multilateral resolution to a dispute or in favor of multilateral regulation of an interstate matter.  The member states cannot take unilateral steps, such as the adoption of conflicting legislation or the issuance of executive orders or court rules that violate the terms of a compact.  The standing of compacts, as contracts and instruments of national law applicable to the member states, generally nullifies any state action inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the agreement.


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