Lets say the governor of FL decided to ban all federal agents.

  1. Does he have to power to enact something like that?
  2. Can he remove their law enforcement authority in the state?
  3. Can he force them to leave the state?
  4. Can he arrest any agent who decided to violate the governors orders?
  5. Are any Police/Sheriffs arresting the agents breaking the law?

2 Answers 2


1-3: This would be prohibited under Article VI, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution, which provides that federal law, and the ability to enforce that law, has supremacy over state law. As summarized by Cornell Law, the Supremacy Clause:

establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions. It prohibits states from interfering with the federal government's exercise of its constitutional powers...

4: Not legally; see above.

5: Yes, probably a lot of laws. Those charges could range anywhere from interfering with a federal investigation, wrongful imprisonment, assault, or kidnapping.

I think it's important to point out that it is highly unlikely the situation would ever escalate to 4, let alone 5. The federal government is incredibly well resourced with regards to being able to move its law enforcement officers throughout the country. And that's not withstanding that the FBI and other agencies (CBP, TSA) are already stationed in any particular state. A non-zero number of those agents are also residents of the state they're stationed in, which would complicate things further.

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    The feds would prosecute the state law enforcement officers criminally, so qualified immunity would not apply (that applies to civil actions under 42 USC 1983 by private parties against state and local officers acting under color of state law).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 21:40
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    Thank you for the correction @ohwilleke.
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 21:43
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    I think it's Article VI, not Article IV. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 14:58
  • If federal agents are seeking to enter a state for the purposes of performing some unlawful action, could a state tell them that they will not be admitted unless or until a federal judge affirms the legitimacy of their purposes and orders that they be admitted? If e.g. a state law enforcement officer saw a federal official breaking into someone's property, and the person identified himself as a federal official but refused to offer any kind of warrant or other legitimate basis for his actions, would the state official be allowed to arrest the federal official?
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 15:25
  • @supercat The state/local police could not bar someone from entering the state (ex: make them get back on the plane and fly somewhere else); state/local police can arrest people though, and being a federal agent does not preclude someone from arrest.
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 23:07

It is fundamental that Feds trump states.

The DOJ was created in 1870 to enforce Federal Laws that protected former slaves when the states would not.

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    While you're correct as applied to this question, this somewhat oversimplifies the matter. While federal law does trump state law in most cases, it's not so fundamental that one can simply say that "Feds trump states."
    – Ryan M
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 22:47
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    Federal officials carrying out actions in a southern state that the state governor objects to is in the heart of the DOJs history. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 0:31
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    While that's true (and correct as applied here), it still oversimplifies the matter. Consider, for example, a federal law that says that state law enforcement must enforce all provisions of federal immigration law, and a state law forbidding state law enforcement from enforcing certain provisions of federal immigration law. That federal law would be almost certainly be found unconstitutional.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 0:34
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    @Digitalfire the federal government can and has enforced federal drug law in places where a given drug has been decriminalized by the local jurisdiction.
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 20:55
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    Yes, I am aware.. was just pointing to another example of federal law "trumping" state law.. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 21:01

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