Article IV of the US Constitution: States, and Federal-State Interactions
Article 4: This article discusses the states, interactions between states, interactions between the states and the federal government, and the duties owed by the federal government to the states. It also reinforces the dual-sovereignty principle, and underscores the strong belief of the Founders that we are primarily citizens of our states, which are themselves joined in a confederation. We make reference to specific wordings in the various sections, therefore for your reading ease we append the entire text of Article IV at the end.
Section 1, the “full faith and credit” clause, is one long sentence that came (with some adjustments in wording) from the Articles of Confederation. It says that each state will respect the laws and judgments of other states, and that Congress may enact laws detailing how that requirement will be enforced. Since it was from the Articles of Confederation, there was very little discussion of this first section in the Federalist papers. According to the provisions this section, a contract made in one state must be considered valid in the others, a person convicted of a crime in one state is considered a criminal in the other states, and a person can not abandon their legal debts by high-tailing it to the next state over. It also means that divorce decrees must be respected – ensuring that child support owed (or visitation rights decreed) in Wyoming must still be paid even if the ex-spouse has moved to Alabama. Similarly, adoptions finalized in one state are valid in any other; probate of an estate is accepted by the others, et cetera. Madison, in Federalist #42, pointed to this clause as one of several specifically intended to “provide for the harmony and proper intercourse among the States.”
This clause also implies (and has been upheld in many court cases) that the actions of state courts are to be recognized by any court under US jurisdiction – which includes federal courts plus courts in US territories. In federal courts where the state law in question conflicts with federal law, the federal court is not required to enforce that conflicting state law (this comes under the auspices of Article VI).
Section 2 has three clauses. The first clause ensures that citizens of each state will be treated as citizens of the other states, while they are there. Since each state considered itself a separate entity (under the umbrella of the confederation), this clause ensures that a citizen of Utah is not treated as a foreign national while visiting (or temporarily living in) Louisiana. Of course, this applies equally to any other combination of states.
The next clause provides for extradition of accused persons who flee to another state to the state in which they have been accused of crime – regardless of what state they fled from or in which they tried to hide. The fugitive who flees to another state also is not protected by having arrived in the new state before an indictment is issued.
The third clause of Section 2 was tucked into this Article towards the very end of the Constitutional Convention by two convention members from South Carolina; it is the Fugitive Slave Clause. While utterly abhorrent to us today, this clause is based in very old historic law, which provided that chattels adhere to the person of their owner even when located elsewhere. According to Madison’s notes on the Convention, a minor adjustment in the wording of this clause (“person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof”) was intended to separate the concept of returning fugitive slaves from the concept that slavery was legal in a moral view. This is another instance where the Founders managed to placate the slave-holding states sufficiently to keep them in the fledgling and fragile union, while including verbiage that would support the eventual abolition of slavery in the new country.
Before moving on, let’s go back to the first clause of Section 2, and briefly address the treatment of corporations. We address it here, rather than in the paragraph above on that clause, because for now it is a side-note. It will, however, lay essential groundwork for when we look, later, at the 14th Amendment – and see how perversions of that amendment lead directly to some of the problems we face today. “Corporation” is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.” According to the Concise Encyclopedia, a corporation is a “specific legal form of organization of persons and material resources, chartered by the state, for the purpose of conducting business.” It goes on to list important characteristics of corporations, including “juridical personality (the corporation itself as a fictive “person”), ha[ving] legal standing and may thus sue and be sued, make contracts, and hold property.” What all this legal gobbledygook means, in essence, is that a corporation is treated legally in many ways as though it were a “natural” (flesh-and-blood) person.
Section 3 has two clauses that address the formation of new states and jurisdiction over non-state territories. The first clause gives the rules for admittance of new states. Congress may admit new states. If a state wishes to partition itself, or if two (or more) states wish to conjoin into one (or each carve off some territory to donate to a new state), the legislatures of all the states involved AND Congress must approve. New states have an equal basis with pre-existing states, and the same privileges and responsibilities. Texas was an independent Republic before it joined the US, and special rules apply under the Resolution of Annexation – Texas may decide on its own to create up to four additional states from out of its own territory.
The second clause in this section grants Congress the power to make “needful” rules and regulations in US territories or other property. In addition to places like Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam, this includes national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management areas, Indian reservations, and other types of land. We should all be aware of this especially with the Federal land takeovers (especially in the western states) in recent years. At the time the Constitution was written, several states had claims on territories (almost exclusively to the west) outside those states. They were concerned that the new Congress would supersede their administration of those areas. This last section of the clause was specifically to address those concerns. The states’ interests were given the same protection in their land claims as the federal government was given. History shows that those extra-state claims were later handled successfully – so this clause was successful in serving its purpose.
Section 4 of Article IV should be center stage in a couple of large issues today. It is called the “Guarantee Clause,” because its terms require the federal government to make specific provisions to all the states. In only one sentence, this section addresses three separate and important issues affecting every state, and so it is included here verbatim (as well as appended below). “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
Let’s split this long sentence into its component parts. “A Republican form of government” expresses the Founders disgust for and disdain of “democracy.” Unfettered democracy is mob rule, with no protection for the rights and interests of individuals or minority groups. As Madison says so beautifully in Federalist #10, democracies “...have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” This portion of the guarantee clause ensures the protection of the minority interests of the inhabitants of all the states, by guaranteeing a republic – that form of government based on laws and principles that no majority (or super-majority) vote can overturn. They were also attempting to prevent the inclusion of monarchist, collectivist, or socialist forms of government. Private property – and individual rights based on property (starting with one’s own body) – cannot be protected under any system that denies the existence – or the morality – of individual, private property.
“Shall protect each of them against Invasion,” at the time of its writing the Founders were thinking of Great Britain, Spain, French-Canadian, and Indian incursions – yet they knew full well that time would bring new threats. This clause works with Article I, Section 8, clause 15, where Congress is granted the power to call forth the militia to “repel Invasions.” Madison writes in Federalist #43 “...protection against invasion is due from every society to the parts composing it...” They were also concerned that a President from, say, South Carolina, would favor protecting his home state of South Carolina in an attack and send all military forces to protect that state, even if both Vermont and South Carolina were under attack.
It is obvious to anyone willing to observe disinterested fact that the Federal government has absolutely, unequivocally, and utterly abrogated its duty to the states by refusing to secure our borders against those entering this country illegally. Whether the purpose is “a better life,” “escape from oppression,” or the intention to carry out nefarious attacks against our citizens, states, country, and sovereignty, does not matter. It is the duty of the Federal government to protect the states against invasion. (It is the duty of Congress to find appropriate ways to address the legitimate desires of non-Americans to come here legally; see Article 1, Section 8, clause 4.) The current administration has even gone to the ridiculous lengths of bringing lawsuit in Federal courts to stop actions taken by states to protect themselves. They also show their utter lack of knowledge of the Constitution by bringing these suits in Federal District Courts, even though the Constitution clearly states in Article III, Section 2, 2nd paragraph that “[i]n all cases... in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.” Any judge with even the flimsiest understanding of (and respect for) the Constitution should throw such cases out of court. Any that do not do so should be removed from office by impeachment, as they have broken their oath to uphold the Constitution (or demonstrated their unfitness to hold office through ignorance of that which they have sworn to uphold).
This leaves us with the issue of states suffering from repeated invasion that the federal government refuses to address. Are the states required just to sit there and be overrun? NO! Remember, the states retain sovereignty and have the right (and the duty!) to call out their militias to protect themselves. Article 1, Section 10, last clause, states, “[n]o state shall... keep troops... or engage in war, unless actually invaded...” demonstrating very clearly that the states retain the right and ability to call forth their militias to repel invasions. Hamilton even declares, in Federalist #29, “...it would be natural and proper that the militia of a neighboring state should be marched into another, to resist a common enemy...” so it would be perfectly permissible and Constitutional for Arizona and California to join forces to protect their southern borders. Not only that, but if Nebraska found itself facing a raft of ills due to the presence of illegal aliens, IT could send its militia to Arizona, too! Admittedly, the Founders thought the most likely common enemy of the states would (eventually) be the federal government. Madison addresses this directly in Federalist #46 and he does not counsel the states to acquiesce and become subservient; no, he describes various types of non-violent resistance methods to be used by a state or combination of states. However, should the federal government become so outrageous that it sends the army against the states, he speaks directly of the use of the armed citizenry and the state militia to resist. He also posits this as being highly unlikely to happen because of the requirement for “a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.” Mr. Madison was spared the sight of today’s federal government, refusing its duty to protect, and actually taking offensive actions against states endeavoring to require the federal government to do its duty, and to protect themselves in the absence of federal aid.
As for the very last clause in this section, it establishes limits for when the federal government may come in to a state to protect it against domestic violence. The federal government is not allowed to send troops into a state on its own estimation that domestic violence is occurring (or about to occur). It must wait until the state legislature requests federal assistance. If that legislature is not in session and cannot be quickly called into session, then the governor of that state may make the request. We’ve seen a recent example of this clause in action recently – during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Then-President Bush was widely vilified for his delay in sending the National Guard to assist Louisiana with its troubles during and after the hurricane. Yet he could not legally act until the request for assistance was made (he even called both officials on 8/28, asking them to request federal aid – they refused)! There was certainly plenty of incompetence and blame to spread in the aftermath of that storm (especially FEMA’s poor efforts) – but let us at least be honest that this was not a dastardly attempt on the part of President Bush to drown the Ninth Ward. Katrina was one of the largest, most powerful (Category 5), most long-lasting storms ever to hit the mainland. It made landfall in an area that is horribly vulnerable to flooding, and is protected by a levee system built to protect it from a Category 3 hurricane and which had a long backlog of remedial repairs needed. No matter what the response on the local, state, and federal levels, Katrina would have done just as much physical damage. The federal government was not in charge of evacuations, could not order or enforce mandatory evacuations, or assist the local personnel with evacuations. Any person remaining in the Lower Ninth Ward was at risk, and there was no recourse once the storm hit. After the storm, there was plenty of mismanagement and incompetence on all those same fronts: local, state, and federal. Yet the fact remains, federal aid could not be sent in until it was requested by the state of Louisiana.
*Constitution of the United States of America
*Badnarik, Michael “Good To Be King” 2004 The Writer’s Collective
*Skousen, W. Cleon “The 5,000 Year Leap” 2006 National Center for Constitutional Studies
*Hamilton, Madison, Jay “The Federalist Papers” 2001 Dover
*Heritage Guide to the Constitution www.heritage.org
*Justia US Law law.justia.com
*Publius Huldah’s blog at http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com
*McGarity & Kysar “Did NEPA Drown New Orleans? The Levees, The Blame Game, and the Hazards of Hindsight.” 2006 Cornell Law Faculty Publications
©2012 by the author
Article IV Section 1 Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
Section 2 Cl 1: The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
Cl 2: A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State havingJurisdiction of the Crime.
Cl 3: No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due. (Changed by 13th Amendment, Section 1)
Section 3 Cl 1: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
Cl 2: The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
Section 4 The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.