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Article IV of the Constitution: States, Citizenship, New States

Article IV of the U.S. Constitution sets the rules for federalism, a system of shared governance between states and the federal government. It includes four sections: Full Faith and Credit, Privileges and Immunities, Admissions, and Guarantee clauses. These sections ensure states treat each other's citizens fairly, outline how new states join the union, and guarantee a republican form of government for every state. Check out the text of Article IV for yourself at the National Constitution Center's *Interactive Constitution*: https://constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/articles/article-iv.

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Video transcript

- [Kim] Hey this is Kim from Khan Academy and today I'm learning about Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Article IV lays out the nuts and bolts of how federalism, the system of shared governance between the states and the federal government works in practice. Article IV has four sections. The first two, the Full Faith and Credit clause and the Privileges and Immunities clause talk about how states will treat each other's citizens as well as they treat the citizens of their own states. Then the third section, is an admissions clause discussing how new states will be added to the union and the fourth section is the guarantee clause, which guarantees every state in the union a republican form of government. To learn more about Article IV, I sought out the help of two experts. Erin Hawley is an associate professor of Law at the University of Missouri. Her scholarship focuses on the federal courts and she teaches constitutional litigation, tax policy and agricultural law. Professor Gabriel Chin is the director of clinical legal education at the UC Davis School of Law. He's a teacher and scholar of immigration law, criminal procedure and race and law. So professor Hawley can take us a little bit through why the framers included Article IV. What was its purpose? - [Erin] The founders of the Constitution were very concerned that the federal government be one of limited powers and because of that they saw the states as having an active and critical role in placing a check on the federal government. So we've got the three branches and their own checks and balances and then we've got the federal government and the state government also playing a role in checking and balancing each other. They wanted to establish a strong central government but also to ensure that it didn't have too much power and the states were critical to this effort. Also, they very much wanted the states to act collectively not individually. As you'll recall, the states had not been doing so well under the loose articles of the confederation. They've sort of being going it alone on critical issues like trade and defense as to the detriment of the union. So Article IV is also a sort of key to making sure that the states act sort of as a unified whole rather than going it alone. - [Gabriel] It's one country made up of diverse states. And if you prefer the way things are done in Nevada you can move there. And if you think that some other state has a better set of answers to the problems of modern life, you can move. What the Full Faith In Credit clause, and the Privileges and Immunities clause are designed to do is to facilitate transactions, to facilitate moving, to facilitate communications and commerce and trade and travel among the states. But that doesn't mean that what's going on in each of the states can't be very, very different. - [Kim] We often think of checks and balances as being something that was designed to be kind of horizontal. That the legislature and the executive branch and the judicial branch kind of all at the same level checking each other. But there is also kind of this vertical checks and balances happening too between the power of the federal government, power of the states and the power of the local governments. - [Erin] Absolutely so we've got the three branches, and their checks and balances. We also have a strong central government, that's checked in large part by strong independent sovereign governments in each of the 50 states. And these states traditionally have what are known as police powers so they have a lot of inherent authority to govern the people in those states, subject to federal law. But it really does sort of place a check on federal authority and I think this is precisely what the framers wanted because they did want a strong government, but they also were very much of the view that states were important. That their own states we're important and they didn't want to lose that in the new constitution and new federal government. - [Kim] There are four sections in Article IV and the first section deals with full faith and credit, it says full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public Acts, Records and Judicial proceedings of every other state. So what does full faith and credit actually mean? - [Gabriel] It's designed to make in a certain sense, all of the states of the United States part of a single system. And so, full faith and credit means that a court judgment for example in one state will be recognized in every state. - [Erin] So if you have a value judgment in New York for example, and you move to California, the California courts are required to give effect to that judgment, to that same court judgment so long as it was validly issued. There was a federal statue known as The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA that was passed under president Clinton, and recently the Supreme Court struck that down as unconstitutional. So now under full faith and credit, if you're married in one state you're married in another state as well. - [Gabriel] You can see the kinds of problems that would exist if states didn't honor the legal decision that were made by other states such as who is married or who is divorced or who owns a particular piece of property or whether a particular child is going to be in the custody of one parent rather than another. And the full faith and credit clause is designed to say, in order for our system to work as a unified whole, while it's true that the courts of Georgia are distinct from the courts of New York, etc. They're separate systems, but they have to treat the work that each other does with respect. - [Kim] If we move onto section II. This says that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states. So what are these privileges and immunities? - [Erin] So the privileges and immunities clause has been one that's subject to a number of sort of debates in the courts, in the academic literature. But basically privileges and immunities have been construed to be those sorts of things that would go with citizenship. So the right to travel for example, is a privilege and immunity. Those sorts of things. - [Gabriel] Occasionally in American history there have been moments where states didn't want to let citizens of other states come through. So during the depression there was an effort by some states to limit the migration of people from out of state to in-state. And the Supreme Court said, that's not permissible. It also protects the right to travel. In 1999 the Supreme Court dealt with a case called Saenz v. Roe. And what that case was about is that California had relatively generous welfare benefits. And California wanted to set up its law in such a way that it wouldn't encourage people from other states to move to California just to get the welfare benefits. So what they did is, they said that if you don't live in California. If you're moving from out of state and you apply for welfare benefits then we're going to give you the welfare benefits that you would have gotten in your state for the first year. We're not going to give you the higher California benefits. We're going to give you whatever you would of gotten where you came from. That's unconstitutional and the Supreme Court said that violates the privileges and immunities clause. We're one country. One nation. People are allowed to cross the borders whenever they want. - [Kim] Interesting but there is this second part of it that says no person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence, of any law or regulation therein be discharged from service or labor. So what is that all about? - [Erin] So that is one of the most unfortunate, probably the most unfortunate clauses in our Constitution, it's known as the fugitive slave clause and that title is pretty descriptive. So if you have a slave who is validly owned as it were in those days, under one state's law and that person escaped to a free state this clause gave the owner the right to reclaim that slave and put them back into sort of ownership in their own state. - [Gabriel] It is a sneaky way of talking about slavery and this compromise with slavery was necessary to create the United States. Slavery, the word, isn't used in the Constitution. They only use these euphemisms. These sort of complicated circumlocutions and there is an argument that there is a reason for that. And the reason for that is that a lot of the framers of the Constitution didn't support slavery. Opposed slavery. They did think that it was important to have a United States and to have a Constitution. So they wanted to do what was necessary to achieve that but they did the absolutely minimum and they did it in such a way that consciously doesn't recognize and legitimize the institution of slavery. - [Kim] Alright so, then we get into new states and territories. So, I think it was very forward looking of the framers to recognize that new states might want to join the Union and then to provide a process for that. So can you tell us a little bit about what that process was like? - [Erin] So article IV section three clause one provides the process for admitting new states. Again it recognizes that new states might want to join the Union and it gives wide latitude to congress for admitting new states, so basically the process was that a territory would indicate to the congress that it wished to become a state. Then they would submit a constitution and congress would approve the new state. But the constitution itself in article IV places some limitations on that. Some of the eastern states we're concerned that the large western territories might become too influential so they had a couple of provisions that no new states could be created out of an old state nor could parts of states be combined to form a new state unless there was consent from all of the involved states. - [Gabriel] And it's not so clear that purchase of territory from foreign governments was a power that was granted in the Constitution to anyone. Thomas Jefferson who was the president at the time of the Louisiana Purchase had doubts that the Louisiana Purchase was constitutional. He thought that it was a great idea to purchase all that land from France, but he thought that it would require a constitutional amendment for the United States to have that power. This is different from Texas joining the Union. But the House and the Senate didn't have the same qualms that President Jefferson did. And so they agreed to approve the Louisiana Purchase and to fund it. When the bill got to Thomas Jefferson's desk he signed. - [Kim] Moving on to section IV, there is this promise here that the federal government will guarantee every state a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion or domestic violence. What does this mean? - [Erin] So we see here in Article IV the end of Article IV a really sort of famous, an important promise to each of the individual states. The federal government is promising, to basically aid them in keeping a republican form of government. As well remember, Benjamin Franklin famously said we've given you a republic if you can keep it. - [Gabriel] So when we talk about invasion in section IV, it talks about invasion, it's pretty clear that what they're talking about is invasion by some hostile state. And of course during this period there was continuing conflict with England and the idea is that if New York or South Carolina gets invaded by England, that's not just that particular state's problem it's the nation's problem and the national government has an obligation to protect against invasion. - [Kim] I imagine it also prevents someone from for example declaring themselves the King of Maryland. - [Gabriel] The republican form of government clause does that. It leaves the details to the states but the basic idea is that there has, the concept of republican government that's embodied in article IV is majority rule. That even if there were free and fair elections the state could not choose to have military or hereditary government. So even if everybody in California got together, and said you know, what we really need is a good family that generation after generation will lead us and they will be the kings and queens of California, and this is what we want so we're going to amend our constitution to provide for hereditary leadership in our state and we're going to find somebody great and this is what we want to do. Article IV would say, we can't choose to do that even through democratic means. - [Kim] So as we've learned Article IV requires states to give full faith and credit to the legal proceedings of other states and to treat the citizens of other states as well as they treat their own citizens. It provides a process for adding new states into the mix and guarantees a republican form of government to the citizens of all the states. Article IV binds the United States together so it's not just a collection of independent states but rather a unified nation. To learn more abour article IV visit the National Constitution Centers in Directive Constitution and Khan Academy's resources on U.S. government and politics.