Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lesson 12: Concerning the States, Article IV. - Temecula Constitution Class

Constitution Class Handout                                                 Faith Armory
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs                                               41669 Winchester Road.                                                  Temecula, CA


· Concerning the States

         · Full Faith and Credit
         · Privileges and Immunities
         · Extradition
         · Fugitive Slaves
         · New States
         · Territories and Federal Property
         · Border Security and Insurrection

Full Faith and Credit

The Full Faith and Credit Clause is a clause in the Constitution which states that: “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.” Put in simple language, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause judgments rendered in one State are acknowledged in others; when a U.S. citizen resolves an issue within one of the States that resolution must be recognized by all other States.

The Founding Fathers originally intended, with the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to protect the self-government autonomy of the States, while also promoting union of the sovereign States as well. To do this, the Founding Fathers needed to make sure that judicial rulings in one State would be respected by all States, because otherwise there would be a substantial opportunity for abuse. Doing so affirmed the autonomy of the individual States, while also ensuring that the states remained unified.

Without the Full Faith and Credit Clause, something as simple as a divorce would not be recognized outside the State where the proceeding took place. If one of the members of the divorced couple moved to another state, it would be necessary to file all over again, otherwise that person would still be considered married. However, thanks to the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the State that serves as the new home of the transplanted divorcee recognizes the divorce filed and approved in the State of origin.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause also protects against abusive litigation. If someone in one State sues someone and the court delivers a valid judgment, this person cannot file the same suit in another State. Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the outcome of the suit in the first State is recognized and considered to be the final judgment. Likewise, someone who is ruled against in litigation in a State cannot flee to another State to evade punishment, because the ruling in the first State's court is still valid in the new State.

Because of the Full Faith And Credit Clause, professionals like doctors and lawyers only need to go to school once. As they move to new States, they can apply for reciprocity in certification so that they can practice in their new location. Things like drivers licenses also benefit from the Full Faith and Credit Clause, because when people move to different States, they can renew their driving licenses in the new State without having to go through drivers' education a second time. As long as the standards for licensure are similar between the two States, no additional training or certification will be required for reciprocity.

Privileges and Immunities

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1 gives the people of each state all the same privileges and immunities uniformly in each state. In other words, if a Texan moved to California, the Texan must be treated by California in no different manner than it treats Californians. A State, for example, could not pass a law keeping Texans out of their state, but letting others in. This violates the Constitution. A State cannot play favoritism in such a manner. All persons must be treated uniformly.


Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 states: 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 having jurisdiction of the crime.

Fugitives that flee a State from justice to another State will be extradited on the demand of executive authority (governor) of the State from which the person fled from. The Constitution, in this clause, demands the extradition of fugitives who have committed "treason, felony or other crime," which means that it includes all acts prohibited by the laws of a state, including misdemeanors and small, or petty, offenses.

Since the word “shall” is used regarding the extradition order by the governor of the State, that means the extradition order will not be questioned. That also means the accused cannot defend himself against the charges in the extraditing state.  The fugitive may only defend himself against the charges in the state receiving him.

The courts have determined that the accused may prevent extradition by offering clear evidence that he was not in the state he allegedly fled from at the time of the crime in the case, Hyatt v. People ex rel. Corkran, 188 U.S. 691 (1903).

Fugitive Slaves

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 is obsolete because of the end of slavery, as per the 13th Amendment.  During the time the Constitution was written, slaves were seen as property, and the Constitution, as a compromise to assure that southern states ratified the founding document, included Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, which demanded that escaped slaves be returned to their owners in the south, even if that slave was in a northern state.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 supported this clause of the Constitution, hoping to ensure under penalty of law that the slaves were in fact returned should they turn up in the north. Northern States were refusing to return escaped slaves, and the federal government refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and the Constitution, creating, in the minds of the Southern States, a constitutional crisis.

Nullification is often blamed for its part in the onset of the American Civil War.  Those that argue that nullification was a part of bringing about the War Between the States will argue that the Southern States were guilty of nullifying perfectly reasonable federal laws.  In reality, the Southern States did not nullify any federal law.  It was the northern States that actively nullified federal law.  They nullified The Fugitive Slave Act by ignoring the legislation.  However, since The Fugitive Slave Act was constitutional, the nullification of the law by the northern States was unlawful, and unconstitutional.

New States

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 gives Congress the authority to admit new States. However, if a new State is formed within the borders of an existing State, from a portion of an existing State, or by combining two States, then the State legislatures of all States affected must also get involved. A great example of when this provision came into play is when West Virginia was formed from part of Virginia during the Civil War.  Based on this clause, if the 13 counties in California that threatened to secede in 2010 decided to go through with it, they would still need approval by the existing California State Legislature.

Territories and Federal Property

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 gives the Federal Government "power over the territory and property of the United States." Territories like Puerto Rico falls under this clause, treating the territories not as individual sovereign states, but as territories under the control of the U.S. Government.  Washington DC also falls under this clause, which means that Congress has authority over the functions of the city.  In reality, Washington DC was supposed to only be the seat of government, and was not supposed to contain any residencies.

Border Security and Insurrection

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,” meaning that each State may have its own constitution, as well as a representative government based on the rule of law. The Federal Government, according to this clause, must also protect each State from invasion, which is a firm directive to the federal government to keep the national borders secure so as to protect the States from foreign invasion.  The Federal Government, in this clause, is also tasked with quelling insurrection. The writing of this clause was directly influenced by the occurrence of Shays' Rebellion.


Extradite: The surrender of a person charged with a crime by one state or country to another state or country.

Full Faith and Credit: In the context of the U.S. Constitution, Article IV, the phrase is defined as requiring all States in the U.S. to recognize and give effect to the legislation, public records, and judicial decisions of other States in the United States.  Full Faith and Credit also means: An unconditional commitment to pay interest and principal in debt, usually issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury or another government entity.

Nullification: State power to ignore unconstitutional federal law.

Questions for Discussion:

1.  What kind of issues does the Full Faith and Credit Clause affect in today’s American society?

2.  How does the Full Faith and Credit Clause protect the autonomy of the State, while protecting their unity?

3.  For what kind of crimes may a person be extradited for?

4.  The northern States believed the Fugitive Slave Act to be a bad law, even though it was Constitutional, and believed that they had a right to nullify it because they perceived it to be immoral.  The Federal Government failed to enforce it, possibly for the same reasons.  How did this make the Southern States feel, and how did this action contribute to the secession of the Southern States?

5.  The federal government is tasked with the duty of protecting the States against invasion.  How does this affect the issue of illegal immigration?


“American Civil War, The War Of Northern Aggression,” Political Pistachio; March 14, 2011:

Hyatt v. People ex rel. Corkran, 188 U.S. 691 (1903) (“We are of opinion that, as the relator showed…he was not within the state of Tennessee at the times stated in the indictments found in the Tennessee court, nor at any time when the acts were, if ever, committed, he was not a fugitive from justice within the meaning of the Federal statute upon that subject…”)

Madison’s Notes Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale University:

Copyright Douglas V. Gibbs, 2014