Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, Articles IV and V,
January 13, 2011
The Full Faith and Credit Clause is a clause in the Constitution of the United States 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 United States 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.
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.
Because of this article, many have argued that the 14th Amendment and Civil Rights legislation are unnecessary, because States are instructed by this part of the Constitution, to treat all citizens equally.
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.
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.
Article IV, Section 4:
“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 sealed 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.
Article V establishes amendments. Originally, only the States were going to be able to propose amendments. On the second to the last day of the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers added as an afterthought to allow the Congress to propose amendments as well. The amendment process is the process through which the Constitution may be altered.
Amendments, according to Article V, may be proposed by either two-thirds of both houses of the United States Congress or by a national convention. Amendments must then be ratified by approval of three-fourths of the states either through their legislatures, or through ratifying conventions held in three-fourths of the states.
As stated earlier, amendments may also be proposed by a national convention. Such a convention is called an "Article V. Convention."
Some people have warned against such a convention, which can be called by two-thirds of the states. The fear is that if such a convention was to convene, the attendees would re-write the Constitution. However, the constitution does not allow for that. Only amendments may be proposed during an Article V Convention.
The call for an Article V. Convention is nothing new. All 50 states have called for it, many of those calls beginning longer than over a 100 years ago. The convention has never taken place because the Congress will not set a time and place (the only federal duty in an Article V. Convention), for fear of the people proposing amendments, and the States ratifying them, that would limit the powers of the federal government. Centralized systems do not like it when the individual mind gets involved.
Amendments may change the Constitution as necessary, as long as no amendment, without the consent of the State, deprives a State of equal suffrage in the Senate. The 17th Amendment, unfortunately, eliminated State suffrage in the Senate, handing the U.S. Senate over to the popular vote, thus eliminating the States' voice from the federal government.
Thank you to Faith Armory for allowing us to use their classroom for our Constitution Study, held from 6pm to 7pm at Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W. #2, Temecula, California.