This post on Article IV is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.
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.
This section was necessary to assure that the power and authority of each state was recognized by all the others. It’s sort of like in a family, where each child must recognize the rights and privileges of each other child.
SECTION 2. 1 The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
All rights of citizenship in the United States must pertain to the citizens of each state as well. No state or local government can deny its citizens rights which are given to U. S. citizens. We sometimes forget this provision when a city decides to ban all gun ownership despite the fact that the right to gun ownership is guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
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 having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
A criminal cannot escape prosecution just by crossing a state line. When that happens, the state where the crime took place requests that the state to which the criminal fled detain him or her until extradition papers can be delivered, at which time the accused is turned over to authorities from the first state for transportation back to a jurisdiction where he or she can be prosecuted.
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.
This provision became meaningless with the cessation of slavery, and it was routinely ignored by abolitionists for years before the War Between the States. When a slave escaped and crossed into a free state, he or she was supposed to be returned to the home state, but that rarely ever happened, particularly in the last decade or two before the war.
SECTION 3. 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.
This would prevent citizens from one part of a state from petitioning Congress to grant them recognition as a separate state. An exception to this was made when Texas joined the union. By treaty, Texas has the right either to secede or two divide into as many as five separate states.
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.
This gives the federal government the right to own land, buildings, and so forth.
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.
Each state is guaranteed the right to a representative form of government in which the citizens elect the state’s officials. It also protects each state from invasion by any foreign forces and gives the states the right to call for help from the federal government in the event or riots or other domestic violence. Unfortunately, the states have no protection against invasion or economic pressure by the federal government.
Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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Interesting! I’d wondered about Texas having the right to secede from the Union or split itself into separate states, although I don’t believe I’d ever want Texas to do these things..
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I’m pretty sure neither of these things will ever happen, but it’s part of history people should be aware of.