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Article IV: States' Relations

February 21, 2014 by NCC Staff


Article IV of the Constitution outlines the duties states have to each other, and the duties the federal government has to the states. It provides for the admission of new states and defines a process for changing state boundaries. It also originally included the Fugitive Slave clause, which is now obsolete.


The following was prepared by the Office of the Secretary of the Senate with the assistance of the Library of Congress, providing the original text of each clause of the Constitution with an accompanying explanation of its meaning and how that meaning has changed over time. Source: U.S. Senate, Library Of Congress

Article IV, Section 1: Full Faith and Credit
Text Explanation
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. Each state is required to recognize the laws and records (such as licenses) of other states and to enforce rights in its own courts that would be enforced in other state courts.
Article IV, Section 2:  Interstate Comity
Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1:   State Citizenship: Privileges and Immunities
Text Explanation
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. States must treat the citizens of other states equally, without discrimination.
Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2:  Interstate Rendition
Text Explanation
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. The governor of a state in which a fugitive is found must return the fugitive to the state demanding custody.
Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3:  Fugitives from Labor
Text Explanation
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 clause, applicable to fleeing slaves, is now obsolete.
Article IV, Section 3:  Admission of New States to Union; Property of United States
Text Explanation
 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. By acts of Congress, newly settled or newly acquired areas will be admitted as states on an equal status with those states already in the Union.
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. Congress has charge of the public lands within the states, which in the West constitutes an enormous amount of land. Congress also governs acquired territories, which today include Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.
Text Explanation
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. Under this provision, Congress has authorized presidents to send federal troops into a state to guarantee law and order.

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