Article 4 Overview
Article 4 of the United States Constitution outlines the relationships between the states and the Federal government. It grants a set of rights and obligations to each state and sets up the framework within which each state will interact with other states and with the Federal Government. The fourth clause of Article 4, known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, requires states to recognize the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of other states. The fifth clause, known as the Privileges and Immunities Clause, requires states to provide citizens of other states the same rights and privileges that they provide to their own citizens.
Article 4, as one of the earliest parts of the Constitution, has been a foundational document in the development of American law and culture. Its provisions have been upheld through countless court cases and have been central to the struggle for civil rights, state sovereignty, and political liberty.
This article will explore how Article 4 has influenced the United States and future laws in each of the 50 states. We will dive deep into the text of the Constitution, its history, and its legacy. By the end, we hope to provide you a comprehensive view of one of America’s most important legal documents.
Art. 4.1 and Its Historical Context
The first clause of Article 4 reads:
“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 clause was included in the Constitution because the framers understood that the previous arrangement, the Articles of Confederation, did not have a strong central government. This caused issues with recognizing legal decisions made in different states, which led to a chaotic legal landscape.
In the years leading up to the writing of the Constitution, states often ignored the decisions of other states. This meant that a person who won a court case in one state might not be able to get their victory enforced in another. For example, a slave who was freed in one state could be considered a slave in another. Or a debt that was discharged in one state might not be enforceable in another.
The new Constitution aimed to ensure a more stable legal system by requiring states to recognize each other’s laws and court decisions. This would help increase national cohesion and make it easier for citizens to move between states.
Art. 4.1 and its Impact on Interstate Law
The Full Faith and Credit Clause has had a profound impact on interstate law. Without it, states could refuse to honor the judgments and orders of other states, leading to confusion and chaos. The clause helps ensure that legal decisions in one state are recognized by other states. This allows a judgment rendered in Kentucky to be enforced in Florida. Thus, the clause helps to ensure the uniformity of law that would not have been possible under the Articles of Confederation.
Perhaps the most significant example of this clause’s impact was the 1842 Supreme Court Case, Mills v. Duryee. The case involved a debt owed to a New York resident by a Massachusetts resident. The New York resident sued the Massachusetts resident in Massachusetts, won, and then sought to collect the debt in New York.
The defendant in the Massachusetts case argued that the judgment in Massachusetts was not valid in New York because the Massachusetts court lacked “jurisdiction” over him. The New York state court, however, ruled that the Full Faith and Credit Clause required them to recognize the Massachusetts court judgment.
This case upheld the federalists’ idea that a stronger union is essential for the country’s progression. Moreover, the case showed that the clause could override any state law, adhering to the supremacy of the United States’ federal law.
Today, the Full Faith and Credit Clause acts as a safety net for people who may need to enforce a court judgment in another state. Without the clause, interstate litigation would be extremely difficult, and people could be forced to pursue the same case in multiple states, leading to lengthy and confusing lawsuits.
Art. 4.1 and its Role in Marriage and Family Law
The Full Faith and Credit Clause has been a significant factor in shaping American family law. For example, the clause required each state to recognize divorce decrees granted by another state. This ensured that people who got a divorce in one state would be able to remarry in another state without legal issues.
However, this issue became a significant political and legal concern in the late 20th century due to changing attitudes toward same-sex marriage. In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented same-sex marriages performed in one state from being recognized in another state.
The constitutionality of this law was challenged, and in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that DOMA was unconstitutional. The Court found that DOMA was a violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. The majority concluded that the provision allowed same-sex couples who were legally married to receive the same federal benefits as opposite-sex couples.
After this decision, the Full Faith and Credit Clause set the precedent for same-sex marriage being treated the same way as traditional opposite-sex marriages in all fifty states eventually.
Art. 4.2 and its Impact on Individuals’ Rights
The second clause of Article 4 is known as the Privileges and Immunities Clause. It reads:
“The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”
This clause ensures that citizens of one state cannot be discriminated against in other states. It was included in the Constitution to help ensure that states retain their powers while also working together as a unified country. The clause also outlines the parameters of citizenship for each state.
This clause has been essential for American civil rights. For example, the clause was used in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, which challenged federal laws that did not adequately protect African American citizens in the southern states. The Supreme Court held that the Privileges and Immunities Clause applied only to those rights that were “fundamental.” Thus, this case signifies the significance of this clause in fighting for civil rights and equality.
Another example of the Privileges and Immunities Clause’s impact was the 1982 Supreme Court Case, Zobel v. Williams. The case challenged an Alaskan law that classified residents based on their length of residency. The Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because Alaskan citizens who had been residents for less than 10 years were being treated differently from Alaska citizens who had been there for more than 10 years. The Court deemed it discriminatory since the clause meant that citizens who move to a new state should have access to the same rights as everyone else in that state.
In recent years, some states have used the Privileges and Immunities Clause to protect the rights of gun owners who travel with firearms from other states. The clause’s application to the second amendment was brought to the test in the 2008 Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller.
The Privileges and Immunities Clause should be considered in the court whether the individual state laws discriminate against citizens of other states and whether it warrants constitutional protections.
How Article 4 Impacts States’ Rights
The Full Faith and Credit and Privileges and Immunities clauses of Article 4 have also played a role in the debate over states’ rights. This is an ongoing debate over how much power the Federal government should have relative to the states. States’ rights advocates argue that the federal government should have limited powers and that states should have power within their borders.
Opponents of states’ rights argue that the central government must play a more significant role in ensuring civil rights and economic stability throughout the country. The debate of states’ rights is a long-standing issue in American politics, and its outcome could affect the country for generations.
The Privileges and Immunities Clause has been central to some of these debates regarding states’ rights, particularly with regards to gun rights. For example, the Supreme Court’s ruling in McDonald v. Chicago in 2010 was based partly on the argument that the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment must be applied equally in all states.
Moreover, the rights of same-sex couples were also a significant part of this debate. In the past, state laws concerning gay marriage often varied considerably between states. Court decisions concerning the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections have succeeded in requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages.
In conclusion, Article 4 has been critical to ensuring that the Federal Government and the States exist together as a unified country. Article 4 has ensured that states recognize each other’s laws, judgments, and court orders and that citizens of one state have the same rights as citizens of other states. Article 4’s main clauses, the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause, have resulted in a body of case law that has been central to civil rights, family law, and gun rights legislation. The impact of Article 4’s clauses will continue to shape American law and politics for centuries to come.
What is Article 4 of the Constitution?
Article 4 of the United States Constitution is the section that talks about the states. Article 4 discusses the responsibilities and duties of the states as well as what responsibilities the federal government has to the States.
How is Article 4 Broken Down?
Article 2 of the United States Constitution is broken down into four different sections. These sections are broken down further into clauses.
Section 1 of Article 4 of the Constitution
Section 1 of Article 4 is called the Full Faith and Credit Clause. This section of Article 4 requires each state to extend credit and full faith to the public acts, court proceedings and records to other states. Congress has the right to watch how this happens.
Section 2 of Article 4 of the Constitution
Section 2 of Article 4 of the Constitution talks about what obligations the states have.
Clause 1: Clause of Section 2 Article 4 is also called the Privileges and Immunities Clause. This clause says that the states must protect immunities and privileges between states.
Clause 2: Clause 2 is called the Extradition Clause. According to this clause, any person who is charged with a crime and tries to run to another state can be forced by the local authorities to return to the original state. This is called extradition.
Clause 3: Clause 3 of Section 2 Article 4 is called the Fugitive Slave Clause. This clause was first applied to fugitive slaves during slavery. If a slave ran away to another state, they would have to be brought back to the original state so the owner could claim the slave. However, this clause is no longer necessary since slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment.
Section 3 of Article 4 of the Constitution
Section 3 of Article 4 talks about federal property and any new states that are accepted into the union.
Clause 1: According to this clause, new states can be admitted into the Union by Congress. However, new states cannot be made by combining multiple states that already exist, unless they get permission from the state legislatures.
Clause 2: This is the Territorial Clause, sometimes called the Property Clause. According to this clause, the United Congress has the final power over any territory in the country. This clause also lets Congress get remove other territories or create laws for them.
Section 4 of Article 4 of the Constitution
Section 4 of Article 4 is the last section of Article 4. It talks about what obligations the United States has.
Clause 1: This clause is often called the Guarantee clause. According to this clause, the United States federal government must guarantee each state a government that is a Republic.
Clause 2: This clause protects each state against invasion or domestic violence.