Article IV of the Constitution | National Constitution Center | Khan Academy
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Article IV of the Constitution | National Constitution Center | Khan Academy

September 14, 2019


– [Kim] Hey, this is
Kim, from Khan Academy and today, I’m learning about Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Article IV lays out the nuts and bolts of how Federalism, the
system of shared governance between states and the federal government works in practice. Article IV has four sections. The first two, the Full
Faith and Credit clause and the Privileges and Immunities clause talk about how states will
treat each other’s citizens as well as they treat the
citizens of their own states. Then the third section
is an Admissions clause discussing how new states
will be added to the Union and the fourth section
is the Guarantee clause, which guarantees every state in the Union a Republican form of government. To learn more about Article IV I sought out the help of two experts. Erin Hawley is an
Associate Professor of Law at the University of Missouri. Her scholarship focuses
on the federal courts, and she teaches Constitutional Litigation, Tax Policy, and Agricultural Law. Professor Gabriel Chin is the Director of Clinical Legal Education
at the UC Davis School of Law. He’s a teacher and scholar
of Immigration Law, criminal procedure, and race and law. Professor Hawley, can you
take us a little bit through why the framers included Article IV? What was its purpose? – [Professor Hawley] The
founders of the Constitution were very concerned that
the federal government be one of limited powers and, because of that, they saw the states as having an active and
critical role in placing a check on the federal government. So, we’ve got the three branches and their own checks and balances and then we’ve got the federal government and the state government
also playing a role in checking and balancing each other. They wanted to establish a strong central government, but also to ensure that it didn’t have too much power, and the states were
critical to this effort. Also, they very much wanted the states to act collectively, not individually. As you’ll recall, the states
had not been doing so well under the loose Articles
of the Confederation. They’d sort of been going it alone on critical issues like trade and defense to the detriment of the Union. So, Article IV is also a, sort of, key to making
sure that the states act, sort of, as a unified whole, rather than going it alone. – [Professor Chin] It’s
one country made up of diverse states, and if you prefer the way things are done in Nevada, you can move there. And if you think that some
other state has a better set of answers to the problems
of modern life, you can move. What the Full Faith and
Credit clause and the Privileges and Immunities
clause are designed to do is to facilitate transactions,
to facilitate moving, to facilitate communications and commerce and trade and travel, among the states. But that doesn’t mean that what’s going on in each of the states can’t
be very, very different. – [Kim] We often think
of checks and balances as being something that was designed to be kind of horizontal. That the Legislature
and the Executive branch and the Judicial branch, just kind of all at the same
level checking each other. But there’s also kind of this vertical checks and
balances happening, too, between the power of
the federal government, the power of the states, and the power of the local governments. – [Professor Hawley]
Absolutely; we’ve got the, the, three branches and their
checks and balances. But we also have a
strong central government that’s checked in large part by strong, independent, sovereign governments in each of the 50 states and these states traditionally have what
are known as Police Powers, so they have a lot of
inherent authority to govern the people in those states,
subject to federal law. But it really does sort
of place a check on federal authority, and I
think this is precisely what the framers wanted
because they did want a strong government, but
they also were very much of the view that states were important, that their own states were important and they didn’t want to
lose that in the new, new Constitution and
new federal government. – [Kim] There are four sections in Article IV, and the first section deals with Full Faith and Credit. And it says Full Faith
and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial
Proceedings of every other State. What does Full Faith and
Credit actually mean? – [Professor Chin] It’s designed to make, in a certain sense all of the states of the United States
part of a single system. And, so, Full Faith and Credit means that a court judgment, for
example, in one state, will be recognized in every state. – [Professor Hawley] If you
have a valid judgment in New York, for example, and
you move to California, the California courts are
required to give effect to that judgment, to that
state court judgment, so long as it was validly issued. There was a federal statute known as the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that was passed under President Clinton, and recently the Supreme Court struck that down as unconstitutional. So now under Full Faith and
Credit if you’re married in one state, you’re married in
another state as well. – [Professor Chin] You can
see the kinds of problems that would exist if states didn’t honor the legal decisions that were made by other states such as, who’s married or who’s divorced? Or who owns a particular
piece of property? Or whether a particular child is going to be in the custody of one parent rather than another? And the Full Faith and Credit
clause is designed to say in order for our system to work, as a unified whole, while it’s true that the
courts of Georgia are distinct from the Courts
of New York, et cetera, they’re separate systems, but they have to treat the work that each
other does with respect. – [Kim] If we move on to section two, this says that the Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of
Citizens in the several States. What are these Privileges and Immunities? – [Professor Hawley] The
Privileges and Immunities clause has been one that’s subject to a number of, sort of, debate, in the courts and the academic literature. But, basically, Privileges
and Immunities have been construed to be those sorts of things that would go with citizenship. So, the right to travel, for example, is a Privilege and Immunity. Those sorts of things. – [Professor Chin] Occasionally
in American history, there have been moments where states didn’t wanna let citizens of
other states come through, so during the Depression there was an effort by some states to limit the migration of people
from out of state to in state. And the Supreme Court said
that’s not permissible. It also protects the right to travel. In 1999, the Supreme Court
dealt with a case called Saenz vs. Roe, and what
that case was about is that California had relatively generous welfare benefits and California wanted to set up its law in such a way that it
wouldn’t encourage people from other states to move to California just to get the welfare benefits. And, so, what they did is, they said, that if you don’t live in California, if you’re moving from out of state and you apply for welfare benefits, then we’re gonna give you the welfare benefits that you would have gotten in your state for the first year. We’re not gonna give you the
higher California benefits, we’re gonna give you
whatever you would’ve gotten where you came from. That’s unconstitutional
and the Supreme Court said that violates the Privileges
and Immunities clause. We’re one county, one nation. People are allowed to cross
the borders whenever they want. – [Kim] Interesting, but
there’s this second part of it that says: 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 Service or Labour. What is that all about? – [Professor Hawley] That is
one of the most unfortunate, probably the most unfortunate
clauses in our Constitution and it’s known as the
Fugitive Slave clause and that title is pretty descriptive. If you have a slave, who is validly owned, as it were in those days,
under one states law and that person escaped to a free state, this clause gave the owner the right to reclaim that slave and put them back into, sort of, ownership
in their own state. – [Professor Chin] It is a sneaky way of talking about slavery and this compromise with slavery was necessary to create the United States. Slavery, the word, isn’t
used in the Constitution. They only use these euphemisms, these, sort of, complicated
circumlocutions, and there’s an argument that
there’s a reason for that. And the reason for that is that a lot of the framers
of the Constitution didn’t support slavery, opposed slavery. They did think that it
was important to have a United States and to
have a Constitution, so they wanted to, to do what was necessary to achieve that. But they did the absolute
minimum and they did it in such a way that, consciously, doesn’t recognize and legitimize the institution of slavery. – [Kim] All right, so, then we get into New States and Territories. I think it was very forward-looking of the framers to recognize that new states wanna join the Union, and then to provide a process for that. Can you tell us a little bit about what that process was like? – [Professor Hawley] Article
IV, Section Three, Clause One provides the process for
admitting new states. Again, it recognizes that new states might want to join the Union, and it gives a wide latitude to Congress for admitting new states. Basically the process was that a territory would indicate to the Congress that it wished to become a state. Then they would submit a constitution and Congress would approve the new state. But the Constitution,
itself, in Article IV, places some limitationa on that. Some of the Eastern states were concerned that the large Western territories might become too influential. They had a couple of
provisions that no new state could be created out of an old state, nor could parts of states be combined to form a new state
unless there was consent from all of the involved states. – [Professor Chin] And it’s
not so clear that, that purchase of territory
from foreign governments was a power that was granted
in the Constitution to anyone. Thomas Jefferson, who was the President at the time of the Louisiana Purchase, had doubts that the Louisiana
Purchase was Constitutional. He thought that it was
a great idea to purchase all that land, from France, but he thought that it would require a Constitutional Amendment
for the United States to have that power. This is different from
Texas joining the Union. But the House and the Senate didn’t have the same qualms that
President Jefferson did and, so, they agreed to approve the Louisiana
Purchase and to fund it. When the bill got to Thomas
Jefferson’s desk, he signed it. – [Kim] Moving on to Section Four, there’s this promise, here,
that the federal government will guarantee every
state a Republican Form of Government, and shall
protect each of them against invasion or domestic violence. What does this mean? – [Professor Hawley] We
see here, in Article IV, the end of Article IV, a
really, sort of, famous and important promise to each
of the individual states. The federal government is promising to basically aid them in keeping a Republican form of government. As we’ll remember, Benjamin
Franklin famously said, We’ve given you a republic
if you can keep it. (Kim laughs) – [Professor Chin] When
we talk about invasion, when Section Four talks about invasion, it’s pretty clear that what
they’re talking about is invasion by some hostile state. And, of course, during this period, there was continuing
conflict with England. And the idea is that if New York or South Carolina gets invaded by England, that’s not
just that particular state’s problem, it’s the nation’s problem and the national government has an obligation to protect against invasion. – [Kim] And I imagine it
also prevents someone from, for example, declaring
themselves the king of Maryland. – [Professor Chin] The Republican Form of Government clause does that. It leaves the details to the states, but the basic idea is
that there has; the, the, the concept of Republican government that’s embodied in Article
IV is majority rule. That even if there were
free and fair elections, the state could not choose to have military or hereditary government. Even if everybody in
California got together and said, you know, what
we really need is a, a good family that
generation after generation will lead us, and they will be the, the kings and queens of California, and this is what we want and so, we’re going to
amend our Constitution to provide for hereditary
leadership in our state. And we’re gonna find
somebody great and this is what we wanna do. Article IV would say, we can’t choose to do that, even through Democratic means. – [Kim] As we’ve learned, Article IV requires states to give
Full Faith and Credit to the legal proceedings of other states, and to treat the citizens of other states as well as they treat their own citizens. It provides a process for
adding new states into the mix and guarantees a Republican
Form of Government to the citizens of all the states. Article IV binds the
United States together, so it’s not just a collection
of independent states, but rather a unified nation. To learn more about Article IV, visit the National Constitution Center’s interactive Constitution
and Khan Academy’s resources on U.S. government and politics.

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