Article IV – The States

Article four of the United States Constitution lays down the principles and obligations to be considered by the states when in relation with each other.  Article four is stated under four heads namely: Section 1- Each State to Honor all others, Section 2- State citizens, Extradition, Section 3-New States, and Section 4-Republican Government.

Section 1 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.” [i]  Accordingly, all the states of US shall mutually respect, recognize and enforce the laws of another state as far as it is not conflicting with the laws of the respective state.  For example, a marriage which is recognized and performed in state A should be considered as a valid marriage by state B even if state B does not recognize the type of marriage for e.g. same-sex marriage.  Similarly, in the law of contract, each contract should be interpreted by the law of the state in which it was entered into, unless it was otherwise intended by the parties.  Therefore, under section 1 although the states remain independent, they shall remain in mutual relationship when it comes to private claims.

Section 2 clause 1 reads: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” [ii]  This clause ensures equal treatment to the citizens of all the states by the Congress.  Under this clause, people of all states shall enjoy free mobility between each state and also enjoy all privileges and immunities of free citizens in all the states.  Clause 1 silently promotes interstate trade and commerce since citizens can freely ingress and regress into the desired state.  However, the citizens doing business in a foreign state will be required to pay tax and duties as the inhabitants of the respective state. 

Section 2 clause 2 reads: “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.” [iii]  All citizens in addition to enjoying the privileges and immunities shall also be bound by the laws of the states.  If a citizen is fleeing after committing a crime to another state, the state which finds the fugitive has the duty to return the citizen to the state where the crime was committed.

Section 2 Clause 3 reads: “No Person held to Service or Labor 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 Labor, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due.”[iv]  Under clause 3, the owner of a fleeing slave has the right to repossess the slave from another state, even if the sate law where the slave is found does not legalize the act of repossessing the slave.  The state law which penalizes the recapture will be considered unconstitutional.  However, the clause seems obsolete now because the 13th amendment of the Constitution has abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. [v]

Section 3 reads in part: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States 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…” [vi]  According to this section, new states shall be formed and admitted into the Union and placed in the same footing as the already existing states.  This means every newly formed state will be able to exercise the governmental powers as enjoyed by the existing states.

Section 4 reads: “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.” [vii]  As opposed to monarchical or aristocratic governments, ensures a republican government.  Republican government is where the state derives its powers from the citizens.  Further, the Union government guarantees protection to all state governments from invasion and insurrection.

[i] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 1.

[ii] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 2, Cl 1.

[iii] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 2,Cl 2.

[iv] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 2, Cl 3 

[v] (See USCS Const. Art. IV, § 2, Cl 3 explanatory notes) 

[vi] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 3. 

[vii] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 4.


Inside Article IV – The States