Legal Guides

Article 4 Of The US Constitution – A Brief Guide

Article 4 Of The US Constitution

Article 4 Of the US Constitution lays down provisions regarding the relationship between the various states of the USA. It establishes the procedure by which new states can become a part of the US.

The Article mandates the role to be played by the US government in ensuring law and order in case of invasion or other breaches of the peace. Article 4 of the US Constitution has been known to outline the relationship between states and the relationship between states and the federal government.

The Article has been divided into 4 Sections which contain significant clauses like the full faith and credit clause, the privileges and immunities clause, the extradition clause, and the like. 

So let’s get into the details!

Section 1 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

Section 1 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

This Section consists of the very significant Full Faith And Credit Clause

Full Faith And Credit Clause

A clause quite similar to this had existed in the Articles Of Confederation. The clause states that every other state under the territory of the United States shall respect the public laws passed, rules and regulations made, records maintained, and judgments passed by the Courts of law.

That being said, the jurisdiction of Courts is a concern when applying this clause. Judgment passed by the Court of law in one state may not stand in other states. 

The Courts are however conscious while making these decisions so as to not infringe upon other states. 

In the year 1790, sometime after the ratification of the Constitution, Congress deemed it fit to enact this clause. 

In the case of Mills v. Duryee(1813) the Supreme Court held that if any record enjoyed complete faith and credit and is treated as record evidence, it shall enjoy the same position in every other Court. 

Such cases have also been noted where the state has been obligated to carry out judgments from other state courts even if they have been inconsistent with the policies of that state. 

The full faith and credit clause has been known for its wide application to family law. It has been used in cases of Orders of Protection, such as restraining orders or other protective orders. 

In the case of E.L. v. V.L.(2016), the Supreme Court held that Alabama must consider the same-sex decree passed in Georgia by the virtue of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. 

Section 2 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

Section 2 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

This Section deals with the rights granted to the citizens and their extradition rights.

Clause 1

Also known as the Privileges and Protection clause, it stipulates that the rights of the residents of one state are to be respected and protected in other states as well. 

The right to travel across states also comes under the purview of this clause. 

The Privilege clause or the Comity clause is quite similar to one of the Articles of Confederation. It granted citizens, paupers, beggars, and vagabonds similar rights and privileges across the nation. 

In the landmark judgment of Corfield v. Coryell(1823), the federal circuit court listed the privileges which were to be enjoyed nationwide. 

No discrimination was to be made against-

  • Protection by the government.
  • Rights to life and liberty.
  • Rights of citizens to interstate travel and residence.
  • Travel and residence could be for the purpose of :
  • Trade.
  • Agriculture.
  • Professional pursuits.
  • Rights to the writ of Habeus Corpus.
  • To any legal action in Courts.
  • To buy, hold, or sell a property.
  • To pay similar taxes and enjoy similar exemptions as other citizens.

Clause 2

Do you remember how attempts made by the DEA to extradite drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar were portrayed in Netflix’s drama series, ‘Narcos’?

The Extradition Clause- A resident of any state being convicted of a felony, a crime, or treason when found in other states is to be returned to the jurisdiction where he is to be tried by law. 

The convict is to be extradited to his jurisdiction on executive orders from the respective state. The offenses which warrant extradition may be small and petty or major ones.

In the case of Kentucky v. Dennison(1860), it was held that the Writ of Mandamus shall not be exercised to bring back fugitives into their jurisdiction. The verdict of Puerto Rico v. Branstad overturned that decision. Fugitives do not usually enjoy the right to contest an extradition proceeding.  

Clause 3

The fugitive sales clause also called the fugitives from labor clause stipulates extradition provisions as to one who is serving as a slave or indebted labor. The clause states that such slave is to be returned to their master when they run away.

The 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in the US has rendered this clause useless. In the case of Somerset v. Stewart(1772), it was held that an American slave who had run away and escaped to Great Britain was a free citizen. Britain had not legalized slavery, hence the decision was not in breach of any law.

Section 3 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

Section 3 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

This Section lays down laws pertaining to the addition of new states to the nation. It also contains the Property Clause.

Clause 1

This clause is known as the Admission Clause. This clause authorized Congress to add states other than the initial 13 states to the Union. The Constitution was enacted in 1788. It began with the first 13 states and 37 more have been added to the list ever since. 

When a certain region has increased in population, it requests the Federal government to grant statehood. After consideration, if Congress deems fit, it might pass an act enabling such efforts. 

The concerned region has to come up with a state Constitution

It is prohibited to form a new state from the already existing states without the consent of all the affected states and Congress. 

In the case of Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan (1845), the Supreme Court upheld that equality of States was essential in the case of admission of new states. 

Clause 2

This clause is commonly known as the Property Clause. It states that the US government has the right to manage and govern all territory that is a part of the United States. A considerable portion of land is owned by the United States government in the form of parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and large stretches of public lands in general.  

Section 4 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

Section 4 Article 4 Of The US Constitution

This Section consists of two clauses, the guarantee clause and the Protection from invasion and domestic violence clause. 

Clause 1

Clause 1 of Section 4 guarantees that the US be maintained as a Union of states and a Republican form of government. The Guarantee clause, as it is commonly known, ensures that government functions under republican principles. 

The consent of the people governed has been given utmost importance. 

In the case of Luther v. Borden, the responsibility to establish republican guidelines for the nation was left with Congress. 

Clause 2

This clause stipulates that it is the duty of the United States government to protect the states from invasion and from domestic violence. This clause was put to use by President Wilson when he sent troops during the War at Colorado Coalfield. 


The importance of Article 4 of the US Constitution lies in the fact that it protects the basic federal structure of the US government. It keeps the relationship between states and states and the union government strong. It guarantees that peace is maintained and states are protected in times of invasion and domestic violence. 

A strong federal structure is the backbone of the United States of America. Thus, Article 4 has its niche in the successful functioning of the US government.

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