Summary and Analysis of The United States Constitution: Article IV
Article IV of the Constitution addresses the power and limitations of individual states.
Summary of Article IV of the Constitution:
Section 1: Each state is required to honor all other states and shall respect and honor “public Acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”
Section 2: Citizens of one state are entitled to the privileges and protection of other states. Any criminal fleeing one state is required to return the criminal to the proper state of jurisdiction. The final clause of section 2 deals with the return of runaway slaves and was nullified by the 13th amendment to the Constitution.
Section 3: New states may be admitted to the Union. States cannot be created from parts of other states, nor can two states join together to form one state without the consent of the involved states' legislatures and Congress. Congress has authority over U.S. territories and U.S. property. The Constitution does not in any way give preference to one state over another.
Section 4: Each state is guaranteed a republican form of government; that is, each state is guaranteed elected officials. Each state will be protected against invasion from foreigh powers or from another state.
Analysis of the United States Constitution, Article IV:
The Constitution sought to unify the individual states without destroying their power. The Founding Fathers had discovered that many of the state governments had been abusing their power and abridging citizens' rights. They sought to curtail these abuses and limit government through article IV of the Constitution. The issue of slavery rears its ugly head once again. Although the Founding Fathers found slavery irreconcilable with the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they understood the need to “look the other way” in order to ensure ratification by southern states.
Summary and Analysis of the United States Constitution: Article V
Article V of the Constitution deals with the amendment process.
Summary of Article V of the Constitution:
There are two ways to propose an amendment to the Constitution.A bill must be passed in the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives by a 2/3 margin. Once the bill is passed it must be approved by 3/4 of the states' legislatures or conventions to become an amendment.
A Constitutional convention must be called by 2/3 of the states to propose one or more amendment. Once the amendment(s) has been proposed it must be approved by 3/4 of the states' legislatures or conventions. The second method of amending the Constitution has never been done.
Regardless of the proposal method, the amendment must be approved by 3/4 of the states. How this ratification is to take place is specified in the amendment proposal. Only the 21st amendment used state conventions for ratification. All others required a simple majority in the legislature of 3/4 of the states.
Analysis of the United States Constitution, Article V:
The framers of the Constitution understood that the document they were creating would not be perfect and, therefore, needed methods for amending it. They also understood the need to make amending the Constitution difficult in order to avoid the capricious whims of politicians. Ten amendments were added immediately, the Bill of Rights. Only 17 amendments have been added since: Goal accomplished.
The president has no formal authority for proposing or vetoing an amendment proposal although he holds considerable influence over elected officials in his political party. It would be foolish to give the president the right to veto a proposed amendment, which requires a 2/3 majority in both houses, the same as a veto override.
Summaries of Articles VI and VII of the Constitution
Article VI of the Constitution recognizes the validity of all debts that existed under the Articles of Confederation. It states that the Constitution shall be the “law of the land” and that all judges are bound by it. All government officials, federal and state, must swear an oath to the Constitution, which binds them to uphold it. No religious qualification shall exist for election or appointment to public office.
Article VII of the Constitution states that once nine states have ratified the Constitution, it shall become law in those nine states.
Analysis: The document’s framers wanted to make sure the Constitution was binding and therefore required all public officials to bind themselves to it by an oath. We see once again the importance the Founding Fathers placed on freedom of religion with the clause prohibiting religious qualification to hold public office.
This post is part of the series: The United States Constitution Study Guide
The first step in holding elected officials accountable to the Constitution–we must learn what’s in it.
- Summary of the United States Constitution: Article I - The Legislative Branch
- Explanation of the United States Constitution: Article II, The Executive Branch
- Summary of Article 3 of the United States Constitution: The Judicial Branch
- Summary and Analysis of the United States Constitution: Articles IV-VII of the United States Constitution
- Summary of the 27 Amendments to the United States Constitution