Article 4 & Federalism

Article 4 of the Constitution has a lot to say about the nature of American federalism.

  • Section 3 of the Article sets down rules for admitting new states to the union.[1] Those rules, along with various enabling acts, were a big part of American history, especially regarding the issue of slave states and free states in the period leading up to the civil war.  They remain relevant today. For example, in May 2021, several counties in Oregon voted to secede and join Idaho.[2] Article 4, Section 3 requires such changes to be approved by the legislatures of both states and by Congress.
  • The Article confers benefits for membership in the Union by guaranteeing protection from invasion and internal violence. 
  • It also includes some obligations. We will review those next week.

If you feel impatient, click here for the full course. 15 minutes reading time.

1. The Constitution does not address the possibility of secession. Most constitutions do not.

2. The nation’s history is full of examples of states or parts of states wanting to secede, even before the civil war.

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