The Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution

By William M. Wiecek | Go to book overview

Introduction

One of the more striking innovations introduced by the Philadelphia Convention in the 1787 Constitution was a clause in section 4 of Article IV that states: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." This guarantee clause appears in an article of the Constitution that is a catchall of provisions dealing with intergovernmental relations. The remainder of section 4 requires the United States to protect each of the states against "Invasion" and "on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."

The guarantee clause is unique in that it is the only restriction in the federal Constitution on the form or structure of the state governments. It empowers the federal government to oversee the organization and functioning of the states. It authorizes Congress and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the President and the Supreme Court to superintend the acts and the structure of the state governments and to inhibit any tendencies in a state that might deprive its people of republican government. Such a broad potential is rooted in the vague and unqualified wording of the clause. If fully realized, it would alter the delicate balance of power be-

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The Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Beginnings 9
  • I - Origins 11
  • 2 - Drafting And Ratification 51
  • 3 - Domestic Violence 78
  • 4 - Luther V. Borden (1849) 111
  • Part II - Fruition 131
  • 5- Slavery in The American Republic 133
  • 6 - Reconstruction: Crescendo, 1861-1867 166
  • 7 - Reconstruction: Diminuendo, 1867-1877 210
  • Part III - Desuetude 245
  • 8 - The Progressive Era 247
  • 9- Baker V. Carr (1962) 270
  • Epilogue 290
  • Suggested Secondary Readings 305
  • Index 315
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