Full Faith and Credit
Sovereign states win a confederation and semisovereign states in a federation, unless mandated by a constitutional provision, are confronted with the question of whether they should recognize the judicial proceedings, records, and statutes of other member states. Nation states commonly extend such recognition on the basis of comity or reciprocity. The Continental Congress, which prosecuted the Revolutionary War, adopted a resolution providing that "full faith and credit shall be given in each of these states to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other state." This resolution was included as Article IV in the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union effective in 1781.
Section 1 of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution contains nearly identical language: "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state." Suggesting that the comity command (comitas jurisdictionum) is not self-executing, the section authorizes Congress "by general law" to "prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved and the effect thereof." In contrast to the voluntary cooperation that occurs when states enter into interstate compacts to jointly provide services or build and operate facilities, the Full Faith and Credit Clause appears to mandate interstate reciprocity relative to civil matters. Nevertheless, the conflict of laws of various states in the federal system necessitates that a court decide in a given case whether the laws of state A or the laws of state B apply.
The clause establishes a rule of law of states which has been labeled private international law that binds both federal and state courts. Public acts are civil statutes enacted by state legislatures and records are official state documents such as a deed, mortgage, or will. Procedural statutes are not granted full faith and credit. With respect to judicial proceedings, the clause prevents relitigation of a final judgment in a court of a sister state.
A court can recognize a foreign (other state) statutory right, yet deny a remedy by rendering a judgment against the party invoking the statute of a sister state. A court also can shorten the time period during which a foreign judgment can be