Perspectiva Obscura: Civics 101.4

The final four articles in the Constitution involve privileges of American citizens and makes the Constitution a living/breathing document.

Article IV states that all states shall share public records with each other; allows for criminals charged in one state to be extradited to another state for trial; new states can be admitted to the union with the approval of Congress who also has the power to enact regulations on territories and other property belonging to the U.S.

The most important section of Article IV is Section 4: it declares that every state in the union shall be a republic form of government and the United States “shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.” This does not mean the executive branch can only act on its own when the legislature is not is in session.

Article V allows Congress to proposed amendments to the Constitution, first by a two-thirds vote of both houses and then three-fourths of the states must approve it also. This is how every amendment has been added so far.

The other way amendments can be added is through a Constitutional Convention. Although it has never been done, this would bypass the Congress and allow states to ratify an amendment.

In 2017 the Washington Post editorial board wrote that 34 state legislatures are needed to call a Constitutional Convention and many already have passed such a measure that stays on the books until it is rescinded by a subsequent legislature.

The Post said that progressive blue-states wanted a convention to overturn the “Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and conservative groups began pressing red-state legislatures to pass convention resolutions on a variety of pet causes, including a balanced-budget amendment.” If a Constitutional Convention is ever convened, there is nothing that binds delegates to whatever issue the state had in mind when it passed the legislation calling for the convention.

As for Article VI, it states that “…all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, …” In other words, any treaty the United States of American has entered into, including the approval by Congress in 1968 of the international refugee treaty that prohibits returning refugees to their “origin country” under most circumstances is law. This was amended when the legislature passed the Refugee Act of 1980 which among other changes, “made it mandatory rather than discretionary for the attorney general to withhold deportation of a foreign national ‘to a country if the attorney general determines that such alien’s life or freedom would be threatened in such country on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion’,” according to the Harvard Law Review.

The final Article, VII is the ratification of the Constitution by nine states — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Next time — the Bill of Rights.