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Full Faith and Credit Clause

Full Faith and Credit Clause

The Full Faith and Credit Clause is a provision in the United States Constitution that requires states to honor public acts, records, and judicial proceedings performed by other states. This clause is a cornerstone of our federal system because it prevents states from treating each other as foreign entities.

The genesis of the Full Faith and Credit Clause goes back to the Articles of Confederation, the nation’s first constitution that was in force from 1781 to 1789. Under the Articles, each state had the right to conduct its own affairs without much interference from the federal government. This approach worked well for a time, but it led to problems when states began issuing conflicting laws, judgments, and orders.

Recognizing the need for a more cohesive system of governance, the framers of the Constitution included the Full Faith and Credit Clause in Article IV, Section 1. The clause provides that: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

The Full Faith and Credit Clause has far-reaching implications in the legal system. For example, if a couple gets married in one state, that marriage is recognized as valid in all other states. Similarly, if a person obtains a driver’s license in one state, that license is sufficient to operate a vehicle in all other states. Likewise, a judgment rendered in one state is generally enforceable in other states under the principle of comity.

However, there are some limitations to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. States do not have to recognize laws or judgments that are contrary to their own public policy. For example, if a same-sex couple gets married in a state that allows same-sex marriage, but then moves to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, the second state does not have to honor the first state’s marriage laws. Similarly, states do not have to enforce judgments that violate their own legal standards.

Another limitation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause is that it does not apply to criminal matters in the same way that it does to civil matters. Under the Constitution, a person accused of a crime has the right to be tried in the state where the crime was allegedly committed. This means that criminal judgments in one state generally do not have to be honored in another state, unless the accused is extradited to that state to stand trial.

In conclusion, the Full Faith and Credit Clause is a crucial component of our federal system, as it promotes uniformity and consistency in the application of laws across the country. While there are limitations to the clause, overall it has served as an important safeguard against states treating each other as independent nations.

The “Full Faith and Credit Clause” stems from Article 4 of the United States Constitution. The ideal of full faith and credit arises from that of the “Articles of Confederation,” which actually was the Constitution’s predecessor.

Within this doctrine, it was stated that full faith and credit be afforded to all states in connection to the legal proceedings of all other states of interest. Courts specified that this section did not actually give states full reign to overrule judgments in others, but rather entailed that states exchange records as additional bases to court proceedings that may involve them.

In 1787, James Madison desired for additional statements to be included within this significant area of concern. The additional terminology set forth that, in addition to a State possessing such full faith and credit, it would also be at the discretion of the Legislature in accordance with the laws set forth, to decide the ways in which such records or acts may be instituted and employed in one State as stemming from another.

Following subsequent alterations to the Full Faith and Credit Clause, we are finally presented with what we know it as today as residing within the United States Constitution. In the final composition of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, it set forth that such full faith and credit be bestowed within each individual State to the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of all alternative states. In addition, it was specified that Congress possessed authority, afforded to it by Federal law, to determine the ways in which the aforementioned items and proceedings of concern be instituted as proof as well as in relation to its final effect upon legal proceedings.

In Mills v. Duryee, the Court stated that the Full Faith and Credit Clause be extended to include a guarantee of the institution and existence of records within foreign courts. This is due to the fact that they must maintain and possess a streamline of the maintenance of faith and credit in all courts.

One area of interest that deals with such issues of full faith and credit are that of “same-sex marriage,” or rather, “civil unions” in regions that have resisted such legislative changes. As many states have defined marriage as consisting only of members of the opposite sex, they have also concurrently disallowed their State governments from recognizing same-sex marriages instituted in other states or from outside of the country. This presents an area of contention as many states have made same-sex marriage legal by way of either their own State Legislature or Supreme Court ruling.