Front Page Titles (by Subject) Obligations of the National Government to the States - Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government
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Obligations of the National Government to the States - James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government 
Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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Obligations of the National Government to the States
This provision, sometimes known as “the federalism article,” requires the national government to guarantee a republican form of government to every State, to protect the States against invasion, and, upon request, to protect them against domestic violence. The term “republican government” is not defined in the Constitution, but the Framers meant a representative form of government, as distinguished from a direct democracy or monarchy. This guarantee shows the high regard the Framers had for representative government and their concern, almost a decade after the Revolution, that the people might again wish to be governed by a monarch.
The Constitution of 1787 imposes no similar obligation on the States to establish a written constitution or a bill of rights, or to protect civil liberties, except those specified in Article I, Section 10. Federal involvement in civil liberties disputes between a State and its citizens did not commence until the adoption of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments (the “Reconstruction Amendments”) after the Civil War. Even then, the extent of Federal activity was limited primarily to protecting economic rights and the rights of the newly freed slaves. Not until the mid-twentieth century did the Federal government, principally through the courts, become embroiled in civil liberties disputes between a State and its citizens involving such rights as freedom of speech and religion. Ironically, the Supreme Court has never interpreted the meaning of “republican government” and has taken the position that it is up to Congress to decide whether a particular State government is “republican” in character. Nor has Congress offered a definitive interpretation; and the Guarantee Clause, as it is known, is largely dormant.
Section 3 of Article IV places additional obligations upon the Federal government in the interest of State sovereignty. It provides that a new State cannot be created from a pre-existing State, from a combination of States, or from parts of States, unless the legislatures of the States concerned and also Congress give their consent. Five States—Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine, and West Virginia—have been formed within the jurisdiction of other States and with the requisite consent. This provision also establishes what is called the “doctrine of equal footing,” the principle being that Congress may not discriminate against one or more States and must treat all States as equals. Broadly speaking, every new State is entitled to exercise all the powers of government which belonged to the original States of the Union, and it must be admitted to the Union on an equal footing.
At the same time, Clause 2 of Section 3 makes it clear that Congress has the power to regulate or dispose of territories, public lands, or other property belonging to the United States government. No State can tax federally owned land within its borders, and Congress has full legislative power to govern the affairs of territories, including all subjects upon which a State legislature might act.