Explain the part of Article IV, section 4, of the US Constitution, which says:

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and 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."

  • Clause attributed to James Madison.
    james madison
    james madison
  • Known as the "guarantee clause."
  • Each state is to function as a representative government (as opposed to some other form of government like a monarchy).
  • The federal government has the power to protect the states from invasion from a foreign country or from violence that erupts within that state.
  • The legislature of each state should ask for federal help with uprisings (the executive can perform the same function of the legislature cannot meet).
  • The full meaning of the first part of the clause is still debated. Courts have not specified exactly what a "republican form of government" means.
  • For more detail, see Article IV, Section 4 from Annenberg Classroom.

primary_sources.PNGThe Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

For a further definition of the terms in the article, see Republican Government from the Bill of Rights Institute.


1. The Articles. Accessed on April 1st, 2008. http://www.justicelearning.org/justice_timeline/Articles.aspx?id=1