If you were to get rid of one state in the us, which would it be and why?

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Article IVSection 3New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

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The Congress shall have Power to lớn dispose of & make all needful Rules & Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging lớn the United States; & nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as lớn Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

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Matters of DebateCommon InterpretationThe Nature and the Scope of the Equal Footing DoctrineThe Admissions Clause & the Equal Sovereignty Principle
Common Interpretation
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by Eric Biber

Edward C. Halbach Jr. Professor of Law at the University of California - Berkley Law School


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by Thomas B. Colby

Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development & John Theodore Fey Research Professor at the George Washington University Law School


This Clause affords Congress the power to lớn admit new states. Most of the discussion at the Constitutional Convention focused on the latter, limiting, portion of the Clause—providing that new states can be carved out of or formed from existing states only with the consent of those existing states. Some Convention delegates objected khổng lồ this provision on the ground that, because several of the existing large states laid claims lớn vast swathes of western territories & other lands, those states would never consent to form new states in those territories, and thus the large states would only become larger & more powerful over time. But the prevailing sentiment at the Convention was that a political society cannot be split apart against its will.

While the consent requirement garnered the most discussion at the Framing, it has come into play only a handful of times in American history, such as when Massachusetts consented to the formation of Maine. Most intriguingly, Virginia was treated as consenting to lớn the formation of West Virginia at the outset of the Civil War, even though it was actually a breakaway, pro-Union province of Virginia that declared itself lớn be the lawful government of Virginia và then purported khổng lồ give “Virginia’s” consent lớn the creation of the new state of West Virginia—which was khổng lồ occupy that same breakaway corner of Virginia.

The opening portion of the Clause—granting Congress the general power khổng lồ admit new states—has played a far more significant role in American history. Only thirteen states ratified the Constitution pursuant khổng lồ Article VII. All of the remaining thirty-seven states were subsequently admitted to the Union by Congress pursuant khổng lồ this power.

This nguồn is thus an important one. & yet the Constitution provides almost no guidance as to how Congress should exercise it, nor does the Constitution impose any other express limits on it. Neither is there much guidance in the Framing history about its meaning or scope. Accordingly, much of the practical meaning of the Admissions Clause must be drawn either from caselaw interpreting the Clause or from the practice of Congress in admitting states, beginning with Vermont in 1791 and ending with Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.

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New states have generally been admitted after a period of territorial government, during which Congress & the President have broad authority pursuant to the Property Clause, also in Article IV, Section 3. An Act of Congress established the territorial government, often giving greater self-government (e.g., in the size of an elected territorial legislature) as the territory’s population increased over time. Some states, however, such as California and Texas, have been admitted without ever being territories.

The Admissions Clause provides that admission of a state requires at least one Act of Congress. However, Congress has often followed a more complicated process. For many admitted states, Congress first passed an Enabling Act, which authorized the population of a territory to convene a constitutional convention lớn draft a constitution for the new proposed state, and to apply for admission khổng lồ Congress. Often in the Enabling Act, Congress specified a range of conditions that the proposed state had to meet in order for admission to lớn occur. These conditions varied widely across time and states. For example, some states were precluded from allowing polygamy or slavery, & some states were forced to lớn practice religious toleration or khổng lồ afford civil jury trial rights. Once the proposed state constitution was drafted, it was sent khổng lồ Congress, which then decided whether lớn pass an additional act or resolution admitting the state. One variation in the Enabling Act process involved Congress delegating the final approval process to lớn the President.

The primary issue that the courts have wrestled with pursuant lớn the Admissions Clause is the extent khổng lồ which it limits the power nguồn of Congress to lớn impose the aforementioned conditions on, or otherwise khổng lồ limit the sovereignty of, admitted states. Even though the Constitutional Convention rejected a provision requiring Congress to admit all new states on an equal footing with the original states—thus seemingly leaving the issue to lớn the discretion of Congress—the Supreme Court has nonetheless read such a requirement into the Admissions Clause. Và Congress, despite its frequent imposition of conditions, has in fact included language in virtually every state’s admission act providing that the state is “admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatsoever.”

The Equal Footing Doctrine was first constitutionalized in Pollard’s Lessee v. Hagan (1845), where the Supreme Court held that as a matter of basic sovereignty all states have ownership of the beds of their navigable waterways (submerged lands under major rivers & lakes), & that, because newly admitted states must be on an equal footing with the existing states, newly admitted states obtained these same ownership rights when they joined the Union. Most famously, the Supreme Court applied the Equal Footing Doctrine in Coyle v. Smith (1911) khổng lồ strike down a condition in the Oklahoma Enabling Act that restricted the ability of the newly admitted state to move the location of its state capital. The Court held that, since Congress would not have the power khổng lồ restrict an existing state’s decisions about where lớn locate its state capital, under the Equal Footing Doctrine, Congress could not control where a newly admitted state could locate its state capital either.

The Equal Footing Doctrine applies only khổng lồ matters of state sovereign authority, not khổng lồ economic, geographic, or ecological conditions that nonetheless may give some states more resources than other states. For instance, the fact that the federal government owns more than 80 percent of the land in Nevada does not mean that Nevada was not admitted on an equal footing with other states, such as New York, where the federal government owns less than one percent of the land. United States v. Gardner (9th Cir. 1997). Nor does the Equal Footing Doctrine require the federal government to lớn surrender ownership of lands it owns within a newly admitted state, và it does not affect the broad power nguồn that the federal government has to regulate those lands under the Property Clause.