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Why We Should Worry About Full Faith and Credit to Laws

43 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2011  

James R. Pielemeier

Hamline University School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 1987


In the case Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, the United States Supreme Court held that both the due process and full faith and credit clauses of the United States Constitution barred Kansas’ application of its state law to the entirety of a class action for royalties on natural gas produced in several different states. This halted state courts from applying forum law in cases involving people and events in other states. This article attempts to ascertain principles that should guide construction of the requirement that states give full faith and credit to the laws of other states. The principles presented will not be drawn from the recorded history of the clause, for the records of its adoption give little insight into its purpose, and suggest that the clause was subject to minimal debate. Nor will principles be gleaned primarily from judicial interpretation of the clause, because such interpretation has been rife with conceptualism and vague, conclusionary tests. Rather, the article focuses on the values broadly reflected by our constitutional scheme that are implicated in choice of law decisions, and on the need for invoking the full faith and credit clause to assure that these values are effectuated meaningfully. The article’s premise is that only by thinking about full faith and credit in this manner can we begin to develop a principled and rational construction of the clause.

Keywords: Full Faith and Credit, Interstate Autonomy, Federal/State Autonomy

Suggested Citation

Pielemeier, James R., Why We Should Worry About Full Faith and Credit to Laws (January 1, 1987). Southern California Law Review, Vol. 60, p. 1299, 1987. Available at SSRN:

James R. Pielemeier (Contact Author)

Hamline University School of Law ( email )

1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States

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