Decentralization: How a Hidden Provision in the U.S. Constitution Could Remake America
NWLawyer, Vol. 72, No. 3, Pp. 34-40 (April/May 2018)
8 Pages Posted: 15 May 2018
Date Written: April/May 2018
If there were many fewer, but larger, “super-states” in the United States, America’s federalism might be more balanced and governments might more effectively meet public needs. A return to the original number of states — thirteen — could produce subnational units with more equal populations and more equal representation in the U.S. Senate. A national consensus on realignment is unlikely any time soon. But if a consensus were to develop, a straightforward mechanism is offered by Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, of the United States Constitution. That provision not only allows Congress to admit new states, but also permits a state to “be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states” upon the consent of the relevant state legislatures and Congress. Not surprisingly, this provision has rarely been used. But it provides the legal basis for merging or realigning states, including the formation of super-states with larger populations and territories as depicted in the illustrations accompanying this short article.
Note: Reprinted with permission of the Washington State Bar Association from the April/May 2018 NWLawyer.
Keywords: constitutional law, structures of government, federalism, states, representation, representative government, interstate compacts
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