Login
Copyright

Full Faith & Credit Clause: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Contracts Clause: Examples & Definition

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:06 Origin and Purpose of…
  • 1:57 The Supreme Court and…
  • 3:01 Commanding Jurisdiction
  • 3:46 Determining State Law
  • 5:02 Acknowledging Other…
  • 6:24 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause was a key addition to the United States Constitution because it helped to unify the independent states. This lesson explains the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Origin and Purpose of Full Faith and Credit

The Full Faith and Credit Clause can be found in Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. This clause was originally included in the Articles of Confederation, which was our nation's first constitution. The United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, and, for the most part, the clause was carried over. The clause reads:

'Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.'

The Full Faith and Credit Clause ensures that states honor the court judgments of other states. For example, let's say I'm involved in a car accident in New Mexico. As a result, a New Mexico court grants me $1,000 in damages. But the defendant - the person who ran into me - lives in Florida and refuses to pay me. The State of Florida will enforce the judgment from New Mexico and help me collect my money. This is obviously an important practice because otherwise, I'm forced to retry my case in Florida in order to receive a money judgment that can be enforced in that state. This was an even more important practice in colonial times because the states purposely operated separately and independently. The clause helped ensure unity and respect for authority between the states. Although at the time the Constitution was drafted, the framers mostly hoped to prevent debtors from escaping their debts by fleeing to another state.

The Supreme Court and Full Faith and Credit

The United States Supreme Court serves as our judicial branch and is responsible for interpreting the United States Constitution. The Full Faith and Credit Clause is part of the Constitution's text and was enacted in 1787. The Court first interpreted the clause in the 1813 case Mills v. Duryee. Currently, the Court has heard numerous cases involving the Full Faith and Credit Clause. The Court says that the clause can be used in three different ways. First, the clause can command a state to take jurisdiction, or control, over a claim that started in another state. Second, the clause can determine which state's law should be applied when a case involves more than one state. And lastly, the clause directs states to acknowledge and enforce court judgments from other states. This last use is the example we've just discussed about my car accident in New Mexico.

Commanding Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has used the Full Faith and Credit Clause to command a court to take jurisdiction over a case. This means that the Court forces a state court to hear a case that originated in another state. Under our example, the Court can tell Florida that it must hear my case if I choose to sue the defendant in Florida. This wouldn't be true if neither the defendant nor I had any connection to Florida, since the accident didn't happen there. If there is no connection to the state, the clause doesn't apply. But if it's more convenient for me and I choose to sue there, Florida can't refuse the case since the defendant lives there.

Determining State Law

The Supreme Court has used the Full Faith and Credit Clause to determine which state's law should be applied when a case involves more than one state. This means that a state can't automatically apply its own laws to a case that involves more than one state. A state can usually apply its own procedural laws. These are the laws that tell us how a lawsuit should proceed. This includes things like how the lawsuit should be filed and what evidence can be presented.

There are certain rules that govern which state's substantive laws should be applied. Substantive laws are the laws that tell us the rights, duties and obligations that the parties have to one another. In other words, the substantive laws will tell us whether or not the car accident was the defendant's fault and whether or not he owes me money because of it. Generally speaking, the substantive law of New Mexico would be applied to my case, since the accident happened in New Mexico. This is usually true even if I choose to bring my lawsuit in Florida. Florida procedural rules would apply, but New Mexico's substantive rules would apply.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support