Scope of Powers of Congress Under Provision


Under the present system, suit ordinarily has to be brought where the defendant, the alleged wrongdoer, resides, which means generally where no part of the transaction giving rise to the action took place. What could be more irrational? “Granted that no state can of its own volition make its process run beyond its borders . . . is it unreasonable that the United States should by federal action be made a unit in the manner suggested?''145

Indeed, there are few clauses of the Constitution, the merely literal possibilities of which have been so little developed as the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Congress has the power under the clause to decree the effect that the statutes of one State shall have in other States. This being so, it does not seem extravagant to argue that Congress may under the clause describe a certain type of divorce and say that it shall be granted recognition throughout the Union and that no other kind shall. Or to speak in more general terms, Congress has under the clause power to enact standards whereby uniformity of state legislation may be secured as to almost any matter in connection with which interstate recognition of private rights would be useful and valuable.

145 Cook, The Power of Congress Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, 28 YALE L.J. 421, 430 (1919).

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Last modified: September 5, 2012