So there are a lot of provisions related to voting on a federal level, e.g. the electoral college is described in article II (interestingly, clause 2 says: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors […]") and the 17th amendment prescribes the direct election of senators in each state ("[…] two Senators from each State, elected by the people […]"). Now what about the state legislatures themselves? Is there some provision I missed?

In short: Could Hawaii become a somewhat absolutistic kingdom again and still remain a U.S. state? ;)

  • This seems a little broad, but it's really interesting
    – Pat W.
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


Article IV, Section 4 says this:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government

That would mean no state can be a kingdom.

PS in response to comments: This section does not mean the federal government is guaranteeing to the states that the federal government will be republican in form; rather the federal government is required to guarantee that the state governments will be republican in form. That is done when Congress looks over a proposed state constitution before admitting a proposed new state to the Union. That has not always been done, since in particular it was not done in Kentucky. (On February 4, 1791, Congress passed an act saying the district of Kentucky in the state of Virginia would be admitted as a new state, of course with the consent of the Virginia legislature that had been expressed in 1789, but would not be admitted until almost 16 more months passed. The politicians of Kentucky had requested the long delay so they could use the time to negotiate compromises on details of their state constitution, which hadn't been written yet. That was the first time Congress passed a law admitting a new state, but because of the delay, Kentucky became the 15th state rather than the 14th (Vermont is the 14th).)

  • Ah OK, so this also refers to all state governments and not just the federal one? Because otherwise I read it as "this union is democratic, but not necessarily its members".
    – phk
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:14
  • @phk : I'm not sure I understand your comment. The federal government will guarantee the states a republican form of government. So federal and state are involved in different ways in this section. That the federal government will be republiccan in form is spelled out in detail in Articles I through III. Feb 26, 2016 at 19:16
  • True, makes a lot of sense. Also, what would the federal government guaranteeing to each state to be republican itself even mean, either it is (to all), or it isn't.
    – phk
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:28
  • @phk : Article IV, Section 4 does not say the federal government will guarantee that the federal government will be republican in form; rather it says that the federal government will guarantee that the state governments will be republican in form. As far as I know the only way in which that has been done is that when new states are admitted to the Union, Congress looks at the proposed state constitution to see if it is republican in form. Congress has not actually done that in every case; in particular it was not done with Kentucky. Feb 27, 2016 at 1:29
  • 3
    It is probably worth mentioning that SCOTUS has held that this clause is a "political question", and so non-justiciable.. It's all left to Congress, and when appropriate the President, to decide. Nov 27, 2021 at 7:30

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