Article IV, Section 1:
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.
Under the present system, suit ordinarily must 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? 1
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.
Doubtless Congress, by virtue of its powers in the field of foreign relations, might also lay down a mandatory rule regarding recognition of foreign judgments in every court of the United States. At present the duty to recognize judgments even in national courts rests only on comity and is qualified in the judgment of the Supreme Court, by a strict rule of parity. 2