Constitutional FAQ Answer #163
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Q163. "In Article IV
section 4 it states 'The United States shall guarantee to every State in
this Union a Republican Form of Government,' however it never states what that
means exactly. Could a state have a parliamentary form of government, with an
executive who is one of the legislators? Is a constitution even
A. You are correct that a lot of different forms of government could qualify
under the moniker "republican." In the context of the Constitution,
"republican" basically means any form where the people choose their leaders.
There is no requirement for a constitution, for example. A parliament would be
fine, as would an executive that came from or had some role in the legislature.
That would be up to the people of the state.
Of course at this point, all state legislatures and executives mirror,
roughly, that of the federal government, with a bicameral legislature
(excepting Nebraska, which has a unicameral legislature), and a separate
executive. All states also have a constitution. The question is not just
academic, however, because though the status quo tends to prevail, there is
room for change.