The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2: “… and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.” In other words, any pending claims – state or federal - in the courts were protected by this provision.
“At the time the Constitution was adopted, some of the states claimed territories which were in dispute with other states; others were involved in territorial disputes with the national government. This constitutional provision was to quiet the fears of states with territorial claims which were then pending.” (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 639.)
Jeffrey Sikkenga of The Heritage Foundation claimed, “Shortly after the Constitutional Convention had adopted a constitutional provision that required the consent of affected state legislatures if Congress tried to create a state out of the territory of any existing ones (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1), the Framers faced a potentially divisive problem that arose from that provision….”
To prevent the problem “and protect the legitimate claims of the new federal government, Daniel Carroll of Maryland proposed this clause. “Since its adoption in the Constitution, this clause has spawned very little constitutional controversy and has functioned largely as its author hoped: by giving the same protection to both state and federal land claims, it diffused potential conflict over whose claims in the western territories would have constitutional preeminence. Potential conflicts were put over for decision by the political branches, which successfully handled the disposition of the western territories.” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 281-282.)