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Guarantee of Republican for of Government
The Constitution places several obligations on the National Government for the benefit of the States. Most of them are to be found in Article Four.
The Constitution requires the National Government to "guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government" (Article four). The Constitution does not define "republican form of government," and the Supreme Court has regularly refused to do so. The term generally understood to mean a representative government, however.
"The Supreme Court has held that the question of whether or not a States has republican form of government is political question"(www.TheAmericanGovernment.com). That is, it is one to be decided by the political branches of the government- the President and Congress- and not by the courts.
The leading case here is Luther v Borden, 1849. It grew out of Dorr's Rebellion, a revolt led by Thomas W. Dorr against the State of Rhode Island in 1841-1842. Dorr and his followers had written and proclaimed a new constitution for the State. When they tried to put the new document into operation, however, the governor in office under the original constitution declared martial law- temporary rule by military authorities. The governor also called on the Federal Government for help. President John Tyler then took steps to put down the revolt, and it quickly collapsed.
"The question of which of the competing governments was the legitimate one was a major issue in Luther v Borden. But, again, the Supreme Court refused to decide the matter"(Fox 32).
The only extensive use ever made of the republican-form guarantee came in the years immediately following the Civil War. "Congress declared that several southern States did not have governments of a republican form"(Pollard). It refused to admit Senators and Representatives from those States until the States had ratified…

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