According to these next provisions, the Constitution permits the crea tion of new states, provided the land for these new states is generally taken from areas not already states. This has not been an issue of much contention in American history. But when Virginia seceded from the Union before the Civil War, the counties in the area now known as West Virginia voted against secession. They declared themselves a new state. Though that declaration may have raised some constitutional questions, the Supreme Court in Virginia v. West Virginia (1871)
settled the issue by interpreting Virginia’s actions during this period as giving consent to the separation, as well as acknowledging Congress’ approval of the new state.
The second provision of this clause gives Congress the authority to directly administer land held by the United States that isn’t part of any state. Today, these lands include Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others. Depending on how Congress acts, these areas are subject to different degrees of self-rule. Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States, and though citizens in Puerto Rico do not vote in federal elections or pay federal income taxes, the territory is treated like part of the United States in many other respects. According to the Constitution, it is up to Congress to decide the laws and workings of these areas.