After my entry yesterday about Texas governor Rick Perry and a minority of Texans talking about the possibility of secession, I wanted to address a few remarks and do a little more research into the legality of secession.
First of all, I never thought that it was a serious threat; the majority of Texans (I saw numbers of 2/3 to 3/4) want to stay in the Union, and I think it was nothing more than political posturing. However, I still think it's crazy talk (to use a technical term), and a governor should not be encouraging such irresponsible ideas. As the Talking Heads sang, "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around." Talks of revolution and secession are serious business, and I believe it's dangerous. Gov. Perry has not endorsed secession or said that he favors it, but his coy remarks about "who knows what could happen?" are counterproductive. Just my opinion, of course.
There is some talk that it was written into Texas's constitution that they have the right to secede from the United States. Everything I found showed that although there is a proviso that they can separate into five separate states, there is nothing about secession, and most legal scholars believe it is not a legal option. I'm far from a legal scholar myself, but these are a few things I found while looking for information.
Even before Sen. John Kerry conceded defeat in the presidential election, some bitter blue-staters had begun joking about the possibility of seceding from red-state America. Which makes you wonder: Are there any provisions in U.S. law for a state to opt out of the Union?
No. But the legal situation wasn't always so clear cut. Before the Civil War, the legality of secession was an open question, and Southerners would frequently threaten that their states might ditch the fledgling nation. The legal argument, framed eloquently in the 1830 Senate debate between Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne, centered on the Constitution: Was it merely a treaty among the many states? Or was it the founding document of a singular country, a compact of the "people" cited in its opening clause? This legal argument, among other things, eventually begat the Civil War, and since it ended, scholars have agreed that the Constitution grants no right of secession.
Legal experts say that the "treaty" interpretation remains dead today, especially since, in the aftermath of the Civil War, the United States adopted the 14th Amendment, which included a definition of national citizenship, something conspicuously absent from the original. (Previously, citizenship had been defined exclusively by the states.) Today, the Supreme Court frowns on states conducting their own foreign policy and even ardent members of states’ rights groups agree that the states have no right to withdraw from the Union.
While a poll broke this morning suggesting Texans favor staying in the United States by more than 3-to-1, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said secession can’t legally happen. A multi-media firestorm broke this week over Gov. Rick Perry insisting Texas could secede if residents wanted to do so, though he also said he doesn’t favor breaking away.
Cornyn, the state’s former attorney general and a past member of the Texas Supreme Court, said in response to a question during a stop at the Texas Capitol that secession isn’t legally possible. "I understand the sort of frustration people feel about what’s happening in Washington. I share that frustration," the second-term senator said. But as to secession being legally possible, he said, "the answer is no. Texas cannot, as a constitutional law matter, secede."
From another article from Statesman.com, by W. Gardner Selby and Jason Embry:
Sanford Levinson, a professor at the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin, said that between the Texas Constitution, the U.S. Constitution and the 1845 Joint Resolution Annexing Texas to the United States, there is no explicit right for the state to return to its days as a republic.
"We actually fought a war over this issue, and there is no possibility whatsoever that the United States or any court would recognize a 'right' to secede," Levinson said in an e-mail. Levinson noted that the 1845 resolution allows for Texas to break itself into five states but doesn't specify whether that would require congressional approval — and forming new states still wouldn't constitute secession.
Finally, and most importantly, there was a case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1869 concerning bond issues. In Texas v. White, The Court found that Texas had remained a state of the United States since it first joined the Union, despite its secession from the United States and joining the Confederate States of America, and its being under military rule at the time of the decision in the Supreme Court case. It went on to state that the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the "ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were 'absolutely null'." It also states "The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States." You can read the full summation of the case by Chief Justice Salman Chase here. Some interesting stuff, especially the part about the "perpetual Union."
I also got a couple more Anonymous comments. One was merely a dissenting opinion, stating that Gov. Perry is right and that secession is an option. "Many conservative and libertarian Americans agree that the right of peaceful, democratic secession by state convention is a legitimate constitutional right of every state in the union." What I found showed that it's not a legitimate constitutional right, but at least this Anon wasn't nasty about their dissenting opinion. I'm cool with that. I still wonder, though, why they wouldn't put their name to their comment? It wasn't mean or nasty, just different from my opinion.
Unfortunately, I had another visit from a previous Anon, the one who called me "poor little boo boo." (That's really kind of cute, isn't it? I've been called worse, that's for sure.) They started out as "Anonymous," answered their own comment as "Cynthia," and they are now posting as "Jolene." Oh my God, it really is "The Three Faces of Eve!" I wonder if Anon/Cynthia/Jolene is really a boy, using my blog as a place where he can let out his inner girly-girl and/or inner bitch? Well, I'm all about tolerance of other lifestyles, so you just go ahead, gurl! Although you'll probably find that people are a little more accepting when you don't question their intelligence or essentially call them an idiot. I'm just sayin'. And keep trying, dear--maybe one day you can achieve Sybil status!