After Obama’s election, Texas secession plans were tossed around for months before finally sputtering down to a trickle of right-wing extremists floating petitions every time they got mad at “liberal Washington politics.” Now that the Brexit has become a reality, however, the Texas Nationalist Movement (the folks who think it would be good for Texas to become its own independent republic) is getting a big boost in popularity on social media.
On Thursday, the leaders of the Texas secession movement called on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to lend his support to a Texas vote similar to the Brexit in the U.K., reports the Washington Times.
“It is past time that the people of Texas had their say on our continued relationship with the Union and its sprawling Federal bureaucracy.”
Following the Brexit vote, a survey indicated that almost 6,000 Twitter users used the phrase “Texit” (in reference to Texas secession) on the social media site. That number was a full five-fold increase from the prior day.
The Texas Nationalist Movement has been circulating a self-made Texas secession petition on the internet since early 2016. So far, the petition has managed to gather 260,000 signatures.
The renewed calls for Texas secession has inspired some media outlets to look into whether or not a legal, binding avenue for Texas secession actually exists. The Texas Tribune reports about the legalities regarding Texas secession plans.
According to the publication, despite the Texas secession hype following the U.K.’s historic and unprecedented Brexit vote, Texas can’t just legally secede from the United States. According to historic and legal precedents in the U.S. (the foundation for most of the nation’s established and recognized common law), Texas cannot legally undertake a Texit movement.
“The legality of seceding is problematic. The Civil War played a very big role in establishing the power of the federal government and cementing that the federal government has the final say in these issues.”
In a nutshell, most historians concur that the Confederate surrender at Appomattox in 1865 nixed the concept of so-called “legal secession.” The victory of the Union set a legal and historic precedent that states in the United States cannot legally secede.
In addition to the historic legal precedent that indicates that neither Texas nor any other state has a fundamental right of secession in the U.S., it’s important to note that the rights of individual countries in the European Union are far different than the rules governing individual states in the U.S.
Simply put, while EU member nations created protocols allowing member nations to exit the union, the U.S. has no such legal options for disgruntled states like Texas. In fact, the U.S. Constitution (which is the foundation of the nation’s entire legal system, including the legal system that Texas must abide by) has rules governing the admission of new states to the Union, but no procedures for allowing a state to divorce itself from the United States.
In Texas, however, there is a permeating myth that Texas secession is a real possibility and that it is something that can be undertaken with relative legal ease. The issue is founded, in part, in the history of Texas, which was once its own independent nation.
Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836 and was its own nation until 1845, fully nine years after the fledgling nation of Texas’ leaders set their sights on joining the United States. In 1846, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution annexing Texas to the United States. That resolution also included language that would allow the State of Texas to break itself apart into “New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas.” Many people believe that stipulation means that Texas has a right of secession from the U.S., but that is a misconception.
The State of Texas can split into several additional states, but it has no right of secession.
During the Civil War, Texas secession did happen, along with the secession of several other states. After the Civil War, all of those states (including Texas) were brought back into the fold of the United States, and the precedent had been set that secession was not a legal right for states.
“If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”
Even prior to Texas ending its last secession period by rejoining the Union during the Civil War, the Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White that states had no secession rights, and even if Texas legislators passed secession legislation and even if that legislation were to be ratified by a majority of Texas voters, it would be “absolutely null.”
So, at the end of the day, it appears that U.S. law and precedent are very unambiguous when it comes to Texas secession (or the Texit). Texas has no right to legal secession from the United States, no matter what ballot measures are introduced by legislators or special interest groups or how overwhelmingly those measures are supported by Texas voters.
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