ABA Journal


Constitutional Law

Residents of All 50 States Submit Secession Petitions to White House Website

Nov 15, 2012, 02:25 pm CST


I say we let them leave if they:
A) pay relocation expenses for every citizen of the state that wishes to remain a citizen of the United States, and
B) buy the entire state from the U.S.

... Then, of course, we fix the national debt by reconquering the state and selling the newly-re-acquired property.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 15, 4:11 pm CST

In related news, Santa Claus has announced that not one request for a Shetland pony for Christmas will be granted.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 15, 4:14 pm CST

@2 -- That sounds like grounds for a promissory estoppel claim.

I want my pony!

By Another Andy on 2012 11 15, 4:17 pm CST

As Lewis Black said, describing Donald Trump's effort to stop Meatloaf and Gary Busey from beating one another up: "Let it happen - who would care?"

By Pushkin on 2012 11 15, 4:57 pm CST

Didn't "the people" just have their voices heard in the election? So your side lost, suck it up buttercup for the next 4 years necause the people have made their voices heard.

By Gallant1 on 2012 11 15, 5:51 pm CST

@4 - um, what about those of us who don't want to secede in states that goes against the Constitution (Thanks Mr. Lincoln) and secedes, will we be given about 10K+ for moving expenses and actual jobs in same field paying same amount in other states that don't secede?

Why is it that for the GOP, the party who loves the constitution, they are the ones going against it every chance they can? If these people want to secede, then I say show them the door to any other country, just pack your bags and go to another country. Please, feel free to try another country, I suggest China, or North Korea, that should put a bee in your bonnet. Or how about any of the socialist country's like Denmark, Sweden, etc. See how paying half of your income in taxes does for ya. Maybe then some of these people will actually learn the true definitions of Communism and Socialist, the words they keep throwing around for "scare" tactics.

By Hawk on 2012 11 15, 5:59 pm CST

Look at the money. The states with the largest numbers of signatures, who want out and away from the federal government, are the ones that receive more $ from the government per dollar they send in. Letting them go might balance the national budget for the ones left.

By JimB on 2012 11 15, 6:23 pm CST

Jim B (no. 7 above) makes an interesting point -- some states do get more out of Federal spending than they contribute in taxes. A number of those states are among those whose citizens have shown (well, a bunch of their citizens anyway...) that they would like out of the United States and would prefer to go their own way.

One may disagree with these people, but belittling them is hardly likely to win them over. Those who are so quick on the attack above might wish to consider that point...

The other issue though, which surprises me that no one in the present LEGAL commentary community has dealt with, is this --

Is Secession Legal?

One's immediate reaction would be that it is not allowed, that this argument was settled in court, namely at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate armies to General Grant.

But then there's a problem there -- after the Reconstruction period, the seceding Southern states were "readmitted" to the Union. Why did that have to be done if, in fact, their secession was illegal? Wasn't readmission a tantamount admission to the legality of the Confederacy's cause?And, indeed, if the Confederates' secession was legal, how is it that the Union was legally justified in invading the South & conquering it? After all, if secession were legal, the South Carolinians had the right to evict a foreign power's military forces from their soil when they fired on Major Anderson's U.S. Army garrison at Fort Sumter, right? Shouldn't President Lincoln have just accepted the fait accompli, and let the South go its way in peace?

This argument of course stands American History on its head. Is it truly the case that the United States won the Civil War on the battlefield, only to lose it legalistically due to some maladroit phrasing in post war policy? One would think not, but then... who can say?

I am sure that many self styled legal experts... and probably a few real experts... will address this issue in greater detail.

I await your comments with interest.

By SavannahGuy on 2012 11 15, 6:45 pm CST

@8 - I agree with you. There is no workable legal framework for the post-war Amendments unless the secessionist states did, indeed, leave for a short amount of time.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 15, 6:54 pm CST


There was a whole long derailed thread regarding that topic a few days ago. I don't remember what the headline was or I'd direct you.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 15, 6:55 pm CST

@8 You ask: "After all, if secession were legal, the South Carolinians had the right to evict a foreign power’s military forces from their soil when they fired on Major Anderson’s U.S. Army garrison at Fort Sumter, right? Shouldn’t President Lincoln have just accepted the fait accompli, and let the South go its way in peace?"

At an earlier thread, I argued that given the fact that Constitution is silent on sucession the parties should have done everything possible to avoid blood shed. In addition, given that South Carolina clearly believed it had that right - - - South Carolina passed its first Articles of Sucession in 1850 - - - Lincoln should have shown wisdom of peacefully by abandoning Fort Sumter. Had Lincoln taken this course of action, my guess is that some accomodation would have been made to preserve the Union.

By Yankee on 2012 11 15, 7:08 pm CST

Why do they have to leave if they want to seceed? There is no reason the US has to have 50 states for the next 500 years. I have no problem with the US splitting in two. It will within the next 50 years - either voluntarily or through another civil war. It is inevitable. No country lasts forever.

By tim17 on 2012 11 15, 7:32 pm CST

The United States belongs to Mexico. Both the Democrat's and Republican's are welcome to leave. We will be the majority soon anyway, and most of you will leave.
Bye Bye!

LOL Gingo!

By LOL Gringo on 2012 11 15, 8:05 pm CST

I guarantee that every secessionist signatory currently receiving social security will want that income stream to keep a-comin' even if they end up with, say, a Louisiana passport.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 15, 8:11 pm CST

The President can't dance the "hokey pokey" on national TV any more than Mitt Romney could have given his concession speech "Gangnam Style" as the song is apparently copyrighted by Sony Music (1). Of course, he could push through intellectual property reform, but with all these secession petitions to deal with, fat chance of that!

(FN1: My facts are from Wikipedia, FWIW. I apologize for bringing facts to a political debate.)

By KG on 2012 11 15, 8:25 pm CST

Hey, if you don't like this country, you're free to leave.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 15, 8:34 pm CST

This is the unfortunate backlash of racism and the successful efforts of Karl Rove and others like him to brainwash Americans into political beliefs that betray their own best interests.

By Joe on 2012 11 15, 8:55 pm CST

The whiners should be free to leave; but they should agree to forgo all future public benefits, and should have to reimburse the US for any public benefits received, as well as pay their proportionate share of the national debt before leaving. And they must pay those who don't wish to secede the FMV of their property under eminent domain, plus relocation costs. Since such a requirement will invariably mean forfeiting their property, taking their states with them may not be an option. I wish them all luck finding a predominantly white nation, where everyone speaks English, where they won't have to pay taxes, and that has no "socialist" infrastructure such as national health care. IMHO, they can't leave fast enough!

By BMF on 2012 11 15, 9:24 pm CST

Remember, half the population can only muster up a double digit IQ.

So it's not a surprise that these "petitions" have signatures on them.

By Tyrone on 2012 11 15, 10:50 pm CST

The racism of yesteryear has come full circle in our county. The entire world embraced our choice of a black President four years ago and most nations of the world still support him. The fringe elements of Republican sect have crept through into the mainstream once again with conservative mouthpieces planting the seeds of hate. The only doubt lies here at home rooting from bigotry. Watch the white hands paint Obama in Blackface at

By Brandt Hardin on 2012 11 15, 11:48 pm CST

It is with out doubt, that our government has drifted FAR from it's routes over the past 100 or so years, and now represents the very thing that we seceded from originally in 1776. We, the American people, need to revisit our routes and purge our authoritarian federal government, in pursuit of freedom, liberty, and justice. I have links to all 50 states petitions, and most of their duplicates here:


This is a historical movement that now has over a MILLION supporters. Do what's right, America. Let's get our freedom back!

By I FIGHT FOR A FREE AND JUST GOVERNMENT. on 2012 11 15, 11:49 pm CST

@21 Wow. Maybe Disney will let you rent out Fantasyland for your secessionist paradise. A million people isn't even 1/3 of 1% of the U.S. population. I can see why you resort to posting spammy links on the ABA message board.

By KG on 2012 11 16, 12:08 am CST

The people that wrote the petition thought they would be able to stay in their states but they were wrong again. So why don't they let go and let God. They have a mental problem and they could be on that meth, maybe they need to be checked out and in a mental institute.

By Beverly J. Darby on 2012 11 16, 12:18 am CST

If I might be so bold as to inject a legal question into this thread, does the constitution of any state claim that it has the right to separate from the union?

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 12:52 am CST

@20 - Get a grip. Most of Obama's supporters were white. Lots of people consistently support the Republican party in presidential elections. Most likely a large part of even those rabidly opposing Obama are not motivated by race (remember Clinton's presidency?).

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 16, 12:56 am CST

I agree that they should leave out of the country and and give up their rights as citizens if they want to but they cannot take over a state and live in this country. If they are thinking otherwise they are sick mentally or drugged out of their minds.

By Beverly J. Darby on 2012 11 16, 1:02 am CST

@ 24 - Not sure about that one. But do you think that the U.S. Constitution is silent on the matter?

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 16, 1:07 am CST

The racist find ways of twisting the Bible less known the Constitution. People are so prejudice they believe lies before the truth and the Republicans have been gearing people up for this and they should go out there like they did when they spreader all those lies out there about our President and tell these sick people the truth. If not they are being the cause of this uprise.

By Beverly J. Darby on 2012 11 16, 1:16 am CST

@ 27, The US Constitution addresses the issue only implicitly, and is therefore subject to interpretation. My belief in the rule of law makes it difficult to accept a military victory as establishing constitutional law (it may empower the victors to make, or change law, but that's another issue), so the "we won, get over it" view does not strike me as a sufficient answer.

There is also the unpopular, but plausible, view that the Articles of Confederation established the relationship between the States and the United States, and might continue in effect except to the extent that it was changed by the Constitution. The Constitution, after all, established a new and direct relationship between the People (not the States) and the United States, but did not explicitly abrogate the Articles.

My question about State constitutions was intended to call attention to the fact that citizens of a State cannot change that State's relationship with the United States without at the very least following the State's own legal requirements. Any State whose constitution does not claim the right to secede cannot lawfully do so, however many millions of its citizens might wish to, without first changing its own constitution.

My suspicion is that the people behind the current wave of petitions have no interest in the rule of law, or for that matter even in secession, but are concerned only to make life unpleasant for the current administration in any way they can. That is not the American way. We have survived and thrived as a nation for so long because those who have been voted out of power have always been able to take solace in the certain knowledge that they would have another chance to make a stronger appeal to the electorate two or four years later. That is the primary fundamental distinction between the relatively civilized societies we consider to have "functioning democracies" and those that do not. The concept of the "loyal opposition" seems to have faded.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 1:27 am CST

I agree with you @24, but let us face reality here, you are obviously a wise person and want peace, I love that about you but we must call a smoking gun a gun. That was a petition of hatred and we need people like you to calm me down. Thank you.

By Beverly J. Darby on 2012 11 16, 1:37 am CST

I'll agree with much of what you wrote. To address your third paragraph, though, is the Supremacy Clause implicated? If a state's amending its constitution to be able to secede, and then seceding, is all that it takes to nullify the protections we enjoy under the national constitution, what is the practical effect of the Supremacy Clause? It would be nothing more than that the protections and laws passed under the Constitution are supreme until a state decides it's not.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 16, 1:49 am CST

@ 31, I do not say that such amendments would be legal. I say only that without them any talk of secession lacks even a pretense of legal foundation and should be treated accordingly.

I seriously doubt that the perpetrators could garner sufficient majorities in any state to adopt such amendments, and I believe that they know that. Thus my previous comment that they are just unAmerican troublemakers.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 1:55 am CST

@29 You assert: "Any State whose constitution does not claim the right to secede cannot lawfully do so . . "

I don't know where you pulled that from . . .

By Yankee on 2012 11 16, 1:55 am CST

Yankee, I was wondering when you'd pop back in.

States are limited by their own constitutions and their own obligations to their people, just as the federal government is.

If you have any basis for believing it ain't so, please enlighten us.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 1:59 am CST

@34 Yes, a state constitution does puts limitations on the authority of the state's general assembly. Whether you can reason from that a state must have an explicit mechanism in its constitution in order to secede is another matter altogether.

Having quickly read a few of the articles of secession associated with the Late Unpleasantries, the declarations usually came out of "conventions" organized within those states.

By Yankee on 2012 11 16, 2:58 am CST

@29 Owings v. Speed, 18 US 420 - articles of confederation were indeed replaced by the US Constitution on March 4, 1789.

@8 You're mixing illegal with impossible. Last I checked there are plenty of things that are possible that are legal. Anyway, technically, the state's populaces rebelled, illegally, and their members of congress were readmitted afterward. The political entities themselves (ie. the states) never left and were not "readmitted". @9 The framework for readmission comes solely from congress being able to set its own rules so the bodies themselves prevented the actual admissions to congress - remember Roland Burris (guy who took Obama's seat)?

If you want to argue about whether secession is legal or not, I don't believe it is, but my above is not about that.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 3:23 am CST

Every State has chosen to submit to a Constituional regime that does not acknowledge any right to secede. If the people of any State, knowing that the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit secession and believing that the absence of such a prohibition made secession Constitutionally permissible, wished to claim for their State the power to secede, they could have done so when adopting a constitution for their State. Any State, whose people declined to claim a right to secede when constituing their state government, may reasonably be considered to have waived the right to claim that power. Whether the people of a State could retroactively give their State that power by amendment is another matter altogether.

A "convention" is almost necessarily extralegal. If it is tolerated, and takes power, then like any revolutionary assembly that succeeds it establishes its own legitimacy retroactively. Or if, like the Constitutional convention, it submits its product to the will of the legally established order, its doings can become legal by ratification.

Until then, however, it is sound law and sound policy to deny the legitimacy of those who advocate revolution. And while I do not consider the recent unpleasantness to have changed the Constitution, I do believe that it made advocating the dissolution of the Union an act of revolution. And I do believe that any misguided souls who are seduced into taking up arms for such a cause would be guilty of treason.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 3:25 am CST

@ 36 thank you, I have not yet read that. I suspect I will consider it to be founded more firmly in the politics of the day than in constitutional law, but I might be pleasantly surprised.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 3:27 am CST

So what about West Virginia, did they also secede from the South -- and what about Mercer county in West Virginia, did they also try to secede from West Virginia? Did the supreme court even have jurisdiction over the issue? I'm still trying to figure out what time it is in Arizona, in the Navaho Nation on the Hopi tribal grounds -- maybe people who actually get married there, didn't because time doesn't even really exist.

There is no modern relevance to the question of South Carolina...its kinda like trying to use authority from the King of England in application to King's grant properties, some places still do that in West Africa, even though Ghana became a Republic in the 50s.

I thought the readmission of the Southern States had more to do with the new laws which were put into effect. Each state in fact had to be readmitted in order to reconstitute their state and be ACCEPTED back into the Union politically, eventhough they hadn't in fact left legally.

A similar situation occurred in post WWII Germany, when the constitution for the existing Nazi Germany was repealed and a new constitution was enacted in Friedberg, Germany, which I believe was signed by a US General. Incidentally the name of the town was changed as well, from its meaning of fighting mounting to peaceful mountain. Perhaps the real problem is the name of the State of South Carolina just needs to be changed to something new, and then a new identity can finally be born.

By Tyzão on 2012 11 16, 9:53 am CST

And signing that petition amounts to treason, that's exactly where this argument should be going -- how's that for a Radical Republican response.

By Tyzão on 2012 11 16, 10:48 am CST

First, one of our local reporters has discovered that many of the same people are signing all of the petitions, so it is unclear that each state has a significant number of its own citizens signing the petition for that state.

Second, there are currently about 25k signatures on the petition for my state, which has a population of around 4,000,000. Assuming that all signatures are from state residents (which is really doubtful), it merely demonstrates that approximately 0.5% of the state's population possesses fewer than 5 operating brain cells.

Third, more than 40 years ago, I swore an oath "to support and defend the Constitution...from all enemies foreign AND domestic" (emphasis added, because I agree with Tyzao's comment above concerning treason). I served under some presidents who I personally did not like. The majority of my country had spoken, however, and elected these presidents. I am not a huge Obama-fan by any means, but the current petitions attempt to completely ignore "majority rule". They appear to be filed by sore losers who do not know how to work within the system.

Finally, the short White House response should be: "NO".

By JimfromBham on 2012 11 16, 11:27 am CST

Everyone seems to be missing the larger point here. Millions of our fellow citizens are so frightened about the direction our nation has taken that they are expressing the desire to get off the train now before it crashes. Whether their request is earnest or symbolic is unclear but does not matter. I am not sure that simply dismissing them as loons or bigots is the wise move or the compassionate move. I think the "we won, get over it" mentality should give way to a little national introspection. Whether or not secession is "legal" should not be the issue. The real question is, "What can we do to help heal our divided nation?"

By Chris Kervick on 2012 11 16, 12:03 pm CST

The Declaration of Independence stated that if things got intolorable, you could leave. It was refering to the Colonies separating from England, but it is conceptually the same as a State leaving the USA.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 11 16, 12:13 pm CST

The current rendition of the federal government so vaguely resembles original intent, it is not surprising The People are no longer willing to support it. Too bad their lawyers are blind to the obvious... Thank the lone star state for leading the way.

The federal government has my "No Confidence" vote.

What if the people remember Shakespeare's most misquoted phrase? Take two spoonfuls of character and call me in the morning. Find honor among the ruins of a once noble profession...
© 2012

By Blue & Gold on 2012 11 16, 12:59 pm CST

You have to wonder how many blue-staters are happily signing the Texas petition.

By Ham Solo on 2012 11 16, 1:04 pm CST

If at first you don't seceed, try try again.

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2012 11 16, 1:28 pm CST

These words still ring true today.

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

By tim17 on 2012 11 16, 1:43 pm CST

"Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful, good society’ which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean: more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.” 
-— Marcus Tullius Cicero

By Jim on 2012 11 16, 1:50 pm CST

Catherwood @34 - I suppose one answer to your point specifically on state constitutions is that they are fundamentally different than the federal one, in the sense that a power does not have to be enumerated in a state constitution in order for a state to have it. One could argue therefore that unless there is a prohibition on secession in a state constitution, the state is allowed to do so. (I obviously would not agree, as a state constitution must be considered in the larger federal framework, not in a vacuum).

Chris Kervick @42- The one percent of the population or so that continuously shrieks apocalypse is pretty much par for the course. They tend to squawk louder when Democrats are elected, but they pretty consistently hoard ammo and coffee regardless of what is going on. Nothing to worry about.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 16, 2:15 pm CST

I think there's a good argument that any of the original states (and maybe the states carved out of them) have a right to secede.

After that, I think they have to buy their way out, if they can leave at all.

@42 - A noble sentiment and I hope it does not get lost. But I don't think we are really that divided. I think the media is the problem. And lack of education.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 2:28 pm CST

Since we are quoting words that "still ring true" -- how about another great Republican from American history.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal"

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow, this ground-- The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham Lincoln
Washington 1863

By Tyzão on 2012 11 16, 2:31 pm CST

I recall that the legal analysis of the Civil War was that force was justified because the "seceding" states were in armed rebellion against the lawful government, that secession was not legally possible because no country had or would have within its structural law provision for its own dissolution, and that the rebels had attacked federal property (military installations among them). At the end of the war, as I understand it, the "readmission" was necessary because the southern states were seen as having no legally constituted state governments and elections (having been controlled by those conducting the unlawful rebellion), and thus no representatives, no lawful legislatures, etc. This was not considered an acknowledgement of their secession, which remained deemed an impossibility. The readmission was in theory merely a verification that a lawful government had been reconstituted in the state and lawful representatives sent to Congress. There may be some element of fiction in these constructs from a practical perspective, but I believe that the U.S.'s position was that there had not been, because there could not be, a secession.

By dv3law on 2012 11 16, 2:49 pm CST

As a native Texan, I'm used to talk of secession. I've heard it for decades. Now I live in another state that wants to secede. Like JimfromBham, I think the current movement has a lot to do with people being sore losers. And, like Chris Kerwick, I think some national introspection might be a good idea. But why is it that the right only wants national introspection when it loses? Had Romney won, you can bet that the right wouldn't have been calling for introspection to figure out why liberals dislike the Republican agenda. They would have just barreled ahead with their plans to destroy Planned Parenthood, to eliminate a woman's right to control her own body, and to introduce a Constitutional amendment to ban not only gay marriage but homosexuality itself. I have always been mystified by the Republicans and the Libertarians who scream that government shouldn't interfere, but they don't mind government interfering with women, gays, lesbians, and transgenders. I say, let's round up all the secessionists, herd them into ships, and send them off. Bon voyage, and good luck, pal!

By LAB on 2012 11 16, 3:09 pm CST

@15: Of course the President could dance the Hokey Pokey on national television -- if he needed to get permission from Sony Music to use the song, I'm sure he and Sony could work out a deal. Look at all the other copyrighted songs that get used on television. Even if he had to pay for a license to use the song, I'm sure it would be less expensive than fulfilling some of the other petitions people have submitted.

By Joshua on 2012 11 16, 3:25 pm CST

The Grayghost rides again.

By Grayghost on 2012 11 16, 3:33 pm CST

RE: Gallant1: 'Didn’t “the people” just have their voices heard in the election?' If you call getting less than 1/2 of the people in the U.S. to barely agree to relect someone [because 12 million votes were case in that direction merely go keep getting a bunch of stuff for free without working like the Obamaphone] "have their voices heard", then it stands to follow a state should be able to secede from the union with < 50% of the people in the state voting for secession.

By Tax Adjuster on 2012 11 16, 3:40 pm CST

The headline of this piece should read "Morons in All 50 States Submit Secession Petitions to White House Website"
Can't we get these rightwing nutjobs raptured up & out of here already?

By RJP11 on 2012 11 16, 3:56 pm CST

@39 As I said above, the states were not readmitted - their congressional representation was. The states never left (from the perspective of the US gov't). Most histories are not written for legal scholars so this item is regularly confused in non-legal histories.

@42 Bit of an exaggeration there... even if everyone who signed the petitioners was a separate (and real) person it still would not even be 1 million, let alone millions. Also, this is hardly something new. I agree wholeheartedly with @50 that it's mainly just fluff.

@43 Declaration of Independence says no such thing. The particular phrase people keep pointing to is actually: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government" - which sounds great, except it should be read in context of the rest of the declaration. The rest of the declaration basically says you should never do this unless the world is ending because of your current form of gov't, not because you don't like the current president. Anyway, it doesn't matter either way, the declaration was never ratified by subsequent states so I think anyone would be in a pretty poor position to suggest it has any direct application (in our legal framework, sure extralegal it does).

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 3:59 pm CST

One other point I'd like to make - the rebellion of states during the civil war against the US gov't was illegal (from the US gov't's standpoint) in the exact same was the american revolution was illegal from British gov't's standpoint. Simple difference is who won - it was extralegal in both cases, but in the second case the US won and was subsequently recognized as being independent - still didn't change the fact it was illegal under the colonies current legal framework.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 4:05 pm CST

@58 - I have to disagree. I think that the only legal theory under which the post-war Amendments were legitimate is one in which the states actually did leave the Union for some period of time.

Now, the government might spin it one way and the historians another, but as a matter of legal theory -- for whatever use that is -- I think we have to conclude that either those Amendments are illegitimate or that the states left the Union and were later re-admitted.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 4:05 pm CST

@59 - Now that is definitely true. It's also worth remembering that the drafting of the Constitution wasn't exactly "legal" itself. They spent half the time at the Convention arguing because they *knew* they didn't have the authority to draft a new Constitution. That's why the proceedings were kept so secretive.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 4:07 pm CST

@60 I'm not sure what leads you to this conclusion - congress refused to admit their representatives and senators until they ratified the amendments. I agree that a variety of the laws that were passed during reconstruction may not have been constitutional, but that hardly means much. I think they're two separate and distinct issues (if you look at why Lincoln vetoed the Wade-Davis Bill, it was because of his rejection of the idea the states themselves had to be readmitted).

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 4:16 pm CST

@62 - That is exactly the problem. That simply is not a valid ratification unless the states had left the union and therefore had no right to vote on the amendments. The "price" or readmission was the retroactive (and legally unnecessary) ratification.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 4:18 pm CST

How about just renouncing their citizenship. It's not like these a**clowns think like Americans to begin with and there's no need for petitions. Plus the federal funds saved from subsidizing the benighted inhabitants of these predominantly red states would balance the budget in about a week.

By rosslaw on 2012 11 16, 4:41 pm CST

Earth to liberal, e-salon parlor debating intellectuals!! We can't just let them secede!!!

What would we do on Saturdays without the only college football teams that are worthwhile?
Who would supply us (particularly us lawyers) with Whiskey/Bourbon? Ireland? Just say no to import taxes!!
Fun and sun? California ain't what it used to be, and the ability to travel across country might be compromised considering that the defense contractors who develop the technology to say shoot down planes tend to live in the states that want to secede.
Two words: Crawfish Season.

Oh yeah, there's always the possibility that they will try to own and trade people again. We have a moral duty to prevent that....

Let's, in the very least, try to strike a deal that allows us to carve out the parts of states that are worth keeping.

If they don't want to deal, well that's fine. Mexico's failed national security measures pose a colossal problem for the states that border it. The South can either fall to the Union or fall to the cartels (or any other non-State actor/terrorist that can enter it through its permeable borders). In fact, we could supply arms to the cartels (oh wait, we already did. Thanks, Dubya!) . Either way, they will fall.

By Peccavi on 2012 11 16, 4:45 pm CST

Secede? Seems to me they tried that, with less than stellar results. Ever hear the word "treason?" Get over it. Your boy lost. I can recall lots of reasons to be a lot more disaffected than you are (Viet Nam; attacking and invading Iraq [twice], arming the Contras, wasting billions on the ill-advised missile shield, and lots more cute tricks.) We waited for the next election and worked for our candidate. That's what you do. In the meantime, turn off the game, open a book and read some American History (the real stuff, not the neo-con, Tea Party revisionist crap.) You can't imagine the great things about this country that you've missed.

By TG1974JD on 2012 11 16, 4:46 pm CST

@63 Congress is perfectly within their rights to not admit representatives for whatever reason they so choose. Sure, it's black mail and I don't believe appropriate, but I don't see how it invalidates an amendment ratification.

Also, I'm not sure I'm clear as to your third sentence - the amendments were not adopted until they were ratified by 3/4ths of the states, including the confederate states. It was not a retroactive adoption/ratification.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 4:47 pm CST

catherwood @24 - When I was growing up in Texas, I persisently heard that either the state constitution or the agreement annexing Texas to the U.S. gave Texas the right to secede from the U.S. in future and become an independent republic again. I never confirmed this, but that was the rumor. Interesting if true.

By AmyO on 2012 11 16, 4:49 pm CST

@ 40, some of us see a difference, both morally and legally, between signing a petition and taking up arms against the lawful government. The former is protected by the First AMendment and the latter is protected, if at all, by force of arms and the verdict of history.

@43, Those who signed the Declaration of Independence knew they were committing treason, and committed their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the cause. That's why they carefully and thoroughly explained their justifications. Whining about losing an election doesn't come close, especially when all the losers have to do is present a platform that appeals to a majority to get back into power.

@ 49, States do not have powers beyond those given to them by their People, any more than the federal government does. The widespread belief that States are omnipotent is incompatible with the rule of law, and is a holdover from the "divine right of Kings," which was both legally and military rejected in this continent. The natural tendency of States to claim powers that they have not been given is hardly surprising, any more than the natural tendency of the federal government to do the same thing.

@ 50, I am glad to see someone else appreciates the distinction between those states that had claimed sovereignty before joining the Union and those that were created by the grace of Congress and never were sovereign. I am not, however, persuaded that even those that preceded adoption of the Constitution retained the power to secede.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 4:50 pm CST

@65 "Fun and sun? California ain’t what it used to be, and the ability to travel across country might be compromised considering that the defense contractors who develop the technology to say shoot down planes tend to live in the states that want to secede. "

I don't know if your entire post is just trolling... but this statement is woefully inaccurate if your point is defense contractors operate in typically republican states. Defense contractors are regularly republican, but the states their companies operate in are generally blue states or swing states.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 4:53 pm CST

@67 - I guess I just have to disagree -- I believe that blackmail invalidates the ratification. UNLESS the states had actually left the Union for a short period of time. Under *that* theory, the Constitution had already been amended by the requisite number of states that were remained. Retroactive ratification was simply a part of the price of re-admission.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 4:54 pm CST

I forgot to mention - it's rather amusing you bring up California as a great many of them operate in California...

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 4:55 pm CST

Some nice posts on this subject.
1) For all those referring to the petitioners as "Republicans"- evidence? Proof? Or merely your own partisan prejudices kicking in?
2) Secession...... mmm. One question I always posed to my eager students was this: "Given that the Founders were to a man, people who had lived through a violent revolution to separate from their original nation, the uncertainty of the "Articles Era", and had in their fundamental law, established a process for the admission into,and creation of new states within, the union, WHY then did they not even mention the notion of a state withdrawing from the union? Why is there not a process for a peaceful, legal withdraw? After all, these were men who well understood that a desire for such a event may occur, so why would they ignore their duty to set up a legal, peaceful method for such?"
My own view was simply- they didn't do so, because they did not recognize such a legal right. I know- somebody is going to bring up Jefferson and Madison's pamphlets, but those were partisan attacks on their political enemies, written when Tom & Jemmie were out of power. It's interesting that when both of those gentlemen were serving their respective terms as President, they regarded secession as treason.
Which it is.
Have a nice weekend!

By Vastly Amused- and remembering why I once loved te on 2012 11 16, 5:01 pm CST

@68 - If you Google that, you'll see that it's an urban legend.

@69 - Oh, I definitely see a difference. I should clarify that what I see is a continuum of plausible legal claims to the right to leave the Union.

At the top, with the most plausible claims, are the original sovereign states. Somewhere a little further down (and how much further down is open wide to debate) are states that were carved out of the territory of those original states. Then, I think, you have territories that later willingly joined the Union (like Texas). And finally, at the least plausible bottom, I think you have states composed of land that the United States purchased (or conquered).

I personally believe that especially the first category, and probably the second, have a legal right to secede. But let me say that this is all just theoretical -- there is no practical *ability* to secede even if a state has a plausible argument that it has a legal right to do so.

I *do* think that, as a thought exercise, we might have to stipulate that part of the "price" of leaving is that the departing state pay to relocate any of its citizens that wish to remain citizens of the U.S.

As I said in my first comment, I propose that we let them go. Reconquer them, let the federal government sell the land to more loyal citizens, and use the proceeds to pay off the national debt! haha!

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 5:01 pm CST

@ 68, if what you heard was correct, then Texas might at least have a plausible legal basis for contemplating secession. My point was that States without such a power legally enshrined should not even be talking about doing it without first trying to make it legal.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 5:02 pm CST

@75 - My understanding is that this is an urban legend. The germ of truth at the core of it is, again to my understanding, that Texas reserved the right to break itself up into five smaller states.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 5:04 pm CST

@71 I can understand that feeling - I just don't see a basis in the Constitution though that would make those ratifications invalid.

@74 Have to take all their nukes first... that'd be fun...

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 5:07 pm CST

I say we legalize marijuana, give them Texas and build a BIG FENCE. Let them fight it out with the drug cartels. Lol

By Lmbo on 2012 11 16, 5:08 pm CST

@75 & 76 It is an urban legend - the Texas secession movement is based on one guy's idea a long time ago that Texas has been an independent nation since 1861 and is "occupied" by the United States. Pretty much no one (historian or legal authority) agrees with his legal arguments.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 5:12 pm CST

If we start trying to invalidate every legislative act that was supported in any way by the exercise of raw political power to obtain support, then we probably need to invalidate just about everything either before or since the Constitution. Maybe even that, although rumor has it that the initial ratification battles - however hard fought - were reasonably fair. But very few legislative acts have not involved horse-trading, backscratching or compromise, all of which boil down to "vote my way or I will withhold suppport for something you want."

By publius on 2012 11 16, 5:13 pm CST

Unless its agreed upon by all the other states, and possibly with a constitutional amendment, no state has the powers above and beyond that of the Union. This is the concept of ultra vires which was argued in relation to Jekyll Island, Georgia. Eventhough the federal government in fact owned the property known as Jekyll Island, they were still required to obtain permission to improve their property from the local government (which I believe was Glynn County, Georgia). If a federally owned property is not excused from its right to seek permission from a local government, then how can a state ever had or have the right to do so?

Additionally, has there ever been an example of ANY state at ANY point in time of either incorporating property or dissolving part or whole any of its property first without a federal act? I can't recall even one instance, be it significant or trivial, in the entire history of the Union.

By Tyzão on 2012 11 16, 5:17 pm CST

As one of many blue dots in a red state, I say love or leave it. I had & still have so much contempt for the Cheney-Bush Regime but it was my choice to stay. The basis for a democracy is that the majority rules. One does not have to like it but one must accept it or work to change it - not overthrow it.
My guess is that the so called secessionists are likely flaming throwing t-partyers. So please go away by all means....
@41 - RIGHT ON!
@7 - GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT & if you are smart, you won't get your "facts" from Rove, Newt or Cheney's puppets.

By Dixie Chick on 2012 11 16, 5:26 pm CST

Legal authority for any State's right to succeed? That's easy unless one chooses to forget or ignore the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Nothing in the Constitution states States must remain in the union, nor does it empower the United States to dictate the terms for States' succession. Hence, the right to succeed, and the terms of successsion, "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Does anyone have an argument of law to the contrary?
I choose to not get into a political argument here in this "LEGAL" forum, except to remind those of you who deride the successionist movement for various reasons, it was Ghandi's philosophy: First they ignore you. Then they mock you. Then they fight you, and then you win! The most recent exmple of that in this Country is the unquestionable fact of the TEA Party's impact on the party that has the majority in and rules the House. No matter where one stands or falls on this issue politically, it should not be taken lightly because it is a growing movement gaining in momentum in numerous and an increasing number of States, and I think we are past Ghandi's "ignore" stage. There are hard choices to be made, not mocked, because the choices will be made, no matter who mocks them.

By Realist on 2012 11 16, 5:27 pm CST

I think that a lot of the sucession talk would fade away if states were allowed to choose to give nothing and accept nothing from the Federal Treasury. States should be both masters of their own destiny and self-sustaining in the case of natural or man-made disaster. The voters in New Orleans chose by popular vote to not reinforce their levies, and the taxes of persons not living in the area were used to pay for the damage. In California, we send much more money to the US Treasury than we receive in benefits, and the Federal overhead in passing the money through is very expensive.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 11 16, 5:30 pm CST

1. More people have signed a single petition asking Macy's to end their affiliation with Donald J. Trump than all those stupid secession petitions put together.

2. You can always find a couple hundred or even thousand traitorous nutjobs in any state of the union. Even Glenn Beck says that the people signing these petitions are just plain crazy.

3. I'll bet a lot of the same people signing these petitions used to have "America: Love It Or Leave It!" bumper stickers during Vietnam.

4. All kidding aside, these self-indulgent, pointless petitions really are an affront to our soldiers who have died for our country.

5. Hey, you petition signers: GROW UP! Quit behaving like spoiled, bratty crybabies.

By R on 2012 11 16, 5:35 pm CST

@83 The Constitution also doesn't say State governors can't shoot the president, but I'm pretty sure we'd all agree they don't have a right to do so under the Constitution.

@84 Californians pay more to the federal gov't than California receives, just barely, but they do.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 5:37 pm CST

@83 I forgot, also see #69 response @49.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 5:40 pm CST

#21 and #42: you claim that "a million" or "millions" of people have signed these stupid, pointless, and frankly traitorous petitions. WRONG. A ton of people have signed the same petitions for each state, over and over again. Wingnuts in Louisiana signing petitions for Rhode Island to secede. What a sad, pathetic joke - just because they happened to lose an election.

Then again, this is to be expected when the losing side continually framed the election as "taking our country back" - as if it had been stolen from them in the first place - and when wingnuts like #21 claim they are being denied their rights by an "authoritarian" government simply because a majority of citizens voted the other way. Crybabies.

By R on 2012 11 16, 5:42 pm CST

@ 83, That's why I asked whether the constitution of any State actually tried to give it the power to secede. The Tenth Amendment does not give to any State a power that the State never had in the first place.

The Tenth Amendment also reserves some powers to the People. The power to disclaim citizenship in the United States is probably among them. The question is whether People have the power to bring States, or even other persons, with them when they go. I think not. The Tenth Amendment does not give either States or People the right to exercise reserved powers in a way that violates otherwise established law. Either the legal process or the political process must be followed for an act of separation not to be an act of rebellion.

By catherwood on 2012 11 16, 5:50 pm CST

At least a couple have mentioned the Declaration if Independence, the important part is:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ..... That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is THE RIGHT of the People to ALTER or to ABOLISH it, and to institute new Government ..... it is their right, it is their duty, to THROW OFF such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security ...

By LEAVE NOW! on 2012 11 16, 6:27 pm CST

Maybe you should take a real look at those socialist countries that you so deride and not just mouth off Republican style or is it Palin style. Sweden, for one, has a better more vibrant economy than the US, it is second after Switzerlnd and the US is fifth. Sometime sharing the weath lifts everyone up and comes back in low or non-existent costs for higher education, a health care system with no cracks, etc. You already pay big time in this country and you get very little back compared to the Swedes and the Danes. And those countries offer corporations a chance to flourish with a tax rate of 22% compated to the 36% here in the US. Why don't you just google those awful socialist countries and see what they are really about.

By How Swede It Is on 2012 11 16, 6:30 pm CST

@91 Not disagreeing with anything you're saying, just wanted to point out the part about corporate tax rates, you're comparing nominal rates. The US's effective corporate tax rate hovers around 15% right now - it's about average for most developed countries.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 7:13 pm CST

Mole Mountain @ 86, the Constitution is not a code of criminal conduct; it is the blueprint by which the government of the United States must operate. Your most-superficial comparison @ 86 of an apple to an orange (or to an apple tree or the whole grove of trees) is not persuasive and indicates a lack of knowledge of the case law addressing and applying the 10th amendment; and @ 87 referencing ## 69 and 49, does everyone forget Con-Law 101 and States' original plenary powers, which per the 10th Amendment, if not given to the federal government in, and not prohibitted by, the Constitution is reserved to the States. My point @ 83 stands. Of course, a State's action pursuant to its State government (passing legislation signed by its governor) to succeed is different from an unofficial petition. A State government governs its citizens and does not have to petition for what it can do on its own.
All of the other commentors that try to bully by name-calling and mocking, your tactics are telling -- you have no leg of law on which to stand.

By Realist on 2012 11 16, 7:30 pm CST

Re: did "readmission" implicitly validate the preceeding seceeding?

I think the analysis should go like this: When states rebelled and "seceeded," their state goverenments lost their validity, and those states were no longer entitled to the privileges accorded states. Their territories, however, were still part of the somewhat less United States. When the rebels were militarily conqured, a mechanism was devised to restore the rebel territories to statehood. Just like the mechanism (usually an oath) to restore individuals(or select classes of individuals, like Reb soldiers or government servants) from those states to full rights of citizenship - rights possessed by inhabitants of US territories as a minimum.

Accordingly, talk of secession is twaddle. Yes, politics really is the art of compromise, but at some point that stops. Soldiers to Little Rock and so on eventually stopped Faubus and his ilk. There really was no room for compromise there. I'm unsure if there is such a focused issue involved here, though.

By Walt Fricke on 2012 11 16, 7:33 pm CST

@93 - I think that might be unnecessarily harsh, but I *think* I agree with your point if I understand it correctly. I don't believe the Tenth Amendment matters here at all. First, what most people have trouble understanding is that **it does nothing but state something that was already true**. Second, I just don't believe that you *need* need the federal (or even a State) Constitution to specifically reference a right of secession for such a thing to exist.

At least insofar as the original states are concerned, they probably have a plausible legal argument that they can secede -- if not, obviously, the practical, martial power to do so.

However, I think it is much harder to argue that "sovereign states" whose territory was purchased or conquered by the U.S. have the same right. I believe, at minimum, they would have to "purchase" themselves from the U.S.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 7:42 pm CST

@93 Yeah, last I checked a law is a law is a law. Furthermore, catherwood's posts clearly illustrate the fallacy of your posts. But you know, **** it, I'm on a boat.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 7:43 pm CST

@95 If you're suggesting it's legal under the current legal framework in the United States, I find it hard to say you do not, at a minimum, have to have something in the State's constitution as catherwood suggests. Honestly, given that it has a two-way effect on the federal and state gov't leads me to believe you'd need something in the federal as well.

I have no problem with the argument that people have a right to break away under the same terms of the declaration of independence as people, but not as a right under the US's legal framework. I would agree wholeheartedly.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 7:52 pm CST

Well, at least the treasonous America-hating scum were kind enough to identify themselves in the petitions.

By Johnny Yuma on 2012 11 16, 7:56 pm CST

@97 - I just don't think it's necessary for that to be written in. I simply don't think that it's reasonable to say that 13 entities that join a group can never leave the group just because they didn't spell out "by the way, if we don't like it, we can leave." It seems perfectly reasonable to me that there would be no reason to write that out.

Again, I think the situation is different for later states, especially those added by conquest or purchase.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 8:03 pm CST

The secessionists should look at the one example of a successful secession from the United States: the Philippines, a former U.S. territory.

U.S. territories and U.S. States are almost the same thing. The people of U.S. territories carry U.S. passports and have an unrestricted right to live and work anywhere in the USA. Today, the people of all U.S. territories are full U.S. citizens, with the exception of American Samoa, whose people are U.S. nationals, rather than citizens.

But the difference between a U.S. national and a U.S. citizen is minimal: both carry U.S. passports and have an unlimited right to live and work anywhere in the USA. The only difference has to do with voting: nationals cannot vote, while citizens can. (Citizens who live in territories cannot vote for President, but they can as soon as they move to a State.) And a U.S. national can easily become a U.S. citizen after living in a State for just three months.

So before 1946, Filipinos were U.S. nationals (like the people of American Samoa today). Once they got their independence, what did they get? Long lines at the U.S. Embassy in Manila; a 23-year wait to immigrate their siblings; and extreme difficulties getting visas to come and work (or even merely visit) the USA. None of these were issues before 1946, when Filipinos were U.S. nationals.

So the people who want to secede should look at the Philippines as a warning: is this really the future that they want to impose on subsequent generations, the way the Philippines did on subsequent generations of Filipinos?

By Josh Effron on 2012 11 16, 8:27 pm CST

@99 But, as catherwood points out, if a State's people have not given their representatives the explicit authority to secede from the US I don't see what right their representatives have to make that determination.

If you're just referring to it not being the Federal constitution I think it's a fence issue and not one that's authoritatively resolvable.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 8:29 pm CST


I agree with your reasoning, and think it neatly circumvents the need to worry about whether "readmission" implicitly legitimized the illegitimate act of secession.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 16, 8:36 pm CST

@100 Very informative, but I have to strongly disagree that territories and states are almost the same thing. The remaining territories arguably are, but the territories the US has controlled over its history have varied greatly and generally just refer to land which the US exerted control over (remember Cuba, Panama control zone, etc...).

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 16, 8:37 pm CST

Louis Farrakan espoused secession several dacades ago? What an ironic role reversal. Jeez...when can we really get along?

By Lex on 2012 11 16, 8:56 pm CST

>> Very informative,


>> but I have to strongly disagree that territories and
>> states are almost the same thing. The remaining territories arguably are,
>> but the territories the US has controlled over its history have varied
>> greatly and generally just refer to land which the US exerted control over
>> (remember Cuba, Panama control zone, etc...).

True, Cuba and Panama were never territories in the same sense as the existing territories, since Cubans and Panamanians were neither U.S. citizens nor U.S. nationals. However, that was not the case in most U.S. territories.

Looking back at history, we can take Hawaii, for example. It became a U.S. territory in 1898. Just two years later - in 1900 - the Hawaiians became U.S. citizens, so when Hawaii became a U.S. State half a century later, it did not change much, since Hawaiians were already Americans.

And, like you said, the current territories are almost the same as States. (Even in American Samoa, where the people are U.S. nationals, rather than citizens, it is almost the same thing, since there are few differences between nationals and citizens.)

My main point, I think, remains valid. Just as the Filipinos lost a lot when the Philippines ceased to be part of the U.S. (as a territory), the people of these States would lose a lot if their States actually did secede from the United States.

By Josh Effron on 2012 11 16, 9:36 pm CST

Lex @ 104, for what State(s) did that "great political statesman" named Farrakan advocate secession? And what State government, whether through its plenary or by the power of legislation passed and signed by its governor pursuant to its own State Constitution, all powers reserved to the STate(s) under the 10th Amendment, supported his position? The irony lies in mentioning Farrakan, who once was a most politically devisive figure, and intentionally so, on the national scene while asking "when can we really get along?" Up to now, talk of secession has been political, which almost by definition means people disagree. I and many others get along with people with which we disagree and attimes even strongly disagree. Sometimes they are the most interesting people with whom to sit and have a drink (and for whom to even buy one, if that's what it takes to get them to sit and talk). In those face-to-face situations, there is never any name-calling, certainly never any of the likes that appears in some of these comments.

By Realist on 2012 11 16, 9:53 pm CST

@101 - I don't know whether a state has to explicitly confer that (or any) power on its government. I think that would depend a lot on the state constitutional jurisprudence. But unless that jurisprudence is starkly different from the federal constitution's (and again it very well could be), my initial analysis would be that the question is not whether the state constitution grants that power to its government, but whether it *bars* that power to its government.

I think you *are* right that there's no way to reach a legally definitive answer here. We seldom know what was intended, and even when we do, no two of the Founders had the same intent.

The unfortunate result is that what we have left is a matter of gut reaction about fairness. We may think it unwise, impractical, or foolish to secede. But I simply have a hard time concluding that any of the *original* states isn't free to go its separate way if it chooses. That just wouldn't seem fair or even common-sense to me at a gut-check. And based upon *my* reading of the Convention Notes and the history, it is highly plausible that these gentlemen would not have agreed to the union if they believed that their sovereign states could not withdraw.

My legal analysis and gut feeling remain that the secessionist states *did* leave the Union, and that the Union reconquered them. And I'm not saying the Union shouldn't have done that. But my honest opinion is that the rest is fancy rhetoric to try to cloak it with a *legal* legitimacy that the military action did not have -- and did not and does not need.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 10:31 pm CST

I see that Mississippi has finally taken to heart Phil Ochs' advice:

"Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of"

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 17, 12:06 am CST

Damn it. I LIKED the hokey pokey one!

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 11 17, 12:57 am CST

Part I, Article 10, of the New Hampshire Constitution is the "Right to Revolution". However, all these secession petitions prove is that there are idiots in every state (Based on the actions of our 2011-2012 General Court [the state legislature], we have many more than our share!).

By Old Man from New Hampshire on 2012 11 17, 6:54 am CST

Like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it stop being retarded.

By amicus on 2012 11 17, 9:01 am CST

How many states would have joined the union had they known how powerful the Federal government would become? We convervatives are now forced to be part of a country which, mainly due to changing demographics, is moving closer and closer to European style socialism. Seriously, I am having some diffficulty understanding why some of the bloggers here are so intolerant of the idea and question the intellgence of those in favor of secession. Our Founding Fathers envisioned a Union where the states had far more freedom. The most pertinent example would be Obamacare, which has now been foisted upon the entire country, depriving someone like me of the opportunity to live in a state where people still have the freedom to choose whether they want to purchase health care or not, or to live in a state which is more fiscally conservative than others, etc. etc. We no longer have that choice. What other options are there aside from secession? Those of us who have lived in socialist-leaning countries now what it is like. The rest are about ot find out what it's like when the government runs out of other people's money. The main stream media have done a great job in painting us as fanatical half-wits. It is so disappointing to see us move away freedom, personal responsibility and the other values which have made this country so great and exceptional.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 17, 3:07 pm CST

Please note that not everybody in 1776 wanted to trade King George III for George Washington. Some persons wanted their Colony to remain Sovereign and Independant, as a freestanding nation.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 11 17, 3:19 pm CST

#98 Of course, Johnny Yuma was a rebel, he roamed throught the west...where the only law was a hook and a draw.

By Grayghost on 2012 11 17, 4:12 pm CST

@112 - You use this word "socialism." I do not think it means what you think it means.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 17, 5:27 pm CST

@112 "We convervatives are now forced to be part of a country which, mainly due to changing demographics"

No one's forcing you to do anything. You're free to leave anytime. Don't let the door hit you in the behind on your way out.

By Johnny Yuma on 2012 11 17, 6:05 pm CST

I'm ashamed of our profession given the extreme ugliness of, and name-calling in. some of the comments about this article, which has nothing to with the law on secession. If you are guilty of this, I wonder whether you are an attorney and hope you are not. One would expect real professionals to keep the discourse at a high level.
I thank and appreciate the commentators who took the time to think about and comment on the legal issues surrounding secession, especially those who disagreed with me @ 83 and then @ 93 (my apologies if I was "unnecessarily harsh" @ 93, but I really think it was not). I've been practicing law long enough to know there are at least two sides to all significant legal issues and name-calling and extreme ugliness is not necessary to and does not help resolving them.

By Realist on 2012 11 17, 8:03 pm CST

Never ceases to amaze me how confusing facts and logic are to so many of us. Then again, years and years of PC brainwashing does tend to numb the brain. I have no intention of leaving, especially when half of the country feels the same way I do. With that many conservatives around there is still hope.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 18, 3:57 am CST

Robert: I too am confident that things will eventually turn around since there are still a lot of conservatives, and conservatives (particularly religious conservatives) tend to children to whom they pass on their values and work ethic. (The fact that Republicans control 30 state governorships and the House of Representatives is no small thing.)

Still, I anticipate a major economic collapse within the next two years (I can't see how it can be prevented) that hopefully jar many people out of their collectivist daze. During the rough times ahead stick close to your family; they'll need you and you'll need them.

By Yankee on 2012 11 18, 5:38 pm CST

@118 - Maybe the issue isn't with the number of "conservatives." Maybe it's time to acknowledge that people can take a variety of stances on issues and don't necessarily have to adopt the party line as taught by the party's media.

I do know a lot of Conservatives. And you know what? A number of them are absolutely disgusted with what has happened to the GOP in the last ten years, and they don't want to be a part of that. And a number of them voted Obama just because the alternative had become too outrageous. Or they voted Obama because they cared for women or gay citizens in their lives.

I hope you're right. I hope there is still a chance. I want to see the GOP reject their insane vendettas against equality and reproductive rights. I want to see it go back to being socially libertarian and fiscally conservative. If it does, it will get a LOT of people from the middle, like me. You're afraid of an economic collapse? Great. Maybe worry about that instead of trying to police marriage and the womb.

The nature of what party-line Fox News conservatives can push on the country is just simply changing. Marriage equality is an inevitability, women are never going to stop voting, and white people will not be the majority forever. Maybe it's time to look towards true libertarianism rather than tears of impotent rage that time passes and society progresses.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 18, 8:50 pm CST

I would like to think the majority of the population, including social conservatives, are comfortable with the current abortion law. But the mainstream media just loves to focus on those conservatives with extreme views to further their liberal agenda. In any event, I don't recall any Republican saying that they want to move to declare abortion illegal under any circumstances. Using my money to pay for someone else's abortion, or contraception, is a different issue. I agree fully that the GOP would get far more votes if it moved towards libertarianism, but it would still be GOP versus Dems and the media. Here's some advice for liberals: actually watch Fox News occasionally (excluding Hannity who's as biased as MSNBC). You may be pleasantly surprised. We need to expose ourselves to contrary points of view and form our own opinions on issues. Too many of us just regurgitate the talking points.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 18, 9:18 pm CST

Let us remember that the Tea Party, in its role as a minor Political Party, has to play by the same rules as the American Independant, Peace and Freedom, Labor, Green, and other Political Parties. If the Tea Party is a part of, rather than affiliated with, the Republican Party, that should be clear.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 11 18, 10:13 pm CST

In response to No. 8, the question of secession was settled by the American victory in the War of the Rebellion commonly called the Civil War. The "readmission" of the southern states is predicated on the doctrine of "state suicide". That is the rebel states by their attempted secession committed state suicide and lost their right to state government following the rebellion and became territories. Only when they had met the conditions established by Congress and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were they "readmitted" as states.

It is also true as pointed out by 7, 8 and others that the states whose citizens claim the right to secede are those which pay the fewest amount of taxes and receive the most federal aid. If Texas were to actually be allowed to secede, all American military bases would close, all defense contractors would have to leave or cease doing business with America, it would not be a party to any trade agreements, it would be subject to tariffs like any other foriegn country and would have to assume its own defense and diplomatic costs. All of this just because they didn't like who got elected. I didn't like George Bush but I didn't advocate treason just because my side lost an election. There will be other elections and other opportunities to make your case.

I grew up a Republican and I remain a great admirer of President Eisenhower. I am no longer a Republican because that party deserted the principles of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower and embraced the principals of Jefferson Davis, Herbert Spencer and Joseph McCarthy. The Republicans wanted an ideologically pure "conservative party" and all the moderates including me left. That's why they lost.

By George Sly on 2012 11 19, 12:13 am CST

You must be afraid the the US Government can not compete in the Marketplace of Ideas. If the US Government cannot provide the services desired by the States at a cost that the Federal Taxpayers of a particular state consider to be reasonable, and if a State wants to provide these services for themselves, let them do it, or at least evaluate their options, in the areas of Roads, Defense, Health and Immigration Policy for their state, for example, based upon their need for workers, etc. The US Government is too Paternalistic for my tastes. A Confederation of Soveriegn States could be tried again, this time without the fear of Sabre Rattling by Foreign or Domestic entities. The US agencies have too much overhead, and are just too inefficient, to be the BEST choice for a Supreme Lawgiver.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 11 19, 12:47 am CST

George Sly @ 123, your comment "[a]ll of this just because they didn’t like who got elected" is way too simplistic. No, it is because they do not like the direction in which this Country is going and going quickly (more takers than makers; with only a minority who actually pay federal income taxes, and higher earners paying a hugely disproportionate share of federal income taxes; runaway national debt; and soon (2013) the costs of "entitlements" plus interest on the national debt will exceed the Country's GDP for the year for the first time in our history. China would immediately stop financing this Country if States actually start seceeding, which would make the US dollar worthless and bring the remaining United States to its economic knees. If "who got elected" recognized and fixed these problems, the States with secession on their mind would say "THANK YOU" and support a Constitutional Amendment that would allow "who got elected" a third term and then would support his reelection. Given the collapse the remaining United States would suffer, it seems the political commentators who say secessionist states should go might want to rethink that position in light of the "be careful why you ask for' principle. All that is politics; I must add I agree with the effects of secession you note in the second paragraph of your comment, which I believe are correct as a matter of United States law, but I doubt Texas cares.

By Realist on 2012 11 19, 1:39 am CST

Racism trumps patriotism.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 11 19, 2:03 am CST

From 125: "more takers than makers; with only a minority who actually pay federal income taxes, and higher earners paying a hugely disproportionate share of federal income taxes"
Okay, okay. If I ran the zoo, I'd make government handouts conditional on work. I'd make "green jobs" really green for example by taking green house gas emitting machinery right out of agriculture and use the agricultural subsidies towards food, Internet, and housing for farm workers, and pay them whatever it takes to get US citizens productive on farms.

But if this post doesn't relate to the main article, it will get deleted, so I must ask, what's the difference between a system of voting where the poor's votes are bought and "preferred" stock that gets more dividends, but loses the right to vote?

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 11 19, 2:12 am CST

It is pathetic seeing somebody who obviously believes in heavy handed collectivism talking about "true libertarianism." What a crock.

The policies of Obama will result in accelerated economic decline, with the irony of ironies being that those most harmed by these policies will be those groups most supportive of Obama during the last two election cycles: minorities and young adults.

By Yankee on 2012 11 19, 4:04 am CST

You're so cute when you rant about Obama and describe everyone intelligent who disagrees with you as a liberal. I could just pinch your hateful little cheeks!

By Another Andy on 2012 11 19, 4:13 am CST

1. I used the term "collectivist" and not "liberal".
2. There is no sign of intelligence on the political left. Just as important there is no evidence that the political left has any concern with the well being of humankind.
3. The only "hater" here is you, Dude.

By Yankee on 2012 11 19, 4:38 am CST

You know that none of that is true. It's all factually false. Every piece of it.

If you want to continue having the discussion about the topic at issue in this thread, let us know.

But otherwise, I'll just enjoy watching your tears of impotent rage.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 19, 4:56 am CST

Conservatives don't get to seceed as a group, but they do get to move to some other country.

I recommend they start watching "House Hunters International" on HGTV. It should give them some excellent ideas for where to locate. Most of them would enjoy Paraguay or southern Chile, populated in large part by the descendents of Germans who ended up there in the early to mid 20th century.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 19, 4:50 pm CST

It's instructive how most of the smart alec comments come from liberals, who for the most part completely ignore the merits of the points raised by conservatives. Again, years and years of politically correct brainwashing have made many of them incapable of rational thought or debate, and they become totally confused by facts and logic, resorting rather to "funny" retorts. The reality remains that half of this country is deeply dissatisfied with the path we are taking and that's a fact which cannot be conveniently ignored regardless of how convinced liberals may be that conservatives are just plain wrong, dumb and racist.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 19, 5:01 pm CST

@133 - Reread your comment, and consider whether "hypocrisy" has any meaning to you.

By NoleLaw on 2012 11 19, 5:05 pm CST

Ah... there's another one.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 19, 5:51 pm CST

#133 -- If "conservatives" said fewer "wrong, dumb and racist" things, particularly during political campaigns, then fewer liberals would think of them as such.

The dissatisfaction of half the country with the path we're taking matters little given the last decade, in which the same was true while the GOP held power.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 19, 6:18 pm CST

@135 - I'm going to be totally honest with you here, because I haven't seen you post much and I think we would welcome a genuine conservative voice that made arguments based on objectively true facts and sound logic. It would be a great contribution to this community to have someone who had reasoned positions on issues and wasn't afraid to depart from the "party line."

The problem is that, at least in this community, one particular conservative voice has simply drowned and shamed out all the others. Discussion has proven absolutely useless. Anyone who makes a good point in disagreement is labeled a heathen liberal, even if the viewpoint is fairly centrist. Anytime a good discussion is underway, we get off-topic tirades about Obama, regardless of the actual matter being discussed. Objectively true facts are ignored. Unreasonable and illogical statements are made. Effectively, we get trolled. Humor has really been the only way that anyone else, whether centrist or middle, has been able to deal with it.

The few reasonable and educated conservative voices we've had on this board have shied away because one particular representative tends to make them look so unreasonable and hateful. Several of us do try to respond to posts that actually meaningfully discuss a legal issue or raise valid points. But We'd sincerely welcome someone who could be a better example.

(Finally -- don't get me wrong, this problem can exist on both sides. We've certainly seen examples of that. But none that have quite had the same deleterious effect on the community here.)

By Another Andy on 2012 11 19, 6:55 pm CST

@ 137 - I'm not in a position to dispute your view on the general trend in this community. It's disappointing to hear, especially from educated bloggers. But now that we're being honest, let's be really honest and also accept that we obtain the "true" facts to which you refer almost exclusively from the media. I make a point of watching both Fox News and the mainstream media in an attempt to get some semblance of balance on what the facts really are before forming my opinions. My impression is that the dollar driven media is more concerned with pandering to its viewers than reporting political news objectively and giving fair opinions. This makes a mockery of our democratic process because we can't form proper opinions without the facts. I hear one item of news being spun one way on Fox and the other way on MSNBC. I hear what an idiot Bill O'Reilly is when I watch MSNBC, but when I watch him myself he seems perfectly reasonable. I hasten to add that I'm not a huge fan of his; he interrupts far too much and is a tad too arrogant for my liking, but I agree with most of his views because I'm a conservative, as is he. The point I am trying to make is that with the dollar-driven news media being as biased as it is, on both sides, we should all be making a concerted effort to seek the truth and question our own talking points before forming our opinions. By the way, I'm not a Republican. For starters, their stubborn view on tax increases is virtually impossible to justify and emboldens those who, perhaps correctly, accuse them of protecting the wealthy.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 19, 9:51 pm CST

Yankee @ 119, you are right that we seem to be headed for a "major economic collapse within the next two years," if Republicans in Congress continue to mindlessly obstruct everything the Obama administration tries to do. Maybe not, if they will work with him to get something accomplished.

Robert Bosch @ 133, it would also be instructive how most of the smart alec comments come from conservatives, who for the most part completely ignore the merits of the points raised by moderates. As for the "reality" that "half of this country is deeply dissatisfied with the path we are taking," most ot the country is deeply dissatisfied with the current condition of the country. For the last two years, we have not been on any path at all because of Republican obstructionism in Congress, so anyone "dissatisfied with the path we are taking" is so only because of persistent use of that mantra by the right-wing media.

When, @ 138, you start talking as if Fox is not mainstream, you show more allegiance to Fox than to reality, and when you deride all news outlets other than Fox as "dollar driven media," you seem to be suggesting that Fox is not dollar-driven. If that was not your intended point, please clarify, because if it was you have lost a great deal of the credibility you started with by trying to seem reasonable.

By publius on 2012 11 19, 11:45 pm CST

Please note that at the point that the Political Parties quit nipping at each other over policy decisions is the point that the American Public looses, as then there will be no checks and balances on the bad decisions, excesses, and self-dealing in Congress. Without something to quote, the News Media will have nothing to tell the public until it is a 'Done Deal' and it is too late.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 11 20, 12:02 am CST

". . . mindlessly obstruct everything that the Obama administration tries to do . . ."

The one thing you can say about the 111th Congress Is it sure didn't "obstruct" Obama in any way whatsoever allowing Obama to yoke the American people the twin burdens of the Stimulus Bill and ObamaCare. In giving the Republicans control of the House beginning with the 112th Congress and voting to continue with that arrangement with the 113th Congress, the public clearly sees that obstruction of Obama to be a desirable thing.

By Yankee on 2012 11 20, 12:57 am CST

Yankee @ 141, nobody said anything about the first two years of Obama's term, when he tried to work constructively with the opposition, and got accused of being a dictator for his troubles.

Do the math: the majority that voted for Obama's re-election, and the majority that voted for Democrats in hte House, did not demonstrate a desire for obstruction.

If you are so proud of how effectively the Congressional Republicans obstructed OBama during the last two years because it is what you think the public wanted, how is it that zero republican candidates ever admitted to being obstructive while running for office in '12? They all insisted that Obama was solely responsible the fact that so little had been done to fix the eocnomy, and vigorously denied that they had been obstructive in any way.

By publius on 2012 11 20, 2:16 am CST

What you describe as "obstruction" is nothing more than Republicans voting their conservative principles rather than voting Obama's collectivist principles.

Heck, from your definitional perspective Obama has 'obstructed' the entitlement reform necessary to bring the budget under control

By Yankee on 2012 11 20, 3:10 am CST

Mr. Bosch - Please see the last few posts. This is why we can't have nice things.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 20, 4:26 am CST

For some or other reason my web page has stopped showing numbers alongside comments.
@ Another Andy - The last few comments illustrate perfectly how our opinions are swayed by the facts fed to us by the media. There is no doubt that philosophical differences play a large part in driving divergence of opinions, but there would be far more common ground if the news was reported in a more objective fashion. Here's the most recent example which comes to mind. On the eve of the "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations, President Obama said that he was willing to compromise, but he would veto any bill which extended tax cuts for the wealthy. Speaker Boehner said that he was willing to compromise but would not agree to raising taxes for any Americans. As far as I can make out, those were the objective facts. I heard the sound clips. NBC reported this as follows, and I'm paraphrasing: "President Obama said today that he was willing to compromise and seek common ground with Republicans. However, Speaker Boehner said that under no circumstances would he agree to raising taxes on the wealthy." There's subtle spin there which plants the seed in the viewers' minds that if the negotiations fail, it will be the Republicans fault because they are obstructive and unwilling to compromise. Is that a fair analysis, given the facts? The issue goes to the very foundation of the difference between the Dems and the GOP. Could one not equally argue that Obama is being obstructive by, on the one hand saying he's willing to compromise and then in the same sentence saying he isn't? This is the very point @ Yankee makes above. Quite frankly, both sides are being equally uncompromising.
@ publius - No, I didn't intend to suggest that Fox News isn't guilty of the same bias, although I do believe that the bias shown by the liberal media is worse. This could be because my political beliefs are more aligned with Fox News commentary, so naturally I'm less inclined to notice the bias on their side, but there's no doubt it exists. We owe it to our country to try and cut through the spin, work out for ourselves what is really going on, and then form our opinions.
One more comment, and this will probably not go down well with anyone, but it's been bothering me for some time now. My background is not in USA common law, so maybe I just don't get it, but in our litigious society I cannot believe how our public figures are able to get away with some of the outrageous and totally false statements they make at times, and how deceptive political ads are not challenged. A video clip is taken and then used totally out of context in a political ad and no one gets sued. Romney gets accused of causing a woman's death because he closed down an unprofitable business and she lost her health care. (I suppose if I ask my wife to buy a bottle of milk on her way home and she has an accident while taking a short detour to the supermarket, then I caused her accident too.) Millions of us watch these ads without questioning the content and vote accordingly. Both sides are guilty of this and it makes a mockery of our democratic system. If there's no legal recourse against this dangerous practice, then there's something wrong with our law on freedom of speech.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 20, 2:07 pm CST

My point was more that an interesting discussion about the legal theories and arguments about secession has devolved into political sniping that I -- for one -- don't come to the ABA Law Blog for.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 20, 3:12 pm CST

@146: Well, that is a good point. Personally, I'm as much of a political animal as a legal one, so I don't mind, but I would agree that there must be many participants in this community who feel the same way as you do.

By Robert Bosch on 2012 11 20, 4:03 pm CST

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