America 2015: Secession Fever

Encompassed within the widely publicized fact that America is “more divided than ever” is the dramatic notion of secession. Though known mainly via the Civil War in the 1860’s, Americans have increasingly considered cutting ties with its own federal government.

Over the past decade, there have been 11 State (or regional) groups that have advocated for and petitioned for secession from the United States. Some include Vermont, New Hampshire, northern California, Hawaii, and the most noted separatist- Texas. In fact, according to an accurate online poll as reported by Reuters in September 2014, 25% of current Americans want their state to secede from the U.S.

The volume of these outcries has increased throughout the presidency of Barack Obama, for sure. But President Obama and his policies are not solely to blame. Over the past five years the approval rating of the U.S. Congress has set records for dissatisfaction and disapproval. And it seems that not much has changed recently even after the GOP and “Tea Party” advancements of 2014. Voters elected conservatives to fight Obama’s agenda, but as the recent Omnibus Spending Bill has shown, Washington DC is the same as ever.

So what is a disgruntled and ignored citizen (or State) to do? Many have openly declared their wishes to secede from the nation.   But is this a realistic, and legal, goal?

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union dissolved 2As The American Conservative points out, most legal and Constitutional scholars say “No”. Justice Antonin Scalia stated that 1) the United States would not be party to a lawsuit on the issue 2) the “constitutional” basis of secession had been “resolved by the Civil War,” and 3) there is no right to secede, as the Pledge of Allegiance clearly illustrates through the line “one nation, indivisible.”

Reaching back further, to 1869 (just 4 years after the Civil War), Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase wrote that, “The union between Texas and the other states was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original states. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.” This majority opinion reached a decision that rendered all acts of secession illegal according to the “perpetual union” of both the Articles of Confederation and subsequent Constitution for the United States. Chase did say there could be an exemption, via “revolution or the consent of the States,”. But aside from that, secession could never be considered a legal act.

There are other means and types of secession, including seceding from a State and forming a separate 51st state. This would not alleviate oneself from the behemoth federal government, but it may help many people “take back” their homes and regions. One of the biggest examples recently is that of Jefferson, a proposed State made up of much of northern California. Several counties there have held open referendums and have elected to secede from the State of California. The lawmakers in Sacramento and throughout the State don’t seem to be giving it much credence or changing their habits. One would think that with open declarations of separation and with the ongoing emigration of people FROM California to other states- opinions and policies would change and improve. But, not quite yet.

The legal fact is that for Jefferson to be viable, this measure would need to be approved by the California legislature AND the U.S. Congress. Both are highly unlikely. Thus, the folks in these underrepresented regions continue to suffer.

If citizens do not feel that their elected officials advocate for their beliefs and priorities, what is a responsible and patriotic voter to do? For many it is reliving the “states’ rights” arguments of the mid 1800’s, in the face of an ever-increasing Washington, DC bureaucracy and tone-deaf legislature.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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