California Secession? How it Could Happen in Practice
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The following article was written by James R. Rogers and originally published on the Library of Law and Liberty website.
Rumblings of secession talk in California, as in Texas a few years back, raises the question of how, if ever, a state might secede from the Union without war.
The legal issue surrounding secession in the Civil War era concerned whether states might unilaterally secede from the Union under the Constitution. The answer, underscored by force of arms and the U.S. Supreme Court, was a definitive “no.”
That states may not unilaterally secede from the Union, however, does not mean there is no route by which a state might secede peacefully, and even legally. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has said there is, albeit, saying it in dictum. In holding in Texas v. White (1869) that Texas did not truly secede from the Union, Chief Justice Chase, writing for the majority, nonetheless identified two routes by which U.S. states could peacefully secede: “There was no place for reconsideration or revocation [of Texas’s entry in the Union], except through revolution or through consent of the States.”
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Much of the commentary related to California’s budding secession movement suggests that a constitutional amendment would be necessary for the peaceful, lawful secession of a state from the union. I don’t think so. Chase’s dictum regarding the “consent of the states” does not suggest the need for constitutional amendment to authorize a state’s secession.
Rather, to implement this route for the legal secession of a state, Congress would need only to adopt enabling legislation spelling out the process by which consent of the states would be obtained. Congress could stipulate the states’ consent would be provided by some proportion of state legislatures – half of them, or two-thirds – adopting a “secession consent” resolution or something. Or Congress could authorize states to consent to a state’s request to secede through special state-level conventions or by direct vote in state-level referenda. Or perhaps Congress could provide state consent through a vote of the Senate, or a vote of the Senate and the House, or some combination of the above.
Whatever process Congress might adopt for secession need not be as onerous as the process required to adopt constitutional amendments: Adoption of enabling legislation need not require a supermajority vote in Congress (as constitutional amendments require). And, at congressional determination, the proportion of states sufficient to provide the “consent of the states” could be fewer than the three-fourths majority required to ratify constitutional amendments.
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Now that the Liberal Left in California has learned what “executive power” in the “wrong hands” means, they have become interested in secession.
I’m reminded of a quote: “Would you tell me please, Mr. Howard, why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man’s rights as easily as a king can.” Mel Gibson as the character Benjamin Martin in the movie The Patriot http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0187393/quotes
We’ve seen that the Congress has become corrupt and doesn’t faithfully execute its duties by creating the new Fourth Branch of Gooferment — the REGULATORS!
So perhaps, like the old Soviet Union it’s time to dissolve the Union and let partisans go their own way in peace. If the “blue states” want reform around welfare for all — fine. If the “red states” want to reform around “traditional values”— fine. California should be allowed to go its own way in peace.
Hopefully, it would NOT be like what happened in India and Pakistan initially, but things seem peaceful now.
So too, can the RED USA and the BLUE USA live in peace together … … finally.
Dona Nobis Pacem
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