Historical and legal precedents do it clear the Texas can not leave the Union — at the very least not legally.

by ANERI PATTANI, The Texas Tribune Jan. 29, 20214 PM central


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You are watching: Can texas secede from the united states

Every couple of months, the question seems come come up: If Texas want to, can it secede indigenous the united States?

Simply put, the prize is no. Historical and also legal precedents do it clear that Texas can not leave the Union — at the very least not legally.

The idea is most regularly raised by conservatives in the state who space angry over some kind of plan coming native the federal government — and also the phone call seem to become an ext frequent as soon as a Democrat is occupying the White House. State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, filed a invoice Tuesday to produce a referendum election on whether Texans should develop a joint legislative committee “to develop a plan for achieve Texas independence.”


“It is now time the the civilization of Texas are enabled the right to decision their very own future,” he said in a statement announcing the legislation.

The invoice doesn’t show up to have much the a chance. And also even if it did, professionals say, Texas can’t just secede.

“The legality of seceding is problematic,” Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the university of Texas at Austin, called The Texas Tribune in 2016. “The Civil battle played a very big role in establishing the strength of the federal government and cementing the the federal government has the final say in these issues.”

Many historians believe that when the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox in 1865, the idea that secession was likewise defeated, McDaniel said. The Union’s victory set a precedent that states can not legitimate secede.


Some have pointed to Britain’s 2016 vote to leaving the european Union together an example. However it’s necessary to keep in mind that the europe Union is a loosened association the compound says with preexisting protocols for a nation to exit. In contrast, the U.S. Constitution consists of procedures for admitting brand-new states into the nation, however none for a state come leave.

Yet the myth the Texas deserve to easily secede persists, in part, since of the state’s background of independence.

Texas asserted independence native Mexico in 1836 and spent the next nine years as its very own nation. While the young country’s leaders first expressed attention in ending up being a state in 1836, the Republic that Texas go not join the United states until 1845, once Congress authorized the joint Resolution for annexing Texas to the united States.

This resolution, i m sorry stipulated that Texas could, in the future, select to divide itself into “New claims of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in enhancement to stated State the Texas” is frequently a reason of confusion about the state’s capability to secede. Yet the language that the resolution is clear: Texas can separation itself into five new states. It claims nothing of separating apart indigenous the unified States.


In the year after Texas join the joined States, tensions over slavery and also states’ legal rights mounted. A state convention in 1861 voted 166-8 in donate of secession — a measure the was then validated by a popular vote, making Texas the seventh state to secede indigenous the Union.

After the polite War, Texas to be readmitted come the Union in 1870.

Yet even prior to Texas officially rejoined the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court claimed that secession was not legal, and also thus, even during the rebellion, Texas continued to be a state. In the 1869 case Texas v. White, the court held that separation, personal, instance states can not unilaterally secede indigenous the Union and that the action of the insurgent Texas legislature — also if validated by a bulk of Texans — to be “absolutely null.”

If over there were any type of doubt continuing to be after that, late can be fried Court justice Antonin Scalia collection it come rest much more than a century later on with his solution to a letter indigenous a screenwriter in 2006 asking if there is a legitimate basis because that secession.


“The price is clear,” Scalia wrote. “If over there was any constitutional concern resolved by the civil War, that is the there is no ideal to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge that Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’)”

Matthew Watkins contributed reporting.

Editor’s note: A version of this story initially published in 2016.

Disclosure: college of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news company that is funded in component by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribunes journalism. Find a finish list of them here.

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