Can countries really secede from the union?

USA flag on locked wooden door, background concept with copy space

We are told that the civil war settled the matter.

When 11 southern states decided to withdraw from the Union, the result was a terrible war in which some 620,000 soldiers were killed. Presumably, this shocking finding provided an answer as to whether the United States would tolerate countries seeking to secede from the Union.

So why are more and more people talking about breaking up? (at least sound The conversation escalates.)

In August, it produced a bipartisan group of more than 100 “current and former senior officials in government, campaigning, and other experts.” report Examine different post-election scenarios. In one of them, the entire West Coast seceded from the Union.

Then, in September, Hofstra University A poll found that nearly 40% of respondents support or somewhat support the idea that their state should formally request secession if their chosen presidential candidate does not win.

Add to that the fact that several recently published books on the separation have drawn so much attention for her daring to look at what a fractured USA might look like.

Is this all just idle endoscopy? Or might there be some kind of disconnect in America’s future? Is there even a legal mechanism for states to secede?

Warring Camps in America

Although everyone agrees that the disengagement will be extremely difficult, everyone also agrees that the split dividing Americans into two camps – currently, one blue and the other red – is the widest in several decades.

It has gotten to the point where each side hates the idea of ​​sharing the nation with the other.

This is why people on both sides at least think of breakup scenarios, and some conversations about the topic are more serious than you might think.

On October 9, the New York Times podcast said, “ArgumentDiscuss it, “What will happen if Trump does not leave? And when the discussion turned to the various post-election scenarios that could keep Trump in office despite losing the popular vote again, Times columnist Michael Goldberg had to say: “I think… you’ll see a more serious movement than I saw. Before secession in some blue states. And honestly, I think I’ll be a part of it. I don’t think it will happen overnight. But I think it will start the processes that transform the disintegration of the United States from something totally elusive to something that will gradually start to appear more reasonable and perhaps ultimately inevitable. “

In his book Deconstructing It: Separation, Divide, and the Secret History of the Unfinished Confederation of America, journalist Richard Kretner made a similar claim. He noted that separatist motives have been present in the United States since its inception and that they have now basically expanded to a point where they are at least starting to seem reasonable.

Critner’s book is a great historical review of the country’s separatist movements, but it also suggests that if the United States were to divide itself into two or more countries, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

He writes, “If the gigantic mixture of a country known as the United States no longer functions as a going concern, it may be time to dismantle it.”

Part of what makes the current talk of separation so unusual is that a lot of it comes from people like Goldberg and Kretner on the left side of the political spectrum. Group called Yes, California You got the ball for the Liberals after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, expressing his desire to leave the Union. Then, as the 2020 general elections approached, we began to hear that secession now has a role in post-election war games.

This marked a shift in the breakaway conversation. At least in recent decades, most of the serious talk of separatism has come from southern and conservative rural areas. Texas may have led the way, With the emergence of several separatist movements over the years. Current project called Roofed It claims nearly 400,000 supporters. In addition, various New Confederate groups, such as the Southern League, continued to push for secession.

Looking to the future

So what do we do from all this?

David French, a well-known conservative attorney and commentator, author of one of the new separatist books, Divided We Fall: America’s Secessionist Threat and How to Reclaim Our Nation, he came to a conclusion not much different from Critner’s: Maybe separation isn’t a bad idea.

While Kreitner does not go into details of how to do this, the French is more subjective. It is suggested that the nation remain intact but divide itself into regional federations that have the ability to maintain their own identities.

French Book ReviewClay Jenkinson, editor in chief of, wrote that the author’s main point is that in a large country like ours, it is a mistake to try to forge a single national identity. He wrote: “The French think we need to relax a little and ignore the differences that seem to separate us. It is not necessary to have one national identity that fits all. But do not mess with the Bill of Rights.”

At least it sounds reasonable.

Do countries have the right to secede?

But what if we really want to divide ourselves into truly separate countries? Can we do it?

The late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote, “If there is any constitutional problem resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”

Actually, there is.

Maybe what Scalia meant to say is that there isn’t from one side The right to secede. Not one country can just say, “Heck with you, the United States of America we’re out here.”

What country (or states) Can Do, however, is to start the search process Mutually agreed Separation of paths, and this process clearly exists, set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling of 1868 in Texas vs. white. This ruling concluded that the state (or states) could secede by obtaining approval from both houses of Congress and then obtaining the approval of three-quarters of the nation’s legislatures. In other words, it is a difficult task.

Texas vs. white He did, however, suggest another way in which the state could secede: “through revolution”. That may be obvious, but it is a point the French author focused on when he talks about how an exit from California might happen, as he did in The New York Times.Argument“The podcast on October 30. It might happen, he suggests, if civil unrest becomes severe, and the state and nation simply agree on separate ways to minimize the damage.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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