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

through ANERI PATTANI, The Texas Tribune Jan. 29, 20214 PM main


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The Texas and U.S. Flags wave external the john H. Reagan State Office Building. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
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You are watching: How a state can secede from the union

Every couple of months, the concern seems come come up: If Texas want to, might it secede native the united States?

Simply put, the price is no. Historical and legal precedents make it clear the Texas might not leave the Union — at least not legally.

The idea is most regularly raised by conservative in the state who room angry end some type of plan coming from the federal federal government — and also the calls seem come become more frequent once a Democrat is occupying the White House. State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, filed a invoice Tuesday to create a referendum choice on even if it is Texans should produce a share legislative committee “to build a plan for achieve Texas independence.”


“It is currently time the the civilization of Texas are permitted the right to decision their very own future,” he claimed in a declare announcing the legislation.

The invoice doesn’t appear to have actually much of a chance. And even if that did, specialists say, Texas can’t just secede.

“The legality the seceding is problematic,” Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the college of Texas in ~ Austin, told The Texas Tribune in 2016. “The Civil battle played a very large role in establishing the power of the federal government and also cementing the the federal government has the last say in this issues.”

Many historians think that when the Confederacy surrendered in ~ Appomattox in 1865, the idea of secession was also defeated, McDaniel said. The Union’s victory collection a criterion that states could not legit secede.


Some have actually pointed come Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the europe Union as an example. But it’s essential to keep in mind that the european Union is a loose association that compound states with preexisting protocols for a nation to exit. In contrast, the U.S. Constitution contains procedures for admitting new states into the nation, however none for a state come leave.

Yet the myth the Texas can easily secede persists, in part, due to the fact that of the state’s history of independence.

Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836 and spent the next nine years together its own nation. While the young country’s leaders an initial expressed attention in coming to be a state in 1836, the Republic the Texas walk not join the United claims until 1845, as soon as Congress approved the share Resolution for annexing Texas to the united States.

This resolution, which stipulated the Texas could, in the future, pick to division itself into “New claims of convenient dimension not exceeding 4 in number, in enhancement to claimed State the Texas” is regularly a cause of confusion about the state’s capacity to secede. But the language of the resolution is clear: Texas can split itself into five brand-new states. It says nothing of separating apart indigenous the unified States.


In the year after Texas join the unified States, tensions over slavery and also states’ rights mounted. A state convention in 1861 voted 166-8 in donate of secession — a measure the was then validated by a famous vote, make Texas the saturday state come secede indigenous the Union.

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

Yet even before Texas official rejoined the nation, the U.S. Can be fried Court declared that secession was no legal, and thus, even during the rebellion, Texas continued to it is in a state. In the 1869 instance Texas v. White, the court held that separation, personal, instance states might not unilaterally secede indigenous the Union and that the action of the insurgent Texas legislature — also if validated by a bulk of Texans — were “absolutely null.”

If over there were any type of doubt continuing to be after that, late supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia set it to rest much more than a century later with his an answer to a letter from a screenwriter in 2006 asking if over there is a legit basis because that secession.


“The answer is clear,” Scalia wrote. “If over there was any type of constitutional problem resolved through the civil War, that is that there is no appropriate to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge that Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’)”

Matthew Watkins added 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 sponsor in component by donations indigenous members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial pendant play no duty in the Tribunes journalism. Uncover a finish list of castle here.

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