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Is Secession Legal Or Illegal?

  1. profile image57
    ThePeeDeeWildcatposted 7 years ago

    Is Secession Legal Or Illegal?

    Yes, there was a horrific war in America nearly one hundred fifty years ago fought in large measure over secession, but did Congress specifically prohibit secession in a constitutional amendment or other law? Has the United States Supreme Court or, for that matter, any other court across the land ever rendered a definitive ruling about secession?

  2. J D Murrah profile image61
    J D Murrahposted 7 years ago

    It was absolutely legal. The legal scholar Willliam Rawle addressed it in his legal commentary. The United States seceded from Great Britain which the States accepted. When West Florida seceded, it was recognized and taken into the US. When Texas seceded from Mexico, it was recognized and then annexed.

    The United States and its laws have recognized many secession actions. The only ones they do not like are the ones where people secede from them. Norway was born of secession, as was Belgium. The most recent is the US recognition of Kosovo.

    Even in the court case where secession was addressed (Texas v. White), it was NOT deemed illegal. The Supreme Court ruling only put many government requirements on such actions. The SCOTUS could not legitimately say the action is illegal when so many states were formed from secession and the nation has recognized so many secession originated nations.

    I addressed many of these in my hub on secession.

  3. Freeway Flyer profile image92
    Freeway Flyerposted 7 years ago

    The term "legal" is a bit arbitrary. Once you secede, by definition, you are no longer subject to the laws of the country in which you previously "resided." Of course, if the country that you are breaking from objects, then, according to them, your actions are illegal. By this definition, then, every independence movement in history was illegal.

    As far as I know, the Constitution says nothing about secession. It was created, however, in order to form a "more perfect union." Under the previous Articles of Confederation, almost all of the governing powers were with the individual states. Clearly, the Constitution tried to rectify that, and it was designed to lessen the possibility that the country would disintegrate. So I guess you could argue that it is an "anti-secession" document.

    Even though our country was founded by secessionists, you can't very well have people declaring independence whenever the heck that they want to. The founding fathers recognized that "treason" should only be turned to as a last resort. Here is a hub that I wrote about the Civil War and of how history may have gone differently if the South had been allowed to secede:


  4. sir slave profile image61
    sir slaveposted 7 years ago

    the idea of "legal" when it comes to something like this,  that involves history before anybody alive was born....is subjective and relative to say the least.
    we didn't get this far in the world by being divided, so i'd suggest we all stick it out together.

  5. drdspervez profile image68
    drdspervezposted 7 years ago

    I will agree with J D Murrah.


  6. profile image62
    Paul Cheslerposted 7 years ago

    The Supreme Court answered that question just after the Civil War.  They held that secession is so illegal that by technicality it never happened.  I know that there are many that would like the Confederacy to rise, but realistically, if we turned our backs on the mad dog of Muslim countries and diverted our attention to an internal issue, it likely would spell our demise.  Plus, if you mean the Confederacy when you say secession, the wrongs that they did to African-Americans at the time were outrageous.  In my opinion, if the South ever did attempt anything, every African-American in the United States would lend a hand to the "Union."  If a group would like to secede, maybe they should consider making their own political party, instead, for the sake of everybody.  Remember Abraham Lincoln's words, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

  7. Attikos profile image78
    Attikosposted 6 years ago

    The Supreme Court never ruled secession unconstitutional. It ruled the opposite, but over ten years after the Civil War ended.

    Secession is entirely legal. The problem is that no US administration has ever been willing to obey the law to the extent required to let it happen, and as Andrew Jackson said when faced with the possibility, "How many troops does the Chief Justice have?"

    1. profile image48
      kburdickposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      The Constitution states secession is illegal. Article 1, Section 10, Paragraph 1, in the Constitution states that "No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation."

  8. againsttheodds profile image79
    againsttheoddsposted 6 years ago

    A wise man said that freedom is consistent only with those social contracts from which an individual may, at his sole discretion, withdraw at any time to restore his natural rights.  So in terms of individual secession (and to some extent the larger state/entity version) I believe that one absolutely has this right.  In fact the price to revoke citizenship in the USA is just going up from FREE to $450.  The final theft from a resident of a wayward nation.  But why would you or a population care if it is illegal or not?  You are removing yourself from those very laws and your last act would be to pay and obey?  I still have hope in America, but it seems each day to be getting worse.  Perhaps I am a hopeless nationalist, but I guess I'll stick it out, for now..