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

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


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You are watching: Did texas secede from the union

Every couple of months, the inquiry seems come come up: If Texas want to, could it secede indigenous the unified States?

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

The idea is most often raised by conservative in the state who room angry end some type of policy coming indigenous the federal federal government — and also the call seem to become much more frequent once a Democrat is occupying the White House. State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, filed a bill Tuesday to develop a referendum election on whether Texans should create a share legislative committee “to build a setup for achieve Texas independence.”


“It is now time the the people of Texas are enabled the right to decision their own future,” he claimed in a declare announcing the legislation.

The bill doesn’t show up to have much the a chance. And also even if that did, specialists say, Texas can’t simply secede.

“The legality the seceding is problematic,” Eric McDaniel, associate professor of federal government at the college of Texas in ~ Austin, said The Texas Tribune in 2016. “The Civil war played a very huge role in establishing the strength of the commonwealth government and also cementing that the federal federal government has the last say in these issues.”

Many historians believe that once the Confederacy surrendered in ~ Appomattox in 1865, the idea that secession was additionally defeated, McDaniel said. The Union’s victory set a criterion that states might not legit secede.


Some have pointed to Britain’s 2016 vote to leaving the european Union as an example. Yet it’s crucial to keep in mind that the europe Union is a loosened association the compound claims with preexisting protocols because that a country to exit. In contrast, the U.S. Constitution includes procedures because that admitting brand-new states right into the nation, yet none because that a state come leave.

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

Texas declared independence native Mexico in 1836 and also spent the next nine years together its own nation. While the young country’s leaders first expressed interest in coming to be a state in 1836, the Republic the Texas did not sign up with the United says until 1845, as soon as Congress approved the joint Resolution for linking Texas to the united States.

This resolution, i beg your pardon stipulated the Texas could, in the future, select to divide itself right into “New claims of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to claimed State of Texas” is frequently a cause of confusion about the state’s capability to secede. But the language of the resolution is clear: Texas can separation itself into five brand-new states. It states nothing of splitting apart from the unified States.


In the year after Texas joined the united States, tensions end slavery and also states’ civil liberties mounted. A state convention in 1861 vote 166-8 in donate of secession — a measure that was then ratified by a famous vote, making Texas the seventh state come secede indigenous the Union.

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

Yet even prior to Texas official rejoined the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that secession was no legal, and thus, even during the rebellion, Texas ongoing to it is in a state. In the 1869 case Texas v. White, the court held that individual states could not unilaterally secede indigenous the Union and also that the action of the insurgent Texas legislative — even if validated by a majority of Texans — to be “absolutely null.”

If there were any kind of doubt continuing to be after that, late supreme Court righteousness Antonin Scalia collection it to rest much more than a century later on with his response to a letter from a screenwriter in 2006 asking if there is a legitimate basis because that secession.


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

Matthew Watkins contributed reporting.

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

Disclosure: university of Texas in ~ Austin has been a financial support of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribunes journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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