Texas Lawmaker’s Proposal Would Let State Residents Vote on Secession

Texas Lawmaker’s Proposal Would Let State Residents Vote on Secession
A young cowboy mannequin peers through a window in El Paso, Texas, on Oct. 23, 2020. (Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

A lawmaker in Texas this week introduced a measure that would allow state residents to discuss, debate, and vote on independence from the United States.

State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, a Republican, filed House Bill 1359, also known as the Texas Independence Referendum Act.

Voters would choose in a referendum on Nov. 2, 2021, whether the state should leave the United States and “establish an independent republic,” the act states (pdf).

If voters say yes, a committee would be formed to study the matter and make recommendations regarding the best way to break away from the rest of the country, including advice on how to amend the state Constitution to accommodate the proposed nation and recommendations for issues that would have to be negotiated with the U.S. government such as a common travel agreement.

“This Act simply Lets Texans Vote. This decision is too big to be monopolized solely by the power brokers in our Capitol. We need to let Texans’ voices be heard!” Biedermann said in a statement.

“Voters of all political persuasions in Texas can agree on one thing, Washington D.C. is and has been broken. Our federal government continuously fails our working families, seniors, taxpayers, veterans, and small business owners. For decades, the promises of America and our individual liberties have been eroding. It is now time that the People of Texas are allowed the right to decide their own future. This is not a left or right political issue. Let Texans Vote!”

The lawmaker said the state Constitution allows Texas to remove itself from the United States.

Specifically, Article 1, Section 2 states: “All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform, or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.”

The Texas Nationalist Movement noted the filing, saying it “would give Texans an opportunity to head to the polls in November of 2021 and start the process of reasserting our status as an independent nation.”

Texas seceded from the United States in 1861, joining the Confederacy, and rejoined the United States after the Civil War.

A number of movements in the past few decades have attempted to secede. In 2009, then-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, referenced the idea when he told reporters: “We’ve got a great union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that?”

Even if voters decide to secede, succession may not be allowed. The Supreme Court ruled in 1869 that a state may not secede unless it has the consent of other states, or through revolution. And then-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a Reagan appointee, said in a letter in 2006 that “there is no right to secede.”