The Right of Secession

February 8, 2011

by Michael Badnarik

(Editor’s Note: I will continue to say the following: A seceding state does not need a constitution with a confederation form of government. Sure, the new nation needs a constitution that guarantees a republic form of governance. But the only time a confederation may be necessary is if multiple states secede and want to become a confederation. If a seceding state sets about writing a new constitution that mirrors the US constitution, the citizens of that state will be in for the same ride that the USA got. I personally favor the corporate form of governance over the USA form or the parliamentary form.)

Over the years I have developed a reputation for being a “constitutional expert”. (Referring to myself as “The Stepfather of the Constitution” admittedly may have something to do with that.) Two of the questions that I am asked quite often are: “Didn’t the outcome of the “Civil War” prove secession is not an option for any State?” and “Doesn’t the Texas Constitution reserve the right of Texas to secede?” I’m not sure why these misconceptions persist, but allow me to attempt to shatter these myths once again.

The Declaration of Independence is an excellent summary about why any government is created in the first place. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Let’s analyze the flow of political power described here. “Governments are instituted among Men…” We the People created Congress (and the rest of the federal government) when the Constitution was ratified. It has been a maxim of law predating the Magna Carta (signed in 1215) that, “the creator is always more powerful than the created”. Bill Cosby jokes about threatening his children with, “I brought you into this world… I can take you out!” Although Mr. Cosby’s threat was an idle one, We the People can literally dissolve any level of government if we have the political will do to so. That’s what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

When a state joins the United States, we must assume that both the new and existing states feel that it would benefit and strengthen the “free country” we claim to be. Freedom includes the right to make decisions that do not adversely affect others. People get married “until death do us part”, however divorce is far more acceptable than murdering your spouse. Where does the idea originate that “once a state, always a state”? Would the United States government really send troops to forcibly reunite geographic and political areas that tried to separate?

It already has! We erroneously refer to that travesty of justice as “The Civil War”. By definition, a civil war is one that occurs within the borders of a given nation. Without question, the southern states peacefully seceded, creating the Confederate States of America. The northern states simultaneously argue that the south never left the union – AND that the southern states were reunited with the union under the Reconstruction Act. (If they never left, there would be no requirement for them to be reunited!)

The argument that “states are not allowed to secede” can be quickly eliminated by pointing out that our Declaration of Independence is a secession document. The only difference between the Revolutionary War and the “War of Northern Aggression” is that “our side” won the first conflict, and lost the second. I’m very pleased to have found a concurring explanation on the Internet at Please take a few moments to read the first two FAQs. (I didn’t want to reproduce them here without copyright permission.) You may also wish to join current efforts for Texas to once again become an independent republic. That website is

Michael Badnarik was the 2004 Libertarian Party presidential candidate. Learn more about Michael and his continuing work at