How would the United States react if a state really wanted to leave the union? What would be an appropriate reaction? : PoliticalDiscussion

Whether it be California, Texas, or another state, we occcasionally hear about niche separatist movements. Let’s imagine that one of these movements gains significant traction, to the point where the state in question starts taking concrete action toward seccession.

Before we go any further, let’s lay out a few assumptions:

  • The state in question wants to secede civilly, not have a civil war. They want to try to work out a deal with the federal government.

  • There has been a referendum on the issue, which passed with >75% of the vote with >60% turnout. A supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature and the governor support secession.

  • This is not a sudden event. Support for this has been growing for several years.

Bottom line: They really want to go, but they don’t really want to fight over it.

Other things to consider:

  • Why do they want to leave? How could hypothetical reasons for leaving impact the response?

  • In Texas v. White, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that unilateral secession is unconstitutional. It’s commonly believed that any secession would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, is it possible that it could be done constitutionally with a relatively simple act of Congress?

  • Any separatist movement that gains significant traction would likely be somewhat regional. So, if this is happening in California, Oregon and Washington would be at least thinking about it. What impact could this have on the response?

  • While the federal government could ultimately say no, there’s a lot of things that a state could do to make life very difficult for the federal government without going to war. For example, they could refuse to enforce federal laws, or they could deny federal officials access to state-owned property (think roads). Could a state effectively use these civil tactics as leverage against the federal government to bring them to the table or make concessions?

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