Texas Republicans call for vote on secession in new party platform. That’s not legally possible, experts say.

A so-called Texit would be mired in legal issues, experts have said

The Texas flag flies at the state Capitol in Austin on Oct. 19. (Evan L'Roy For The Texas Tribune, Evan L'Roy For The Texas Tribune)

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Republicans have included a plank in their platform urging the legislature to allow Texans to vote on whether the state should secede from the United States.

The issue is laid out on page 6 of a Platform & Resolutions Committee report from the GOP Convention last week under “state sovereignty.”

The entry states that “Pursuant to Article 1, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, the federal government has impaired our right of local self-government. Therefore, federally mandated legislation that infringes upon the 10th Amendment rights of Texas should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified. Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.”

Every Texan has likely heard the old adage that Texas is the only state that can secede from the union — but it’s actually a common myth.

A so-called Texit, or Texas exit from the U.S., would be mired in legal issues that make secession not only controversial but illegal.

Texas became a republic in 1836 after breaking from Mexico and was then annexed by the U.S. in 1845.

The state voted to secede in 1861 and was readmitted in 1870, five years after the Confederacy was defeated in the Civil War.

“The legality of seceding is problematic. The Civil War played a very big role in establishing the power of the federal government and cementing that the federal government has the final say in these issues,” Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Texas Tribune in 2016.

In early 2021, State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, filed a bill that would give Texans the option to secede and “develop a plan for achieving Texas independence.” The bill did not pass.

A Supreme Court Case from 1868, Texas vs. White, also makes the idea of secession improbable. In that case, the justices determined that when Texas “became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation.”

The court’s decision means that no individual states are now allowed to secede.

“The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States,” according to the decision handed down by the justices.

Without consent from the U.S. or by means of revolution, Texas can’t secede from the union.

Another busted Texas myth? It’s not illegal to pick bluebonnets.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.