In the wake of Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union — nicknamed the "Brexit" — speculation of a Texit on the horizon has cropped up once again. The secessionist movement has a long history in the Lone Star State. Delegates for the Texas Republican Party even recently debated adding secessionist language to the party's platform. But is it actually legal for Texas to leave the United States?
Simply put, the answer is no. Historical and legal precedents make it clear that Texas could not pull off a Texit — at least not legally.
“The legality of seceding is problematic,” said Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. “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.”
Many historians believe that when the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox in 1865, the idea of secession was also defeated, according to McDaniel. The Union’s victory set a precedent that states could not legally secede.
It is also important to note that the European Union is a loose association of compound states with pre-existing protocols for a nation to exit. In contrast, the U.S. Constitution contains procedures for admitting new states into the nation, but none for a state to leave.
Yet the myth that Texas can easily secede persists, in part, because of the state’s history of independence.
Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836 and spent the next nine years as its own nation. While the young country's leaders first expressed interest in becoming a state in 1836, the Republic of Texas did not join the United States until 1845, when Congress approved the Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States.
This resolution, which stipulated that Texas could, in the future, choose to divide itself into "New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas" is often a cause of confusion about the state’s ability to secede. But the language of the resolution is clear: Texas can split itself into five new states. It says nothing of splitting apart from the United States.
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