Secession and Revolution

Neither a state, a group of states, nor any other group in the United States of America has the right to secede from the Union. The process for secession follows a similar pattern as that of states being granted statehood. This includes approval from state legislatures, US Congress, and the President. Any attempts to withdraw a territory of land within the Union without following this constitutional process is illegal and the seceding state remains a legal part of the United States, as was the case when some states attempted to form the Confederate States of America.

Another method of regaining independence from tyranny is revolution, as in the beginning of the United States. Revolution—in this case referring to violent revolt against the standing government—is permitted when that government has already abdicated their authority through the violation of natural rights (John Locke). Revolution in the US is ONLY JUSTIFIED when ALL OTHER constitutionally provided recourses have been exhausted. Some of these include:

Executive power to: veto laws that violate natural rights (a violation of the Constitution is a violation of natural rights); nominate judges for the Supreme Court; ensure free elections that can remove the President, if he violates natural rights.

Legislative power to: review presidential appointees; pass/repeal laws to protect natural rights; impeach the President and other officers of the government if they violate their oath and natural rights; and be removed from office if they do not vote to preserve the Constitution.

Judicial power to: make judgments according to the laws that have been established in the nation, especially determining if lesser laws violate or adhere to the greater law of the Constitution.

States power to: ratify amendments to the US Constitution; hold a Constitutional Convention to adopt a new form of government; and (previously) select senators for the US Senate.

People’s power to: vote freely in order to remove representatives (of offices at all levels of government) that violate their rights; petition the government for redress of grievances; referenda on state laws; and revolution when ALL OTHER RECOURSES have been exhausted and the government has abdicated its authority through the violation of natural rights.

Anything short of these steps is a violation of the Constitution and of natural law—the revolution is not justified. This is the pattern followed by our Founding Fathers. It is only after they had exhausted all of the recourses they had available to them by the laws of England, including asking the tyrant himself for mercy, that they followed the criteria for revolution set out by John Locke, and repeated in the Declaration of Independence, to declare their independence from their oppressors and were free to create their own form of government to preserve the natural rights of the people.

A short recap—the following things would have to BE TRIED in the face of tyranny and FAIL in order to justify revolution:

-Free elections

-Appeal to the Executive Branch

-Appeal to the Judicial Branch

-Appeal to the Legislative Branch

-Constitutional amendments from the states

So far, with all of the liberties we have lost over the years, we continue to have free elections (and elect our own oppressors) and have not exhausted the recourse of state governments.

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3 Responses to Secession and Revolution

  1. Secession could have been included in the Constitution if the framers or the states choose to do so. An article could have described an orderly process for secession had it been thought necessary. There is, after all, a process for Constitutional amendments that is spelled out. And a process could easily been added for secession.

    The fact that it is not there implies that the framers and ratifiers intended the union to be a permanent arrangement. To secede, the southern states would have first needed to amend the Constitution to provide for it. And it is unlikely the rest of the country would have gone along with it at that point in history.


    • Thanks for your comment Marvin! The Supreme Court suggested a similar process to gaining statehood (about which little is said in the Constitution) in the case of White vs. Texas (or Texas vs. White–I don’t recall which).


      • Cool! I found Texas v. White in Wikipedia. Thanks!

        Nice to have the Supreme Court agree with me for a change. (Back when I was on the Honor Court in college I was curious about the double penalty problem. To me, if the state and federal laws cover the same crime, then, at most the more severe of the two penalties should apply. But the SC says both jurisdictions can penalize you for essentially the same crime).


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