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The Case for American Secession

Still a Good Idea

There has always been talk about secession in this country by those variously disgruntled on both the right and left, but, since the last presidential election, which revealed deep-seated divisions in American society over a variety of fundamental issues, that talk has grown exponentially.  Such talk is not likely to lead to a dissolution of this country into separate states or regions, but that is by no means inconceivable.  The issue should be taken seriously and examined carefully.

The first question is whether secession is legal—whether the Constitution can be read, and history cited, as permitting (or at least not forbidding) a state to declare its independence from the Union.  Scholars have come down on both sides of this issue, but that fact alone suggests that there is a legitimate argument to be made.  To put it simply: The Tenth Amendment reserves powers not delegated to the United States to the states or the people, so states may act unless specifically prohibited.  The Constitution in fact says nothing about secession, and, as Southern states were seceding, Congress considered an amendment forbidding secession—a strong indication that secession is permissible.  Three of the original thirteen states (Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia) kept an explicit right to secede when they joined the Union, and, since that was never challenged or questioned, it must be a right that...

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