Can a US state secede?

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,831
Dispargum
"Perpetual union" is unambiguous. Extending that to the Constitution through the "more perfect union" clause seems a stretch. There were problems with the AoC but I'm unaware the Constitutional Convention considered "perpetual" to be a form of imperfection that needed improving upon. The fact that Lincoln used the "more perfect union" clause to deny a right of secession tells me there was no stronger legal argument that he could have used. If a stronger argument existed, surely Lincoln would have used it. I can understand why the states agreed to a perpetual weak union but denied a perpetual strong union. In 1787, the founders could easily have said, "If these are the new rules, then we reserve the right to leave."
 
Likes: stevev

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,804
Caribbean
Yes. Secession is illegal until some future court decides it's not illegal.
The court's opinion may be a little tricky to follow, but it does not rule out secession in all cases.

However, I don't know of any other case where the court opinion expressly relied on something other than the US Constitution. It's easy to get caught up in the emotion, as this is a hot-button issue, and think about the outcome. But relying on the Articles of Confederation?

That's why I wonder. What is the point of making a politician swear an oath? "I swear to preserve, protect and defend...The Articles of Confederation against all enemies, northern or southern." lol
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,804
Caribbean
"Perpetual union" is unambiguous. Extending that to the Constitution through the "more perfect union" clause seems a stretch. There were problems with the AoC but I'm unaware the Constitutional Convention considered "perpetual" to be a form of imperfection that needed improving upon. The fact that Lincoln used the "more perfect union" clause to deny a right of secession tells me there was no stronger legal argument that he could have used. If a stronger argument existed, surely Lincoln would have used it. I can understand why the states agreed to a perpetual weak union but denied a perpetual strong union. In 1787, the founders could easily have said, "If these are the new rules, then we reserve the right to leave."
The word perpetual only means the agreement has no expiration date.

"A perpetual statute refers to a statute without limitation as to time. The continuance of a perpetual statute is not limited, although it is not expressly declared to be so."
Perpetual Statute Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.

As you can see from the definition (by deciphering the double negative), perpetuity is presumed. So, the Constitution is just as perpetual. The 18th Amendment was perpetual. WAS.

To perfect, just means to cure a defect. IMO, the two main defects that most were trying to perfect with the Constitution were 1) the lack of an interstate commerce clause and 2) that just one state could veto everything (like Rhode Island did). The defect that the Hamiltonians were trying to cure is that they didn't have a king and legislature with lifelong terms.

I am only aware of Lincoln using "perpetual." as the excuse. As Chase was in his Cabinet, I suppose the two of them had that conversation, and that is how Chase got the pick to be on the court. In his First Inaugural Lincoln went back even further than Chase. Lincoln argued that "the union" so-called start with the Articles of Association. "Union is much older than the Constitution." As a good politician, Lincoln knew how to make an emotional argument sound reasonable. The only "union" in 1774 was King George's realm and in 1776, I suppose there must have been a declaration of non-independence.

IMO, the main obstacle to understanding secession in the US is not reading the last paragraph of the Declaration and accepting that it means exactly what it says.

Q: How did the States get our from under the Articles of Confederation?
A: Easy. They ratified another agreement. Once 9 of them ratified, the Constitution was established in those 9 states. The began electing President. The other 4 states were still in the old union, which also had a President, and they could have stayed there. Doesn't that sound like 9 states "seceded?" I think these guys believed that last paragraph of the Declaration
 
Last edited:

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,831
Dispargum
Why would the perpetual in the AoC carry over into the Constitution if the 18th Amendment could be repealed? Weren't the AoC repealed in 1787 or 88? Theoretically, when they threw out the whole AOC, they threw out everything in them including the perpetual. The only way to carry something over from the AoC to the new Constitution was to write it into the Constitution. Just reading the Constitution it's clear that it is a new start, not a continuation of something that came before.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,804
Caribbean
Why would the perpetual in the AoC carry over into the Constitution if the 18th Amendment could be repealed? Weren't the AoC repealed in 1787 or 88? Theoretically, when they threw out the whole AOC, they threw out everything in them including the perpetual. The only way to carry something over from the AoC to the new Constitution was to write it into the Constitution. Just reading the Constitution it's clear that it is a new start, not a continuation of something that came before.
IMO, they didn't throw out the Articles. They just walked away. The Articles haven't moved.

First, remember what is said in the last paragraph of the Declaration. "State" equals Nation, and they are going by the Law of Nations. The drafting of the AoC begin concurrently with the Declaration (days apart), but is finished later,. So, it is almost as if the last sentence of the Declaration is followed immediately by the first sentence of the Articles.

Look at AoC, Article II: "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."

Two things. First, how much more clear can they be about not giving up their sovereignty from the last paragraph of the Declaration. Second, look at that name you never heard in school. "the United States in Congress assembled" (USiCa) It is mentioned again in Art 13, followed by the contraction, "the Union." Now, that is the whole government. Not a branch, not a legislature. It had 8 Presidents. And the term of its last President has yet to expire, when the electoral college finishes making George Washington President of the United States.

Understand? The USiCa is the perpetual union from the AoC title. It''s perpetuity is apparently still running. It just has no member states, because they all "seceded." It's like a corporation, after all the assets have been sold. An empty container that no one is ever going to use again, with a perpetual "legal" existence.

Notice that the USiCa did not simply pass a law saying that - as of some date, the Constitution goes into effect. The States leave without even a good-bye note. They are free and independent nations (last paragraph of the Declaration), and can make or rescind treaties, at will (see Federalist 43, etc. already quoted in post 127). It is possible that instead of ratifying the Constitution, they could have done something else. Rhode Island stayed out for two years. They could have formed a union with England at that point.

The Constitution creates 3 new entities: one each in Articles 1, 2, and 3. The USiCa is never heard from again. (The "one union" argument of Lincoln and Chase is bogus). In spirit, there may be one union, but in law, apparently not. It's good propaganda, though. Union boys. Union forever. Still has most people fooled. (I was one of them; say one nation indivisible enough it sinks in).

Think about schoolbook history of the "critical period" - 1) the war ended, 2) the Articles were bad, and 3) the Founders created a Constitution. That's all anyone knows. And you can find every document related to the framing of the Constitution, quickly and on line. Try to find the documents that record the work of the USiCa. See how hard it is to find the ratification ordinances for the AoC, or the last enactment of the USiCa. It's not exactly a book burning, maybe more like Minitru. I looked in three encyclopedias and they all list the date of Constitution ratification as the date the first 13 states joined "the union." lol

Here's one you can try for exercise. Read the last paragraph of the Declaration, read Art II of the Aoc, then ask yourself, what does the term "free State" mean in the Second Amendment.
 
Last edited: