U.S. Will Fold Like USSR, State Lawmaker Says While Arguing for Secession

During a debate over an overwhelmingly rejected amendment to the state constitution that would have led to New Hampshire seceding from the Union, state lawmaker Matthew Santonastaso said that the United States will collapse like the former Soviet Union did in 1991.

The amendment failed following a 323-13 House vote Thursday, with the 13 in favor of seceding from the U.S. being all Republican. Many of the lawmakers, who opposed the amendment, said it was shameful that the state was considering such an amendment, according to InDepthNH, a nonprofit New Hampshire news outlet.

Several lawmakers also said that the amendment, filed by libertarian Republicans in the state House, was the first such amendment to actually be heard by a state legislative body since the Civil War.

Santonastaso, one of the Republicans who supported the measure, said that "national divorce" is coming sooner or later, and this amendment would give New Hampshire the chance to "get out ahead of it," InDepthNH reported.

The representative also said the federal government can no longer bribe the states, claiming that no citizen in New Hampshire today has "consented" to be governed by the federal government that exists today.

"I hope that we don't have to be answering that question on the House floor in the future," said state Republican Representative Brodie Deshaies, according to WMUR-TV. "I hope that everyone says 'no' to this constitutional amendment because I would prefer not to see the partisan politics of trying to remove members of this House for arguably violating their constitutional oath."

Deshaies and others said that voting in favor of the amendment could be seen by some as an act of "rebellion" against the federal government, and referred to a section of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states no one should be allowed to hold an elected office after committing an act of "insurrection or rebellion" while in office.

If it had been approved, the amendment would have been added to the ballot of a future election for voters to determine whether New Hampshire "peaceably declares independence from the United States and immediately proceeds as a sovereign nation. All other references to the United States in this constitution, state statutes and regulations are nullified," according to the Associated Press.

Other lawmakers compared the amendment to committing treason against the U.S., with one referring to portraits of important figures in American history that were on the walls of the chamber.

"We stand in the shadow, literally, of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and we are considering legislation to take a star off of that flag," Democratic Representative Timothy Smith said, according to the AP. "We have legislation now seeking to destroy the constitution of the United States. That is beyond shameful. It is beyond disgraceful and it is a stain on the proud history of this state that we even have to entertain this."

Update 3/11/22, 1:12 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and context.

New Hampshire Secession Amendment
The New Hampshire House overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the state's constitution that would have led to its secession from the Union. Above, state police patrol the state Capitol building in Concord, New Hampshire, on January 17, 2021. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images