Texas Seceding From U.S. 'Would Mean War,' Law Expert Says

Texans hoping that the Lone Star State eventually breaks away from the rest of the nation to form a new country are likely to be disappointed when considering what the Supreme Court once said about their options for secession.

A case following the Civil War made it clear that the state's seceding from the United States is an unlikely and untenable scenario. In 1868's Texas v. White decision, the Court said leaving the Union can happen only through one of two ways: "revolution" or "consent of the States."

"When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation.... The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States," the Court's ruling read.

At its convention over the weekend, the Republican Party of Texas voted on several measures for possible inclusion into the party's official platform, including one seeking a 2023 referendum on whether the Lone Star State should break away from the United States. The results of that vote are not yet known.

Texas GOP votes on measure to secede
Texas Republicans are considering a referendum to decide whether the state should secede from the U.S. Above, the GOP's symbol in El Paso, Texas, on October 24, 2000. Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images

The measure asks Texas lawmakers, during the next legislative session, to pursue a "referendum in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation."

But Richard Albert, a professor of law and government and the director of Constitutional Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, told Newsweek that the talk of Texas seceding is "political posturing" and "not a real policy proposal."

Albert cited the Supreme Court's 1868 ruling that Texas does not have the right to secede, noting that it is "not just, or even mostly, a matter of law" but is instead a "question of power."

He said Texas could declare its independence today if it wanted to, but that "would mean war." Yet "this is not a battle Texas could win," either through the war or in the courts, he added.

Jeffrey Abramson, a professor of law and government at the University of Texas at Austin's School of Law, also cited the Texas v. White decision when speaking to Newsweek.

He said that "there is absolutely no legal basis for Texas to secede from the Union," adding that the "Civil War resolved the issue that states cannot secede."

Contacted by Newsweek, James Wesolek, a spokesperson for the Texas Republican Party, said the measure to seek a 2023 vote on seceding from the Union "is a platform plank which was voted on by the delegates and we do not yet know if it passed" because "those results are still being counted."