Texas Secessionists Push for Referendum on State Becoming Independent

  • Texas State Rep. Bryan Slaton has introduced a bill that would put a referendum on Texas secession on the ballot in 2024.
  • The bill has been condemned by other lawmakers in Texas, with one calling it "seditious treason."
  • The Texas Nationalist Movement has been pushing for a referendum on secession for decades.
  • The organization's president told Newsweek it is "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put this question to the people of Texas."

A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would give Texans a vote on whether to secede from the United States.

Texas State Rep. Bryan Slaton said he was "proud" to file H.B. 3596, known as the Texas Independence Referendum Act, on Monday.

Texas nationalists have been pushing unsuccessfully for a referendum on secession for decades despite the fact there is no provision for a state to secede in the U.S. Constitution. Secessionists' hopes have been buoyed by an opinion poll last year suggesting support for independence and a call for a referendum by Texas Republicans.

"The Texas Constitution is clear that all political power resides in the people," Slaton said in a statement. "After decades of continuous abuse of our rights and liberties by the federal government, it is time to let the people of Texas make their voices heard."

If H.B. 3596 is passed, it would place a referendum on Texas' secession on the ballot during the next general election. If a majority vote "yes" on the referendum, a committee would be established to "investigate the feasibility of independence from the Union and propose options and potential plans for independence to the Texas Legislature."

Slaton's bill has been condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Texas. "This ridiculous bill is the very definition of hypocritical & seditious treason & it is already dead, tweeted Republican state Representative Jeff Leach. Texas Democrats said Republicans backing the bill were "anti-American."

Although the U.S. Constitution makes no provision for states to secede, the Supreme Court ruled in the 1869 case Texas v. White that states can't unilaterally secede from the Union. "The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States," the ruling said.

The Texas Nationalist Movement, also known as TEXIT, has been working to "make Texas an independent nation again" for almost 20 years.

"We view this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put this question to the people of Texas," the organization's president, Daniel Miller, told Newsweek.

Miller, who worked with legislators to get the bill filed, said there is broad support for secession, pointing to a poll from last year that found nearly two-thirds of likely voters want Texas to become an independent country. A poll by SurveyUSA found 32 percent of Texans surveyed said 'definitely yes' and 28 percent said 'yes' to the idea of Texas peacefully becoming an independent country.

"We're connecting with new Texas voters all the time and elevating the conversation," he said.

According to Miller, issues that are driving support for "Texit" include immigration and "unrestricted" debt and spending at the federal level.

The United States Flag and Texas flag
The United States flag and Texas state flag are displayed at Murchison Rogers Park along Scenic Drive at sunset on June 24, 2021 in El Paso, Texas. A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would give Texans a vote on whether to secede from the United States. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Some are determined to not discuss the issue because "it brings up some really uncomfortable truths about the relationship of Texas and federal system," Miller said.

"We're committed to not only forcing the conversation, but giving the people of Texas a concrete choice... on whether or not we're going to reclaim our destiny as an independent nation," he added.

State Representative Kyle Biedermann introduced a bill that called for a referendum on secession in 2021. That bill ultimately failed.

But last year, Texas Republicans adopted a measure in the Texas GOP's party platform that called for a referendum on secession.

"Every time this issue has come before the Legislature, we've gained more ground," Miller said.

With the state's Legislature dominated by Republicans, Miller is hopeful the bill will pass this time.

"You never know what happens in the lead-up, but at this point, it's really ours to lose," he said. "We would not be pushing so hard for a referendum if we saw there was a chance in the world that we would lose it."

Updates on 03/07/23 at 8.10 a.m. ET with additional information