Sorry White House Petitioners, There’s No Way To Secede From The United States
Not without a fight.
And we all know how that ended.
In 1978, Kenneth M. Stampp, who some believe to be the greatest Civil War historian of the 20th century, wrote that the constitution is actually silent on secession — and so in theory, the claims for secession were as strong as the ones against it.
In the same symposium, Stephen C. Neff, a professor at the Edinburgh Law School, said the South’s used a “breach-of-compact theory” to justify secession. Southern legislatures asserted America was fundamentally a contractual union between sovereign states:
… which retained all aspects of their sovereignty after entry into the Union, save those that they had expressly delegated to the federal government. That original Constitutional contract—or compact—like any other contract, retained its legal validity only so long as the parties continued faithfully to adhere to it. Any breach of the compact by parties to it automatically entitled the innocent parties to withdraw from the arrangement.
But Neff adds: “Support for this line of argument in the text of the Constitution itself was altogether absent.”
As it turns out, the question ended up not being litigated in the Supreme Court —as would usually be done when states challenge federal law — but fought over for five bloody years.
In 1871, Justice Joseph P. Bradley of the federal Supreme Court pronounced it to have been “definitely and forever overthrown.” What Justice Bradley tactfully left unmentioned was that overthrow had taken place on the fields of battle rather than in the panelled rooms of courts or legislatures. The question of the nature of the federal Union, in event, proved to be neither a judicial nor a political question, but a military one.
So sorry, angry states: this is probably a dead end.