Why Texas Should Have the Legal Right to Secede From the Union

And so should every other state

J.C. Peters
4 min readDec 14, 2020


Texas flag map
Texas flag map. Source: Anon Moos based on image by Darwinek

Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West made waves Friday by floating the idea of secession after the Supreme Court threw out a Texas lawsuit aimed at overturning the results of the presidential election.

Commenting on the decision, West said: “Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the Constitution.”

The remark drew immediate rebuke from Democrats and some Republicans, who bristled that both the outcome of the Civil War and a Supreme Court decision from 1869 established that secession from the union was illegal.

Adam Kinzinger, Republican Rep. from Illinois and frequent Trump critic, for instance, said: “My guy Abraham Lincoln and the Union soldiers already told you no,” which, to be honest, sounds a lot like a mobster husband reminding his wife what happened the last time she told him she was filing for divorce.

In 2012, in response to a petition asking to grant Texas the right to secede from the Union, the White House responded similarly, saying that the Civil War “vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States.” I’m sure every dictator who ever suppressed an insurgence wholeheartedly agrees with this line of reasoning, but of course principles are never vindicated by war; they are merely enforced by it.

But honestly, though, what does the Civil War—a conflict that was fought over 150 years ago—really have to do with a state wanting to secede from the Union today?

We’ve all been taught the Civil War was never actually about states’ rights, that the South just used that as an excuse to protect the institution of slavery. But if that’s true then I don’t see why Texas can’t secede from the union now. I mean, last I checked Texas had no intention of reinstating slavery.

Ah, you say, but Texas does not have the right to secede because the Supreme Court already said so. This is true.

In Texas v. White (1869), the Supreme Court argued that states had entered a “perpetual union” by signing the Articles of Confederation (99).



J.C. Peters

Author of History That Changed the World (Odyssea Publishing, 2017). Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on CNBC, The Hill, Quartz, and other media.