Secession Is in Our Future

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Can
states secede? There are three levels on which this question can
be answered:

  1. the
    inalienable right of secession,
  2. the
    international law of secession
    ,
    and
  3. the
    US law of secession.

All three
say yes.

The Inalienable
Right of Secession

The Declaration
of Independence of the United States of America invokes the self-evident
truths that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable rights, that governments are formed to
protect these rights and gain their just powers from the consent
of the governed, and that when a government becomes abusive of these
rights, it is the right – no, it is the duty – of the
people to alter or abolish that government.

To say governments
were formed to protect the rights of men would be historically incorrect.
Almost all governments were formed by ruthless men exerting their
will over others through the use of force. Some governments, over
time, evolved toward the rule of law, perhaps only because their
rulers saw that this would sanction their own continued enjoyment
of the wealth that they possessed. In some instances, this evolution
involved one or more "revolutions" in which those who
were governed were able to better establish the rule of law.

The language
of the Declaration should not be construed as an argument about
the historical origins of government but, rather, as what would
be true and just to an enlightened person, namely, that as persons
and as communities of persons, we have the right and the duty to
alter or abolish governments that become abusive of our rights.
As Benjamin Franklin once put it, "Rebellion to tyrants is
obedience to God."

The concept
of an inalienable right of secession was not original to the American
Revolution. It can be traced to the scholastics, to Reformation
politics, and to the most ancient Greek and Hebrew writings. Without
going into a dissertation on the subject, let me simply point to
the flag of the state of Virginia, which was designed by Thomas
Jefferson. It depicts a female warrior (Athena) standing atop a
slain tyrant (Zeus).

Read
the rest of the article

April
29, 2009

John Cochran
[send him mail] is dean of
the Business School at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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