Texans Who Want to Secede

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An example of domestic separatism, one of several within America, is the Texas Nationalist Movement. A very brief news broadcast that looks at this movement is informative in several ways. In this broadcast, the statements being made by those who want Texas to be independent mention the over-reaching of the federal government, the federal government overstepping its bounds, liberation, and the federal government sending the country and Texas on a self-destructive course. On the anti-secession side is heard a law professor who scoffs at the movement, claiming it has no legal basis.

Even within the First Amendment, there is a path to secession. Americans have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. If they are not redressed, then there is a right to declare independence. The American right to petition has British precedents going back hundreds of years and explicitly noted by Blackstone in 1765 who writes of “the right of petitioning the king, or either house of parliament, for the redress of grievances” as a “right appertaining to every individual”. The 1776 Declaration of Independence mentions the failures of King George to redress grievances:

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

The law professor sounds like King George, who regarded the petitions as arising from an illegal and illegitimate assembly of rebellious colonists. But where does he or anyone get his law from on this and other basic matters of political organization?

The “law” regarding the formation of governments is not like laws against criminal behaviors like murder, robbery and rape. The “law” governing basic political arrangements and changes in those arrangements is not written in stone, like the Ten Commandments.

Self-determination is not easy to reconcile with the territorial integrity of states. I would say that it cannot be reconciled and that what has to go is the territoriality of the state, ergo, its claimed power to number its citizens by those who happen to reside on a particular patch of earth. One’s allegiance to a polity or society is more than something determined externally to a person by accidents of location. It is a basic moral decision, i.e., a basic right. To declare that the king’s law or the federal government’s law overrides this fundamental decision right is to ignore basic freedoms in favor of a very dicey bit of so-called “law” that is designed to uphold a state’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. In the case of the U.S., this conflict has never been settled on a peaceful and lawful basis, meaning a basis that employed basic principles of justice in an attempt to arrive at a just solution of conflict. Instead, the whole issue was buried under a civil war. There was no settlement in the sense of an agreement. Instead, force prevailed.

11:07 am on March 26, 2014