Texas GOP Convention Pushes for Referendum on State’s Secession in 2023

CC BY 2.0 / Flickr / Jonathan Cutrer / Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas
Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.06.2022
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Following President Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 elections, the Republicans have increasingly floated the idea of secession. In 2021 Texas Republican Rep. Kyle Biedermann filed a bill calling for state-level secession from the US as “the federal government is out of control and does not represent the values of Texans.”
As Texas Republicans ended a three-day convention in Houston on June 18th, they revived the call for a referendum on whether the state should secede from the US, according to the Texas Tribune.
This was one of a plethora of measures called for in the Texas GOP's new party platform, which states under a section titled "State Sovereignty":
"Pursuant to Article 1, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, the federal government has impaired our right of local self-government. Therefore, federally mandated legislation that infringes upon the 10th Amendment rights of Texas should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified.”
The document continues:
"Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto."
The platform also reflected the Texas GOP’s demand that state Legislature pass a bill at its next session "requiring a referendum in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation."
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Republican discourse on secession is not new, with the idea floated by GOP officials from Wyoming, Florida, and Mississippi, among others. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry discussed secession at an April 2009 rally after Barack Obama claimed the presidency. Back in 2020, Texas Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann announced that he would introduce legislation to allow Texas to secede from the nation, saying that the “federal government is out of control and does not represent the values of Texans.”
Frank Eathorne, Wyoming’s Republican Party ex-chairman, mentioned “secession” during a conversation on Steve Bannon’s podcast.
Bright Line Watch, a group of researchers from Dartmouth University, the University of Rochester, and University of Chicago, noted in a study released in February 2021 found that one-third of Republicans said they support secession.

Can Texas Legally Secede?

The US Constitution lacks any provision for secession.
Texas, which declared independence from Mexico in 1836, did not join the United States until 1845. That is when Congress approved the Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States.
© AP Photo / Eric Gay, FileIn this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, gun rights advocates carry rifles while protesting outside the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas
In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, gun rights advocates carry rifles while protesting outside the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.06.2022
In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, gun rights advocates carry rifles while protesting outside the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas
The resolution stipulated that Texas could, in the future, choose to divide itself into “New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas.” However, the wording of the resolution contained nothing pertaining to splitting apart from the United States. A state convention in 1861 voted 166-8 in favor of secession. After it was ratified by a popular vote, Texas became the seventh state to secede from the Union amid the Civil War.
In 1870 Texas was readmitted to the Union. In the 1869 case Texas v. White, the US Supreme Court maintained that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union.

Texas GOP Platform ‘Planks’

Elsewhere at the GOP convention in Houston the delegates clearly demonstrated their support for issues that set them apart from the Democrats in the White House and triggered the idea of secession.
Accordingly, they voted on more than 270 platform “planks,” or declarations, such as a resolution stating that Democrat Joe Biden was "not legitimately elected," in a sign of support for former President Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
According to the resolution, “substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas significantly affected the results.”
“We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States,” the resolution stated.
Elsewhere, delegates also called for the repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, passed by Democrats.
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A party platform labeled homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and also declared that the party opposes "all efforts to validate transgender identity." The GOP Texas platform also called for a total ban on abortion and "equal protection for the Preborn."
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Currently, abortion is prohibited after around six weeks of pregnancy in Texas. However, an imminent ruling from the US Supreme Court could overturn the decision in Roe v. Wade that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide, thus setting into motion a Texas “trigger” law making abortion illegal.
The convention resolutions and platform carry no force of law but serve as a mission statement for GOP activities in the state for the next two years.
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