New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Antonin Scalia, Secession


November 13th, 2012

Secession (And This Blog) Are Back in the News

Justice Antonin Scalia: "If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede."

Blogs can be funny things in that you never really know where they will lead, as Carolyn Elefant recently discussed when my face appeared on the sides of buses.

But now we have a real blast from February 2010: I had a very, very, very off-topic post about whether states had a right to secede from the union. (How many personal injury blogs have Secession as a blog category?)

It was as an oddball topic for this page for sure, as it dealt with something Prof. Eugene Volokh wrote on whether the issue of secession was resolved at Appomattox.  In response I published a letter from Justice Antonin Scalia to my brother — that had been sitting in his drawer for a few years as a family curio —  where Justice Scalia gave his very firm opinion that “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede”. The story of that letter is at the original post, and if you want the entertaining background you can get it there.

In the wake of the Obama-Romney election, however, that letter is back in the news. Yesterday Politico reported on people petitioning the government for the right to secede, because if you get 25,000 signatures you will get a response from the White House:

Using the Obama administration’s own We the People website, nearly two dozen petitions have sprung up asking the Obama administration for permission to withdraw from the Union.

The two most popular petitions, Texas and Louisiana, have both drawn more than 10,000 signatures each as of Monday morning. The Texas petition needs only 7,000 more signatures to trigger an official White House response.

That number has rapidly  increased, as voters in 47 states who saw their presidential candidate come in second  have been circulating petitions on the issue of secession. A quick Googling of Scalia No Right To Secede and you can see many bloggers have already hunted for original sources in the last 24 hours. And that, of course, leads back to the letter from Justice Scalia to my brother.

I’m sure I won’t be the first, or the last, to observe that a desire to secede based on the results of democracy seems a tad odd. Are the secessionists advocating dictatorship instead? Monarchy? Theocracy?

The only question I really have on all this is: When the White House says “No” to the secessionists, will they quote Justice Scalia as authority?


4 thoughts on “Secession (And This Blog) Are Back in the News

  1. Pingback: Scalia: "There Is No Right to Secede" – New York Personal Injury Law Blog

  2. If Texas and Louisiana and a bunch of other southern red states wanna secede, let ’em! First, no one – including one state – should be forced to remain part of the union if they seriously don’t want to be. But more important, the rest of the country would be better off without them. They take more than they give, drink more than they spill, and push the country on a wrongheaded rightward course such that we would be better off without.
    Unfortunately, the secession talk is just right wing bluster and venting, that goes nowhere. Pity. If they want out, I say, “Bye, bye!”

  3. “Are the secessionists advocating dictatorship instead? Monarchy? Theocracy?”


    It is my opinion that the very richest and farthest right of the citizenry would like a return to monarchy. Once you have all the money in the world, what other evidence of your magnificence is there?

    A royal title.

    Since a monarchy exists only because God wants it, a coincident theocracy is practically a given (cf. Western European history). It is the popes and bishops who then bestow God’s ultimate prize: a kingdom.

    The Koch brothers would make fine examples of dukes, tall and resplendent in scarlet and ermine, at the coronation of the Bush Family Dynasty.