By Jana J. Pruet
A Texas Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to allow Texans the opportunity to vote on secession from the United States.
On Monday, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton filed HB 3596, also known as the “TEXIT Referendum Act.” (pdf)
If passed, the referendum would be placed on the 2024 general election ballot for Texans to decide whether the state should investigate the possibility of secession, according to a press release.
“The Texas Constitution is clear that all political power resides in the people,” Slaton said. “After decades of continuous abuse of our rights and liberties by the federal government, it is time to let the people of Texas make their voices heard.”
Slaton filed the proposal on the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.
“On this 187th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo, I’m proud to file this bill to let the people of Texas vote on the future of our State,” Slaton said. “Texas was born out of a desire for liberty and self-governance, and that desire continues to burn in the hearts of all Texans.”
On March 6, 1836, the Alamo fell after a 13-day battle against Mexico’s army led by President Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, according to The Alamo website. Four days earlier, the state had declared its independence from Mexico by signing the Texas Declaration of Independence and creating the Republic of Texas.
The United States annexed Texas in 1845, making it the 28th state in the union.
The idea of Texas reclaiming its independence is not novel.
Last year, the Texas State Republican Convention urged the legislature to include a similar referendum on the November 2023 ballot.
“Pursuant to Article 1, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, the federal government has impaired our right of local self-government,” the Platform and Resolutions Committee wrote on page six of its June 2022 report. (pdf)
“Therefore, federally mandated legislation that infringes upon the 10th Amendment rights of Texas should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified. Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.“
State Rep. Kyle Biedermann filed similar legislation during the 87th legislative session. The bill was referred to the State Affairs Committee, where it died.
In 2009, then-Gov. Rick Perry garnered national headlines when he joked that Texas might secede.
Texas’ Earlier Secession
In 1861, the state voted to secede from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. It was the seventh state to secede and the last before the start of the Civil War.
After the war ended in 1865, Congress implemented a period of Reconstruction. The effort provided a means for Southern states to rejoin the Union.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed the act that readmitted Texas to the Union.
In 1869, before Texas was readmitted to the union, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that secession was never legal.
“All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State,” Chief Justice S. P. Chase wrote in his decision in the case of Texas v. White.
“The act which consummate her admission into the union was more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States.