Third time lucky for Californian secession (Calexit)?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
"There is no nullification. There is no secession," Jeff Sessions warned, "Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg, to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln. This matter has been settled."
The Attorney General was not a happy chap. He delivered this warning to the California Peace Officers’ Association in Sacramento on the same day he announced a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice over California's immigration policies.
There may be no secession at the moment, but there is an effort to separate the state of California from the Untied States. The Calexit campaign is back.
An initial signature drive to call for immediate secession failed in April last year from the Yes California campaign. They returned in August to collect the 582,000 plus signatures required to make it onto the 2018 ballot. This second attempt collapsed following "negative attention surrounding the motivations of campaign founder Louis Marinelli, who was living in Russia at the time", the Sacramento Bee reports. Marinelli moved home to California last month to help relaunch the campaign, and there are hopes to make it third time lucky.
Calexit supporters are starting to gather signatures once again to qualify for a ballot question in 2020. According to The Hill, that initiative would ask voters to hold a secession vote - and if that passes, that vote would take place on May 4, 2021. If victorious after all that rigmarole, the vote would instruct the state legislature to formally declare California's independence from the United States.
It would not be the first time California has attempted secession from the United States. Since 1848, there have been more than 200 efforts to "slice up the state or split it off", according to the Los Angeles Times. Every attempt has failed. One of the most recent examples was in 2013, when Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Draper encouraged California to split into six states, but he failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. A year later, the Calexit movement was born. Also, in 2016, the State of Jefferson resurgence "sought to separate Northern California from the rest of the state through a legislative bill", Newsweek reports. It was not successful.
The Golden State is the sixth largest economy in the world. It is more economically powerful than France and it has a population larger than Poland. California could go it alone, but it may not be legally possible. There is no specific ban on secession of states from the United States, although Texas failed in an attempt last year.
The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Texas v White: "When Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through the consent of the States."