Texas Rep. Bryan Slaton filed a bill Monday at the state legislature that, if passed, would allow Texans to vote in the next general election if the Lone Star State should reassert its status as an independent nation.
Slaton officially filed the Texas Independence Referendum Act in the Texas House of Representatives, which would place a referendum on the ballot asking residents to determine the state’s future by exploring whether or not lawmakers should establish a commission to investigate the feasibility of Texas seceding from the Union and provide further recommendations to the state legislature.
“All political power rests in the People of Texas, and they deserve to have an opportunity to make their voice heard about the future of Texas,” Slaton said in an emailed statement to The Daily Wire.
The latest bill filed in the state legislature comes off the heels of one of the largest grassroots nationalist movements in Texas that have long pushed for the southern state to become a sovereign nation.
The Texas Nationalist Movement, a cohort of approximately 440,000 Texans from across the political spectrum, has been leading the charge of the so-called “TEXIT” coalition to gain independence from the federal government since its inception in 2005.
President Daniel Miller of the group told The Daily Wire that its members represent the state of Texas more than the Republican or Democratic parties.
“At the end of the day, the people of Texas want that right of self-government,” Miller said. “They do not feel like they’re being represented in a system where they feel crushed under the weight of 180,000 pages of federal laws, rules, and regulations administered by two and a half million unelected bureaucrats.”
If the bill passes the state legislature and voters later this year, a bicameral committee of house and senate representatives will formulate a plan addressing four key issues relating to Texas independence. Such issues include constitutional and statutory matters, international covenants, treaties and agreements, and negotiations with the federal government.
“Texans are tired of making decisions here at home and having them overwritten at the stroke of a pen by an executive order or a ruling from an unelected, unaccountable federal judiciary,” Miller said. “Texans want the ability to govern themselves, and they believe that the best people to govern Texas just happen to be Texans.”
Setting itself from other state or countywide movements nationwide that have sought to secede or join other territories, Miller said those efforts ignore the underlying issue of a “terminally broken” federal system.
“You could shift your counties over to a state that feels a little a little bit more representative of where you are ideologically,” Miller said. “But at the end of the day, it’s still the federal system that’s broken — and it’s still the federal system that drives so much of the dysfunction that we find in the United States right now.”
The push for an independent Texas has recycled throughout the state’s history.
While Miller argues Article 1, Section 2 of the state’s Constitution — which states “all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit” — gives the movement the right to have a conversation about the referendum, many historians argue when the Confederacy surrendered in 1865, states could no longer legally secede from the Union.
“The legality of seceding is problematic,” Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Texas Tribune in 2016. “The Civil War played a very big role in establishing the power of the federal government and cementing that the federal government has the final say in these issues.”
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After breaking apart from Mexico and becoming a republic in 1836, the United States would annex Texas nine years later as the 28th state. Texans voted to secede from the Union in 1861 after divisions within the nation wanted to expand slavery into western territories. However, nine years later, Texas rejoined the country during the Reconstruction Era after the Confederacy was defeated in the Civil War.
Just before the Union readmitted the state back into the country, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in the 1869 case Texas v. White that efforts for individual states to unilaterally secede from the Union were ‘absolutely null.’”
In 2006, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “the answer is clear” concerning the legal basis of secession.
“If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede,” Scalia wrote. “(Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’).”
According to the Texasview.org, secessionist movements in the state have made several attempts since the 1990s, with the latest effort in June 2022 by The Republican Party of Texas, which seeks a referendum in 2023.