Restricted Debate Is Texas v. White ironclad proof of secession's illegality?

Rusk County Avengers

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I personally tend to steer clear of the topic of secession' legal status, and political discussions of the War period. Emotional attachment on both sides of the argument, unbending attitudes, a habit of modern politics infecting thought of the contenders and their conclusions, and finally outright baiting of people tends to dispel any thought of my part in participating, most of time because I don't care for being angry. But in the interest of seeing if calm debate can be had, after seeing yet another thread with passions running high, I wish to put out there a thought, on Texas v. White that people on one side claims as irrefutable proof of their point of view, and the other side fumbles to answer it. Here in this thread I'm not making my personal answers plain, and am just presenting a theory to see how the different sides of secession argument answer it, I may throw something out for digestion, but as of right now I want to observe, if you will. I'm not "trolling" or deliberately trying to start arguments where tempers flare, I'm simply curious as to everyone else's thoughts.

Texas v. White

I sometimes wonder how many people on either side of the debate of secession have actually sat down, read the whole thing and understood it, or how many people have sat down read it, and saw the clever legal shenanigan it can be interpreted as. Its conclusions are made abundantly clear, but reading that often argued over document, I can help but notice that it contradicts itself. Before any thoughts are given to saying one contradiction is irrelevant I'd like to point out in politics, in any era, one line of a document can be twisted in any direction to serve the person twisting it. Moving along and getting to the point I submit before the reader one little part of it.

"6. 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 the consent of the States."

That one line, or even just the word "except" can be used to change the views of others, and be used to subvert the rest of the document and even say secession was legal because the way it was carried out. I'm not saying it does, just that it can be interpreted that way. The reason I say that is because of the word "revolution". Later in Texas v. White, it spells out the exact sequence of events leading to secession, this may be over simplifying it, but Texas called a secession convention, and voted for secession, and submitted it to the people to vote on it, which the majority of Texans voted for secession. The twist is, isn't that a revolution and therefore legalizing the secession of Texas?

The dictionary definition for revolution, specifically the Merriam-Webster definition 2-b is:
": a fundamental change in a political organization
especially: the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed

Is that not what happened? Both sides of the "Compact of States in the Constitution" vs. "Compact of the Union with the people" crowds of political and historical thought can find something here to either sink their argument or float it. The duly elected representatives of the people voted for secession and then submitted it to the people who voted for secession, so did not a revolution in the relationship between the governed and existing government happen? Does this not give the secession of the Southern United States a legal standing, albeit few years after the fact? I'm curious to see where this thread goes...

Reminder I am not making my views plain, I'm presenting a theory to see where it goes.
 

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Kelly

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No one ever fumbles an answer regarding Texas, because Texas did not adjudicate the constitutional right of secession. It adjudicated a jurisdictional and political question only. But again, it most certainly did not adjudicate the right of secession.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Simply put a State can get out the United States by 2 methods. Either by a successful revolution, or some political process involving the other States.
Some scholars would say those two options didn't even exist. But it raises another question when one considers the detailed picking apart of every word of law for justifying something. It doesn't seem to say a revolution has to be successful to be legal, it just says revolution, so in whether its successful or not it could be said secession is a legal act. But of course that also leaves it up to the Federal Government to determine whether to honor the results of a revolution amongst the people of a State, or not honor it.

Kinda ambiguous, a State can by revolution in the hearts and minds of the people thereof secede and it be completely legal if it be a definable revolution, and the Federal Government can either honor it, or preserve the territorial integrity of the nation as a whole and either option be legal for the Government when looked at in that manner.

It can be interpreted many ways, just as much as the 10th Amendment has been interpreted in so many ways on this subject. One could even wonder whether the Supreme Court decided to be ambiguous here due to the secession controversy over its legality, and worded this in a manner as ambiguous as the Constitution is on the subject, but they still had a court case to handle in those divided times.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Just to clarify, what I was referring to with the Federal Government on this I was referring to the Constitution on the Government preserving the nation, and here in this court decision it saying these two ways a State can secede legally, but it not prohibiting the Government from stopping it. Hence why I said it can be interpreted as ambiguous.
 

demiurge

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They stated that successful revolution was a legal basis of secession, not only because ex post facto it became reality, but because the US itself was formed in that way and they weren't going to make a ruling 100 years later that it was an illegitimate government.

But the US itself putting down the rebellion was certainly Constitutional.

They explicitly stated that it was illegal for states to unilaterally secede. The only way that became legal, in retrospect, was to win the trial at arms. Because then the previous law had been repudiated.
 

OpnCoronet

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No law is really bulletproof, that is why there are courts. They can be bulletproof, until the courts say it isn't Or the law is legally changes by responsible authority.

Insurrection and/or rebellions are always unlawful. A Revolution is what successful Rebellions/insurrections, are called after the fact.

I believe the Court ruled that the Union was meant to be Permanent. In that case, I would think that the Constitution would have to be amended to reflect how, exactly, the Union would not be permanent. All Constitutional amendments are to be offered every state in the Union for their approval.
 

jgoodguy

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From the standpoint of constitutional law, yes. . . unless the decision is rendered invalid by a future constitutional amendment or a future Supreme Court decision that overturns it. This is technically not impossible but is so unlikely that it's not worth discussing.
I agree. The United States is a more consolidated country than in 1860.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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From the standpoint of constitutional law, yes. . . unless the decision is rendered invalid by a future constitutional amendment or a future Supreme Court decision that overturns it. This is technically not impossible but is so unlikely that it's not worth discussing.
Well when something of the magnitude of the CW is concerned, and how this little passage contradicts the rest of the decision, I'd say its worthy of discussion on several levels because of the consequences. First off, I'd like to say, it doesn't say anything about it's legality being governed by success, it just says by revolution, nothing about success in it. Where the law is concerned that can be used to say that Confederate leaders were not guilty of treason because it could be argued they were revolutionary leaders in a court, that is one example of implications that line has, so there are things worthy of discuss

I'm not trying to make modern or otherwise revelations, just point this out on Texas v. White because its so often cited as proof that the South was nothing but traitors, but this judgement actually gives the South a legal leg to stand on. Outside of the CW and its aftermath is really not relevant.
 

Kelly

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What's especially funny about Texas is that Chase couldn't find any language in the Constituion which declared and legally required the union to be perpetual, or that prohibited secession.So what did Chase do? Well, he did what any dishonest and corrupt political hack would do; he pilfered language from the defunct AoC in order to "prove" that the union under the Constitution was "perpetual". The decision was a sham and a farce.
 
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jgoodguy

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What's especially funny about Texas is that Chase couldn't find any language in the Constituion which declared and legally required the union to be perpetual, or that prohibited secession.So what did Chase do? Well, he did what any dishonest and corrupt political hack would do; he pilfered language from the defunct AoC in order to "prove" that the union under the Constitution was "perpetual". The decision was a sham and a farce.
Interesting Opinion. OTOH Chase was affirmed by subsequent SCOTUS decisions including a 2010 Alaska Supreme Court Decision
SCOTT KOHLHAAS v. STATE OF ALASKA. A 140+ year decision that still stands is difficult to overturn on a mere whim.
 

jgoodguy

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Well when something of the magnitude of the CW is concerned, and how this little passage contradicts the rest of the decision, I'd say its worthy of discussion on several levels because of the consequences. First off, I'd like to say, it doesn't say anything about it's legality being governed by success, it just says by revolution, nothing about success in it. Where the law is concerned that can be used to say that Confederate leaders were not guilty of treason because it could be argued they were revolutionary leaders in a court, that is one example of implications that line has, so there are things worthy of discuss

I'm not trying to make modern or otherwise revelations, just point this out on Texas v. White because its so often cited as proof that the South was nothing but traitors, but this judgement actually gives the South a legal leg to stand on. Outside of the CW and its aftermath is really not relevant.
Interesting concept that a failed rebellion has legal standing that suggests its victory. However, if you read that passage in Texas v White and in combination with Luther v Borden we find that political questions such as secession are decided by war and if you lose you lose forever or by peaceful political processes involving all the States. There is no do-over in court.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Interesting concept that a failed rebellion has legal standing that suggests its victory. However, if you read that passage in Texas v White and in combination with Luther v Borden we find that political questions such as secession are decided by war and if you lose you lose forever or by peaceful political processes involving all the States. There is no do-over in court.
Ah Luther v. Borden, I've always felt its citing where the CW is concerned is irrelevant as the South wasn't governed by colonial charters before the CW, and the Reconstruction era governments imposed on the South could be ate up with so much corruption and intrigue to hardly be called an instance of Congress guaranteeing a republican form of government. But that's me.

I guess what I'm saying is it can be argued that the case of the South's secession was an entirely different happening than the Dorr Rebellion. I won't pretend to know a whole lot of the Dorr Rebellion, but it being an issue of voting rights and overturning Rhode Island's colonial charter in favor of a modern republican form of government, whereas in the South's case a revolution happened on a stage far larger than the borders of one State, and far larger implications.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Also while there is no do over, court cases can and often become irrelevant because of future cases reaching a different conclusion on a similar matter. At the end of the day we must remember laws written and judged by man are never ironclad and impenetrable as we the laws written by man always have holes other humans can exploit, and on court cases, no matter what's said bias exists on the part of the judges as much as with the others in court. But there's need for me to get philosophical.
 

jgoodguy

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Also while there is no do over, court cases can and often become irrelevant because of future cases reaching a different conclusion on a similar matter. At the end of the day we must remember laws written and judged by man are never ironclad and impenetrable as we the laws written by man always have holes other humans can exploit, and on court cases, no matter what's said bias exists on the part of the judges as much as with the others in court. But there's need for me to get philosophical.
Texas v White was used as precedent in a 2010 Alaskan Supreme Court case. A good case for longevity. IMHO a good case can be made that Texas v White was more a shot over the bow of Radical Republicans to back off their ambitions to split up the South like a conquered province to redo State Boundaries than a ruling on future secessions.
 

Kelly

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Interesting Opinion. OTOH Chase was affirmed by subsequent SCOTUS decisions including a 2010 Alaska Supreme Court Decision
SCOTT KOHLHAAS v. STATE OF ALASKA. A 140+ year decision that still stands is difficult to overturn on a mere whim.

Interesting opinion. Except no case ever adjudicated the constitutional right of secesssion. And it doesn't alter the fact that Chase used the AoC to justify his decision under the Constitution. Utterly corrupt and blatantly dishonest.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Texas v White was used as precedent in a 2010 Alaskan Supreme Court case. A good case for longevity. IMHO a good case can be made that Texas v White was more a shot over the bow of Radical Republicans to back off their ambitions to split up the South like a conquered province to redo State Boundaries than a ruling on future secessions.
Indeed longevity is a hallmark of the case, not just in court but everywhere. One just has to look through the political threads to see it often brought up.

As for a shot accross the bow on Reconstruction, it didn't seem to have much effect. The South was indeed broke up, but into five military districts, and the Radical Republicans did everything in their power to control the Southern States. If it hadn't have been for such a vicious Southern insurgency and weariness in the North they may have succeeded. But that's a discussion for elsewhere.
 


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