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Jerry Henderson

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July 29, 2014
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State splitters secede from reality

Some Northern California county supervisors have voted in favor of seceding from California and forming a State of Jefferson. In Nevada County, a small group of people want our county to join this secession movement. These secessionist state splitters have seceded from reality. They are living in a fantasy world and wasting their time.

Here’s what the Constitution says about state splitting.

Article 4 Section 3 — “New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.”

Since 1789 only two new states have been carved from an existing state. Maine was created as a state independent of Massachusetts and West Virginia was separated from Virginia. More recently there has been talk of “state splitting” in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Utah and Vermont. Last November, voters in five Colorado counties approved secession initiatives. Pima County in Arizona wants to become Baja Arizona.

The primary reason that drives all of the recent “state splitting” movements is that thinly populated rural areas believe their interests are overwhelmed by those of the more populous metropolitan areas. The 2010 gubernatorial election in Illinois is an example. Out of 102 counties only four were in favor of the Democratic candidate. But those four counties had the majority of the population and the Democratic candidate won.

The issue isn’t always one of conservative areas wanting to be free from the rule of liberal state capitals. In Arizona, the people in and around Tucson have advocated for breaking away from the conservative policies of metropolitan Phoenix.

Splitting a state would weaken the power of that state in Congress.

The people of a state cannot choose to create a new state. Only a state legislature can take the initial action required by the Constitution to split off part of the state to form a new state. A legislature voting in favor of creating a new state would be diluting its power in the U.S. senate. The new state would have two senators just like the old state. Can you imagine the legislatures of California, Arizona or Colorado agreeing to such an action? Would the Democratically controlled legislature of California want to have two more Republican senators in the Senate?

Even if a state legislature did approve of the state splitting, Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, would have to approve of the split to form a new state. Increasing the number of congressmen and senators would dilute the power of the existing members. Not a likely scenario.

You can see that this is a fantasy exercise. Saying that you want to secede from a state is very much like being a child who doesn’t want to play by the rules of the game and goes off pouting. Nothing is accomplished by this kind of behavior.

Rather than spending time on such an improbable task do something positive that will make your community and region a better place to live.

Jerry Henderson lives in Grass Valley.

Saying that you want to secede from a state is very much like being a child who doesn’t want to play by the rules of the game and goes off pouting.


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The Union Updated Jul 29, 2014 10:45PM Published Jul 29, 2014 10:45PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.