This was a letter written to a play write that was considering this in a movie and wrote a letter to the Justice. And what did Justice Scalia say? Pretty much that not only could Maine not secede (ironically enough, Maine is one of the three states that has no secession petition on the White House website), but the question is so firmly settled that it could not even get a hearing before the Supreme Court, because the United States government would refuse to entertain it:
I am afraid I cannot be of much help with your problem, principally because I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, “one Nation, indivisible.”) Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.
I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that — but you do not need legal advice for that. Good luck with your screenplay.
Justice betta preach and tell them to have a damn seat and get the fck over it.. But they are not they feel there is a gray area in the constitution therefore they can secede. But I don't think a few people have the right to have a State Secede even if they could do it.
There is further law on this pertaining to the Civil War, in which the constitution implied you can't secede from the Union.
The principle of legality is the legal ideal that requires all law to be clear, ascertainable and non-retrospective. It requires decision makers to resolve disputes by applying legal rules that have been declared beforehand, and not to alter the legal situation retrospectively by discretionary departures from established law.
No crime can be committed, nor punishment imposed without a pre-existing penal law, nulla poena sine lege. This principle is accepted as just and upheld by the penal codes of constitutional states, including virtually all modern democracies.
At the time of the Civil War it was not illegal as the ruling by Supreme Court came later in 1869(after the war) that unilateral secession was unconstitutional.
Discussions and threats of secession have often surfaced in American politics, but only in the case of the Confederate States of America was secession actually declared. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) that unilateral secession was unconstitutional while commenting that revolution or consent of the states could lead to a successful secession.
The topic of secession was hotly debated by both sides prior to Civil War with some proudly pro Union, some pro secession and some even hovering over middle ground which would include the president in 1860. President James Buchanan (D, 1857-61) did not take action to stop the states from seceding; although he argued that secession was not legal, he also claimed that the federal government did not have the constitutional right to stop the South from doing so.
There where many who had an opinion in regards to secession and many of whom interpreted the Constitution including President Lincoln. Lincoln's first publicly denounced the proposed secession in his first Inaugural Address
However, the speech also did not impress other states who were considering secession from the Union. Indeed, after Fort Sumter was attacked and Lincoln declared a formal State of Insurrection, four more states—Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas—seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.
After the Confederate states began to leave the Union, Lincoln had an even greater need to prove secession was Unconstitutional and strong incentive to make his views against secession known to the American people in order to secure their support for the onerous war which was made necessary by his opposition to secession.
So, as you can see, in 1861 no law existed in terms of prohibiting secession just multiple interpretations of the constitution none of which were interpretations from the Supreme Court in the sense that a ruling was made. This ruling would not be until legislature was reviewed (Texas v. White) in 1869.
The 1869 ruling would be law after 1869 (until a new ruling is made) but not representative of law prior to 1869. Without one of the following three things secession, prior to the Civil War, would not have been unanimously agreed upon as illegal and in regards to law could not have been illegal (in 1861).
- A law previously implemented to prohibit secession
- A previous Supreme Court ruling prohibiting secession
"Clear text" within the Constitution (no grey area)