California can legally exit the U.S.A without any changes to the Constitution and there’s Historical Precedence supporting it

As some people are aware by now there is a serious movement in California to secede from the USA, there are now multiple organizations working on how California can leave legally, peacefully, and democratically. I have been speaking with some of these organizations and I may have found a new way it can be done other than the monumental task of amending the Constitution; this path is a bit easier but may take longer. So it’s important that people take this possible upcoming vote seriously, because the PAC Yes California and the separate organization the California Nationalist Party (CNP) are no longer pie in the sky “radical fringe” idealists, as they were labeled over the last two weeks. They are gaining strength from middle of the road voters with more and more members joining the CNP everyday with hopes of more state autonomy and others wanting full independence. Many rational intelligent pragmatists that are seriously disillusioned with American politics and don’t see any reason to be politically connected to the rest of the USA after seeing the rise in racism and lack of decorum in politics have just had enough while others think more autonomy could mean more power.

Under the US Constitution Article 4 Section 3 Clause 2

“The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States;”

Since California was a US territory before when it gained statehood through just a Congressional vote in the compromise of 1850. California should be able return to being a US territory by the a congressional vote using the transitive property, essentially just doing the same statehood process in reverse in accordance with Article 4 Section 3 Clause 1 “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union”. Once California returns to a US territory like American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Guam there is also historical precedence allowing Congress to also grant independence to US territories without changing the constitution, as in the case of the Philippines and Cuba, that would only require a simple majority vote in Congress. There is nothing in my research that I could find that says that a state cannot return back to being a territory. The idea is simply that a status change from state to territory would not require any changes to the constitution. This path supports the Supreme Court decisions in their ruling of 1869 “Texas V White” is that a nation cannot leave the Union“unilaterally” , as long as it gets voted on in Congress, it’s not a unilateral secession. The only argument against it is that in the same Supreme Court decision they labeled only two paths for independence and violent revolution or a constitutional change but, the pathway of reverting back to a territory first was never thought of until just recently and, the US Congress didn’t grant independence to Cuba and the Philippines until the 20th century, so Congress opened the door to independence when it allowed territories independence.

Right now the movement position is to ask for a direct path to independence by allowing California to leave by a constitutional change. If the Plebiscite/ Referendum vote passes and the US doesn’t grant that decision the indirect path could be a viable option. California could negotiate to be a self-governing autonomous territory bill with a pathway to independence built in to the agreement with a timeline or conditions for independence as in paying back its portion of the debt .There is also a possibility California can become an “enhanced territory”, An enhanced territory would be a new and different sort of territorial status, by keeping Congressional representation not given to any other territory, essentially making California more autonomous with the same representation similar to Scotland. This would only be a privilege that really only California could negotiate given its massive power in the American politics, economy, military and culture.

One member of the CNP has examined this position and is worried if they got the same status of Puerto Rico, they could be victim to some of the atrocities the US government has done to its citizens of Puerto Rico, and would justify why California would request enhanced territorial status is only to ensure these sorts of human rights abuses don’t happen to its citizens. The Ponce Massacre, forced sterilization, Radiation experiments etc. were serious human rights abuses that probably would not have happened if they had congressional representation to defend their citizens. This compromise would need to be worked out exactly if congressmen in this status would lose the right to speak or vote in Congress. Would they have any congressmen at all and how many would they be able to keep? Another compromise could be worked out if they were given territorial autonomy and took away almost all of their congressional rights, is that the US government would not be able to enact any laws that effect California without approval of the state legislature or Head of State.

The benefits of having a territorial status is one where California courts may be able to interpret the constitution as it sees fit, and not necessarily having to listen to the US Supreme Court. California would be able to have its own income tax, which the federal government has an almost 30 year history of not returning to California in the same proportion it does to other states. California could be able to print its own currency like the Philippines and Puerto Rico was allowed to do for a time. They would essentially be like a country within a country. The drawbacks could be California may not be able to vote for President if congress takes that away in the negotiations or have much say in American politics but, that’s exactly what independence would bring anyway.

The political optics are interesting. Many red state Republicans that are tired of the Progressive Democratic stronghold of California and many of them actually hate the golden state, they might welcome a pathway to get rid California’s political power as fast as possible, along with a Republican President that will expect nothing but obstructionism from the west coast powerhouse over the coming years. The CNP is also looking to compromise to take the portion of the debt California owes with it $2.68 Trillion if it does leave which is appealing. While other Blue States would make many deals to keep California, to not upset the political balance it would cause if California left they could possibly give California even more power and autonomy in negotiations to make up for the years they haven’t been receiving the tax dollars they should been haven’t receiving. It would only take 218 votes to get a bill pass no matter how it’s negotiated, as either an enhanced territory or a pathway to independence territory bill. California has the biggest congressional delegation at 53 Congressmen in the House and both sides of the spectrum could have more to gain by either giving California enhanced autonomy or letting them leave, so the possibility of this path is much more possible and probable than a constitutional amendment.





Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store