The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Secession in the United states is constitutional

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Debate Round Forfeited
Killerchicken12 has forfeited round #5.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/24/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 693 times Debate No: 94960
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (13)
Votes (0)




Hello, and Welcome to The Debate.

To Win:
Whosoever chooses to accept must prove that:
-The Founding Fathers spoke out against secession
-The Constitution Forbids secession
and Finally
-Secession is not only Illegal, but unwise.

-Pro will Define Terms, and Rules.
-Refrain from Cursing, or profanity
-Please cite sources if any were used.



Greetings Killerchicken12! I will use this first round as an opening statement to explain what I think about this topic. I will provide evidence as to why your statement can be negated in future rounds. I will admit, it is quite unfortunate that people still believe the myth that secession is legal. Simply reading our constitution as well as research on the Civil War will teach you that secession is not only illegal, but unwise. Even if our Founding Fathers denounced secession, it would have no impact on the laws of our nation once so ever.

Thank you, back to you Pro!
Debate Round No. 1


I find it proper to Thank Con for Accepting this debate. I do not wish to waste space, so I will move directly onto the Debate, and by the end of the Round, I will have made 3 Clauses as to why Secession is constitution etc. (Note* I will keep it short and sweet)

Clause 1:
There is overwhelming evidence that the Founding Father Advocated Secession. The First piece of evidence of which is that they themselves seceded. It is impossible to claim that the Founding Fathers did not advocate secession. This assumption is Hypocritical, and unwise.

Clause 2:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.- Article X of the U.S. Constitution

Secession meets the Criteria mentioned above. The Power of Secession was not granted to the U.S. by the constitution, nor did it ever prohibit secession to the states. You have no basis to deny the 10th Amendment, as the Constitution is the Law of the Land.

Clause 3:
while typing this Argument, I couldn't help but notice your profile picture. It consisted of an American Flag, and a Soldier. Was it not Wise for the U.S. to secede from Britain? Was it not wise for Portugal to secede from Spain? If no one could Secede (Or leave another country), than nothing would ever advance. No Civil wars, or Revolutions. We would be under an extreme Right Wing Catholic reign in Europe ruled by Monarchs. No French Revolution, No English Civil war, No American Revolution, No Advancements.

Good Luck. God Bless.


Thank you for the good response Pro! To not put all of my arguments in one basket, I'm going to discuss the legality of secession exclusively in this round, and then discuss our Founding Fathers as well as the consequences of secession in future rounds.

The Legality of Secession

At first glance, Article X of the U.S. Constitution seems to support secession without a doubt. However, Article X does not mention secession once so ever. Not only that, but Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 states, "No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility." [1] Article X does not put any state as the first authority, but rather, the Constitution.

The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Section 2) puts federal law above state law. Article VI states, "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." Note that if a state were to make its own constitution, it would still be subordinate to the national Constitution. [2]

Now let's look elsewhere, besides the Articles of the Constitution. Texas v. White, a Supreme Court case that took place during 1867 proves that secession (legally at least) is an impossibility. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase's majority opinion states, "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 through consent of the states." [3] This quote is definitely spot on. For example, if Texas tries to secede, most (if not all) the other states would not let Texas do so. If Texas tried to take the nation itself to war, we can all agree that the outcome could be easily predicted.


I look forward to your response Pro.
Debate Round No. 2


Response to Paragraph 1:

Whether or not Article 10 Mentions secession or not is invalid. Article 10 Mentions no institutions or practices whatsoever, but clearly applies to them. It is impossible to deny this, as the 10th Amendment has not been amended or repealed. As for Article 1 Sec.10 Clause 1, Upon secession, you are no longer a part of the Union. This was meant to apply to states within the U.S. but completely collapses upon secession.

Response to Paragraph 2:
This argument is completely Valid, but is hypocritical to the American Cause. To put it simply, a supreme law must be in place, but Was this not similar to what was in place in the British Empire (i.e. Parliament being superior to all inferior courts)? America seceded anyways.

Response to Paragraph 3:
Very good point, but I would argue the supreme court is wrong. The Supreme court is supposed to judge according to the constitution, and if you have taken American History, you would know that the Supreme court was majority republican, and Northern at the end of the Civil war, effectively biasing Congress according to one group's interpretation of the Founding Documents. One opinion, or group is exactly what our type of government is made to protect against. The Reconstruction had many laws passed without Legal opposition, able to impose their will on the Majority. Therefore much of the articles passed though necessary, were at it's very foundation Un-American, and Threatening to national freedom.



Thanks again for the response Pro! In this part, I will negate the arguments that Article X gave any regard to secession, differentiate the American Cause from the Confederate Cause, prove there was little bias during the Texas v. White case, and finally discuss what our Founding Fathers thought about secession.

The Misinterpretation of Article X

You are correct that Article X does not state any specific institution nor practice, but applies to all states without a doubt. However, no where in Article X does it say that states can receive any additional powers, or override federal law (in this case, federal law states that secession is illegal). If there wasn't the Supremacy Clause I would actually agree with you, but Article VI makes it very clear that state powers are subordinate, while federal powers and the Constitution are the primary powers. You also disregarded the first part of Article X, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution..." In other words, Article X clearly states that the Constitution and federal government is a more superior power when compared to the states. Furthermore, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 does not mention secession once, so I'm not sure what you meant when you stated, "As for Article 1 Sec.10 Clause 1, Upon secession, you are no longer a part of the Union. This was meant to apply to states within the U.S. but completely collapses upon secession."

The American Cause vs. The Confederate and Texas Cause

The circumstances of the American Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the modern day; are quite different. As you stated, the British parliament during the Colonial Era was completely corrupt. Our taxes did not benefit services in America, but benefited Britain. This unfair government made our revolution justified without a doubt. However, the Civil War is a different story. The Confederate states had the same rights states enjoy today, since Article X was in effect during that time. In Britain however, state/colony rights were nonexistent. It can be said that the Union violated the Confederacy's tenth amendment right, but the Supremacy Clause nullifies that claim since secession is illegal under federal laws. Not to mention that the Supremacy Clause is not even close to Britain's colonial era policies. In America during the Civil War (same for today), most court cases weren't federal, while nearly all court cases in 1700's Britain were decided by a king (people weren't even given a proper trial nor punishment). [1]

Bias in Texas v. White Case

Although the Supreme Court was very pro-Lincoln and held a republican majority, most judges during the Texas v. White case were democrats as a matter of fact. Samuel Nelson, Robert Cooper Grier, Nathan Clifford, Stephen Johnson Field, and Salmon P. Chase himself were all all democrats, yet were involved in the court case. Salmon P. Chase was also highly unlikely to be biased, since he was born in Ohio; a state that was mixed with regards to the Civil War. [2]

The laws passed during the Reconstruction were also legally passed. To prevent the South from keeping their slaves, the fourteenth amendment was passed. As I have stated before, state powers are subordinate to the Constitution and federal government, making laws passed during the Reconstruction entirely legal. As a matter of a fact, the South was able to practice their tenth amendment rights after the war, by passing Jim Crow laws (this was terrible of course, but this shows that states still had and have many rights). [3]

Founding Fathers on Secession

While many of our founding fathers were divided on the issue, there were definitely some that opposed secession. During the Poughkeepsie Convention, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay explained, "a right to withdraw [was] inconsistent with the Constitution, and no ratification." [4]

Debate Round No. 3


Thanks to Pro for keeping the Argument short and Concise. I will attempt to keep mine in the same fashion.

Response to Paragraph 1:
You persist in your clause that the States are inferior to the Government, which I agree must be the case, but this does not mean that states do not reserve the right to their self-defense. If States, or at least the people cannot secede, hypothetically, what would happen if the Government tried to invade, or terrorize a certain people(s)? Do not say that this wouldn't happen, or this is merely Hypothetical. It happened in the Revolution, It happened in 1812, It happened in the Civil war, it happened in WW2, and you cannot out rule this possibility.
You next go on to say "You disregarded the first part of Article X". I would disagree. Secession was not delegated to Congress or the Government, and therefore is reserved to the people or states Respectively. If not the States, than the People. If you do not know of the essence of a Democracy (I assume you do), it's core beliefs are that the PEOPLE rule, and have their say. The Government was created by the People, For the people, and must be effectively terminated if it is no longer benefiting or protecting the people.

Lastly for this section, I will clear up my previous statement about Article 1 Section 10. This clearly States that the State is sub-ordinate to the binding Government. But if a State is effectively not a part of the U.S. any longer, the laws of the U.S. no longer apply to it, as it has already effectively left.

Response to Paragraph 2:
I would first like to say, in all fairness, that the British court system was not completely corrupt. The Laws they made were to pay for a war protecting America, and claiming more territory for it. though the way in which they instate it clearly violates Americans Natural Freedoms.
Next, You go onto the Confederacy. A Corrupt Government is all perception. One party may think it is fair, and the Others may think it is not. This is the Case in the Civil war, a Series of mis-understanding, and a failure on the South's part to compromise effectively. Before I talk more about this, I would like to point out that the "Supremacy Laws" had not taken place yet, as you pointed out that Texas V.S. White took place in 1867, and the Idea of a supreme Government did not become popular with the people until the 1930's in the New Deal.
I tend to agree with you that the circumstances of secession were different. I tend to believe that the war was started from:
1- The Failure of both the North and The South AND the Founding Fathers to address slavery
2- The violation of Southern Rights, Such as exclusive Tariffs, and mis-understandings of the Legal code
3- The failure of the South to Compromise
4- The Failure of Abraham Lincoln to include (not Differentiate) the South in his Policies.
5- The belief that each side was trying to lessen the power of the other, by working against them in the west.
But these lead to a completely different story not centered on the Debate at hand.

Addressing the Third Paragraph:
In 1867, The Southern States were not yet re-admitted, and therefore did not have proper representation. Democrats who stayed with the North, were inevitably biased in some way. Without the proper counterbalance of the South (Granted, some Democrats were still present) it cannot be said that the Rulings were completely fair.
Pertaining to the 14th Amendment:
This Amendment was fair game, as the South agreed to it upon re-entering.

Addressing your last paragraph:
You have made a very good point. I agree, not all Founding fathers agreed on the Legality of Secession. But Jefferson Davis, George Macon, and Others, Agreed that secession could be legal under proper circumstances.
My point in this category of "Founding Fathers" was to point out the Hypocrisy of a Nation who had just seceded, forbidding other to secede, whether the cause is just, or not. The Argument is Hypocritical, and dangerous to the will and rights of the people this nation was created for in the first place.



Thank you too Con; I'll try to make this round short and to the point, but there is a lot to explain.

State Defense against a Corrupt Federal Government

Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention a state's right to self-defense. However, the second amendment explains what to do if the government becomes tyrannical. Amendment II states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Note the use of the word people and not state. In other words, if our government becomes oppressive, it is the duty of the people to fight back, not leave (if a state did try to leave, it wouldn't help the situation at all, as the country would not let it happen via means of legal action or action with the military). While the American Revolution and WWII is a good example, the War of 1812 and the Civil War are questionable examples. The War of 1812 had very little to do with corrupt governments. Rather, it occurred due to trade restrictions, America's ambition to annex Canada, and the bullying of American sailors by the Royal Navy. [1] The Civil War also wasn't a result an oppressive federal government, but rather because of southern policy towards slaves. I definitely agree that a democracy should be represented by the people. You stated that, "The Government was created by the People, For the people, and must be effectively terminated if it is no longer benefiting or protecting the people." I also agree with this, but the government of the United States continues to protect its citizens via the police, and the government benefits people in many ways via healthcare, social security, welfare, etc.

You're also correct that once a state leaves the nation, the nation's laws won't be applicable. However, as stated before, secession is an impossibility. The states will never grant any other state a right to secession, and there would be no possible way for a state to best America in a war. The government can always federalize the national guard, which would doom the seceding state's ambition (which is also legal due to the Supremacy Clause).

The South's Secession was not Justified

Although the idea of a supreme government wasn't popular with the people until the New Deal, Article VI and the rest of The Bill of Rights were ratified during 1791. It doesn't matter how popular or well known a law is, as long as it remains in effect, it will be legal. While the exclusive tariffs weren't fair towards the South at all, it was democratically voted upon. Tariffs are constitutional as well, according to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution: "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations."

The Whig Party stated, "When the final vote came, the southern men were to turn around and vote against their own measure." [2]

Instead of resorting to diplomacy, South Carolina and her allies just decided to fire on Fort Sumter, which was a terrible mistake. This gave the Union a justified reason to retaliate, and end the rebellion. Like you said, the South failed to compromise.

Texas v. White

Although after the war, Texas was very pro-Union, the justices that took part in the case were not biased for the most part. Associate justice Nathan Clifford was opposed to tariffs, and criticized abolition. [3] Even if the case was biased, if a state tried to legally secede from the country today, the attempt would definitely not succeed.

The Founding Fathers

I feel we can both agree that our Founding Fathers were divided on the issue. However, even if every one of our Founders supported secession, it still wouldn't matter since their word isn't documented law. The great thing about democracy is that the law of the government isn't determined by what a few politicians thought, even if they were our founders.

Secession is Unwise, and Counter-intuitive

If a state were to secede today (somehow) the consequences wouldn't be too good. I will use the example of a Texan secession since the state is the most rambunctious out of most other states. [4] Texas would lose military protection from the United States, which is really bad in this day and age, since Mexico has been in a really bad position due to terrorism and drug trafficking. [5] Texas would not be in a good trade situation at all. It's landlocked between between America and Mexico, making trade with any other country difficult (not to mention that the United States won't be likely to trade with a state that has just seceded). Lastly, there would be an increase of taxes, and Texas wouldn't receive any money from the federal government (which is a pretty decent amount of funds). [6]


Pardon the overuse, of Wikipedia; it was the best source I could find for most topics.
Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DocMan 1 year ago
I'm not able to type on the debate itself as well, so I'll make my final remarks here (I'll make it short and sweet). Not only does the Constitution never mention secession, but secession would have terrible economic implications for any state if it was to occur. Furthermore, what the Founding Fathers said about secession is of little importance to discussing the legality and possibility of secession itself. As of now, secession is not needed since the United States continues to help its people, and not hurt them intentionally. I would like to thank Pro again for starting this debate!
Posted by Killerchicken12 1 year ago
Unfortunately, the system says that I have forfeited the round, and the system has not yet been updated. As I cannot type anything in, I am uncertain as to what to do. If Con cannot type anything in either, Please respond. If you can, just go ahead and make your final remarks.

I would like to say in Conclusion to my part of the debate, that whether secession is preformed by the state, or the people, Secession is needed. Physical land is needed for secession, as you cannot wage a long lasting war without physical property to support the war financially.
Posted by DocMan 1 year ago
@Killerchicken12 It's completely fine Pro. I think it would be fair if you made your closing statements first, since I made the last response. I would be fine with the former option however.
Posted by Killerchicken12 1 year ago
I did not intentionally forfeit round 5- I have been on Vacation, and have been busy in my free-time catching up on Homework assigned to me. I give my deepest apologies to Con, and I ask that if he wishes, he may still make his remarks in the last round etc.
Posted by Killerchicken12 1 year ago
I agree that Secession should not be practiced for Trivial things, but when it is really needed, and secession is not possible under our constitution, a flaw in the system has occurred. Fortunately, there is enough evidence in the constitution to give secession, whether it is preformed by the States, or the people the benefit of the doubt.

I would also like to point out, that even in our own revolution, the majority of American subjects were still Tory.
Posted by Bored_Debater 1 year ago
Posted by ThinkBig 1 year ago
The founding fathers disagreed on a lot of issues, secession being one of them. Basically it'll be 'my founding father can beat up your founding father.'
Posted by Bored_Debater 1 year ago
The Supreme Court ruled unilateral secession unconstitutional. Since the Supreme Court has the ultimate say as to what the constitution says and means, then that is that. However, they said for a secession to be successful (constitutional) one of two things must happen, revolution, meaning that the majority of the people wants it, or consent from the other states.

The Declaration of Independence states that we may alter or abolish government for another. However, it states that it shouldn't happen over trivial things. I don't think anyone will join due to the objective to prove that secession is unconstitutional. I just proved that one method of it is. That is the closest anyone will get to that. I'm sure an argument can be made that perhaps some of the Founders were against the disillusion of the Union. Making an argument that secession is unwise is the easiest part of terms.
Posted by Killerchicken12 1 year ago

This is why It is Legal. Read the 10th Ammendment.
"Any powers not delegated to the Government, are reserved for the rights of the states or people respectively".
Please note that this is a Summary, and Not the Full document.


Not exactly. The Wisdom of secession, and whether the Founding fathers Advocated it has everything to do with it's constitutionality. If it were not wise to secede, would the Founding fathers have put it in the Constitution? And are the Founding Father's opinions not Reflected In the constitution?

The Whole constitution in in fact, opinion. The Opinions of the Delegates, and Framers who Wrote it.
Therefore it is completely logical that the Debator must prove that Secession is not Useful/Wise.
Posted by Bored_Debater 1 year ago
The constitution is silent about the right of secession. This debate is unfair on that basis in my opinion.
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