Texas Could Secede from the US if It Wanted to, According to Nikki Haley

By: Lauren | Published: Feb 07, 2024

Nikki Haley, former UN Ambassador and governor of South Carolina, has thrown her hat in the ring for president of the United States this year.

And while the Republican has certainly said some interesting and even controversial things during her campaign, her recent comment about Texas and its ability to secede from the US has Americans wondering if Haley is correct or totally wrong.

What Did Nikki Haley Say about Texas?

Last week, Haley gave an interview with the radio show ”The Breakfast Club,” during which she said, “If Texas decides they want to [secede], they can do that.”

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at an event

Source: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Haley continued, “If that whole state says, ‘We don’t want to be part of America anymore,’ I mean, that’s their decision to make.”

Haley Has Been a Long-Standing Advocate for State’s Rights

It’s important to understand that Haley’s comments regarding Texas and its ability to secede were less about Texas’ current political situation and more about reminding her constituents that she wholeheartedly supports states’ rights.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley waves to supporters while arriving at a campaign event

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When Haley was campaigning to be governor of South Carolina in 2010, she said in an interview, “I believe in state’s rights; I believe that everything should be as close to the people to decide.” And, “States have the right to make the decisions that their people want to make.”

Now Let’s Talk about Texas

Of course, using Texas as an example wasn’t just a slip of the tongue. The Lonestar State has been talking about seceding from the union for more than 200 years since the end of the Civil War.

Close-up of a map of Texas

Source: Freepik

So, by telling all Americans, but especially those in Texas, that Haley believes they should and do have the right to secede, she may be trying to sway the state and those who support state rights her way.

Why Do Some Texans Want to Secede?

When talking about a state with more than 30 million people, it’s impossible and irresponsible to say an entire state feels one way. However, there are certainly millions of Texans who would prefer to no longer be a part of the United States.

American woman voting in an election

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And while everyone has different reasons, the vast majority disapprove of the country’s decision to elect democratic presidents and the policies they, as well as the houses of government, have been putting in place.

The Ongoing Border Debate

The Republican representatives of Texas, and especially Gov. Gre Abbott, have been battling President Biden and his administration regarding the ongoing issues at the Texas-Mexico border.

Immigrants wait to be processed at a U.S. Border Patrol transit center after they crossed the border from Mexico on December 20, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas

Source: John Moore/Getty Images

The two parties are essentially at a standstill, and many Texans, including its mayors, are incredibly frustrated that the state and federal governments cannot find a way to improve the situation.


Does Texas Have the Right to Secede?

Since Haley’s comments on the radio show, many people have been wondering: If Texas really wanted to, does it actually have the right to secede from the United States?

Woman holding a large Texas flag

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But unfortunately for Texans, the answer is no. According to both precedent and the US Constitution, no state can secede from the union through a court of law.


What Does the Constitution Say about Secession?

It’s first important to understand that while technically, the US Constitution doesn’t use the word “secede,” it does say, “And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual.”

Close-up photograph of the first page of the United States Constitution

Source: iStock

Essentially, this means that all states that agreed to the United States Constitution would be a part of a “perpetual,” permanent, and unending union as one nation.


The Civil War Ignited Texas’ Desire to Secede

On April 12, 1861, the Civil War broke out in the United States as the Southern Confederacy fired on Northern Union troops in South Carolina.

An 1891 illustration of the battle at Kennesaw Mountain during the Civil War

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Exactly four years later, the war was over, the Union had won, and while all the southern states were disappointed, Texas decided they wanted to break free.


Texas Tried to Secede Once Before and Was Denied

So, in 1869, Texas went to the Supreme Court to fight for secession from the country it had only recently joined.

Drawing of jurors Listening to Counsel, Supreme Court, New City Hall, New York, published 1869 by Winslow Homer

Source: Heritage Art/Getty Images

And after three days of hearing arguments from both the United States and Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that the nation was an “indestructible union composed of indestructible states.” Texas was denied permission to secede.


Nikki Haley Says “Texas Isn’t Going to Secede”

It’s important to note that at the end of Haley’s statement explaining Texas had the right to secede, she also said, “Let’s talk about what’s reality. Texas isn’t going to secede.”

Supporters wait for the inauguration ceremony to commence at the Texas State Capitol on January 17, 2023, in Austin, Texas

Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Tensions are certainly high between the state and the federal government, but that’s how it’s been for more than 150 years. And Haley, like most Americans, believes Texas won’t actually fight to separate.


Nikki Haley Was Wrong

While Nikki Haley was likely trying to make a point to voters that she supports state’s rights, she made a slight error in judgment saying that Texas can legally secede from the US.

Woman in a cowboy hat holding an American flag in a field

Source: Freepik

To put it simply, Nikki Haley was wrong. She said, “I mean, the Constitution says that [Texas can secede].” However, the Constitution, as it’s currently interpreted, says the complete opposite.