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07 Did the Supreme Court ever rule on the legality of secession? (U.S. Civil War: The beginning)




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This article is from the U.S. Civil War FAQ, by Justin M. Sanders jsanders@jaguar1.usouthal.edu with numerous contributions by others.

07 Did the Supreme Court ever rule on the legality of secession? (U.S. Civil War: The beginning)

Yes, it did-- after the war. Perhaps the clearest statement is in
the case Texas v. White (74 U.S. 700). Chief Justice Chase, writing
for the court in its 1869 decision, said:

"The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible
Union, composed of indestructible States. ... Considered, therefore, as
transactions under the Constitution, the Ordinance of Secession, adopted
by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and
all the Acts of her Legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance,
were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. ... Our
conclusion, therefore, is, that Texas continued to be a State, and a State
of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions to which we have referred."

The entire decision is available on the Web at
http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/historic.htm

 

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