Is California about to secede from the United States as a protest against the election of Donald Trump? Well, not anytime soon, but it’s an idea that has gained increased attention since Tuesday’s election.
2019 ballot initiative
A group called the Yes California Independence Campaign is hoping to qualify a citizen’s initiative for the 2018 ballot that would create a special election for Californians to declare their independence from the United States to be held in 2019. The argument is that as the world’s sixth largest economy, and with a population greater than many independent countries, California would be best served by becoming an independent country rather than staying a part of the U.S.
As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states. — Yes California
California is different
The group makes the further argument that there is a wide gap between the political and cultural beliefs of a majority of Californians and the rest of the United States. Proponents note that 61% of Californians voted for Hillary Clinton last Tuesday compared to just 33% that voted for Donald Trump. Of course, if that were to be used as the criteria for seceding from the United States, then first in line would have to be Washington D.C., where Mrs. Clinton won 94% of the vote.
Shervin Pishevar, who CNN Money describes as an early Uber investor and co-founder of Hyperloop, announced plans on Tuesday night to fund “a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation.” Mr. Pishevar was joined by several other tech moguls who offered to work with him, including Dave Morin, the founder of Path and Marc Hemeon, the founder of Design Inc.
Constitution is silent on leaving
Just exactly how California would go about leaving the rest of the U.S. is unclear. The Constitution laid out procedures for taking new states into the union but did not foresee any wanting a path out.
Yes California outlines two paths by which the state could secede:
The first would be for a member of California’s delegation to Congress to propose an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing California to leave the union. The proposed Amendment would need to be approved by 2/3 of the House of Representatives and 2/3 of the Senate. If passed, the Amendment would be sent to all 50 states and would need to be adopted by at least 38 of the states to be adopted.
The second option would be for California to call for a convention of the states and the Amendment would need to be approved by 2/3 of the delegates. If approved, it would still require the legislative approval of 38 of the 50 states to be adopted.
California won't be leaving soon
Aside from the procedural hurdles that would have to be surmounted to amend the Constitution, some legal experts doubt that the proposed path would be legal.
The legality of seceding is problematic. The Civil War played a very big role in establishing the power of the federal government and cementing that the federal government has the final say in these issues. — Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government
So, it looks it will still be safe for folks to book a trip to Disneyland without having to worry about taking their passport to California, at least for a while.