Texas may have to consider seceding from the United States if Democrats pass agenda items designed to enfranchise marginalized voters, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said during a public appearance last month.
Speaking at Texas A&M in mid-October, Cruz, in response to a question from an audience member on the issue of Texas secession, said he’s “not ready to give up on America yet.” But if Democrats end the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court, make Washington D.C. a state or pass federal reforms intended to make voting more accessible nationwide, “there may come a point where it’s hopeless,” Cruz added.
Those types of reforms would “fundamentally destroy the country,” he said.
Democrats have discussed the possibility of changing filibuster rules in order to pass legislation on voting rights protections, through allowing a simple majority in the Senate to create national standards to be followed in every U.S. state. Meanwhile, making Washington D.C. a state would allow residents of that jurisdiction to have representation in Congress, a goal many have sought for several decades. Polling on the issue of D.C. statehood shows that a majority of Americans back the idea.
Some polls have also shown that nearly half of the country supports “packing” or increasing the size of the Supreme Court. There is precedent for doing so, as the High Court has changed its size several times in its history, although the last time was in 1869.
Coincidentally, that was the same year that the Supreme Court ruled that states don’t have the right to secede from the Union, five years after the Confederate States lost the Civil War. In Texas v. White, the court found, by a 5-3 majority, that individual states could not decide to leave the Union, even if they had the support of their residents.
Recent Supreme Court justices have also weighed in on the issue. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was a conservative stalwart of the Supreme Court before he passed away in 2016, responded to a letter from a screenwriter in 2006 about the issue of states seceding.
“If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede,” Scalia said in his reply.
In his remarks last month, Cruz said that he wasn’t ready to support secession quite yet. But he also said that if the changes he mentioned occurred, Texas should “take” NASA, the military infrastructure located in the state, and the oil that the state produces.
Whether Cruz is serious about the issue of secession is unclear. Indeed, when asked whether Texas would be willing to take Joe Rogan, a popular Austin-based podcaster who regularly spreads false information about the coronavirus pandemic on his program, the Texas senator responded with enthusiasm.
“Joe Rogan, he might be president of Texas!” Cruz said.