The legislation that would allow New Hampshire voters to cast a ballot in favor of independence has been assigned to the House Federal-State Relations Committee. One member of that committee has sent a frantic letter to his colleagues begging them to oppose the legislation and prevent the people from having a chance to vote on whether to become a self-governing state no longer bound to DC politicians. Rep. Brodie Deshaies sent the same letter to me when I asked him to support CACR32. I asked him multiple times if he or any other opponent of independence would be willing to debate me, and he has declined to answer, each time repeating that his issues are addressed in this letter and that he will not debate me. His letter is below, with my commentary in purple.
Why NH Secession is Impossible
In this upcoming legislative session, every NH State Representative will be voting on a constitutional amendment—CACR32—that purports to make NH a “sovereign nation.” And I use the word “purports” very explicitly—you will read why later.
This means NH State Legislators will vote on articles of secession. I am amazed any lawmaker should have to pen a letter on this issue. Nonetheless, someone must explain why articles of secession are reckless and impossible.
Technically, legislators are voting on whether to allow NH voters to vote on articles of secession, so this is not necessarily totally accurate.
Part I: Catastrophic Consequences
Let’s look at the logistics first. Thirty-two percent of NH’s total revenue comes from the federal government. This revenue pays for infrastructure, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other essential services for our state’s residents. If NH lost all of this revenue, we would immediately need to increase all business taxes and establish sales and income taxes. Even if we stopped offering most of these services, the cost of infrastructure alone would be insurmountable. Secession would kill the NH Advantage.
This is a very common myth, and the opposite is true. Right now, New Hampshire workers send DC billions of dollars via federal income taxes, corporate taxes, and other taxes. Only 3 billion is sent back to NH, and DC politicians place conditions on each of those dollars. Once independent from DC, the average NH worker may save around $20-50k per year because federal taxes would no longer exist. Perhaps equally important, all federal regulations – which cost the American economy over $2 trillion per year – would no longer exist in NH. This would also cause the NH economy to boom like no economy ever in human history. Taken together, the radical decrease in taxes and regulations would cause our economy to become the most prosperous one in the world by incredible amounts. Keep in mind that NH already has the highest median household income in the union.
Secession would have a terrible impact on state collected revenue. The state collects thirty-four percent of its revenue from business taxes and another twelve percent from Meals and Rooms Taxes, also known as our rentals tax. These two state taxes overwhelmingly make up our revenue stream and would be impacted if we left the Union. We would no longer have free trade within the world’s largest consumer market. Our economy and state revenues would tank, forcing us to adopt sales and income taxes and kill the NH Advantage again.
Few (if any) legislators or residents in New Hampshire would wish to cut off shoppers, visitors, and businesses from crossing our state border. Interstate trade would actually continue much like it does today. Would DC politicians embargo New Hampshire? I can’t speak for them, but embargo is an act of war and would unnecessarily punish millions of people in New Hampshire and the rest of the union, not to mention cutting off Maine from the union entirely. If you believe that DC politicians would declare war against us for leaving….that is all the more reason we SHOULD leave them!
Other nations would not recognize NH as a “sovereign nation.” We would become a destitute hermit republic. No one would be able to travel to our state—killing tourism, our largest industry—and we would lack the funds and infrastructure to protect our borders. NH would be alone and vulnerable in a globalizing world.
Again, what is the paranoid assumption based on? Over the past 80 years, 150 small nations separated from their countries/unions and nearly every single one was recognized by the international community. That said, nobody argues that the most corrupt, evil, authoritarian regimes may not recognize legitimate countries. Despite Taiwan being a totally unique and independent island nation, politicians who run China refuse to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. Only 14 tiny UN-recognized states recognize Taiwan as an independent state. Yet, the Taiwanese remain prosperous, patriotic, and safe (the only threat to Taiwanese people is the Chinese politicians). In 2021, Bloomberg Media actually named Taiwan as the #1 place in the world for Americans to live. The average income in Taiwan of $16,355 blows China’s average of $4,246 out of the water. If not for government gangs, free trade would obviously allow the Taiwanese and all other humans on Earth to be exponentially more prosperous.
Not to mention that federal officials with the backing of the US military, the most well-funded and prepared military in the world, would never allow NH to secede. Every NH Guardsman swears an oath to the US and NH Constitutions. They are bound to protect the “perpetual Union” our US Constitution establishes. This is part of the principle of “dual enlistment,” under which persons enlisted in state militias (National Guard) units simultaneously enlist in the National Guard of the United States. And when National Guard units are called to active duty in the federal service, Guardsmen are relieved of their status in the state militia. The NH National Guard would immediately help federal troops reestablish control over any purportedly “sovereign” NH.
I already alluded to this earlier, but if your best argument against leaving an abusive partner is that “if you try to leave, he will kill you”, then you have a terrible argument. If I were advising my friend to leave her husband, the fact that her husband is so violent that he might kill her if she tried leaving would only give me more reason to advise her to leave, not more reason to stay. But he mentions the sacred ‘Constitution’ here, so let’s address it. To directly quote Representative Deshaies, “Every NH Guardsman swears an oath to the US and NH Constitutions.” Okay, if the Constitution is so important, and if they are really determined to obey it religiously, they would have arrested every member of Congress who supported any violation of the Constitution. Of course, nearly every single member of Congress (not to mention every president, judge, and federal agent) supports at least some form of gun control, as well as violations of the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th amendments. Once US soldiers begin arresting everyone in DC for violating the Constitution, I’ll start taking this argument seriously.
Now, regarding the NH Constitution, let’s take a look at what it says about rebellion:
“[Art.] 10. [Right of Revolution.] Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. – June 2, 1784”
Part II: Unquestionably Unconstitutional
NH could never survive as a “sovereign nation.” You may say to yourself, “out of principle, we should still leave the Union and see what happens.” But articles of secession are unconstitutional and therefore impossible. Any attempt to make NH a “sovereign nation” only purports to do so and is illegitimate.
The first legal argument why states cannot secede from the Union is reasonably understandable. The federal government is the only legitimate power to admit new states and extend or retract territorial boundaries. Nowhere in our US Constitution does it allow the federal government to permit any state to secede, let alone for any state to decide unilaterally. Our Constitution is quite clear on this issue (see Article IV, Section 3). No state constitution has ever suggested that states hold this power. Constitutions are implicit contracts with citizens that grant governments specific powers. With no power explicitly given allowing secession, no state can ever secede.
I don’t think the Representative is making the argument he thinks he’s making here. The question is whether the people of New Hampshire have the right to self-governance. First, the state entered the union 240 years ago, meaning that nobody currently alive in New Hampshire has ever had an opportunity to make their voice heard or to cast a vote on whether they’d like to remain under the thumb of DC politicians. Second, the reader must understand that ‘state’ has always been synonymous with ‘country’. Indeed, New Hampshire went from being a British Colony to a self-governing state in 1776. Later, a few delegates from New Hampshire agreed to be part of an alliance in a union with the other former colonies, represented by an extremely weak central government. They thought that the central government would obey the Constitution, and would only serve to settle interstate commerce disputes and organize the military. Obviously, they were very wrong, and that weak central government has grown into one of the most authoritarian regimes in world history, and it continues to grow at breakneck speed, taxing and abusing every individual in the united states increasingly each day.
But here’s the important thing: The 10th amendment to the US Constitution is very clear, and they say the exact opposite of what Deshaies claims: “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.” And the Constitution does not delegate to the federal government the power to prevent any state from leaving the union. This means that the right to secession IS allowed by the US Constitution. I am not sure why he mentions Article IV section 3, which clearly says nothing about secession: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”
Article 1 section 10 of the US Constitution lists all of the things that states are prohibited from doing:
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing 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.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
You’ll notice that ‘seceding from the union’ is not listed here. This means that it is totally constitutional, especially considering that the 10th amendment makes it clear that all powers not mentioned in the constitution are reserved for the states.
Another argument lies in the US Supreme Court’s decision Texas v. White (1869). In the court’s majority decision, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase explained that the Union began during the Revolutionary War amongst the colonies. In his decision, he writes, the Union “was confirmed and strengthened… and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation… [and] by these, the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.’” Justice Chase then says that our current Constitution was “ordained ‘to form a more perfect Union,’” which intended to “convey the idea of indissoluble unity….” Therefore, the Union can never be dissolved. Our form of government and Constitution is predicated upon the Union’s “‘perpetual’” existence. Without this “‘perpetual’” existence, we would be throwing away the Union, and with it, the US Constitution.
Okay, now we are getting to the heart of his argument. He believes that the judges who sit in DC are Gods who can interpret the US Constitution however they desire. A politician in a long black robe in DC does not get to rewrite the Constitution, nor does he have the magical power to override the natural right to self-governance or to freedom in general. I wish that somebody would ask Deshaies whether he would faithfully obey the court’s ruling as canon if they determined that no individuals in the united states may possess a firearm, because it violated the ‘general welfare’ clause of the US Constitution. Simply put, I and the others in New Hampshire don’t care what elites in DC say. Just like the founders who we all claim to respect didn’t care what the king said. The king made it clear that rebellion was treason; but the founders still did so, and every American now celebrates their victory every 4th of July. Nobody even argued that it was legal to secede from Britain. They all knew that the government of Britain considered it a crime to leave. That was kind of the whole point of leaving; to get away from tyrants.
If the Constitution was a contract (it’s not), then it would have been voided long ago when the government violated it. In contract law, the most foundational premise is that if one party willfully violates the contract, the other party could choose to break the contract off. And the federal government has violated the Constitution countless times and continues to increasingly violate it. If we are discussing the constitutionality of things, then I would argue that according to the Constitution, the US government should no longer exist.
The last Constitutional argument is straightforward. It does not matter whether or not secession is illegal. What matters is that the Union beat the Confederacy in the Civil War. Once this happened, the illegality of unilateral secession was de facto established. The legality of secession was answered at Appomattox Court House in 1865 with the conclusion of the Civil War. It also means the repercussions for attempting unilateral secession have been decided too. The federal government must punish states and their leaders who try to secede.
Ahh, one of my favorite arguments against state independence: Might makes right! “Sweetheart, your husband may beat the hell out of you, starve you, and abuse you in every which way, but the legality of divorce or separation was settled when he beat you into a coma last time you tried to leave him. So, you will just need to stay with him forever. Might makes right. He is stronger than you. Therefore, he is right and you are wrong.”, he advises his female friend after she cries to him about her abusive husband.
Which leads us to another question: Can state leaders introduce or vote for articles of secession? No. They cannot, and that is not my opinion. It is what our Constitution explicitly states. The 14th Amendment, Article III, is very clear. No State Legislator shall engage in rebellion against the Constitution. Voting for NH’s proposed articles of secession is rebellion against the US Constitution. It would be casting a vote to rebel against the Union and, therefore, the same Constitution establishing the perpetual Union.
Again, the Constitutional arguments are perhaps the weakest arguments against independence. To be honest, if the DC government gang obeyed the Constitution, the massive amount of discontent among Americans and the New Hampshire independence movement would not exist. So, if DC politicians can brazenly violate the US Constitution ad infinitum, I am totally fine doing the same, even if it leads them to accuse me of breaking their laws. Again, that would put me in the company of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I’m okay with that. If you do like Constitutions, you should read this part of the New Hampshire Constitution, which literally legalizes and encourages rebellion against tyrannical government, such as we have now in DC: “…whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”
State lawmakers have also introduced legislation establishing a process to remove members of the General Court who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” HB1007 would allow the NH House or Senate to enforce Section III of the 14th Amendment. Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the US Constitution—commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause—establishes the federal constitution and federal law as taking precedence over state laws and even state constitutions. State lawmakers must abide by our US Constitution. Therefore, I would conclude that we are duty-bound to fulfill Section III of the 14th Amendment.
Yes, I am aware of Marsh’s pathetic, unconstitutional, ridiculous bill to remove pro-independence patriots from the legislature. It was proposed by one radical anti-freedom politician after he defected to the Democrat Party. His bill won’t pass and is not even worth spending time worrying about.
I encourage fellow lawmakers to reject NH’s articles of secession and protect constitutional government. Not only is CACR32 logistically and constitutionally impossible, but NH’s articles of secession may require enforcement of the 14th Amendment. The NH House should not be forcing America into a constitutional crisis. The question of unilateral state secession died in Appomattox. Let’s keep it that way.
I encourage all lawmakers to support the natural right to self-governance, reject paranoid propaganda, and protect ourselves from the tyrants in DC. And reject the notion that might makes right. Help us protect the smallest minority: the individual. Please allow the people of New Hampshire to vote on whether they want our great state to continue to suffer under the vicious rule of corrupt DC politicians, judges, law enforcement agents, and regulators.
Update: On September 13, 2022, Deshaies lost his primary election.