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Wyoming GOP chair: Western states 'paying attention' to Texas effort to secede

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American flag

An American flag flies alongside the highway on a late summer evening in 2017 south of Gillette.

The chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party on Friday said Western states are “paying attention” to the effort by some in Texas’ far-right to try to secede from the United States.

Appearing on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast last week to discuss Rep. Liz Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump, Eathorne made the comment in response to a Bannon question about what conservatives should keep in mind in light of their movement’s recent political losses.

“We need to focus on the fundamentals,” Eathorne said on the broadcast, which was recently banned by YouTube for peddling misinformation about the 2020 election. “We are straight talking, focused on the global scene, but we’re also focused at home. Many of these Western states have the ability to be self-reliant, and we’re keeping eyes on Texas too, and their consideration of possible secession. They have a different state constitution than we do as far as wording, but it’s something we’re all paying attention to.”

After a Star-Tribune reporter reached out for comment, Eathorne said the idea has not been a topic discussed by the Wyoming GOP.

“Only a brief conversation with the Texas GOP in earlier work with them,” Eathorne wrote in the text. “Won’t come up again unless the grass roots brings it up.”

Bannon, who earlier in the program said that the populist, nationalist, conservative movement “is what people want,” pushed back on Eathorne’s statement, saying that as a native of Richmond, Virginia — the heart of the Confederacy — he was completely against any sort of secession. However, Bannon followed that statement by saying he would be open to talking about it further with Eathorne on a future program.

A 15-year-old fringe right-wing movement in the Lone Star State called “Texit” suggests it is not illegal for individual states to leave the United States — an occurrence that has not happened since the lead-up to the American Civil War.

Suggestions of secession have come up before. A week after the 2012 presidential election, nearly 700,000 Americans from all 50 states signed 69 petitions through the White House’s online petition system calling for the country to consider allowing states to peacefully secede from the United States — an opinion shared by one-quarter of Republican voters at the time, according to one 2012 poll. California once saw a fringe, left-wing movement to secede gain some momentum, and in 2017, Oklahoma state Sen. Joseph Silk introduced a bill seeking to remove the word “inseparable” from the sentence in the state constitution describing Oklahoma as “an inseparable part of the Federal Union.”

However, the question has been thrust into the mainstream in recent months as far-right groups have begun openly floating the idea.

In December, the conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh raised the subject to his 15.5 million listeners, saying in one broadcast, “I actually think that we’re trending toward secession.” A Mississippi state representative recently suggested to his Twitter followers that his own state — which had Confederate battle flag imagery in its state flag up until this past year — should consider breaking off from the country and forming its own state.

Earlier this month, Texas Republican Rep. Kyle Biedermann announced he would be sponsoring a bill in that Legislature’s 2021 session to put the question of secession to voters this fall, a step that comes roughly four years after the Texas Nationalist Movement came within two votes of adding Texas independence language to the state’s Republican platform.

Secession is a difficult prospect, however. Legal scholars have argued that the U.S. Constitution offers no specific provisions for secession, and in 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the United States is “an indestructible union” — a precedent reaffirmed by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 letter discussing the issue of secession.

“If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede,” he wrote.

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Politics Reporter

Nick Reynolds covers state politics and policy. A native of Central New York, he has spent his career covering governments big and small, and several Congressional campaigns. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport in 2015.

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