The Constitution guarantees each and every state a “republican form of government.” So is Florida’s rather hectic and confused use of multiple methods of amending its State Constitution actually “Constitutional” in the sense of being done by a “republican form of government” as guaranteed in Article IV, Section 4?
Once upon a time, 1633, to be exact, King Charles issued a Royal Charter for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation. Oddly enough, by the time Rhode Island got around to ratifying the Constitution in May of 1790 (the final original State to do so), the charter was still in operation and was held to be in compliance with Article IV Section 4’s guarantee of “a republican form of government.”
By the time the 1840s rolled around, most of the people living in Rhode Island disagreed and decided to write their own State Constitution and elect their own Governor. This did not sit well with either the current government of the State nor with the President of the United States. So when the two sides tried to come to blows, it went about like you would expect it to have, since you’ve never heard about it or seen it in your high school history books.
But it did teach us quite a bit about what a “republican form of government” really is…
We have our definition of “republic,”
but what if that wasn’t necessarily the definition the Framers had?
A few years ago there was a wonderful show on TV, “How the States Got Their Shapes.” Host Brian Unger takes you around the country and looks at…. well… how the states got their shapes. It’s all based on the book of the same name (HERE). For what it’s worth, the show is better than the book, but the information is the same.
At any rate, why does any of that matter?
Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ruled that the much heralded and discussed Prop 9, a vote by the people on whether or not to separate California into three States, should be removed from the ballot because it “might” violate the States Constitution.
Now… whether it does or not we have to ask some questions about this whole deal.
Plausibly live, It’s Constitution Thursday on The Dave Bowman Show!
Constitution Thursday – August 15, 2013, “West ‘By-Gawd’ Virginia”
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States 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 IV, Sec 3 Clause 1
There’s a whole lot of things that I cannot make sense of, like this whole “Six Days of Darkness” nonsense, to Niburu, to the GOP’s inability to get Hillary to admit to anything, right down to the latest reincarnation of the State of Jefferson.
For some reason, I had several eMails and texts about the last one on Friday, all pretty much asking me the same thing, “Dave, how come you don’t support the State of Jefferson?”
Why won’t it happen? Because the Constitution, that’s why.
One eMailer explained to me that Article IV says that there can be new States, even ones made up from old States. What they failed to mention though, is that the OLD STATES HAVE TO AGREE to having a part of them ripped away to form the new State. Moreover, Congress has to agree, and then you have to get an enabling Act from Congress (signed by the President) which will outline what the new State has to do and agree to BEFORE it can become a State, and then you have to get the people in the new State to agree to all of that.
Oh, and since this new State of Jefferson will be next door to both Idaho and Nevada, it might be (will be – Editor) argued by those States that they also have to approve of it becoming a new State.
So, when it comes to the State of Jefferson, the States of California and Oregon (and Nevada and Idaho – Editor) would both have to agree to having some of the most valuable land currently in their States, including water sources and storage systems, taken away from their control.
It ain’t gonna happen.
I seriously doubt that even a GOP controlled California Legislature and Governor would agree to this.
But let’s say that they and Oregon lost their collectivist minds and did, just for s-word’s & grin’s.
Next up you’d have to get Congress – both Houses, not “just the Senate” to agree. IF they agree, they then produce an act of Legislation (signed by the President), known as an Enabling Act. This outlines the conditions and requirements to become a State and they are different for each and every State – except Ohio, which apparently didn’t bother to get one (weird historical anomaly for the day).
Now, think this through VERY carefully. The proposed State of Jefferson contains at least two major watersheds (The Klamath Basin and Shasta-Trinity). Do you honestly believe that Congress will give up control over these? Before you say “yes,” you might want to go and read the Enabling Act for the State of Nevada. You’ll get a good sense of (a) how far Congress is willing to go to protect what it wants out of the deal and (b) how wrong Cliven Bundy and his shill Sean Hannity really were.
Get past all of that, and then the Jeffersonian State Constitution will have to be written, ratified by the people of Jefferson, oh, and APPROVED by Congress. Which, no doubt, will requires modifications and rewrites to dial it in as to what they want.
Does all of this piss you off? Sorry, it’s what the Constitution says and the applicable legislation requires. You don’t have to like it, but it is a fact.
You have a better chance of NASA being wrong and there actually being six days of darkness in December or of Jesus coming back or Niburu impacting Earth than you do of getting the State of Jefferson. Politically speaking, it’s a no-go and a never-gonna-happen.
So why do people cling to the idea? Well, because it’s not actually a bad idea, nor is it an idea that doesn’t fit into the ideals of the United States under the Constitution.
Along the way, other States were formed from another State – specifically West Virginia, Vermont, Maine and Kentucky – but if you were to look into their history, you’ll find that as a part of The Northwest Ordinance (1787 – pre-Constitution) the thirteen original States gave up their claims to the west, as suggested by no less than Thomas Jefferson himself in 1784. From that point forward, Congress controlled Territorial areas and decided Statehood.
In the case of West Virginia, some slight of hand was used in 1863, and the agreement of the loyalist government in exile of Virginia was deemed “constitutional” as far as Article IV went. It was more a case of possession is 9/10th’s of the law. Since the Union held the western parts of Virginia and not even Robert E. Lee could get it back (yes… he tried), there wasn’t much in the way of an organized argument to stop it.
To say that Delaware was “formed” from Pennsylvania is true, but again, not under the Constitution. Delaware in fact, declared it’s independence from both England and Pennsylvania on the same day – June 15, 1776. That, dear listener, was long before Article IV was even imagined, let alone in place.
Vermont, the only other State formed from another state (New York) was formed in 1775, when New Hampshire granted them “independence” as the state of New Connecticut. Later they figured that “Vermont” would be less confusing to people and in 1777 (in the middle of the Revolutionary War), Vermont approved the first State Constitution in the new country to ban slavery, at least in part. Under the Articles of Confederation, there was no clear mechanism to officially recognize Vermont as a State, but she functioned as a State except for not having any actual representation in Congress or at the Conventions. As soon as the new Constitution was ratified, and a few loose ends with New York were cleared up, Vermont was the first State admitted under the Constitution in 1791. Kentucky was controlled by Virginia, and almost stopped ratification of the Constitution until it could get guarantees that it would become a State. Maine was a physically disconnected territory controlled by Massachusetts, but always wanted to be separated. Eventually Boston gave up and let her go, but not until 1820.
Some other notes about the admission of States, Texas was forced to give up parts of what would become Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and even Wyoming as a condition for Statehood; Nevada was divided out of the Utah Territory because it was politically reliable (Utah wasn’t – as least as far a Lincoln was concerned), but was limited to just about 5% of the total land for non-government ownership. No matter, two new republican senators and three electoral votes for Lincoln.
All of this can happen, and in fact, did happen. But to say that because that happened the State of Jefferson is a Constitutionally done deal is either naive or intentionally misleading. I tend to believe that for most of the true believers its the former.
What is sad is how many of the proponents of the idea are the latter.
Instead of filling people with false hope and worse, a false understanding of the Constitution, discussions of forming the State of Jefferson could and should be used as a starting point for teaching how these things work. Frankly, if the people of this nation understood this process and the meat of Article IV, there would have been nobody showing up to defend the Bundy, and a whole lot of people going to Texas.