Writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Daniel Bice reports that the Resolutions Committee of the Wisconsin Republican Party has “voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party ‘supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.'”
You might think the Civil War settled that question, but it didn’t really do so as a matter of law. The U.S. Constitution is silent on the question. States had to opt in to join the new version of the Union created by the Constitution in the 1787-88 period. But the Constitution doesn’t say whether they retain the right to opt out, which the southern states obviously thought they did in 1861. President Lincoln took the position that this was impossible. (Here is a summary of Lincoln’s legal arguments.) But the issue was settled by force of arms, not by law.
The 10th Amendment says that states retain “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States.” Building on that, the Wisconsin Republican Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party “supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.”
They aren’t proposing to secede, just asserting that they have the right to do so.
Top party leaders, understanding how it might strike some people, tried to kill the proposal but the Resolutions Committee adopted it, which means it will come to a vote at the state convention May 2-4 in Milwaukee.
Repub Gov. Scott Walker, a potential candidate fvor the 2016 presidential nomination, said Friday of the right-to-secede resolution: “I don’t think that one aligns with where most Republican officials are in the state of Wisconsin — certainly not with me.”