Legal status of Texas

The legal status of Texas is the standing of Texas as a political entity. Generally, the debate has primarily surrounded the legal status of Texas relative to the United States of America. Texas is usually considered to be a state under the sovereignty of the United States of America. Nonetheless, U.S. sovereignty over Texas has been disputed at times, most recently by a movement launched by Richard McLaren which claims that American sovereignty is illegal. In disputes over the legal status of Texas, a key issue has been the tension between its de facto and de jure international standing. The boundaries of Texas have also been questioned, since the current state is not the same as the former Republic of Texas.


The dispute dates back to events in the 19th century. In 1845, the Republic of Texas was admitted to the Union. However, this was done via a Joint Resolution of Congress which many scholars believe is not legal under international law. [O'Malley, E.S. (2001). Irreconcilable Rights and the Question of Hawaiian Statehood. 89 "Georgetown Law Journal" 501] [Boyle, F.A. (1995). Restoration of the Independent Nation State of Hawaii Under International Law. 7 " St. Thomas Law Review" 723] In 1861, citizens of the state voted overwhelmingly not to be part of the United States. During the American Civil War, Texas was invaded by Union troops many times including the final major clash of the war which was the Battle of Palmito Ranch. Republic of Texas supporters feel that Texas remains an independent nation and that American actions in the American Civil War has resulted in an illegal military occupation of Texas.

This article deals primarily with theoretical arguments regarding Texas' "de jure" status under certain interpretations of international law. The debate is considered by some to resemble the same academic discourse being argued by several other activist groups in the United States, including the Hawaiian and Alaskan Independence Movements. [Enriquez, J. " The Untied States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future". Crown Publishing, ISBN 0307237524] [Mathson, S and Lorenzen, M.G. We Won't Be Fooled Again: Teaching Critical Thinking via Evaluation of Hoax and Historical Revisionist Websites in a Library Credit Course. "College and Undergraduate Libraries, 15 (1/2): 211–230.] Texan sovereignty proponents and some scholars believe that Texas's history as an independent republic, the presence of the U.S. military during the American Civil War, and the asserted violations of international treaties make the situation of Texas unique. Others see no great difference in the assertions of Texan sovereignty activists and regional independence movements such as in Hawaii which was also a formerly independent nation annexed by a joint resolution of Congress. Parallels are also drawn between Texas and the legal status of Hawaii regarding U.S. military presence, although the case of 162 military personnel in Hawaii in 1893 does not easily compare to the invasions of the Union Army in Texas from 1861–1865.

Parallel overview

Modern claims to the Republic

The movement for independence was started by the research of Richard Lance (Rick) McLaren. McLaren found that, in 1861, eligible white Texan males aged 21 and older voted four-to-one to leave the Union. According to McLaren's work, Texas met the qualifications, under international law, of a captive nation of war, since the end of the American Civil War in 1865. McLaren engaged in a protracted series of court and actual battles.

The movement split into three factions in 1996, one led by McLaren, one by David Johnson and Jesse Enloe, and the third by Archie Lowe and Daniel Miller. In 1997, McLaren and his followers kidnapped Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe, and demanded the release of two movement members in exchange for the Rowes. McLaren's wife, Evelyn, convinced him to surrender peacefully after a week-long standoff with police and Texas Rangers. The McLarens and four other Republic of Texas members were sent to prison (though charged with several felonies, all have been dropped). This effectively destroyed the McLaren faction, and the Johnson-Enloe faction was discredited after two of its members, Jack Abbot Grebe Jr. and Johnie Wise, were convicted in 1998 of threatening to assassinate several government officials, including President Bill Clinton.

In 2003, what remained of the movement consolidated into one dominant group recognizing the current "interim" government (which replaced the "provisional" government), headed by President Daniel Miller. This interim government claims authority from the original proclamations of 1995 and set up a seat of government in the town of Overton, Texas. Most of the original personalities of the movement have disappeared from public view. Government finances have come from donations and the sale of some items such as a Republic of Texas Passport. The Republic of Texas headquarters in Overton, Texas burned down on August 31, 2005; one person was moderately injured.

Various Republic of Texas movements maintain several websites, an Internet radio station, online journals and/or newspapers.

Republic of Texas President Miller and Laurence Savage published the Republic of Texas's manifesto "Texan Arise" in 2004. The book outlines the history of Texas, the history and philosophy of the Republic of Texas group, a road map to independence, and some spiritualistic views of Texas. A second important book for the movement is "The Brief by the Republic of Texas", published in 2003, a comprehensive case against the United States and State of Texas governments. The book is laid out like a court case, and cites approximately 250 exhibits.

Contemporary legal actions

Colorado case

In January 2004, Timothy Paul Kootenay in jail in Aspen, Colorado, claimed that the state of Colorado had no jurisdiction to extradite him to California on a probation warrant, on the grounds that he was a citizen of the Republic of Texas. He claimed that the sliver of land which contains Aspen was a part of the original Republic of Texas and, as such, he was not a citizen of the United States. His claim was rejected by the courts. [Sheperd, (January 21, 2004). Weird News. "The Anchorage Press", Vol. 13, Ed. 2]

Petition to the International Court of Justice

The [ Handbook of the ICJ] states that "Only States may be parties to cases before the Court" and the Court will only decide disputes which are "submitted to it by States." In 1995, a petition was filed with the ICJ by Richard L. McLaren asking that the Republic of Texas be declared to still exist. The clerk at the ICJ refused to file the case and wrote back, "I have to inform you, however, that the function of the International Court of Justice is confined to the settling, in accordance with international law, of legal disputes submitted to it by States, and to the rendering of advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized international organs and agencies. It follows that neither the Court nor its Members can consider applications from private individuals, or other entities, or provide them with legal advice, or assist them in their relations with the authorities in any country. As a result, no action will be taken on your letter." [Brock, R. (1997). The Republic of Texas is No More: An Answer to the Claim that Texas was Unconstitutionally Annexed to the United States. 28 "Texas Tech Law Review" 679.] Regarding these types of petitions, the ICJ handbook states:

Hardly a day passes without the Registry receiving written or oral applications from private persons. However heart-rending, however well-founded, such applications may be, the ICJ is unable to entertain them and a standard reply is always sent: 'Under Article 34 of the Statute, only States may be parties in cases before the Court.'

Historical legal actions

*"Texas v. White", United States Supreme Court, (1868)
*:In 1868, the Supreme Court ruled that secession of Texas from the United States was illegal. The court wrote, "The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States."
*"DeLima v. Bidwell", 182 U.S. 1 (1901)
*:Annexation via a joint resolution of Congress is legal. The Supreme Court wrote, "A treaty made by that power is said to be the supreme law of the land, as efficacious as an act of Congress; and, if subsequent and inconsistent with an act of Congress, repeals it. This must be granted, and also that one of the ordinary incidents of a treaty is the cession of territory, and that the territory thus acquired is acquired as absolutely as if the annexation were made, as in the case of Texas and Hawaii, by an act of Congress."

U.S. Legislation

* [ Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States, March 1, 1845]
* [ Presidential Proclamation Declaring a State of Peace Between Texas and the United States, August 20, 1866]
* [ An Act to admit the State of Texas to Representation in the Congress of the United States. March 30, 1870]


ee also

*Texas in the American Civil War
*Legal status of Hawaii
*Tribal sovereignty
*Alaskan Independence Party
*Legal status of Alaska
*Republic of Texas (group)

External links

* Republic of Texas independence movement websites
** [ Republic of Texas]
** []
** []

*Terrorism Knowledge Base profile of Republic of Texas: []

* Texas Convention Pro-Continuation of 1861"'
** [ RoT statement to US District Court in Austin]
** [ RoT declaration filed with the Swiss Federal Council]
** [ RoT cease fire against the state government]

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