UPDATE! Here are the 39 comments submitted to the California Attorney General about the Calexit initiative:
The average person in California seems to regard the California secession movement (#Calexit) as an amusing novelty or an interesting intellectual argument. But history is unpredictable and often full of surprises.
Who would have guessed at the beginning of 2003 that Governor Gray Davis would actually be recalled before the end of the year and replaced with Arnold Schwarzenegger? Who would have predicted at the beginning of 2015 that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States in 2016?
It’s best to take disruptive and potentially-destructive ideas seriously and reject them with valid arguments before they gain momentum. I have no idea if anyone has submitted legal arguments against “Calexit: The California Independence Plebiscite of 2019.” On December 20, 2016, I submitted my own argument to California Attorney General Kamala Harris to ask for a court order to relieve her of the legal duty to provide an official title and summary. The text is below.
December 20, 2016
Dear Attorney General Harris:
I urge you to commence a timely and appropriate legal action seeking to be relieved of the duty to prepare a circulating title and summary for Initiative 16-0011, informally titled “Calexit: The California Independence Plebiscite of 2019.” The measure is invalid.
The Calexit proposal is unconstitutional on its face. It is clear that states do not have the legal authority to sever or separate from the federal Union. Circulation of the petition would deceive some people into falsely asserting that secession from the United States is actually permitted under the federal constitution. In addition, submission of an illegal measure to the voters would serve no legitimate purpose, but would be a useless waste of resources and create emotional community divisions.
Nothing in the United States Constitution provides for the secession of a state or states. A previous attempt in the 1860s of several states to acquire federal assets and secede from the United States was not recognized as valid by President Abraham Lincoln and the Congress of the United States. Your office should seek advice from credentialed historians and carefully analyze the documents related to this failed secession movement to determine its constitutionality.
In addition, the Calexit proposal would create emotional divisions, starting with civil unrest as residents of California considered whether to flee the potential rebellion, join it, or undermine it from within using various legal and even illegal means. “Brother Against Brother” is a figurative and sometimes even literal description of the four years of civil war in the United States during the 1860s secession movement. More than 750,000 individuals were killed or died because of this civil war, according to the latest revised estimates, and large swaths of United States territory were devastated. Your office should seek advice from credentialed historians and carefully analyze the emotional divisions caused by credible secession movements.
There is recent precedent for you to be relieved of the duty to prepare a circulating title and summary for an unconstitutional measure. On March 25, 2015, you requested a order from a court to relieve the office of the Attorney General from issuing a title and summary for a proposed initiative (15-008) because it “patently violated the Constitution on its face.” A judge agreed and declared on June 22, 2015 that circulating petitions for signatures would be “inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public and tend to mislead the electorate.”
You have also acted in other ways to derail unconstitutional actions initiated by the people. On March 26, 2013, you declared in a statement that “I declined to defend Proposition 8 because it violates the Constitution.” This was an initiative that voters had actually enacted in a plebiscite.
Finally, your decision not to circulate this initiative would NOT deprive discontented individuals of their human right to free themselves from the authority of the United States government. Those who consider the United States to have a tyrannical or unjust government can exercise their rights and powers under the United States Constitution to petition for redress of grievances. If still not satisfied, they can also choose to immigrate from the United States to other nations that provide or have the potential to provide the degree of liberty and justice they seek for themselves and their progeny. For other discontented individuals who seek to live under the authority of a tyrannical and unjust government, they can immigrate to other nations with a proven history of exercising such authority.
Please terminate this unconstitutional proposal.