California Secession According to Sujit Choudhry

During the Presidential election, Californians were in a frenzy, and it seemed that the only way to make everybody feel better was to talk about secession. As unbelievable as it sounds, people were seriously discussing doing something that was thought to be impossible. They were talking about holding a vote for California’s secession from the union. After the idea was suggested, more people started to think it was a good idea, but a scandal stopped the movement right in its tracks.

They dreamed that “The Independent Republic of California” would be exactly what California is today, but it would be much better. Specifically, it would be missing what so many find distasteful, including racism, wars and Abu Ghraib. The new California would be on the right side of history that is going toward a better future. The Independent Republic of California would be exactly what it needed to be.

The Beginnings of the Movement

Marcus Ruiz Evans and Louis Marinelli have been debating this idea for years, but they never had very many people listening to their message until November 9, 2016. While Barack Obama was president, the separatist movement wasn’t taken seriously at all. During last year’s election, the results appeared to have been decided before all of California’s votes had been counted, and Californians began to feel inconsequential. That feeling did not sit well in a state that is so formidable, so a feeling of resentment began to rise.

On November 9, Marcus and Louis set up a tent outside the state’s capitol, and they found that they now had 70,000 people agreeing with what they have been proposing for years. They wanted everyone to know that they were not just saying the word “secession” without meaning it. They knew what they needed to do to make it happen, and they set out on a path to accomplish their goal.

The First Steps toward Secession

First, they received permission from the Attorney General to collect signatures for a measure that would appear on the 2018 ballot entitled “CALIFORNIA NATIONHOOD. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.” This raised the stakes so that secession looked like a clear possibility.

Marcus Ruiz Evans is one of the co-founders of the “Yes California” movement. In 2012, he wrote “Global California,” a book about secession. He wrote that California has the sixth largest economy on the planet, was the largest producer of agriculture this side of the border and is the largest trading partner to foreign governments. He also made the point that California pays the most federal income taxes. Since this is the case, California has been subsidizing the country’s poor states. This was the most important consideration for California’s citizens when Marcus was speaking to people about secession and collecting signatures over the winter.

Louis Comes into the Picture

Marcus and Louis got together after discovering that they had a mutual love for science fiction as well as separatism. Since November 9, 80 new chapters of Yes California have been operating in the state.

Marcus was working very hard for each signature, but he knew that signatures were not automatically taking him toward the end goal. First, he would need 585,407 signatures to bring the initiative to the ballot. If the measure passed in 2018, there would need to be another vote the next year. This vote would be something like the Brexit vote in Great Britain.

A U.C. Berkeley poll found that one out of three Californians would like to see the state secede from the union. The news that 15 percent of voters answered “don’t know” to the question of secession did not dissuade Marcus. This was a very good sign because he believed that these people could be convinced that secession was the right thing to do. With an extra 15 percent of the population, Marcus believes that he can get his initiative on the ballot.

Is Secession Even Possible?

Apparently, secession wouldn’t be as easy as holding a referendum and declaring that California has seceded from the union. Professor Sujit Choudhry of Berkeley explained that separatist movements do not start over night. It takes decades for people to develop a separate identity from the larger society along with several decades of grievances about how the federal government treats the state.

Professor Choudhry commented that states that successfully secede were former colonial states. He said that non-colonial states have not had the same experience because foreign governments tend not to recognize the new state if it was not a colonial state before secession. Furthermore, California would not be able to join the U.N. if the United States were to veto the proposal, and the international community would probably go along with the U.S.   Relevant article to read on

In short, Choudhry believes that California secession would be an undertaking of gargantuan proportions.

About Sujit Choudhry

Sujit Choudhry attended Harvard Law School from 1997 to 1998 where he earned his Master of Laws. He is currently an I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley – School of Law. He is also the current Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions.

Professor Sujit Choudhry is recognized internationally on politics and comparative constitutional law and has been invited by more than 24 countries to speak on the subject of the law. He has also been asked to advise several countries that were engaging in constitution-building processes. These countries included Sri Lanka, Yemen, Egypt, Nepal, South Africa, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and Ukraine.

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Professor Choudhry is a prolific writer who has written more than 90 books, reports, working chapters and book chapters.   Check  He is also the founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions that performs research for building constitutions and has been a constitutional advisor for more than 20 years. The Center is currently a partner of the International for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and Professor Choudhry is leading three different research projects with this group. His research has led him to assist others in moving from violent conflicts to democratic elections.   Refer to for additional article.

Professor Choudhry is also a member of the United Nations Meditation Roster and consults for the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank Institute at the World Bank.

For additional article about him, visit