The New Hampshire House overwhelmingly rejected a resolution Thursday that called for the state to secede from the United States.
Only 13 lawmakers supported it, and the statehouse includes 400 members.
Under the secession proposal, voters would have been asked to amend the state constitution to add that New Hampshire “peaceably declares independence from the United States and immediately proceeds as a sovereign nation. All other references to the United States in this constitution, state statutes and regulations are nullified.”
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Changing the New Hampshire constitution requires the support of three-fifths of the Legislature to put the question to voters, who then must approve amendments by at least a two-thirds majority. Then, according to the resolution, the governor must adopt the secession in order to make it effective.
“If the proposed amendment is approved by 2/3 of those voting on the amendment, it becomes effective when the governor proclaims its adoption,” the resolution says.
323 lawmakers voted against the secession resolution.
Rep. Timothy Smith, D-Manchester, referred to the large portraits looming over lawmakers in the House chamber as he argued against the bill. Voting for it, he said, would amount to treason.
“We stand in the shadow, literally, of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and we are considering legislation to take a star off of that flag,” he said, according the AP. “We have legislation now seeking to destroy the constitution of the United States. That is beyond shameful. It is beyond disgraceful and it is a stain on the proud history of this state that we even have to entertain this.”
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Other lawmakers worried that the measure could violate the U.S. Constitution.
“Voting for New Hampshire’s proposed articles of secession could be determined by the New Hampshire House as rebellion against the U.S. Constitution,” Rep. Brodie Deshaies, R-Wolfeboro, said, according to In Dept NH. “It could be casting a vote to rebel against the union and, therefore, the same constitution establishing the perpetual union.”
He said that only the federal government has the power to set these boundaries.
But supporters of the measure like Matthew Santonastaso, R-Rindge, argued it was just a matter of time before the union collapses.
“National divorce is going to happen. It’s inevitable, and we have an opportunity to get ahead of this,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
In December 2020, some of the proposal’s sponsors signed a manifesto declaring New Hampshire’s government “illegitimate” and calling Republican Gov. Chris Sununu a tyrant.
Every “yes” vote on the resolution came from a Republican.
However, New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Rockingham, has tried to distance the Republican caucus from this measure. He told New Hampshire Public Radio last year, “Secession is not something House Republican leadership is even remotely involved with.”
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Plus, Sununu remains popular across the state, especially with Republicans. Last year, a University of New Hampshire survey found Sununu polling at 52 approval overall and 86 percent approval with Republicans.
The Horn News reported on the secession movement in September 2021.
Similar secession efforts have failed in other states, including Mississippi and South Carolina.
In October 2021, officials representing three Maryland counties wrote to legislative leaders in West Virginia expressing interesting in becoming part of the other state. Those leaders were supportive, but such a move would be legally complicated and require approval from lawmakers in both states and the U.S. Congress.
New Hampshire has achieved national attention as a swing state, especially in comparison to its deep-blue neighbors. President Joe Biden won the state by a comfortable margin in 2020, but Republican flipped both chambers of the state legislature that same year.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.